Courts & Rulings
SLO County DA will appeal Tianna Arata case to the state Supreme Court
The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office cannot prosecute Tianna Arata and six other Black Lives Matter demonstrators, the California Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday, denying both the office and the California Attorney General’s Office’s petitions for a rehearing. That now sets the stage for the DA’s Office to escalate the case to the highest arbiter in the state: the California Supreme Court.
District court rejects claim that "FBI misled judge in obtaining warrant to seize hundreds of safe deposit boxes”
I posted Sunday about the post alleging that the FBI misled judge (and the L.A. Times story following up on that); just today, though, Judge Gary Klausner (C.D. Cal.) seems to have rejected that allegation, in Snitko v. U.S.: Plaintiffs' other Fourth Amendment argument is that the Government misled Judge Kim in its warrant affidavit, thus breaching its duty of candor.
Judge agrees to delay Elizabeth Holmes’ sentencing over prosecutor misconduct concerns
A judge Monday agreed to delay sentencing former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes so he can consider whether federal prosecutors committed misconduct involving a star witness in her trial. U.S. District Judge Edward Davila had scheduled Holmes' sentencing for Oct. 17. In January, a jury found Holmes guilty on four of 11 counts of defrauding investors in the former health care tech company, with each count carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Defendant forfeited arbitration by not paying arbitrator’s fee within 30 days of due-date
A defendant’s failure to pay an arbitrator’s fee within 30 days of the due date constituted a waiver of the contractual right to arbitration, Div. One of this district’s Court of Appeal has held, declaring that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge lacked the power to grant relief from the timeliness requirement of Code of Civil Procedure §1281.97.
Supreme Court takes up challenge to protections for tech companies
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear a case later this term challenging a law giving tech companies sweeping legal immunity from lawsuits over their user-generated content, setting the high court up for a decision that could broadly impact the future of social media. The question before the court hinges on whether Google and other tech platforms are protected under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act even when their algorithms recommend content from third parties.
Court screwup reveals Mar-a-Lago judge’s latest legal absurdity in Trump case
First, she stopped FBI special agents from even glancing at the classified documents they recovered from Mar-a-Lago. Then she appointed a special court referee that former President Donald Trump wanted to slow down the investigation over his mishandling of classified documents. But now, it’s clear District Court Judge Aileen Cannon already knew the Department of Justice was ready to hand Trump back a ton of personal records six days before she claimed the former president was suffering “a real harm” by being “deprived of potentially significant personal documents.”
Hollywood producer Eric Weinberg arrested again after DA files 18 sex abuse and assault charges
Hollywood producer Eric Weinberg was taken into custody by Los Angeles police on Tuesday after prosecutors filed 18 sexual abuse and assault charges against him. The former "Scrubs" co-executive producer was arrested by sex crimes detectives after the Los Angeles County district attorney filed charges of rape, oral copulation, sexual battery, false imprisonment, assault by means to cause great bodily harm, and six counts of forcible penetration by a foreign object, court records show.
17-year-old male and female charged with murder in fatal Fashion District stabbing
On Wednesday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced murder charges against two 17-year-olds in connection to the stabbing death of 56-year-old Du Young Lee in the Fashion District. The deadly incident unfolded on Oct. 1 around 1:15 p.m. at Olympic Boulevard and Wall Street, close to the shop where Lee sold hair extensions and wigs. Investigators believe that the minors, a male and female, robbed Lee and then stabbed him to death during a confrontation.
CEO of election software firm held on LA County data theft charges
The founder and CEO of a software company targeted by election deniers was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of stealing data on Los Angeles County poll workers. Konnech Corporation’s Eugene Yu, 51, was held on suspicion of theft of personal identifying information and computer hard drives. Other “digital evidence” was seized by investigators from the county district attorney’s office, according to a statement from the office.
Texas elections-monitoring group forced to name source of hacked poll worker data
Counsel for a Texas voter fraud conspiracy group, in open court Thursday, reluctantly provided the name of a man who set off an FBI investigation into a software company’s compromised U.S. poll worker data. Eugene Yu, CEO and founder of Konnech Inc., a Michigan election logistics software purveyor, was supposed to be at a hearing Thursday in Houston federal court for his company’s lawsuit against True the Vote, a Texas nonprofit that backs Donald Trump’s claims voter fraud cost him the 2020 presidential election.
3 robbery suspects charged in $2.6M smash-and-grab caught on video at Beverly Hills jewelry store
A federal grand jury indicted three Long Beach men Wednesday who allegedly participated in the daylight smash-and-grab robbery of a Beverly Hills jewelry store in which more than $2.6 million worth of merchandise was stolen. The two-count indictment returned in Los Angeles charges Jimmy Lee Vernon III, 31, Ladell Tharpe, 37, and Deshon Bell, 20, with conspiracy and interference with commerce by robbery, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Labor leader stole thousands from his CA union, spent it on luxury travel, feds say
A former labor leader is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from his California union and spending it on luxury travel and retail purchases, prosecutors said. Felix Luciano, 60, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud and making false statements in San Diego on Friday, Sept. 23, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California said in a news release. An attorney for Luciano did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Monday, Sept. 26.
LA mom mowed down by teen driver chides woke DA Gascon at release hearing
A Los Angeles mom mowed down with her baby by a hit-and-run teen driver who was given just five months in a youth camp has lashed out at soft-on-crime District Attorney George Gascón during an early-release hearing - as she also revealed she is hightailing it out of the state due to fear. “Nobody in the room actually believes that (the suspect) is a good kid,” the furious woman, identified as Rachel, said in a call into an LA County courtroom in Lancaster, Fox News reported.
Kim Kardashian wasn't the only celebrity who dabbled in crypto ads, but many won't face charges
Mega-influencer Kim Kardashian agreed to pay $1.26 million in penalties to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges that she illicitly touted a cryptocurrency token on social media without disclosing how much she was paid for the promotion, the SEC said Monday. In June 2021, Kardashian posted an Instagram story inviting her 328 million followers to invest in EthereumMax. “This is not financial advice,” Kardashian wrote in her story.
New law allows Californians to legally jaywalk
A new law signed on Friday will allow Californians to legally jaywalk without being ticketed. Pedestrians can now cross the street outside of an intersection without breaking the law as long as it is safe to do so. The bill, AB 2147, also known as The Freedom To Walk Act, was introduced by Assembly member Phil Ting and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2023.
Rap lyrics barred as evidence in California courts under new law meant to prevent jury bias
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Friday that bars prosecutors from using rap lyrics and other forms of creative art as evidence in court, a measure intended to prevent attorneys from creating bias against defendants. The law by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, became known in the Capitol as the “rap lyrics” bill because of the long history of hip-hop artists facing scrutiny in court over their music.
The State of California Prisons: Sentencing reform
In 2020, the state Committee on Revision of the Penal Code was created to explore ways to reduce California’s incarceration rate. In 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed six of the initial ten recommendations from the committee into law. Among other changes, the new laws ended mandatory sentencing minimums for nonviolent drug offenses and put limits on sentence enhancements for gang affiliation.
Rape kit DNA protected under a new California law
In California, DNA collected from sexual assault victims during an investigation can no longer be used for other purposes, including investigating other crimes. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law Friday. The bill was introduced in California after the district attorney’s office discovered that the San Francisco Police Department had used DNA collected from a victim during a sexual assault investigation to tie that victim to a property crime.
Biden pardons marijuana offenses, calls for review of federal law
President Joe Biden on Thursday granted a pardon to all people convicted of simple marijuana possession under federal law, in what amounts to the most extensive White House action taken to date on U.S. drug policy. The president also urged governors to take similar action for state offenses of civil possession of marijuana. In addition, he called on the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to “expeditiously” review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.
Los Angeles County/City
LASD Union wants to intervene in county's suit against Villanueva
A Nov. 10 court hearing has been set on a request by the union representing Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies to intervene in a lawsuit by the county demanding that Sheriff Alex Villanueva cooperate with the Office of the Inspector General's ongoing investigation into alleged internal LASD gangs.
LAPD captain gets $4M for suffering caused by fake nude photo
A Los Angeles Police Department captain who complained that management ignored her requests for the entire department to be informed that a widely distributed photo of a topless woman resembling her was in fact not her image was awarded $4 million Friday by a jury. The amount awarded to Capt. Lillian Carranza was half of what her attorney, Gregory W. Smith, had recommended during final arguments to the Los Angeles Superior Court panel on Thursday.
LAPD officer sues the city over gang-related arrest quotas
On Wednesday, LAPD Officer John Walker filed a retaliation suit against the city seeking unspecified damages after alleging that his efforts to speak out about commanders’ enforcing purportedly illegal quotas regarding gang contact and gun-related arrests and seizures led management to take career-damaging steps against him to keep him quiet. Walker was assigned to Metro Division in 2015 after applying for and being selected for a coveted position on the SWAT team.
LAPD says officer's training death was accidental
The death of a young officer following a training exercise was accidental, and investigators found no evidence negligence or wrongdoing led to the officer’s catastrophic injury, the Los Angeles Police Department said Tuesday. Officer Houston Tipping died a week after he and another trainee officer fell to the floor during a scenario in a police academy classroom May 26. He’d suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury.
“Unconscionable” jail conditions spur LA County supervisors to explore building locked mental health facilities
On Tuesday, September 13, after hearing about persistent, inhumane conditions at Los Angeles County’s jail intake center, the LA County Board of Supervisors used a spur-of-the-moment motion to reintroduce the possibility of building a brand new locked medical facility - or facilities - to replace the dilapidated and dungeon-like Men’s Central Jail.
Residents have run-ins with homeless people living in RVs at Westchester Park (Video)
Westchester Park residents are asking for the city of LA to provide security and to remove a homeless population living in parking lots. Angie Crouch reports Sept. 28, 2022.
LA County firefighter sues claiming disability discrimination over seizures
A Los Angeles County Firefighter who was prohibited from returning to active duty and ordered to retire after he suffered two epileptic seizures while on-duty, has filed suit claiming the county violated California’s disability discrimination laws. Andrew Lithgoe filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Lithgoe, a 16-year veteran, suffered the seizures in September 2018 and January 2019, but has been seizure-free since. However, he claims fire department personnel believe he suffered a third seizure in September, 2021.
Crime/Public Safety
How feds choreographed an elaborate fake murder to stop L.A. developer's alleged plot
Arthur Aslanian wasn’t taking any chances when he met his employee, Sesar Rivera, on the side of a road earlier this month. Only after patting Rivera down to check if he was wearing a wire and making him leave his phone in Aslanian’s pickup truck did he look at the photograph Rivera had brought. It was a gruesome image of a dead man who had been shot in the face.
LAPD officers shot at by suspect in alley
Two Los Angeles Police Department officers were shot at overnight while conducting an investigation in the department's Southeast Division. Southeast Division Gang Enforcement Detail officers were responding to a radio call of shots fired when they themselves were met with gunfire after encountering a suspect in an alley. The officers, who were not injured, returned fire towards the suspect, according to LAPD.
LAUSD responds after data from ransomware attack is leaked online (Video)
The LAUSD responded Monday after thousands of documents and files stolen from the district during a ransomware attack were posted online. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC 4 News at 4.
Man who nearly struck pedestrian killed in downtown Los Angeles: LAPD
A man who almost struck a pedestrian was shot and later died at a hospital after getting into an argument with the pedestrian and four other men in downtown Los Angeles, authorities said. The Los Angeles Police Department said the shooting occurred just after 9 p.m. Sunday in an alley near 15th and Alameda streets. The 37-year-old victim was driving down the alley when he nearly struck a pedestrian.
Studio City man injured in alleged attack after confronting homeless men behind his home
A suspect was arrested Tuesday afternoon after allegedly attacking a man in Studio City and leaving him with serious injuries during a confrontation. Cecilia Guile, the victim's wife, said two homeless men set up a shelter in the embankment just beneath their home in the hills of Studio City on Wednesday. By Friday, Guile's husband attempted to get them to move. She said he offered to help get them city assistance, but that made one man angry, and Guile's husband was attacked.
Understanding the FBI’s 2021 crime data
With so many agencies failing to report a full year of data for 2021, this year’s annual crime data release will have significant blind spots. We know that the agency’s annual Crime in the United States report will feature “state-level data” and “a trend study comparing 2020 and 2021 data,” the latter drawing on partial data supplemented by estimates. It may also contain national estimates of crime trends - that is, data on whether rates of murder and other offenses rose or fell at the national level.
California won't forgive parking tickets for homeless after Newsom veto
Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill on Thursday that would have required cities to forgive parking tickets for homeless Californians. The move was a disappointment for anti-poverty advocates across the state - who have warned that parking-ticket late fees can lead to more debt for already low-income people - and a win for cities that receive revenue from those tickets.
Whistleblower: 665 left FBI over misconduct in two decades
A U.S. senator is pressing the FBI for more information after a whistleblower alleged that an internal review found 665 FBI personnel have resigned or retired to avoid accountability in misconduct probes over the past two decades. The whistleblower told the office of Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, that the Justice Department launched the review of the FBI’s disciplinary database in 2020 following an Associated Press investigation into sexual misconduct allegations involving at least six senior FBI officials.
California’s homelessness crisis hits new flash point: Private residents suing cities over encampments
In the Tenderloin, it was UC Hastings College of the Law that sued the city of San Francisco over “abandoning” the neighborhood to tents and open drug dealing. In Venice Beach, a couple with two kids filed suit against Los Angeles over the tent city outside their front door. From Phoenix to Portland, Ore., other cases brought by residents fed up with what they see as the ill effects of homeless encampments are also winding through the courts.
San Francisco crime is not getting better, data says
In the months of August and September, San Francisco police reported slightly higher rates of both violent and property crime than over the same time period last year. While the increases were modest, they seem to dispel hopes that replacing District Attorney Chesa Boudin would have an immediate effect on crime rates in the city. To be fair to Boudin's appointed replacement Brooke Jenkins, she never promised that crime rates would drop immediately.
Santa Clara County still seeks millions in COVID penalties from San Jose church
Despite a recent state appellate court ruling, Santa Clara County continues to seek millions of dollars in penalties against a San Jose church for violating COVID-19 rules not affected by the decision. Dr. Sara Cody, the county's public health officer, was scheduled Thursday for a deposition in the ongoing case, in which an appellate court earlier this week dismissed $200,000 in fines against Calvary Chapel San Jose.
Gov. Newsom signs bill to allow millions of convicts’ criminal arrest records sealed
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Thursday to allow the criminal arrest records of convicted criminals sealed from potential employers, schools, charitable organizations and the public. According to SB 731 author Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), “Due to the widespread usage of background checks in today’s society, the availability of these records activate thousands of barriers for one quarter of the state’s population resulting in chronic housing insecurities, long-term unemployment, and widespread lack of civic participation.”
Newsom has mixed verdict on California criminal justice laws
California Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered a mixed verdict on more than three dozen criminal justice laws before his bill-signing deadline Friday, approving measures to seal criminal records and free dying inmates but denying bids to restrict solitary confinement and boost inmates’ wages. Starting in July, one new law will give California what proponents call the nation’s most sweeping law to seal criminal records, though it excludes felons convicted of serious, violent and sex crimes.
LA Politics
Your guide to the L.A. City Council District 11 race: Traci Park vs. Erin Darling
The Westside of Los Angeles will get a new City Council member in the Nov. 8 election, with Councilman Mike Bonin stepping down after two terms, saying he wanted to tend to his mental health. Competing to replace Bonin are two lawyers, Erin Darling, 41, and Traci Park, 46. Darling finished first among eight candidates in the June primary, with nearly 35% of the vote. Park took 29%, earning the second spot in the November runoff election.
Mejia versus Koretz: disrupter or stalwart for city controller?
The race to become Los Angeles’ 20th city controller can be seen as a David vs. Goliath showdown: rookie vs. seasoned politician. Preceding the June primary election, the Los Angeles Times and L’Opinion endorsed Mejia for the office, but there has been a dramatic shift in the conversation as disturbing information about him has surfaced.
Businessman Rick Caruso cuts Karen Bass' lead in Los Angeles mayoral race: New poll
A new poll shows businessman Rick Caruso has significantly cut into Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass' lead in the race to be the next mayor of Los Angeles. According to the poll, conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, Bass leads Caruso by just three percentage points among registered voters in the city, 34% to 31%, down from a double-digit lead she held over the Republican-turned-Democrat back in the summer.
Ex-FBI agent found guilty of selling U.S. intelligence to Armenian mob
A two-week trial filled with tantalizing testimony about crooked cops, political shindigs with California’s governor, drug-fueled sex romps at a Vegas party house and lavish Beverly Hills dinners ended Tuesday with a jury in Little Tokyo finding former FBI agent Babak Broumand guilty of selling his top-secret security access to the L.A. Armenian underworld.
Ex-eBay execs heading to prison for harassing couple behind newsletter
Two former eBay Inc security executives were sentenced to prison on Thursday for carrying out a campaign to harass and intimidate a Massachusetts couple through threats and disturbing home deliveries after their online newsletter drew the ire of the company’s then-CEO. Jim Baugh and David Harville were sentenced to 57 and 24 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in an extensive harassment campaign that involved sending the couple cockroaches, a funeral wreath and a bloody Halloween pig mask.
Man gets life without parole for killing 3 in Torrance Gable House Bowl shooting
A man who was convicted of murdering three men and wounding four other people in a shooting at a bowling alley in Torrance while he was on parole was sentenced Friday to three consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole. Jurors found Reginald Leander Wallace, now 51, of Los Angeles, guilty June 24 of three counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Michael Radford, 20, and Robert Meekins and Astin Edwards, both 28, just before midnight Jan. 4, 2019 at Gable House Bowl at 22501 Hawthorne Blvd.
Former Uber security chief found guilty of covering up data breach
In a verdict with far-reaching implications for security chiefs nationwide, a federal jury convicted Uber’s former head of security Joe Sullivan on Wednesday of concealing a 2016 data breach from authorities and obstructing an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into Uber’s security practices. Sullivan had only been on the job a few months when two hackers broke into Uber’s Amazon data storage server in October 2016 and swiped the personal information of 57 million app users, including names, phone numbers, email addresses and 600,000 driver’s license numbers.
Sex abuse charges against former Dublin prison guard are the latest in a string of serious incidents
A former guard at the federal women's prison in Dublin was charged Thursday with sexually abusing two more inmates, the latest in a series of sex-abuse charges against officers and a former warden of the Federal Correctional Institution. John Bellhouse was initially indicted by a federal grand jury in February on a charge of abusive sexual contact with a female inmate in 2020, and pleaded not guilty.
KQED sues California Department of Corrections for records on staff use of force and misconduct
KQED is suing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to compel the agency to comply with state law enforcement transparency laws. The prison agency’s response to KQED’s requests for public records “has been both wildly delayed and seriously insufficient,” the complaint alleges. CDCR did not respond to a request for comment on the filing.
Articles of Interest
Murder, Inc. meets 'Calvin and Hobbes’
I recall with fondness the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes,” in which cartoonist Bill Watterson reminded us of the youthful joys of playing “pretend.” Calvin was a 6-year-old boy; Hobbes was his stuffed tiger, but when Calvin was alone, Hobbes came to extraordinary life, becoming a mordant philosopher, sage, and most of all loyal companion on Calvin’s imaginary adventures. My favorites appeared on the occasional Sunday, when Calvin, in the persona of his alter-ego Spaceman Spiff, rocketed through the cosmos to battle all manner of hideous alien creatures, smiting them with his “frap-ray blaster."
Trump files $475 million defamation lawsuit against CNN
Former President Donald Trump on Monday sued CNN, seeking $475 million in damages, saying the network had defamed him in an effort to short-circuit any future political campaign. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, focuses primarily on the term “The Big Lie” about Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud that he says cost him the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden. CNN said it had no comment on the lawsuit.
Descendants of UC Hastings College of the Law founder sue California to block school name change
Descendants of UC Hastings College of the Law's founder sued California on Tuesday to block a scheduled name change that was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last month. The state's first law school was founded by Serranus Clinton Hastings in 1878 after he served as the first chief justice on the California Supreme Court.
What’s going on with gas prices in California? Here’s why they are increasing again.
The California Air Resources Board has strict requirements for gasoline sold within the state, so the state sources a majority of its supply from its refineries. AAA says at least six of the state’s 14 refineries have been taken offline for maintenance in recent weeks. "The explanation here is that there have been a number of refinery outages both planned and unplanned here in California and so the supply of gasoline has gone down, even though the price of oil has also been going down," Mark Agerton, an assistant professor at UC Davis’ Agriculture and Resource Economics Department, told CapRadio.
Gov. Newsom's veto on bill affecting Ventura County pensions to lower payouts
In a decision that surprised county officials, Gov. Gavin Newsom last week vetoed a bill that would have restored certain pension benefits for an estimated 3,200 Ventura County public employees. Assembly Bill 826 required that payments the county government made to the employees to buy health insurance count in the compensation used to calculate their pensions. To qualify, the county workers had to be hired before a state pension reform law took effect in 2013, be enrolled as of the date of an adverse California Supreme Court decision on July 30, 2020 and retire by Dec. 31, 2025.
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