Courts & Rulings
Public will have to find and pay for own court reporters in many LA civil cases
Starting this month, Los Angeles Superior Court will no longer provide official, free court reporters for some civil cases. The change means those cases will no longer have an official written record, unless the participants are willing to pay fees to hire their own reporter ranging from $800 to $2,000 a day. The court says there is a shortage of reporters, forcing the available employees to be prioritized for criminal cases, as required by law.
Hearing a rumor does not mark start of investigation
The one-year period within which to conduct a disciplinary investigation of a law enforcement officer, provided for in the Public Safety Officer’s Bill of Rights, does not commence upon higher-ups in the department hearing rumors of misconduct, Div. Two of the Fourth District Court of Appeal has held in rejecting the appeal of an ousted Sheriff’s Department captain who had sexual relations with several females under his command.
Supreme Court refuses to consider requiring 12-person juries
The Supreme Court declined over the objection of two justices Monday to decide whether defendants facing serious criminal charges are legally entitled to 12-person juries, rejecting an appeal from an Arizona man who was convicted of fraud by a jury of just eight people. The decision not to take up the appeal, brought by defendant Ramin Khorrami, means states can continue to use of six- or eight-person juries in felony cases.
Dissenting judge: California court just created 'sweeping new rule of tort liability’
Yamaha can be held liable for a dealer’s failure to install a motorcycle throttle assembly correctly, a California appeals court has ruled, in a decision a dissenting judge said “creates a sweeping new rule of tort liability that has no basis in California law.” The decision by the Fourth Appellate District, Division Two, interprets a 1966 opinion by the California Supreme Court to make manufacturers liable for the negligence of dealers who sell their products.
US appeals court ruling in Oregon case: Beauty pageant can bar trans contestants
A federal appellate court says a national beauty pageant has a First Amendment right to exclude a transgender woman from competing, because including her could interfere with the message the pageant wants to send about the “ideal woman.” Wednesday’s 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by Anita Green, who said the Miss United States of America pageant violated an Oregon state anti-discrimination law when it barred her from competing in 2019.
Policy favoring decision on the merits didn’t preclude striking late-filed opposition
The Court of Appeal for this district has held that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge did not abuse his discretion in striking a plaintiff’s opposition to a motion for summary judgment that was filed one day before the hearing and after one extension for responding had already been granted, with the plaintiff’s lawyer providing a lame excuse for the tardiness and his failure to make a motion for a second extension.
Supreme Court won’t wade into dispute over prosecutor testifying at trial
The Supreme Court declined on Monday to take up the appeal of a man from Louisiana who says he was denied the right to a fair trial when prosecutors called the assistant district attorney - who presented the case to the grand jury - to the witness stand. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, dissented from the court’s decision not to take up the case. Jackson and Sotomayor also voted together in a separate dispute Monday concerning appeal from an inmate. 
Ninth Circuit won't step into lawyer fight over millions from Roundup lawsuits - yet
There’s no need to resolve a brewing fight over more than $800 million in fees from Roundup lawsuits, a federal appeals court ruled, rejecting an attempt by plaintiff lawyers in charge of federal multidistrict litigation to collect fees from cases in state court. Weitz & Luxenberg and the Miller Law Firm appealed a June 2022 order by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria tentatively granting them 8% of any settlements of cases in the MDL as a so-called “common benefit” fee.
Dealing with ‘internal terrorist’
“Internal terrorist,” is an old LAPD management term used for those who don’t “get with the program.” Much has changed within LAPD, but not for some of its alums. One in particular, George Gascón - former LAPD brass - used the antiquated term during his campaign for district attorney. When asked how he would work within civil service rules to implement his agenda, he was not concerned. “I know certainly how to deal” with “internal terrorists.” He wasn’t lying.
DA to review cases involving LA cop accused of CBS tip off
Los Angeles County prosecutors will look into past cases involving a former police captain who allegedly tipped off CBS executive Les Moonves that a woman had filed a confidential police report accusing him of sexual assault, the district attorney's office said Friday. "Our office is dismayed" by the allegations against Cory Palka and will look at cases in which he was a witness to determine whether they must be reviewed and defense counsel notified, the DA's office said in a statement.
L.A. sheriff’s deputy charged in 2021 fatal shooting of man who was already on the ground
A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was charged Wednesday in an on-duty unlawful fatal shooting of a man who was holding a knife last year outside his family's East Los Angeles home. Deputy Remin Pineda, 38, was charged with one felony count each of assault with a semi-automatic firearm and assault under color of authority after David Ordaz was fatally shot in the March 2021, Jr., Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced Thursday. An arraignment date has not been set.
Alex Villanueva investigated by DA’s Office after fundraising video surfaces
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is under investigation Thursday after video surfaced of him asking for donations to his reelection campaign. The video obtained by the Los Angeles Times shows Villanueva asking for sheriff’s deputies to support him by donating to his reelection efforts. “This message is for deputies,” Villanueva says in the video. “We’re gonna win this thing, and Lord willing, and if you want to help, anything will help us get our message out there, get our ads online and on TV and our texting going on.”
L.A. drops criminal charges against election software executive
Los Angeles County dropped criminal charges against the top executive of an elections technology company on Wednesday, bringing to an abrupt end an unusual case that became the focus of Americans who distrust the country’s electoral system. The district attorney’s office said in a statement that it had dropped the case against the executive, Eugene Yu, because of concerns about the “pace of the investigation” and the “potential bias in the presentation” of evidence in the case.
DA challenging raft of criminal cases being dismissed by judges
Riverside County prosecutors are scrambling to re-file complaints and submit motions challenging judges’ decisions to dismiss hundreds of criminal cases countywide, in what District Attorney Mike Hestrin said Monday is fast becoming a “public safety crisis.” According to the District Attorney’s Office, judges have booted just over 500 felony and misdemeanor cases since the second week of October, citing a lack of available courtroom space for trials.
Wanted L.A. murder suspect caught in Mexico after over a decade
A wanted fugitive who has been on the run for over 13 years after a Los Angeles murder has been caught in Mexico. The suspect, Steven Giovanni Aguilar-Medina, 29, was arrested on Oct. 18 in the Mexican town of Progreso, Merida, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. On Dec. 28, 2009, Aguilar-Medina was allegedly driven to the location of a rival gang in Los Angeles by his girlfriend, Evelin Martinez, according to the FBI.
Orange County man charged in connection with series of sexual assaults of women he met on dating site
A Lake Forest man has been charged in connection with a series of rapes and sexual assaults of women he met on a dating site, officials announced Monday. Deep Ketan Vora, 30, was arrested by Tustin police at LAX on Sunday as he returned from India. He faces two felony counts of rape by force, one felony count of false imprisonment affected by violence, menace, fraud or deceit, one felony count of attempted kidnapping to commit rape, and three felony counts of sexual penetration by foreign object and force.
Attorney General Bonta, law enforcement partners announce 19 arrests in major sexual predator sting operation
California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the arrest of 19 individuals for allegedly attempting to contact a minor for sex and other related crimes. The arrests are the result of a joint undercover operation conducted by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, including the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Fresno Police Department, Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and California Department of Justice.
Attorney General Bonta announces arrest of prohibited felon found with dozens of illegal guns, hundreds of gun parts
California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the arrest of a suspect found with dozens of illegal guns, hundreds of magazines, and around 80,000 rounds of ammunition in his home. The suspect was previously convicted of multiple felonies in Ventura County, and is prohibited from owning and possessing firearms and ammunition. During a search of his home, Special Agents from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) also found and seized equipment to 3D-print ghost guns.
California DAs want state prison officials to explain early release of violent criminals
The California District Attorneys Association wants the state prison system to explain why it is releasing violent prisoners who haven’t earned sufficient rehabilitation credits early from prison. In some cases, they have re-offended and committed even more serious crimes, the
CDAA said Monday. “California Gov. Gavin Newsom will be letting another 76,000 prisoners out of state prisons - on his own authority through Executive Order - violent crime is spiking in California’s cities,” the Globe reported May 2021.
How an L.A.P.D. officer helped Les Moonves fight an assault complaint
When the New York attorney general’s office announced this week that the former CBS chief executive Leslie Moonves and CBS’s parent company, Paramount Global, had agreed to pay $9.75 million after a state investigation found that they had concealed allegations of sexual misconduct against him, the news was accompanied by another revelation.
Inside the L.A. County Fed: Humbled by racist leak, fearful more tapes might be out there
Compared to the marbled splendor of Los Angeles City Hall, the building that houses the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor isn’t much to look at - drab, utilitarian and hunched on a gritty sun-blasted corner a few blocks south of MacArthur Park. But inside that building, the federation’s then-president, Ron Herrera, recently talked about the emotion he wanted elected officials and candidates for office to feel when they glimpsed the street the unassuming structure stands on.
California campaign finance law could lead to big change for local politics
A new campaign finance law aimed at bringing more transparency to local politics soon figures to reshape the role of money in virtually every city and county office in California. But how the rule known as SB 1439 will play out in real life is a subject of sharp debate. Supporters believe the rule will work as intended, and at least curb so-called “pay-to-play” corruption by requiring local officials to declare even more openly than they do now who they get money from and avoid voting to help those specific donors.
Library sides with Gallegly in CLU fight
There’s new fallout in former U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly’s ongoing legal battle with Cal Lutheran University over its handling of the public policy center that bears his name. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute said last week it would no longer lend its name to a fellowship that provides scholarships for students entering CLU’s Master of Public Policy and Administration program. “Unfortunately, we’ve had to sever ties with Cal Lutheran for the purposes of the Reagan-Gallegly Fellowship,” said John Heubusch, executive director of the foundation.
Los Angeles County/City
Demonstration protests demotion, move of local police captain
On Friday, Oct. 28 some Sunland-Tujunga residents gathered in front of the North Valley Neighborhood City Hall in Tujunga to protest the transfer of a police captain who they had come to trust and respect. Capt. Johnny Smith was recently transferred from the LAPD’s Foothill Division to the 77th Street Community Police Station, according to the Los Angeles Police Dept. website. As of late Tuesday the website listed Capt. Johnny Smith as still being at the Foothill Division, along with Capt. Jeffrey Hollis, and a call to the station confirmed Capt. Smith was the station’s captain.
LAPD apologizes to assault victim advocates after Moonves leak
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said he personally apologized for the leak of a crime victim's name and confidential information, that was allegedly part of a scheme to conceal a sexual assault accusation made against former CBS network president Les Moonves. "I met with a number of advocacy groups dedicated to protecting victims of sexual assaults, first to apologize for this breach of trust," Moore said. "Second, during that hour-long meeting, to talk about the path going forward."
LA County seeks dismissal of claims in firefighter widow’s lawsuit
While acknowledging the tragedy of the shooting of a Los Angeles County Fire Department engineer by a colleague at the Agua Dulce station in 2021, a lawyer for the county says in new court papers that her client does not have liability due to governmental immunity and workers’ compensation rules. The Chatsworth Superior Court lawsuit was brought Jan. 21 by Heidi Carlon, who was married to the late 44-year-old Tory Carlon; her adult daughter, Joslyn Carlon; and Heidi Carlon’s two other daughters, who are both minors, alleging wrongful death, negligence and civil rights violations.
Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) Membership Application
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Crime/Public Safety
Video shows wild street takeover in Los Angeles’ Florence neighborhood
A wild street takeover was captured on video in the Florence neighborhood of Los Angeles early Monday morning. The incident occurred around 1:45 a.m. in the Manchester Avenue and San Pedro Street intersection. Cars could be seen whipping around the intersection with passengers hanging out of windows as a crowd of spectators urged them on. One passenger was hanging so far out of the window that his shoe appeared to touch the street.
LAPD could soon add Boston Dynamics’ $300K robot dog to its arsenal
The Los Angeles Police Department could soon receive a nearly $300,000 robot that commanders insist will make standoffs safer. Dubbed “Spot,” the four-legged, all-terrain, dog-like robot manufactured by Boston Dynamics has been seen by millions in social media videos, earning intrigue from some and distress from others due to its uncanny, too-realistic gait. Earlier this year, three Spots danced to BTS on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Inside the first-of-its-kind TikTok task force to stop Kia theft
The video begins when a blue-gloved hand pries a screwdriver inside a car’s ignition switch. Parts dangle off the dashboard as the camera reveals the exposed interior where a USB cable could serve as a key to start the engine. This is the notorious “Kia Challenge.” And it’s been trending on TikTok since July. The original tutorial for how to steal a Kia has since been deleted.
Off-duty San Bernardino Police Department officer is arrested
An off-duty San Bernardino Police Department officer was arrested and charged with the negligent discharge of a firearm, the department said in a news release. On Nov. 6 at about 1:50 a.m., deputies from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department's Twin Peaks Station received reports of shots heard and responded to Dogwood Tavern, located in the 27000 block of State Highway 189 in Blue Jay.
Family confronts pursuit driver who runs into home and steals their truck
A family confronts a driver involved in a dangerous police pursuit as he runs in their home and steals their truck. A driver which led multiple police units on a pursuit which began in Anaheim ran out of a vehicle he had carjacked in Whittier and ran onto their property. Andres Benitez was inside the home with his mother when the driver ran inside and grabbed the keys to his truck. "I was inside the house, I just came back from work after a long day," Benitez.
Calif. sheriff’s office discontinues daytime patrols due to ‘catastrophic staffing shortage’
One California sheriff’s office is reportedly suspending daytime patrol services due to a “catastrophic staffing shortage.” The suspension will take effect Nov. 20. According to KRCR News, the Tehama County Sheriff's Office (TCSO) is continuing to experience barriers to recruitment and retention due to pay disparities. "A drastic rise in attrition, coupled with the inability to present enticing recruitment efforts have resulted in an unprecedented staffing shortage," TCSO wrote in a statement shared by KRCR News.
‘We’ll never be San Francisco:’ New York Gov. Hochul combats criticism about crime in NYC
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared in an interview over the weekend that the Big Apple will “never be San Francisco,” pushing back against criticism that New Yorkers, feeling unsafe, feared their city was becoming like San Francisco. The comment came during an interview where MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle grilled Hochul, a Democrat fighting in Tuesday’s election to win her first full term, about public safety.
Cops: ‘Hood CNN’ reporter’s murder solved but no prosecution
The 2018 killing of “ZackTV,” a trailblazer in a perilous genre of gangland reporting he called “‘hood CNN,” seemed destined to go unsolved, even though gunmen attacked him on a downtown Chicago street lined with surveillance cameras. Police never announced arrests in the shooting of Zachary Stoner, who drew a national YouTube following filling a media niche with up-close stories about the lives and deaths of gang members and affiliated rappers from places other reporters were afraid to go.
Task force files enforcement actions against two alleged illegal robocallers
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office has announced the national Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force is enforcing investigations into two voice service providers over alleged involvement in illegal robocalls. “We must leave no stone unturned in our fight against unlawful robocalls,” Morrisey said in a press release. “West Virginia remains committed to making progress in combating unlawful robocalls and we will continue to cooperate with other states and national agencies to stop these illegal and obnoxious scam calls.
How crime came to haunt the Democrats
With Election Day looming, Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Manhattan last Thursday for a campaign stop few Democrats would have thought necessary over the summer, as Kathy Hochul, the incumbent governor of New York, opened a commanding lead over her Republican challenger, Rep. Lee Zeldin. In a season full of political uncertainties, at least her tenure in the governor's mansion in Albany seemed secure.
Russian oligarch Prigozhin appears to admit to US election interference
Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Kremlin-linked oligarch known as “Vladimir Putin’s chef,” appeared to admit to Russian interference in US elections in a Telegram post on Monday. Prigozhin said that Russia has interfered, is interfering and will continue to interfere in the US democratic process, in response to a journalist’s question about Russia potentially meddling in US congressional elections on Tuesday.
Witness whom Oath Keepers deemed key seeks 5th Amendment shield
A man under investigation for his conduct at the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, took the stand as a key defense witness Tuesday for five associates of the Oath Keepers, including the leader of the far-right militia. In what the judge called an “unexpected turn,” however, Dario Aquino pleaded the Fifth Amendment to avoid the possibility of self-incrimination.
LA Politics
Former Los Angeles controller says city government is stacked against the office
Though Laura Chick has lambasted Los Angeles’ new City Controller Kenneth Mejia as “unfit” and an “extremist,” Chick also tried to “audit the status quo” when she held Mejia’s job from 2001-2009. Chick served on the City Council from 1993 to 2001 before she became city controller, the “independent watchdog” charged with overseeing her former colleagues. Chick clashed with the City Council’s culture of consensus.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s race: Luna poised to unseat Villanueva
Los Angeles County seems likely to have a new sheriff, as Robert Luna continues to expand his lead over incumbent Alex Villanueva. Luna, the former chief of the Long Beach Police Department, carried a lead of more than 150,000 votes into Wednesday. On Thursday, the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office released updated vote totals which showed that lead increasing. Luna currently sports a lead of more than 200,00 votes over Villanueva with 58% of precincts reporting.
Articles of Interest
Newsom blasts cities over homelessness, yanks $1 billion in grants
Chastising California cities for a lack of "aggressive" planning on how to use state funding to combat homelessness, Governor Gavin Newsom pulled the plug on $1 billion in funding for homeless services - at least for now. Newsom announced Thursday he will get city leaders together this month to review current strategies for addressing the statewide homelessness crisis, and to identify better approaches.
Court rebuffs coffee-causes-cancer lawsuits
The group that once hoped to extract settlements to restaurants that sold coffee for lacking a cancer warning salvaged six figures in attorneys fees it was once ordered to pay. However, the Council for Education and Research and Toxics' overall goal of declaring invalid a regulation that said the warning would be unnecessary failed, in a California Second Appellate District ruling handed down Oct. 26.
Virginia Giuffre says Dershowitz abuse claim may have been ‘mistake’
A victim of Jeffrey Epstein has settled a lawsuit against Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and released a statement indicating she possibly made a mistake in accusing him of sexual assault. Virginia Giuffre, who says she was kept as a sex slave to Epstein and his convicted accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell, sued Dershowitz months before the late sex trafficker’s arrest in the summer of 2019.
Attorney General Bonta supports effort to block Meta acquisition of popular virtual reality fitness app
California Attorney General Rob Bonta, as part of a coalition of 25 attorneys general, submitted an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in support of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) effort to block Meta from acquiring the popular virtual reality fitness company, Within Unlimited. The acquisition of Within Unlimited, and its app “Supernatural,” is part of Facebook’s - now Meta’s - broad buy-or-bury strategy that is designed to thwart competition at the expense of users.
Appellate judge won’t block appointment of Trump Org monitor
Former President Donald Trump’s company can’t avoid an independent monitor’s oversight while it appeals a court’s decision to require an outside watchdog, a New York appellate court judge ruled Wednesday. Angela Mazzarelli, an associate justice on the state’s mid-level appeals court, rejected the Trump Organization’s request for a stay - a legal mechanism that would’ve halted the monitoring requirement while it pursues an appeal.
Chinese company is found guilty of bribing ex-LA Councilman Jose Huizar
A Chinese real estate company was found guilty today of federal charges for bribing former Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar with over $1.5 million in cash, gambling trips and escorts in exchange for the then-councilman's support of a planned hotel project in downtown L.A. Shen Zhen New World I LLC faces a multi-million dollar fine at sentencing on Jan. 23. Although he was also charged, company owner Wei Huang fled to China after charges were announced and has never appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom in connection with the case.
Theranos co-founders Holmes and Balwani strike out in bids to dump fraud convictions
A federal judge has denied disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes' request for a new trial, setting the stage for her sentencing on four counts of wire fraud. Holmes had asked for a new trial in September after asking for an acquittal on the grounds that the jury did not have enough evidence to make a reasonable determination of guilt. Holmes claimed key witness Adam Rosendorff attempted to visit her home after the jury’s verdict and said he had misgivings about his testimony.
Man who stole $14 in 2002 released from prison after 20 years
David Coulson, 55, was incarcerated from 2002 to 2022 in California under the Three Strikes law, 1990s legislation mandating life sentences following a third felony offense. 20 years into serving a life sentence for stealing $14, a Black man was released from a California prison last month following a recommendation from the state’s department of corrections and rehabilitation.
Bay Area doctor convicted after patient overdosed and died
A federal jury convicted a 75-year-old California physician of prescribed an opioids and other powerful drugs to a patient who didn’t need them and who eventually died of an overdose, prosecutors said. While running a pain management clinic in Santa Rosa, Thomas Keller prescribed drugs “in dosages that far exceeded the usual course of professional practice and was for no legitimate medical need,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Where’s my check? 18 million California rebate payments still coming
Haven’t gotten your Middle Class Tax Refund? You and 17,999,999 taxpaying California residents haven’t either. It’s been a week since California started sending out the MCTR to millions of qualifying residents. The Franchise Tax Board said Friday that it has issued 4.5 million direct deposits and mailed out 905,000 prepaid debit cards since distribution began Oct. 28. A representative with the tax board said the state still has 18 million more payments to distribute between now and mid-January.
Last year’s losses at California pension systems were larger than initial reports showed
California’s two giant pension systems lost a couple billion dollars more than was previously reported in the volatile markets of the first half of this year. The Public Employees’ Retirement System and the State Teachers’ Retirement System recently published more complete financial figures for the fiscal year that ended in June, incorporating private equity and real asset returns through the end of that month along with other factors including benefit payments and contributions. The adjustments happen every year.
About 1,700 California pensions are so big they exceed IRS limits
About 1,700 CalPERS pensions are so large they exceed an IRS limit and siphon money away from government employers, according to new figures from the retirement system. The IRS sets an annual cap - this year it’s $245,000 - above which public pension payments must be treated as wages, subject to the same withholdings and deductions. The extra-large pensions are growing more numerous in California, creating added costs for the cities and counties who have to pay for them.
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