Courts & Rulings
George Gascón's reform initiatives put to the test
One of D.A. George Gascon’s reform initiatives has been heard at a state appeals court. NBC4’s I-Team has been following Gascon’s efforts to reduce prison time in most criminal cases. Investigative reporter Eric Leonard reports on the NBC4 News at 5 on Monday, May 9, 2022.
Former LAPD commander's whistleblower lawsuit over firing allowed to proceed
An LA Superior Court judge has allowed a lawsuit filed by former LAPD Commander Nicole Mehringer to proceed, after a previous retaliation, harassment, and discrimination case was dismissed. The ruling means Mehringer, who initially sued after she was fired for an off-duty incident in Glendale in 2018, can proceed with an amended case that claims her termination was excessive, and was motivated by retaliation, after Mehringer filed documents that revealed several high-ranking male members of the LAPD had, "engaged in egregious acts of unlawful behavior," but unlike her, kept their jobs or were allowed to retire.
Warrant for home search justified by events inconsistent with non-criminal conduct
A warrant was properly issued for the search of a house known to be a street-gang hangout owned by a gang member after police observed two passengers of an SUV go into the abode, return to the vehicle after three to five minutes, with one of those two known to be on parole with search conditions, and after the van was stopped and found to contain two illegal guns and a half pound of narcotics, the Court of Appeal for this district has held.
Ninth Circuit ‘reaffirms’ 2nd Amendment rights for young people
Touting the heroism of young patriots who died fighting in the Revolutionary War, a Ninth Circuit panel declared Wednesday that the Second Amendment protects the rights of young adults to keep and bear arms - reversing a lower court judge’s decision upholding a California law barring young adults from buying semiautomatic rifles.
State Bar releases results from February state bar exam
There was a drop in the number of people who successfully passed California's state bar examination in February as compared with last year. A spokesperson for the State Bar of California announced Friday that 1,056 people passed the 2022 California General Bar Exam, or 33.9 percent of applicants. That is a drop of nearly 8.9 percent from 2021's pass rate of 37.2 percent, but higher than the February 2020 pass rate of 26.8 percent.
9th Circuit allows Californians to buy out-of-state foie gras despite ban
Californians can buy foie gras produced out of state despite California's ban on the delicacy, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2020 lower court ruling that said Californians can order foie gras from out-of-state producers and have it sent by a third-party delivery service. The ruling only applies to people who buy foie gras for individual consumption.
Judge rejects Trump lawsuit challenging ban from Twitter
A San Francisco judge tossed out former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit challenging his permanent ban from Twitter. U.S. District Judge James Donato said Friday that Trump failed to show Twitter violated his First Amendment right to free speech. Free speech rights don’t apply to private companies and Trump failed to show Twitter was working as a state actor on behalf of Democrats, the judge wrote.
Bank is liable for agent’s error in rejecting notice of levy
A bank that, through the fumbling of its agent, failed to honor a notice of levy, thus enabling the debtor’s wife to drain one account and sap all but $200 from another, is liable to a judgment creditor for most of the funds that were withdrawn - but not those taken out before 4 p.m. of the day following service of the notice, in light of the financial institution’s internal policy, the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday.
Habeas ruling shows Justices' growing hostility toward writ
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court took a toxic law and made it more potent. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, or AEDPA, has been an impediment to justice since its passage more than a quarter-century ago. In Brown v. Davenport,[1] the Supreme Court just expanded the reach of one of the AEDPA's more damaging provisions. Simply put, a state court does not have to be correct in its application of constitutional law, or even in its determination of the facts in the case; it just can't be so incorrect as to be unreasonable. Few would consider that justice.
Widow of reserve deputy who died during race gets split court decision
The widow of a reserve deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department who died in 2017 during a mountain bike race at the World Police and Fire Games obtained a split decision when a judge ruled the California Police Athletic Federation will remain a defendant in the case, but also struck her claim against the group for punitive damages.
ADDA Endorsements
ADDA complete list of June 2022 endorsements:
Anne Marie Schubert
Jeffrey Prang
Paul Seo
David Zygielbaum
Abigail Baron
Sharon Ransom
Fernanda Barreto
Ryan Dibble
Renee Chang
Leslie Gutierrez
Melissa Lyons
Judge David Gelfound
Melissa Hammond
Georgia Huerta
Keith Koyano
Karen Brako
Andrea Mader
Los Angeles District Attorney
In reformer DA recall, local and national questions at play
As signatures come in, both supporters and opponents on the ground in Los Angeles are closely watching a recall effort against District Attorney George Gascón, who ran on a progressive platform, with some viewing it as part of a wider struggle for criminal justice reform. Since Gascón took office in December 2020, he and his policies have faced a wave of backlash, including widespread opposition from prosecutors inside the office of the district attorney, and two formal recall efforts.
Dave Chappelle is not happy DA won't charge accused onstage attacker with felony
Dave Chappelle's lawyer says the comedian is unhappy with Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón's decision not to file felony charges against the man who allegedly attacked him on stage. "It's a travesty of justice that Gascón is refusing to prosecute this case as a felony,'' Gabriel Colwell told the New York Post on Friday. "The city attorney, who filed the case, is doing his job but DA Gascón should also do his job and charge this as a felony.”
DA Gascon's 'woke' policies facing new pushback after child molester's murder charge (Video)
L.A. County Association of Deputy District Attorneys Vice President Eric Siddall on how Gascon's policies resulted in a short prison sentence for a child molester who now faces murder charges.
LA County DA George Gascon reverses bail policy, will allow exceptions in some cases as criticism mounts
Los Angeles County's top prosecutor has reversed a policy barring his deputy district attorneys from seeking cash bail, which he wanted to eliminate, as criticism of his office continues to mount amid a rise in crime and calls for his ouster. A memo to prosecutors from Sharon Woo, the chief deputy district attorney and second-in-command to District Attorney George Gascon, outlined a plan to create develop a pre-trial services program that would balance "both the rights of the accused while protecting public safety" as an alternative to cash bail.
Rogue prosecutor symposium
The deadly impact of rogue “progressive” prosecutors can be felt across the country. Join us for a look at the damage they’ve caused and ways to combat them as we continue our series on rogue prosecutors. First, hear from three former United States Attorneys who served in cities with elected rogue prosecutors. They’ll discuss how rogue prosecutors harm their communities, law enforcement, and the rule of law and how each of these former U.S. Attorneys have worked to make their cities safer.
Recall LADA George Gascon
In a recent op-ed, LA District Attorney George Gascon emphasized the need to increase financial support for victims of violent crimes. He says he wants more money for therapy, medical support, burial expenses and other needs - to enable victims and their families to “heal”. Good, except, he also suggests that victims are often ambivalent in their pursuit of justice, intimating that the DA must follow their wishes.
Radical DA ‘has turned the streets of Los Angeles into a living nightmare’: Campaign to recall Gascón raises more than $6 million
Last week, a political campaign in California celebrated an impactful milestone, as the “Recall DA George Gascón” group announced it had collected over 400,000 signatures as of May 1, raising more than $6 million. In order to get the recall question on the ballot, the campaign must collect 566,857 signatures from registered voters in Los Angeles County.
In reformer DA recall, local and national questions at play
As signatures come in, both supporters and opponents on the ground in Los Angeles are closely watching a recall effort against District Attorney George Gascón, who ran on a progressive platform, with some viewing it as part of a wider struggle for criminal justice reform. Since Gascón took office in December 2020, he and his policies have faced a wave of backlash, including widespread opposition from prosecutors inside the office of the district attorney, and two formal recall efforts.
Woman whose sex assault case tested D.A. Gascón’s policy on juveniles is charged with murder
The person who committed a sexual assault that sparked fierce debate over Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón's policy of not trying juveniles as adults has been charged with murder and robbery in Kern County, authorities there said. Kern County Dist. Atty. Cynthia Zimmer said in a brief interview Tuesday that Hannah Tubbs is accused of the 2019 killing of a man in Lake Isabella, a community near the Kern River.
Los Angeles mother charged with killing 3 young children
The mother of three children who were found dead at their Los Angeles home over the weekend was charged Tuesday with murder. Angela Flores, 38, is accused of killing 8-year-old Nathan Yanez, 10-year-old Kevin Yanez and 12-year-old Natalie Flores, whose bodies were discovered Sunday morning at their home in the West Hills neighborhood, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced.
South LA mother to stand trial in 4-year-old daughter's beating death
A South Los Angeles woman was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on murder charges in the death of her 4-year-old daughter back in August of 2020. Akira Smith, 36, is accused of fatally beating her 4-year-old daughter on Aug. 11, 2020. She faces one count each of murder, torture and assault on a child causing death. Following a preliminary hearing, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Michael E. Pastor Wednesday found there was sufficient evidence to require Smith to stand trial.
L.A County D.A's office: Sheriff's deputy charged with on-duty assault of woman
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced that his office has charged a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy with unlawfully assaulting a woman last year and then lying about what happened in a report. "Police accountability is an essential component of a fair and just criminal legal system," District Attorney Gascón said. "Our office will not tolerate abuses of power that result in criminal acts by law enforcement officers who are sworn to protect our community.”
Harvey Weinstein L.A. rape trial can include 6 more accusers, but not Daryl Hannah or Rose McGowan
Prosecutors can use accusations from six additional women - but not Daryl Hannah or Rose McGowan - when they try to convince a Los Angeles jury that Harvey Weinstein raped or sexually assaulted five women in and around Beverly Hills between 2004 and 2013, a judge decided Wednesday. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench made her ruling from the bench after prosecutors sought permission to admit so-called “propensity” evidence from a total of 16 women who levied allegations against the disgraced movie mogul beyond the underlying charges in the California case.
Can Young Thug’s lyrics be used against him? Prosecutors say yes in RICO case against rapper
Over the last decade, the Atlanta rapper Young Thug has dropped a steady barrage of tracks about pistols and snipers, mob life and gangsters. “I never killed anybody, but I got something to do with that body,” he rapped on the 2018 track “Anybody,” featuring Nicki Minaj. “I told them to shoot a hundred rounds ... ready for war like I’m Russia ... I get all type of cash. I’m a general.” By 2020, he was more brazen, issuing a direct challenge to authorities.
Justice Department seeks forfeiture of Holmby Hills ‘mega-mansion’
The U.S. Department of Justice yesterday announced it is seeking the forfeiture of “mega-mansion” in Holmby Hills that is listed for sale for $63.5 million, alleging that it was purchased with bribes paid to the family of Gagik Khachatryan, former Armenian Minister of Finance. In a civil complaint filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, it is alleged that that businessman Sedrak Arustamyan paid Khachatryan and his family more than $20 million in bribes in exchange for favorable tax treatment of his businesses.
Gun case dismissed against husband of former District Attorney Jackie Lacey
A misdemeanor gun case has been dismissed against former Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey's husband, who was charged in 2020 with pointing a gun out his door while ordering a group of Black Lives Matter protesters to leave the couple's Granada Hills property. The judge said last May that he believed Lacey's case was "an appropriate case for diversion," noting that he was at the time a "67-year-old man who has led an otherwise exemplary, productive life."
California prosecutors decline to file charges against Mike Tyson for alleged airline assault
The California district attorney overseeing a case against Mike Tyson for allegedly punching a man on an airplane has declined to file charges against the heavyweight championship boxer. San Mateo District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe told The Hill in an interview that the county was declining to file charges because both Tyson and the victim - now publicly identified as Melvin Townsend III - wanted the case dropped.
California targets loud exhaust with sound-activated camera enforcement
Well known for stringent emissions and modification regulations, the California State Legislature has approved a five-year automated enforcement pilot program targeting loud exhaust from cars. If signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom, the camera-enforcement program will begin January 1. The bill specifies six undisclosed cities throughout California to take part in this experimental program.
California may chop late fees that add hundreds of dollars to traffic tickets
California is poised this year to make changes to what some call “hidden” court fees, hundreds of dollars often tacked onto traffic tickets and minor violations that can increase their cost nearly tenfold. But so far, state officials disagree on how far to go. Known as a civil assessment, the fee is imposed on hundreds of thousands of Californians as a penalty for failing to pay a ticket by a deadline or failing to appear in court on a charge.
Can Santa Ana PD sergeant-turned association president sweeten pension for life?
The crown for “Prince of Public Pension-Spiking” would surely land on Bruce Malkenhorst’s head. Despite pleading guilty to misappropriating public funds, the Huntington Beach resident was collecting $551,688 a year from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System in 2015. How? By crediting himself with separate salaries for serving as the city of Vernon’s administrator, finance director, redevelopment director, clerk, treasurer and head of municipal light and power operations - all at the same time!
Los Angeles County/City
Garcetti 'likely knew or should have known' about aide's alleged sex misconduct, report finds
A prominent Republican senator's investigation into allegations surrounding Mayor Eric Garcetti and his former top aide found it "extremely unlikely" that Garcetti was unaware of the aide's alleged inappropriate behavior. The 23-page report released Tuesday by Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa concluded that Garcetti "likely knew or should have known that Rick Jacobs was sexually harassing multiple individuals and making racist comments towards others."
$100K reward offered for information on drive-by shooting that killed LAPD officer’s son
The city of Carson is offering a $100,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the person or people responsible for the January killing of a 28-year-old man. On Jan. 10, Rodquece Beezer was sitting in his car near the area of Northwood Avenue and Abbotston Street in Carson when he was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting. The city had originally offered a $50,000 reward for information related to the death of the 28-year-old, but that reward has since doubled.
LAPD lieutenant wins $4.4 million in lawsuit claiming disability discrimination and retaliation
A jury Monday awarded $4.37 million to a veteran Los Angeles police lieutenant who sued the city for disability discrimination and retaliation, alleging a supervisor minimized the plaintiff’s on-duty back problem and that the department ignored his requests for light duty in order to heal. The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for about two days before finding in favor of Lt. Lou Vince, who also is a member of the Agua Dulce Town Council and ran unsuccessfully for the 25th Congressional District seat in 2016 that was retained that year by former Rep. Steve Knight, R-Santa Clarita.
Tentative $32M settlement announced in torture-death of 10-year-old Anthony Avalos
An attorney for family members of Anthony Avalos announced a tentative $32 million settlement in a civil case lawsuit over the torture and death of the 10-year-old Lancaster boy. The boy's father, aunt, uncle and six of his half-siblings filed a lawsuit last summer against the county, alleging that multiple social workers failed to properly respond to reports of abuse of Anthony and his siblings.
LA Sheriff Villanueva releases timeline amid use-of-force case, speaks out against allegations
New documents dispute recent claims by top officials alleging a coverup by LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva in connection with a leaked jail video showing a deputy with his department kneeling on a handcuffed inmate's head. The internal document dated May 1, 2022 titled "Factual Overview - San Fernando Court Use of Force Incident" was authored by chief of staff John Satterfield and addressed to Undersheriff Tim Murakami.
'Firefighter down’: He walked into a burning house but was carried out. What happened?
The firefighter lay unconscious in the frontyard of the burning home. His crew pulled off his soot-covered equipment and started CPR, pumping down hard with their hands on his chest, over and over again. The ambulance was more than five minutes away. From across Tarapaca Road in Rancho Palos Verdes, Tim Racisz watched as flames devoured his home.
Crime/Public Safety
Former Torrance police officer arrested for allegedly possessing child sex material (Video)
A 23-year-old former Torrance police officer is scheduled to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court on June 3 following his arrest for allegedly possessing child sex abuse material.
Google made it much easier to change your compromised passwords
It is almost a given that if you have ever entered your email address into a website or signed up for a service, hackers will breach it at some point. When you get the dreaded notification that your account details are part of a massive database leak, you usually have to go through the laborious process of changing passwords. Unfortunately, people aren’t creative when it comes to passwords, which is almost as bad as not changing them.
Candidate Anne Marie Schubert (Audio)
Candidate for Attorney General Anne Marie Schubert and Eric Siddall come on the show live in studio to talk about the rise in crime in the state of California and Los Angeles.
The FBI’s next set of crime data is going to be a big mess
Crime - particularly the spike in murder that the country has seen over the past two years - is thought to be weighing heavily on the minds of voters, with November’s midterm elections no longer all that far away. When the FBI reports national crime estimates for 2021 this fall, they have the potential to be a Big Deal, politically speaking. If murders are still way up relative to a few years ago, as most experts anticipate, the Republicans are sure to blame Democrats both as the party in power.
Bill would put homeless courts near where the unhoused live
California already has more than 450 homeless courts across 19 counties, but the Redondo Beach court organizers say their model works better. Here, court convenes in a central location where the unhoused tend to congregate - in this case, close to a food donation center and two religious homeless outreach organizations. Now organizers want to take that concept and apply it statewide.
US overdose deaths hit record 107,000 last year, CDC says
More than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, setting another tragic record in the nation's escalating overdose epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated Wednesday. The provisional 2021 total translates to roughly one U.S. overdose death every 5 minutes. It marked a 15% increase from the previous record, set the year before. The CDC reviews death certificates and then makes an estimate to account for delayed and incomplete reporting.
State reaches $141 million settlement with Intuit
California Attorney General Rob Bonta last week announced a $141 million settlement against Intuit, resolving allegations that the Mountain View-based company deceptively advertised its “free” online TurboTax products. Although 70% of taxpayers qualify for the IRS Free File Program - operated by Intuit and others - fewer than 3% of them used it to file returns in 2020, according to a press release issued by the California Department of Justice May 4.
Lawmakers call for inquiry into state Controller Betty Yee's role in failed mask deal
California lawmakers say they are troubled by state Controller Betty Yee's behind-the-scenes advice to a politically connected company seeking a $600-million no-bid government contract to provide COVID-19 masks, prompting some to call for a second legislative hearing into the failed deal. Yee's role in California's scuttled state contract with Blue Flame Medical LLC went undisclosed for two years, despite a lengthy legislative inquiry and federal investigation.
Man sentenced to two life prison terms for killing 5 in LA County, aunt and uncle in Texas
A man pleaded guilty Friday to a crime spree in Los Angeles and Santa Monica that left five men dead and seven others injured, along with the killings of his aunt and uncle in Texas. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Hanasono immediately sentenced Ramon Alberto Escobar, now 50, to two life prison terms without the possibility of parole plus 124 years to life in prison for the crimes in Los Angeles County.
Former San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy pleads guilty to fraud and tax charges in multimillion-dollar investment swindle
A former San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy has pleaded guilty to multiple felonies for deceiving victims into investing at least $5.6 million with him, then using their money on extravagant gambling, taking private jet airplane rides and buying luxury items for his girlfriends, the Justice Department announced today. Christopher Lloyd Burnell, 51, of Highland, pleaded guilty on Monday afternoon to 11 counts of wire fraud and two counts of filing a false tax return.
Felon who shot Banning man to death in domestic dispute sentenced
A felon who fatally shot a 28-year-old Banning man standing in his kitchen because the defendant was angry over how his sister was treated by the victim was sentenced today to 80 years to life in state prison. Following a two-week trial, Jason Anthony Rhine, 44, of Riverside, was convicted last month of first-degree murder, burglary, being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.
Articles of Interest
L.A. Times endorsement of Lindsey Horvath raises conflict of interest questions
The Los Angeles Times‘ editorial board has endorsed WeHo Councilmember Lindsey Horvath in the race to become one of the most powerful elected officials in L.A. County. The Times said Horvath’s election to the five-member Board of Supervisors would give it “a jolt of youthful energy and accelerate its sense of urgency.”
Finding the perfect donor (Video)
A LAPD officer found the perfect match right in his own home. FOX 11's Mario Ramirez has the story.
California bar risks lawyer suits after data breach notices
The State Bar of California’s plan to notify attorneys whose names were exposed in a data breach of disciplinary records may spur litigation from lawyers who feel their reputations have been tarnished. The California bar said it will send notices to complainants, witnesses, and respondents whose names appeared in the over 320,000 confidential records that were posted on a third-party site and available from October 2021 to February 2022.
Probate judge considers Florida man's claim that he is Charles Manson's grandson
A probate court judge on Tuesday took under submission a Florida man's assertion that he is the grandson of mass murderer Charles Manson, a claim being challenged by a former Manson pen pal as well as Manson's professed sister, who are also vying to administer the late cult leader's estate. During Tuesday's virtual hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Ruben Garcia said he will decide by May 20 whether 45-year-old Jason Freeman of Bradenton, Florida, is indeed the son of Manson's late son, Charles Manson Jr., who was also named Charles Jay White and who committed suicide in June 1993.
Maker of face scan software agrees to limit access to database
Surveillance technology firm Clearview AI reached a settlement Monday with the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union and several other civil rights groups, agreeing to restrict access to its database of billions of images of people’s faces from around the globe. Clearview, based out of New York City, claims on its website that it maintains “the largest known database of 10+ billion facial images sourced from public-only web sources, including news media, mugshot websites, public social media, and other open sources.”
BLM’s Patrisse Cullors denies wrongdoing
No, insists Patrisse Cullors, former leader of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation: Despite allegations of financial improprieties, neither she nor anyone else in leadership misused millions of dollars in donations. But in an interview with The Associated Press, Cullors acknowledged that BLM was ill-prepared to handle a tidal wave of contributions in the aftermath of protests over George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020. She said the foundation was slow to build the necessary groundwork.
CalPERS board violated open meetings law, judge rules. Ex-board member wants more information.
The CalPERS Board of Administration violated California’s open meetings law when it excluded the public from a discussion two years ago related to the exit of its former investment chief, a judge ruled last week. The retirement system’s board held a closed-session meeting in August 2020 after the sudden resignation of former Chief Investment Officer Ben Meng. Meng quit after someone filed a conflict-of-interest complaint over his personal investments in Blackstone, a private equity firm in which the pension fund also was invested.
CalPERS audit found widespread violation of laws meant to curb pension ‘double-dipping’
A CalPERS proposal to limit how many years retirees may work for public agencies while continuing to receive a pension has its origins in a 2019 audit that identified widespread violations of state retirement laws. The retirement system found violations in the use of retired annuitants at 72% of the 61 local government agencies it audited, according to a copy of the audit CalPERS provided in response to a Public Records Act request.
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