Courts & Rulings
Judge has discretion to deny resentencing despite prosecution’s non-opposition
Div. One of the Court of Appeal for this district yesterday affirmed the decision by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dorothy L. Shubin denying a petition by a murderer for a resentencing despite a concession by the prosecutor, acting pursuant to a special directive issued by District Attorney George Gascón, that relief was appropriate. 
City of Thousand Oaks acted in violation of Brown Act
The Thousand Oaks City Council violated the Ralph M. Brown Act when, in awarding a solid waste management contract, it made a separate determination that there was no need for an environmental impact report, Div. Six of the Court of Appeal for this district has held. Its opinion, filed Wednesday, reverses a judgment of dismissal that was entered after Ventura Superior Court Judge Ronda McKaig sustained a demurrer without leave to amend to a petition for a writ of mandate filed by G.I. Industries, doing business as Waste Management.
Woman who shouted ‘shoot,’ causing gunman to do so, guilty of murder
Legislative amendments barring murder convictions based on fictionally imputed malice do not aid a woman who shouted “Shoot,” propelling a man to fire a gun, resulting in a fatality, the Court of Appeal for this district declared on Friday. The opinion by Presiding Justice Elwood Lui of Div. Two affirms an order by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lee W. Tsao denying a resentencing sought by Cynthia M. Vargas, who stands convicted of second-degree murder.
Judge denies request for diversion for man charged in Dave Chappelle attack
A judge Thursday rejected the defense's request for a diversion program that could have eventually resulted in the dismissal of charges against the man accused of attacking comedian Dave Chappelle on stage at the Hollywood Bowl in May. Superior Court Judge Armenui Amy Ashvanian cited a string of prior arrests of Isaiah Lee and his conduct after his arrest for the alleged May 3 attack on Chappelle, ruling that the 24-year-old defendant is "not a suitable candidate for judicial diversion."
Judge erred in authorizing anti-Caruso protests at Grove
The Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge went off track in issuing a preliminary injunction that granted detractors of mayoral candidate Rick Caruso demonstration rights at The Grove, a shopping mall owned by Caruso through his companies, that they had not sought.
Judge reduces deputy's award from $850,000 to $250,000 for being ‘excessive'
A judge has approved an amended judgment granting $250,000 to a female Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who alleged her training deputy sexually harassed her on the job, less than half the $850,000 awarded by a jury in May. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Curtis A. Kin had given lawyers for Deputy Concepcion Hernandez Garcia the option of taking the lower sum or face a new trial on damages.
Right to witnesses exists at parole-rescission hearing
The Board of Parole Hearings, after finding an inmate suitable for parole, erred in rescinding its order in response to concerns expressed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Div. Two of the First District Court of Appeal held yesterday, because it refused to permit the subpoenaing of witnesses. In response to inmate Jeremy J. Foster’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the panel ordered that a new rescission hearing be conducted.
No immunity for prosecutor accused of fabricating evidence in death row case
For the second time, a federal appeals court has denied prosecutorial immunity to a Louisiana district attorney accused of falsifying testimony that sent a man to death row. Created by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, federal courts have granted prosecutorial immunity to prosecutors accused of falsifying evidence, coercing witnesses, and hiding evidence showing defendants’ innocence, among other unconscionable acts.
There’s no entitlement to a DVRO based on physical response to emotional abuse
The Sixth District Court of Appeal yesterday rejected the contention of a man who is the subject of a domestic violence restraining order that he is entitled to have a reciprocal order imposed on his wife based on her act of physical violence - grabbing his forearm and scratching him - in response to his emotional abuse. Justice Cynthia C. Lie authored the unpublished opinion which declares the legal contentions put forth by appellant Liquan Tan to be “unsupported by the Domestic Violence Prevention Act.”
Federal judge holds tight-lipped chiefs of election denial group in contempt
Leaders of the election-monitoring group True the Vote have until Monday morning to identify a man privy to the download of personal information of 1.8 million U.S. poll workers from a software company’s server, or they will be detained for contempt, a federal judge warned Thursday. True the Vote, its founder Catherine Engelbrecht and contractor and former board member Gregg Phillips are leading proponents of the conspiracy theory voting fraud cost Donald Trump the 2020 presidential election.
Right to livestream traffic stops debated at Fourth Circuit
A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit heard lively arguments Thursday over whether officers have the right to prevent passengers from livestreaming traffic stops. Dijon Sharpe was riding in a car that was pulled over in Winterville, North Carolina, in 2018 when he decided to broadcast the police interaction in real time on Facebook Live. According to a nine-page complaint he filed in federal court the following year, “Sharpe is a Black male who records and broadcasts his interactions with law enforcement for his own protection.”
Man on Arizona death row has justices splitting hairs
A court that has appeared of late apathetic to precedent considered an argument Tuesday over whether the overturning of precedent represents a significant change. The case comes from a capital punishment case in Arizona where John Montenegro Cruz seeks postconviction relief for what he claims was a violation of his due process rights. In denying this relief, however, the state argues that there has been no significant change that would warrant overturning his sentence.
California DAs to CDCR: Explain early release of violent criminals
The California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) wants the prison system (CDCR) 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. To qualify for release, prisoners are supposed to earn credits for good behavior under Prop 57, but that often does not appear to be the case. In a series of reports, Julie Watts of CBS News revealed the process by which CDCR is releasing prisoners is hidden from the public, arbitrary, and dangerous.
Retired LAPD captain accused in ex-CBS president sex assault cover-up
The Los Angeles Police Department has opened an investigation at its Hollywood Division after a scathing report from the New York Attorney General accused a captain of repeatedly interfering with a 2017 investigation into allegations of sexual assault implicating then-CBS President Les Moonves. New York Attorney General Leticia James said Captain Cory Palka informed executives at CBS about a confidential sexual assault complaint against Moonves that was filed on Nov. 10, 2017, by a woman who had asked to speak with a female officer after arriving at the Hollywood Division.
U.S. charges former heavyweight boxer with trafficking over $1 billion worth of cocaine
The Department of Justice on Monday charged a former professional heavyweight boxer with trafficking over 20 tons of cocaine worth more than $1 billion through U.S. ports, most of which was from what prosecutors in 2019 called "one of the largest drug seizures in United States history.” Goran Gogic, 43, was arrested Sunday after being indicted by a grand jury in New York, the Justice Department said in a news release. Gogic, who is from Montenegro, was arrested while trying to board a flight at Miami International Airport.
Justice Dept. warns ruling in Trump ally’s suit could endanger U.S. diplomats
A judge’s ruling allowing a close ally of former President Donald Trump to obtain documents about Qatar’s activities in the U.S. could endanger the safety of American diplomats abroad, a Justice Department attorney argued to a federal appeals court Friday. That ruling, the Justice Department argued, could imperil U.S. diplomats by encouraging other countries to gain access to records held by security or building contractors for U.S. embassies.
Paul Pelosi attacker DePape was prepared to kidnap and injure House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, federal complaint charges
The California man accused of viciously attacking Paul Pelosi with a hammer was prepared to kidnap and break the kneecaps of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when he invaded the couple’s San Francisco home, federal prosecutors revealed in a new criminal complaint Monday. David DePape, 42, was charged with the federal crimes of attempted kidnapping of a federal official, and assaulting an immediate family member of a United States official with the intent to retaliate against the official.
2 L.A. murders from 2011 solved with suspect's DNA scraped from street
With the defendant's no contest plea, Los Angeles authorities closed the case on the 2011 murders of a teenage girl and a young woman that once sparked fears of an Eastside serial killer. Geovanni Borjas, 37, pleaded no contest to murder and rape in the cases of Michelle Lozano, 17, who disappeared on April 24, 2011, and Bree’Anna Guzman, 22, who disappeared in late December that year. He also pleaded no contest to kidnapping Guzman.
When it comes to crooked colleagues, California lawyers can remain silent
When a blue-ribbon commission met in 2015 to improve attorney ethics rules in California, a federal prosecutor named George Cardona was tasked with researching a proposed rule requiring lawyers to report misconduct by peers. Forty-seven states already had mandatory reporting laws and two others had statutes stating that lawyers should make such reports. California was the lone exception.
U.S. appeals court to reconsider if citizen journalist can sue over arrest
A federal appeals court on Friday said it would reconsider whether a citizen journalist in Texas can sue over her arrest for asking police questions, marking the latest twist in a case that has already divided parts the court's conservative faction. The full New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it would revisit its 2-1 decision reviving Priscilla Villarreal's lawsuit against Laredo, Texas, police officers, county prosecutors and the city over her 2017 arrest.
Ghost guns are causing chaos in American courts
A prominent gun control group that just a few months ago praised President Joe Biden’s new rules on ghost guns is now suing the administration, claiming federal regulators left “mile-wide loopholes” that have “flooded the country” with untraceable, home-assembled weapons. The lawsuit, filed by the Giffords Law Center, the state of California, and families affected by gun violence, is the latest legal assault on the Biden administration’s attempt to rein in ghost guns, which do not require a background check and lack serial numbers that aid crime investigations.
Is a registered sex offender running for Compton Community College Board?
With Los Angeles city council dominating the news, the mainstream media has not been paying attention to other races in the area. One, in particular, is the slate of candidates running for Compton Community College Board, including Central Basin Director Leticia Vasquez-Wilson and Skyy Fisher. Readers of HMG-CN know all about Vasquez-Wilson and her antics and constant disruption of proceedings while Director of Central Basin.
Former Santa Rosa man’s DUI conviction may be overturned because his attorney was fake
The Sonoma County Public Defender’s Office will have to wait to learn whether its request to overturn the 2014 DUI conviction of a former Santa Rosa man because he was defended by a fake attorney will be granted. On Thursday, the office filed a motion in Sonoma County Superior Court on behalf of Norberto Ramirez Perez, who was sentenced to five years in prison.
Los Angeles County/City
LAPD station renamed in honor of Margaret 'Peggy' York, department's first female deputy chief
The Los Angeles Police Department's Northeast community police station is now named after the late Margaret "Peggy" York, the first woman to hold the rank of Deputy Chief in the department. "She faced an uphill battle to change the system because when she started working at the department the only types of jobs female officers were given at that time were either at the front desk, community liaison or working in juvenile crimes," said William Briggs II, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission.
LAPD ignores core values and demotes beloved captain
Captain Johnny Smith, a 30-year veteran of the LAPD and local lifelong resident, embodies the Department’s motto “To Protect and to Serve.” I have come to know Captain Smith over the past three years and have found him to be a kind and dedicated public servant ideally suited for the job. He truly understands what it means to work in partnership with the community. Captain Smith is loved by residents, business leaders and his officers.
L.A. County to pay $47.6 million over alleged misconduct by sheriff's deputies
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have approved a total of nearly $50 million in payments to settle four lawsuits and one legal claim alleging misconduct by sheriff’s deputies in incidents that left four men dead and one paralyzed. Two of the cases involved how department personnel dealt with people experiencing a mental health crisis. One of the men died after being tased and beaten by deputies, according to his family’s lawyer.
Ambulance company AMR halting estimated 28,000 rides in Southern California
For 23 years, the private ambulance industry in California had gone without an increase in the base rate the state pays it to transport Medicaid enrollees. At the start of the year, it asked the state legislature to more than triple the rate, from around $110 to $350 per ride. The request went unheeded. In September, American Medical Response, the largest U.S. provider of ambulance services, announced it had “made the difficult decision” to end nonemergency transports in Los Angeles County and blamed the state for having one of the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the country.
Inside the L.A. County Sheriff's Department corruption investigation of its own watchdogs
Long before detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department showed up at Sheila Kuehl's house with a search warrant, it was clear this was no ordinary corruption investigation. The department had spent three years looking into an allegation that Kuehl, a county supervisor and one of Sheriff Alex Villanueva's harshest critics, had taken bribes from a friend in return for Metropolitan Transportation Authority contracts.
Crime/Public Safety
Series of home break-ins in Huntington Beach could be organized thieves (Video)
After a series of home break-ins in Huntington Beach, police say they are probably the work of organized thieves who are burglarizing homes while visiting the US on tourist visas. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News on Oct. 25, 2022.
Takedown of catalytic converter theft ring (Video)
Prosecutors have now taken down one national ring, that allegedly turned the trafficking of stolen converters into big business. Eric Leonard reports on the NBC4 News at 6pm on Wednesday, November 2, 2022.
LAPD officer stabbed while responding to barricaded suspect
A Los Angeles police officer was stabbed Sunday morning while responding for a report of a barricaded suspect in South Central. Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department responded to the 300 block of East 52nd Street in South Park around 6:20 a.m. where a suspect was experiencing what police described as a narcotic-induced delirium. The man was attempting to burn down his father’s house, LAPD Commander Hurtado said.
North Hollywood arson suspect just got out of prison - for arson
A man arrested on suspicion of igniting several fires in North Hollywood Wednesday morning had just been released from state prison after serving part of a five-year sentence for arson, according to court records and law enforcement sources. David A. Rivas, 35, was detained by police near the scenes of fires and was charged Friday with seven counts of arson for the North Hollywood area fires, according to the LA County District Attorney's Office.
LAPD releases new fentanyl statistics (Video)
LAPD Chief Michel Moore tells Police Commissioners the synthetic drug fentanyl is the most pressing safety issue of our times. More than suicides and street violence. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News on Nov. 1, 2022.
Permitless carry laws raise new dilemmas for police officers
Police saw Carmon Tussey walking briskly toward a crowded Louisville bar carrying a semi-automatic weapon. With people running away, officers moved in, service weapons drawn. They put the 26-year-old in handcuffs and confiscated his gun. Tussey was later charged with terroristic threatening, wanton endangerment and disorderly conduct, prosecutors said, and could face up to 20 years in prison.
Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith retires as trial nears end
Embattled Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith announced her immediate retirement Monday, a move that comes as she awaits a verdict in her civil corruption trial. Smith, a six-term sheriff, leaves a department where she's worked nearly 50 years. "She wanted to retire on her own terms," said Rich Robinson, Smith's political consultant. "The trial was important for her to go through so she could prove her innocence. She didn't want to have any pressure to leave office because of false charges on corruption."
San Diego traffic stop uncovers sheriff's uniforms, gear
San Diego Police officers discovered stolen sheriff’s department gear inside a car during a traffic stop in Paradise Hills early Wednesday morning. At around 1:30 a.m., officers pulled over a Mercedes-Benz sedan near Woodman Street and Wattle Drive over an obstructed license plate. The driver, according to police, was wearing a sheriff’s uniform and a bulletproof vest at the time of the stop. He and a passenger were detained for questioning.
Bonta announces new online portal for sexual assault survivors
California Attorney General Rob Bonta Tuesday announced the hiring of the state's first-ever sexual assault evidence outreach coordinator and the launch of a new online portal to allow survivors to track the status of their evidence kits. "There is no place for sexual assault in California or anywhere," Bonta said in a statement. "My office is committed to doing everything in our power to support survivors, reduce harm and secure justice," he said.
DNA clears man convicted in 1983 Inglewood killing after decades in prison
A man who served 38 years in prison for the 1983 abduction and killing of a woman in Inglewood is a free man Friday, with authorities saying newly tested DNA evidence exonerated him of the crime and identified a different person as the culprit in the slaying. “I’m not pointing fingers. I’m not standing up here a bitter man,” Maurice Hastings, 69, said during a downtown Los Angeles news conference. “But I just want to enjoy my life while I have it. And I just want to move forward.”
New law allows Californians to seal arrests and convictions from their records
A new law signed on Thursday will allow Californians to seal old arrests and convictions from their official records in an effort to give them a fresh start. The bill, SB 731, was introduced by State Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) in March 2021 and was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 27. The law will automatically seal conviction and arrest records in California once a former offender has “fully completed their sentence and successfully gone four years without further contact with the justice system.”
LA Politics
Why L.A.'s ban on homeless encampments near schools, day care has become heated election issue
O'Farrell, first elected in 2013, has emerged as a proponent of the city's controversial anti-encampment law, using it to designate 18 locations in Hollywood, Silver Lake and other neighborhoods as off limits to tents. But he is facing a vigorous reelection challenge from labor organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez, who has promised to take the district in a different direction.
Soto-Martinez described the anti-encampment law as ineffective, moving people around while accomplishing little.
Articles of Interest
Churches are breaking the law by endorsing in elections, experts say. The IRS looks the other way.
Six days before a local runoff election last year in Frisco, a prosperous and growing suburb of Dallas, Brandon Burden paced the stage of KingdomLife Church. The pastor told congregants that demonic spirits were operating through members of the City Council. Grasping his Bible with both hands, Burden said God was working through his North Texas congregation to take the country back to its Christian roots.
Conservative figures push salacious theory about Pelosi attack as local police chief debunks it
Prominent figures on social media, including some of the loudest voices on the political right, are pushing a salacious and false conspiracy theory about the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, in an apparent attempt to shift the narrative about the assault. The claim that big names like Elon Musk, Donald Trump, Jr., and Dinesh D’Souza have promoted to millions of their followers: Paul Pelosi and the man who attacked him were gay lovers who had gotten into a fight.
Hope Solo booked on DWI, child abuse, resisting arrest charges (Video)
After Winston-Salem police handcuffed Hope Solo in the Walmart parking lot on March 31, 2022, we don’t know what happened next. The police body camera recordings provided to Queen City News under a court order do not include a two-hour, 21-minute block of video. The recordings WSPD turned over ended in the parking lot as soon as Solo was handcuffed and the recording shows a military time stamp of 21:21:58 at that point. The next clip WSPD provided shows Officer Mager walking Solo out of an EMS station at 23:42:47.
Guy tracks stolen luggage to house in Anchorage using AirTags
A Twitter user named Errol Webber (who refers to himself as a “documentary film producer,” but looking at his stuff, I’m not so sure that’s accurate) Tweeted last night about how he had something stolen out of his checked luggage while flying with United Airlines. Typically this would be a really frustrated Tweet where you’d feel helpless, but the tone here is quite different, thanks to AirTags. Webber Tweeted at United, saying “one of your employees at Anchorage Airport rummaged through my luggage and took some film equipment with them.”
Giuliani attempt to dismiss defamation suit by Georgia election workers is denied
A federal judge has rejected Rudy Giuliani’s effort to dismiss a lawsuit brought by two Georgia election workers who he falsely accused of election fraud - stoking a furor that led to threats and harassment against both women. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell ruled in a 27-page opinion that the case brought by both the mother-daughter duo - Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss - was enough to justify advancing their lawsuit against Giuliani and presented “ample circumstantial evidence of a civil conspiracy between Giuliani and members of the Trump Campaign.”
Man gets 16 to life for killing girlfriend with a screwdriver
A 44-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 16 years to life in prison for strangling and stabbing his girlfriend to death with a screwdriver in their Santa Ana apartment nearly five years ago. Prentis John Hill was convicted Oct. 12 of second-degree murder with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon. He was given credit for 2,044 days in custody awaiting trial.
Guilty verdict in do-over trial on border wall-building fraud 
A New York jury wasted little time before reaching a unanimous guilty verdict on Friday, convicting Colorado businessman Tim Shea on counts of fraud and conspiracy for his role in the sham charity We Build the Wall. Jurors began deliberations the previous afternoon, following two full days of trial testimony. Prosecutors originally brought the case back in 2020, indicting Shea and Steve Bannon, the former Trump campaign strategist, as well as Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage and venture capitalist Andrew Badolato.
San Bernardino County woman found guilty of obtaining custody of infant for the purpose of producing sexually explicit videos
A San Bernardino County woman was found guilty today of federal child exploitation charges, including that she obtained custody of an infant for the purpose of producing sexually explicit videos. Stefani Kasey Marie Stevens, 31, of Yucaipa, was found guilty of one count of obtaining custody of a minor with intent to produce child pornography, six counts of production of child pornography, one count of distribution of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography.
5 iPhone security settings you need to change now
Your phone doesn’t come with a user manual. Sure, you can find online guides from Apple or Android, but don’t bet on Big Tech telling you the secrets to best protect yourself. Default settings are often much better for the companies behind them than for you. Some features get more attention than others, like the new way to take back a text. Spoiler: It’s not quite as sneaky as you think. Now, grab your iPhone and I’ll show you a few changes to make to keep yourself safe.
CalPERS loses private equity leader but gains a head of growth and innovation
Greg Ruiz, managing investment director for private equity at CalPERS, will be leaving and Anton Orlich will be joining the $426 billion pension plan in the new position of managing investment director for growth and innovation, both in November, a CalPERS news release said. Mr. Ruiz in January will be joining discretionary asset manager Jasper Ridge Partners as a partner in its private equity practice, a new position, a spokeswoman said in an email.
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