Courts, Rulings & Lawsuits

US Supreme Court takes up appeal by convicted border drug ‘mule'

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a California woman's bid to overturn her conviction for smuggling drugs across the U.S.-Mexican border in a dispute over the scope of prosecution expert witness testimony presented to undermine her defense that she acted unwittingly as a "blind" drug mule.


Face of Hollywood heir charged with murdering wife can’t be photographed in court, judge rules

Three murder charges were filed Monday against Hollywood heir Sam Haskell in the deaths of his wife, Mei Haskell, 37, and her parents, Gaoshan Li, 72, and Yanxiang Wang, 64. But when Haskell appeared in a Los Angeles court on Monday, the judge told the media that his face could not be photographed, according to Fox News.

The Messenger

US judge orders probe of phony Visa, Mastercard settlement website

A U.S. judge has agreed to investigate a website that lawyers said is presenting "false and misleading" information about the $5.6 billion settlement that retailers struck with Visa and Mastercard over credit and debit card fees. U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Marutollo in Brooklyn in an order on Friday granted a request from plaintiffs' lawyers in the case to start a probe that could shut down the unauthorized site and void any client contracts that have come from it.


Modern cars can legally store your texts and call history permanently

A few Washington State residents took Ford, General Motors, Volkswagen, Honda, and Toyota to court. They accused the automakers in five separate cases of violating their privacy rights, which the Washington Privacy Act (WPA) codifies and guarantees. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit bundled them up and said that the plaintiffs were wrong in assessing how the WPA actually works. 


Shakedowns and secretaries: Company wants movement on lawsuit against lawyer-created Prop 65 group

A company targeted by a supposed health advocate says in court papers that the group was created by lawyers solely to file lawsuits and is using one of its founders' former secretaries to serve as a plaintiff. B&G Foods is arguing against further delay of its litigation against Environmental Health Advocates and Kim Embry.

Legal Newsline


LA County race for district attorney: Gascón faces off with candidates in Democratic debate

The primary is several months away, and many eyes are on the race to replace Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón. For the first time, he faced off against seven challengers during a debate Tuesday night hosted by the Santa Monica Democratic Club. The event featured the race's Democratic candidates, including Los Angeles Superior Court judges Craig Mitchell and Debra Archuleta, deputy district attorneys Maria Ramirez, John McKinney, Jonathan Hatami, and Eric Siddall, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Chemerinsky.


Gascon attends first debate says catastrophic rise in crime in LA County is “fake news”

The gloves were off last night in the first debate George Gascon attended since announcing his bid for re-election last month. Seven candidates, all Democrats, attended the forum hosted by the Santa Monica Democratic Club who endorsed Gascon for DA in 2020. Los Angeles Superior Court judges Craig Mitchell and Debra Archuleta, Deputy District Attorneys Maria Ramirez, John McKinney, Jonathan Hatami, and Eric Siddall, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Chemerinsky participated.

The Current Report

Man charged with murdering wife, in-laws after body parts found in Encino trash bin

A man arrested after the partially dismembered remains of a woman were discovered in Encino was charged Monday with three counts of murder and made an initial appearance in court in downtown Los Angeles. Samuel Bond Haskell, 35, was ordered held with no bail. The criminal complaint, filed mid-day Monday, accused Haskell of murdering his wife, Mei Haskell, and her parents, Yanxiang Wang and Gaoshan Li. All three family members remained unaccounted for.


Moorpark man charged in death of Jewish protester at Thousand Oaks gathering

Ventura County Sheriff's detectives arrested a Moorpark man Thursday morning in connection with the death of Paul Kessler, who was injured at a protest in Thousand Oaks on Nov. 5. The man, a full-time tenured faculty member at Moorpark College, later faced two felony charges announced by prosecutors late Thursday afternoon. Loay Alnaji, 50, was arrested at his home shortly after 7 a.m. on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter, sheriff's officials said in a news release.

Ventura County Star

Federal prosecutors charge MS-13 drug suspects linked to Mexican Mafia leader

Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles charged 23 alleged members and associates of the MS-13 gang in a conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine, authorities announced Tuesday. Speaking at a news conference in downtown L.A., E. Martin Estrada, the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, called drug sales “the lifeblood” of the gang, which was born 40 years ago in Los Angeles before deported members carried it back to their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

Los Angeles Times

Doubt declared about Long Beach suspect's mental competency in sexual assault case

Criminal proceedings were suspended Tuesday after a doubt was declared about the mental competency of a man accused of attacking a woman from behind and lifting her dress on a Long Beach sidewalk. Miguel Avila, 30, is charged with a felony count of assault with the intent to commit a forcible sex crime and a misdemeanor count of sexual battery involving the alleged attack Oct. 20 that was caught on surveillance video.

City News Service

LAPD officer’s case over nude photos due back next month 

An attorney representing a Los Angeles Police Department officer charged with six misdemeanors alleging he shared nude pictures of his wife appeared Wednesday in Newhall as the prosecution sought more time to consider the evidence. Brady Lamas, 45, of Santa Clarita, stands accused of six violations of penal code section 647j(4), a misdemeanor, according to L.A. County Superior Court 

The Signal

Los Angeles City/County

The LAPD Store takes flight, just in time for holiday season

This holiday season, the Los Angeles Police Foundation is excited to announce the opening of the online LAPD Store, offering an exclusive array of merchandise that lets you bring a piece of the Los Angeles Police Department's iconic spirit into your home. From unique LAPD Police Buggy UTV 2 Seater Ride-Ons to stylish badge hoodies, SWAT T-shirts, toys, and jewelry crafted by the renowned Pascal Mouawad, there's something for every LAPD enthusiast.

Los Angeles Police Foundation

Former D.A. Robert Philibosian dies

Robert H. Philibosian, who served as district attorney of Los Angeles County from Dec. 28, 1982 to Dec. 3, 1984 and since then was a civil practitioner with major law firms for nearly 40 years, died yesterday at the age of 83. He was the first district attorney in the county to open the doors widely to female attorneys applying to become prosecutors. Philibosian was articulate, incisive in his analysis, and, while sociable, was not a glad-hander. 

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

A skeleton and a smoking gun: Why a newly elected deputy union board member’s tattoo is sparking concern

A union representing Los Angeles County sheriff deputies recently elected to its board of directors a veteran lawman who has a controversial tattoo and was involved in two fatal shootings that cost the county $4 million in legal payouts, sparking concern among oversight officials and justice advocates. Incoming Assn. of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs board member Jason Zabala previously described his tattoo under oath, saying it depicted a skeleton in a cowboy hat with a smoking rifle and the number 140. 

Los Angeles Times

LAPD officers suing L.A. controller Mejia alleging breach of contract

The union representing thousands of Los Angeles police officers is suing L.A. City Controller, Kenneth Mejia, alleging breach of contract. Last August, the city of Los Angeles agreed to give its police officers 20% in pay raises over the next four years. Last month, the first 6% pay raise was rolled out, but the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) says some things were missing from their union members' checks - and they're blaming Mejia.

KNX News

Inside the ‘pressure cooker’: 4 current and former LA sheriff’s employees die by suicide in less than 24 hours

When former police officer Omar Delgado heard the news of four current and former members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department dying by suicide in less than 24 hours last week, he understood. “It’s kind of like a pressure cooker. If you don’t slowly let go of that steam little by little, when it does pop, it’s over because it’s going to be such a big explosion.”



Suspect sought in North Hollywood follow-home robberies was arrested, released 5 times in 18 months

Authorities on Wednesday identified one of two men being sought in a series of follow-home armed robberies in the Los Angeles area, including two such crimes in North Hollywood. Dashawn Dow, 20, was identified as a suspect by the Los Angeles Police Department, which circulated his photo, along with security video of one of the crimes.


Special counsel using California grand jury in Hunter Biden probe, subpoenas his uncle James Biden

Special counsel prosecutors are using a Los Angeles grand jury to seek documents and possible testimony from multiple witnesses as part of the ongoing federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s business dealings, according to people familiar with the probe. James Biden, President Joe Biden’s brother and a one-time business associate of Hunter, is among the individuals who have received a subpoena in recent weeks, according to two sources close to the investigation.


Man who spent 38 years in prison after wrongful conviction sues police detectives

A man who spent 38 years behind bars after he was wrongfully convicted of the murder of a woman during a 1983 carjacking sued the two Inglewood, California, police detectives he accuses of fabricating the case against him. Maurice Hastings, 70, said in a federal complaint filed Wednesday in Los Angeles that Inglewood police had arrested the true perpetrator, who matched the description witnesses had provided and who had what was likely the murder weapon as well as some of the victim's jewelry in his possession, for a series of car thefts but didn't investigate him in connection with the carjacking.

Courthouse News Service

Sacramento sheriff calls out Target for limits on shoplifting enforcement

At a time of increasingly brazen retail theft, one California sheriff is calling out Target for what he describes as a lack of cooperation with law enforcement. Sacramento County Sheriff Jim Cooper posted on X about an encounter he had with the company recently in which his deputies were attempting to crack down on shoplifting.


Inside the world’s largest AIDS charity’s troubled move into homeless housing

After her eviction, Alisha Lucero returned to her apartment to find her belongings thrown away. Gone were Lucero’s passport and her recently deceased brother’s high school letter jacket. Lucero said she couldn’t get into her car because her landlord, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, had trashed her keys. She was wearing the only clothes she had left. 

Los Angeles Times

Deputy District Attorney who lost race for open seat last year to run again

Deputy District Attorney Leslie Gutierrez on Thursday hopped in the race for Los Angeles Superior Court Office No. 130, meaning that Orange County attorney Christopher Darden, a prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, now has three rivals. Last year, Gutierrez lost in a run-off with then-Deputy District Attorney Melissa Lyons, receiving 40.4 percent of the votes. Gutierrez, who earned her law degree at Southwestern, was admitted to the State Bar in 2011.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Los Angeles County supervisors ignore the jailed mentally ill

In 2015, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors guaranteed constitutional mental health care to inmates as part of a federal consent decree. Since then, federal monitors have issued reports every six months to access compliance with the decree, the 16th of which was recently released. Previous reports have primarily critiqued the failure to provide adequate treatment and housing in the Twin Towers Facility, where the majority of the county’s mentally ill inmates are housed.

Pasadena Star-News

X asks federal court to block California law governing social media companies

A federal judge heard arguments Monday as to whether he should issue a preliminary injunction against a California law that requires large social media companies to submit reports to the state about how they moderate content. X Corp., formerly known as Twitter, sued California Attorney General Rob Bonta in September over Assembly Bill 587, which requires certain social media companies to submit reports to the state.

Courthouse News Service

Ex-D.A. Garcetti says he didn’t fire prosecutor Darden

Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, while praising O.J. Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden, now a candidate for a Los Angeles Superior Court open seat, has disputed Darden’s account of having been fired while on a pre-arranged paid one-year leave of absence after the “trial of the century” ended with a guilty verdict. Garcetti was district attorney while the trial, which was televised worldwide, was in progress in 1994-95. He is now a professional photographer.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Newly released LA County jail videos show violent use-of-force against inmates

Newly released surveillance videos taken inside Los Angeles County jails show violent use-of-force toward inmates. The videos were unsealed by a federal judge as part of a long running lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. "They're not following their own policies, and they're really putting people are at risk of serious injury, or even death with some of these techniques they're using," said Corene Kendrick, deputy director of the ACLU's National Prison Project.



Parole recommended for ex-LAPD detective convicted of murder

A state parole board panel Thursday recommended parole for a former Los Angeles Police Department detective who was convicted of gunning down her ex-lover’s new wife in 1986 at the condominium where the couple lived in Van Nuys. The decision was made during the first parole suitability hearing for Stephanie Ilene Lazarus, an art theft investigator and 25-year LAPD veteran who was convicted in March 2012 of first-degree murder for the Feb. 24, 1986, killing of Sherri Rasmussen.


Five convicted of murdering three, wounding nine others at LB party

Five gang members were convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of three people at a Halloween-themed party in Long Beach just over four years ago, along with the attempted murders of nine other people who were injured, including a woman who was left paralyzed. The Long Beach jury found true the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and gang-related murders against all five defendants, who are facing life in prison without the possibility of parole.

City News Service

Family of murdered Citrus Heights man calls for justice after killer was granted parole

It's been 10 years since a Citrus Heights man was stabbed and killed in his home. Three people were convicted in his murder, but now, that man's family said justice is being taken away from them following a parole hearing in October. Chrissy Fonseca and her cousin, Kendra Carden, want to hold onto of their uncle, Jack Swaim. They remember him as a "jokester" with a contagious laugh.


Agoura Hills property developer sentenced to nearly 3½ years in prison for lying on bankruptcy petition and filing false federal tax returns

An Agoura Hills real estate developer was sentenced today to 41 months in federal prison for failing to disclose on a bankruptcy petition that he had earned nearly $2.3 million in income and for failing to report almost $6.9 million in income on his tax returns. Mark Handel, 69, was sentenced by United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II, who also fined Handel $20,000 and ordered him to forfeit approximately $3,545,712, which represents the proceeds of the sale of real estate in Alameda County.

U.S. Attorney’s Office Press Release

David DePape found guilty in Paul Pelosi hammer attack

A federal jury on Thursday convicted the man who attacked Paul Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with a hammer during a break-in last year at the couple's San Francisco home. David DePape looked down and showed no emotion as the panel found him guilty of attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official.

NBC News


CHP officers get big salary increase as pay rises for CA cops

California’s state police for the second year in a row will enjoy a salary bump that far exceeds the raises Gov. Gavin Newsom has offered to other public employees thanks to a state law that grants them automatic pay increases. California Highway Patrol officers are getting a 7.9% wage increase, marking their biggest raise in 20 years. Last year, they received a 6.2% general salary increase. Both are historically high raises for the officers.


The NSA seems pretty stressed about the threat of Chinese hackers in US critical infrastructure

The United States National Security Agency is often tight-lipped about its work and intelligence. But at the Cyberwarcon security conference in Washington DC on Thursday, two members of the agency’s Cybersecurity Collaboration Center had a “call to action” for the cybersecurity community: Beware the threat of Chinese government-backed hackers embedding in US critical infrastructure.


Ransomware group files SEC complaint over victim's failure to disclose data breach

A notorious ransomware group has filed a complaint with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over the failure of a victim to disclose an alleged data breach resulting from an attack conducted by the cybercrime gang itself. The ransomware group known as Alphv and BlackCat claims to have breached the systems of MeridianLink, a California-based company that provides digital lending solutions for financial institutions and data verification solutions for consumers.


California's bar pass rate dipped to 51.5%, bucking upward national trend

The July 2023 bar exam cycle wrapped up on Thursday with California reporting a small decrease in its overall pass rate, in contrast to pass rate increases posted by the majority of states. Among the 7,555 people who took California’s July 2023 bar exam, 51.5% passed, down from 52.4% the previous year, the State Bar of California said on Thursday. The pass rate among those taking the exam for the first time was nearly 65%, up from 62% last year.


A ‘catfishing’ cop killed three family members. A relative is suing the sheriff’s office that gave him a badge

Relatives of the Riverside family killed by “catfish” cop Austin Lee Edwards nearly a year ago filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Virginia sheriff’s office that hired him. Edwards, a former Virginia state trooper then employed by the Washington County, Va., sheriff’s office, killed Mark Winek, 69; Sharie Winek, 65; and Brooke Winek 38, in their Riverside home on the morning of Nov. 25, according to authorities. 

Los Angeles Times


Homeless sex offender arrested for Santa Monica burglaries

Early Wednesday morning around 3:30 am, Santa Monica Police Department officers responded to a report of a potential intruder in the 200 block of 24th Street. The caller happened to be one of two off-duty law enforcement officers providing private security services for the homeowner and called in the report after spotting an individual attempting to gain entry into the backyard of the residence.

Westside Current

4 Beaumont High students identified as suspects in Rose Bowl locker room thefts

Four Beaumont High School students are suspects in the Rose Bowl locker room thefts during the Oct. 28 game between Colorado and UCLA, authorities said Monday. No one has been arrested, said Lisa Derderian, spokeswoman for the city of Pasadena. Police referred the case to the District Attorney’s Office that handles juvenile cases, she added.

San Gabriel Valley Tribune

‘Started seeing body parts': Day laborers say Tarzana murder suspect hired them to move human remains

A group of day laborers said they were hired to help move trash bags containing body parts out of a Tarzana home at the center of a murder investigation. In an exclusive interview with NBC4 on Friday, the workers told a chilling story of being hired Tuesday afternoon by Samuel Haskell, the man jailed on suspicion of murder.


Criminal justice advocate and SF oversight board member arrested on sexual assault charges

William Monroe "Tariq" Palmer II, a prominent member of two crucial oversight bodies in San Francisco’s criminal justice system, has been booked to SF Jail on suspicion of multiple felony sexual assault charges. Palmer is accused of assault with intent to cause great bodily injury, sexual battery by restraint, sodomy by force, and false imprisonment, according to the Chronicle.


The impact of retail theft on small businesses and states

Organized retail crime has become an issue for retailers nationwide, with stores such as Target saying they are closing storefronts due to theft losses and for safety precautions. The National Retail Federation reported that more retailers in America felt organized retail crime was a higher priority in 2023 (78.1%) compared to 2022 (70.7%). In addition, shoplifting statistics show that 88% of retailers say that shoplifters are at least somewhat more aggressive and violent compared to one year ago.


Driver arrested near Mexico border after fleeing from fatal crash with motorcyclist in North Hills

Police have arrested the alleged driver who fatally struck a motorcyclist in North Hills on Thursday, fleeing from the scene on foot. The crash happened at around 6:40 p.m. in the 8600 block of Woodley Avenue, according to Los Angeles Police Department. During their preliminary investigation, detectives determined that a man riding a 2008 Harley-Davidson, was leaving a driveway in the area when he was hit by the driver of a white 1992 BMW speeding down the road. 



2 arrested in largest counterfeit goods seizure in US history, retailing at more than $1 billion

Two people have been arrested in the largest seizure of counterfeit goods in US history, including knock-off designer goods with an estimated retail value of more than a billion dollars, officials in New York said. Adama Sow, 38, and Abdulai Jalloh, 48, were arrested Wednesday morning and charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods, according to indictments and a news release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.


Articles of Interest

California background check delay latest front in gun laws war

California exceeded its legal authority when it opted to delay gun-buyer background checks past the 10-day statutory limit due to Covid-19, firearm enthusiasts assert in an appellate case that questions the state’s intentions to employ its interpretation in the future. The state, which requires a background check on firearm purchases and transfers, abused a California Department of Justice interpretation of the allowed application turnaround time to delay more than 220,000 purchases, gun buyers told a California Court of Appeal.

Bloomberg Law

California police warned not to share license plate location data with out-of-state cops

California Attorney General Rob Bonta advised law-enforcement agencies not to share data on drivers' locations collected by automated license plate readers with federal or out-of-state departments, something the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and other police in the county had done in the past. Criminal justice and privacy advocates had for years argued that sharing driver data across state lines was not permitted by the law, but dozens of departments continued to do so.

Palm Springs Desert Sun

Police union-fueled Santa Ana recall on track to fail; what’s in the city’s future?

Despite being heavily outspent by landlords and the police union, supporters of Santa Ana City Councilmember Jessie Lopez rejoiced on Tuesday night when a TV inside of Chato’s bar on Broadway revealed the outcome of a battle to tip the city’s balance of power. Ballot counts indicated that evening that Lopez would prevail over a yearlong effort to unseat her in a special recall election.

Voice of OC

Nancy Ng update: Last person to see missing woman in Guatemala speaks out through attorney

The last person to see a missing Monterey Park, California woman while at a yoga retreat in Guatemala is speaking publicly for the first time through her attorney. "To say my client hasn't done all she can is not true," said attorney G. Christopher Gardner. Gardner represents Christina Blazek, a San Bernardino County public defender, who attended the same retreat as Nancy Ng. She has been accused of maintaining her silence despite pleas from the missing woman's family to speak with her.



AT&T en banc bid rebuffed in controversial 401(k) prohibited transaction ruling

The telecommunications giant’s motion to have a controversial appellate court decision reconsidered by the full court has been rejected. In petitioning for a rehearing of the appellate court’s decision back in September (Bugielski v. AT&T Servs., Inc., 9th Cir., No. 21-56196, rehearing petition 9/1/23), AT&T stated that “in a ‘watershed moment’ for ERISA plans and plan sponsors, the panel decision violated that imperative - departing from Supreme Court precedent and splitting with the Third and Seventh Circuits.”


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