Courts & Rulings
Judge overturns murder convictions of Black men, ruling rap lyrics used at trial likely injected racial bias
A California judge vacated the murder convictions of two Black men on Monday after ruling that prosecutors "more likely than not" injected racial bias into the proceedings by presenting the men's rap lyrics as part of the alleged evidence. Judge Clare Maier of the Contra Costa County Superior Court ordered a new trial for Gary Bryant Jr., and Diallo Jackson, two aspiring rappers, who were charged with first degree murder and convicted of fatally shooting Kenneth Cooper at an apartment complex in Antioch, California, in 2014, where Bryant was also injured.
Judge takes police union’s target off Santa Ana city officials’ backs
Think of them as bowling pins perched at the end of the alley. One pin was the city of Santa Ana. One was the police chief. One was the city manager, another the city attorney, another the human resources director. Thundering toward them was the heavy bowling ball - lawsuits filed by the unhappy head of the police union, as well as the union itself. Its goal was to smash those pins and smash them hard, holding the city and its employees accountable for a stunning range of alleged misdeeds.
Supreme Court seems conflicted over California regulation on pork from pregnant pigs
The Supreme Court justices appeared deeply conflicted on Tuesday over the treatment of pregnant pigs, the prices consumers pay at the grocery store and California's attempt to shape the pork industry with a ban on meat from mother sows kept in too narrowly confined spaces. An oral argument in the case, National Pork Producers v. Ross, was scheduled for 70 minutes - but stretched to nearly double that as a consequential debate played out, pitting California voters' moral views against a critical national industry that feeds millions of Americans every year.
Court declares DACA program illegal, but leaves policy intact for nearly 600,000 immigrant “Dreamers"
A federal appeals court on Wednesday said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy violates U.S. immigration law, dealing a blow to an Obama-era program that provides deportation protection and work permits to nearly 600,000 immigrant "Dreamers" who lack legal status. A three-judge panel for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded the Obama administration did not have the legal authority to create DACA in 2012, affirming a July 2021 ruling from a federal judge in Texas who barred the Biden administration from enrolling new immigrants in the decade-old program.
Church may be barred from furnishing cannabis
Div. Two of the Fourth District Court of Appeal has affirmed a permanent injunction barring a church from offering cannabis to its members except under narrow circumstances, rejecting the appellant’s contention that in supplying that substance to its members, it is providing a sacrament and that the exercise of its religion is being obstructed. In the course of the opinion, authored by Justice Carol D. Codrington, it is posited that a trial brief is a “pleading” and that the failure to attach such a “pleading” to a motion to vacate a judgment based on the alleged excusable nature of a failure to appear at a hearing on a dispositive motion precludes relief.
Ninth Circuit will defer in capital cases to state high court’s summary determinations
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday made “explicit” that it will lend deference to the California Supreme Court’s rejection of contentions in death cases even where arguments are spurned summarily. Judge Lawrence VanDyke authored the opinion for a three-judge panel. He addressed two issues certified to it by District Court Judge Ronald S.W. Lew of the Central District of California and also dealt with two other issues raised by slayer Sergio Ochoa in his appeal from Lew’s denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
Fed court won't interfere with personal injury lawyer's corruption allegations in California
A California federal court has dismissed litigation brought by a personal injury lawyer against state court officials he says have improperly aligned with an insurance company he is suing. On Sept. 26, Judge Morrison England ruled against James Ison and The Ison Law Firm, who are tangling with Mercury Insurance Company in state court. Ison sued the Superior Court of California, the County of San Francisco, Judge Ethan Schulman and others last year, hoping to reverse what is happening in his state court case.
California court leaves in place tax ruling that’s clear as mud
Recently, the California Supreme Court declined to review an appellate court’s confusing decision in the 2009 Metropoulos Family Trust v. California Franchise Tax Board, further muddying the waters on how nonresidents should source gains from the sale of intangibles to California. The heart of the dispute in Metropoulos was whether nonresident taxpayers should apply a statute or a conflicting interpretive regulation to source gains from the sale of goodwill.
88 charged for stealing $5 million in mailed paychecks to birthday checks, California officials say
More than 80 suspects, many from two Los Angles County street gangs, have been charged for their roles in a years-long scheme that stole nearly $5 million from 750-plus victims in California, Arizona and Nevada who had sent or were to receive mailed checks, officials said on Friday, Oct. 7. Of the 88 charged, 56 were arrested, with at least some of the others already in jail or prison.
Prosecutors file enhanced murder charges against suspect in kidnapping, murder of California family
California prosecutors filed enhanced murder charges against the suspect in the kidnapping and killings of an 8-month-old baby, her parents and an uncle. On Monday, the Merced County District Attorney's Office filed four counts of first degree murder with special circumstances against Jesus Manuel Salgado. The announcement comes days after he was arrested and initially charged for the alleged kidnapping and murders of 8-month-old Aroohi Dheri; her parents, 27-year-old Jasleen Kaur and 36-year-old Jasdeep Singh, and her uncle 59-year-old Amandeep Singh.
Prosecutors seek prison for rioter's attack on AP journalist
Federal prosecutors on Sunday recommended a prison sentence of approximately four years for a Pennsylvania man who pleaded guilty to assaulting an Associated Press photographer and using a stun gun against police officers during a mob's attack on the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss is scheduled to sentence Alan Byerly on Oct. 21 for his attack on AP photographer John Minchillo and police during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot in Washington.
LA County District Attorney George Gascon acquits city of Brown Act complaints
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon has exonerated the City of Redondo Beach from complaints that it violated the Brown Act in two instances this summer, though telling the city it violated the “spirit” of the public meetings law. In a letter dated Sept. 8, Gascon referred to meetings which included the appointment of a new mayor pro-tem and the setting of a Special Election for Oct. 19.
Brother of former L.A. City Councilman José Huizar admits lying to investigators about converting cash to checks for ousted politician
Salvador Huizar - the brother of former Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar, who faces federal racketeering charges stemming from a “pay-to-play” scheme - admitted in a plea agreement filed today in United States District Court that he took cash from José Huizar on numerous occasions and immediately wrote checks back to him or arranged to pay his expenses, and then lied about his actions to federal investigators.
U.S. Justice Dept. opposes Trump Supreme Court request over documents
The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to reject former President Donald Trump's bid to again empower an independent arbiter to vet classified records seized from his Florida home as part of his legal battle against investigators probing his handling of sensitive government records. Trump filed an emergency request on Oct. 4 asking the justices to lift a federal appeals court's decision to prevent the arbiter, known as a special master, from vetting more than 100 documents marked as classified that were among the roughly 11,000 records seized by FBI agents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach on Aug. 8.
California convicted rapist arrested for murder just weeks after early release from life sentence: ‘senseless'
A convicted rapist in California whose sentencing judge argued he should "never get out of prison" was arrested in the murder of a Sacramento man just weeks after his release, officials said. Michael Xavier Bell, 36, was arrested this past Sunday for murdering a 60-year-old Sacramento care facility employee just 73 days after he was released early from a decades-long sentence, according to the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys.
Veteran L.A. County DA seeks depositions of Gascón, chief of staff
A veteran prosecutor suing Los Angeles County, alleging she has been denied important positions in retaliation for complaining about directives set forth after the 2020 election of District Attorney George Gascón, should be denied depositions of Gascón and his chief of staff, lawyers for the county argue in new court papers. Deputy District Attorney Shawn Randolph's Los Angeles Superior Court retaliation lawsuit, filed in October 2021, states that at the time of Gascón’s election, Randolph was the head prosecutor in charge of the District Attorney's Office's Juvenile Division, in which she supervised about 50 lawyers and 50 civilian workers.
Investigating "secret" Prop. 57 prison credits: Are most felons really "earning" early release? (Video)
When voters approved Prop. 57, CDCR said inmates would earn early release credits for rehabilitation, good behavior, and education milestones, and would lose credits for bad behavior. But critics argue that's not the case anymore and there's little transparency - pointing to Sacramento mass shooting suspect, Smiley Martin, as a prime example.
Recall recount? Lawsuit could bring Gascon removal to special election
When last we heard from the Committee to Support the Recall of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, its effort to get a ballot measure had fallen short by about 47,000 signatures, meaning the reform-crusading head of the nation’s largest prosecutor’s office had narrowly survived the second attempt to force him into a special recall election.
Labor federation says leaked audio is 'illegal,' vows to investigate, seek prosecution
The leaked audio of then-Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez privately making racist remarks was part of a "serious security and privacy breach" at L.A. County Federation of Labor offices involving "illegal" recordings of "many private and confidential conversations in private offices and conference rooms," the federation told affiliates Sunday in an email, according to text provided to The Times.
Los Angeles County/City
LAPD offering recruits $24K rent subsidy
The Los Angeles Police Department is hoping to attract recruits with its new Housing for Hires program. The program will offer police recruits a $24,000 housing subsidy for 24 months, the LAPD posted in a video on its Facebook page. As of now, the program can support up to 200 new recruits but is hoping to more than double the $2.2 million already raised, the Los Angeles Business Journal reported. In 2020 the LAPD hired 79 police officers instead of the 500 they normally add, Capt. Aaron McCraney said.
Documentary production firms seeks LASD records on Kobe Bryant crash
A documentary production company is taking legal action against Los Angeles County and Sheriff Alex Villanueva to obtain video through the California Public Records Act regarding the 2020 helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others. Among other issues, Real World Media LLC does investigative news reporting on transportation safety. The company alleges in a Los Angeles Superior Court petition filed Friday that it has wrongfully been denied access to the information requested.
Several LA County cities - including Compton - brink of financial distress, state auditor says
The state auditor’s office released its annual list of California’s most financially at risk cities and multiple LA County towns once again earned the undesirable honor of inclusion. Top of the list for the fifth year in a row is the City of Compton. San Gabriel also remains in dire financial straits, but dropped from second place in Fiscal Year 2019-20 to third place for FY 2020-21. Montebello, on the other hand, saw its ranking worsen from seventh place to fifth.
Karen Bass and the law
As we prepare to head to the polls to vote for our next mayor for the city of Los Angeles, one should take the time to review the voting record of Karen Bass during her tenure as one of our state elected officials and as a US Representative. If you recall during the mayoral debate, Bass stated that with the escalation of violent gang related crimes, murders, smash and grab robberies, home invasions, property related crime, auto thefts and felony hit and run, she feels safe. Her home is safe, her residential community and the City of Los Angeles is safe. However, that all changed after she became a victim of a crime. Now she no longer feels safe.
What would have happened if ordinary LA city employees were caught on leaked audio?
The uproar over the leaked recording of three LA City Council members making or laughing about racist remarks has already led to the resignation of Councilwoman Nury Martinez. But unless Councilmen Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo decide to resign, the rest of the council might not be able to force them out of office. So what would happen if the people on the recording had been ordinary city employees? The recorded October 2021 conversation at the center of the scandal involved Martinez, Cedillo and de León, and Ron Herrera, a top LA County labor official.
Crime/Public Safety
FBI issues consumer warning about fraudulent batteries
The Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a consumer warning about the dangers of counterfeit, fake, and fraudulent batteries. Batteries are a daily staple of consumer products and are common in toys, tools, phones, remotes, and smoke detectors. However, criminals are leveraging a global supply chain shortage and consumer inattention to rip off the public with dangerous fakes and scams that may result in injury or death.
Chronic shoplifter arrested after string of 50 LA thefts
The Los Angeles Police Department arrested a chronic shoplifting suspect who allegedly has been linked to 50 thefts totaling approximately $15,000. On October 7, 2022, around 9:35 a.m., resources were set at a location in the 600 block of South Broadway Avenue. Officers said they saw the suspect enter and exit with stolen property. Henry Funches was arrested and charged with burglary.
Georgia inmate accused of impersonating California billionaire to steal $11M while inside max security lock-up
A Georgia inmate accused of stealing $11 million reportedly impersonated billionaires, including a California movie mogul, while inside a maximum-security lock-up. Arthur Lee Cofield Jr., a 31-year-old gang member serving 14 years for armed robbery, is accused of using contraband cell phones from inside the Georgia Department of Corrections’ Special Management Unit to impersonate California billionaire Sidney Kimmel and open a fraudulent bank account in his name.
Video shows violent robbery at Encino gas station; police seeking additional victims
Police are looking for additional victims of two men suspected of committing a series of burglaries throughout Los Angeles. Clayton Randolph, 34, and 35-year-old Shanika Davidson - both of Wilmington - were arrested on Sept. 15 "for a series of robberies,'' and police recovered two handguns, jewelry and "items connecting them to the robberies'' during the arrests, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Dozens arrested in massive SoCal mail theft scheme
More than 80 people are facing grand theft, money laundering and conspiracy charges after a massive mail theft investigation revealed they stole nearly $5 million from hundreds of victims across California, authorities announced on Friday. According to the California Attorney General's Office, a large bank fraud scheme, which began in 2018 and continued for several years, involved suspects allegedly depositing altered checks stolen from the U.S. Mail into various bank accounts.
Merced kidnapping deaths: Ex-employee abducted Sikh family and his brother helped destroy evidence, sheriff says. What else we know
The man suspected of kidnapping and killing a California family in Merced this week was a former employee of the family business who allegedly had a previous dispute with them, authorities confirmed on Thursday. Jesus Manuel Salgado, 48, was booked into the Merced County Jail on four counts of murder and four counts of kidnapping, the Merced County Sheriff's Office said.
Arrest made in murder of Highland Park liquor store clerk
The Los Angeles Police Department said they arrested a suspect who allegedly murdered a man working as a clerk at a liquor store. The incident happened Oct. 6, at Tony's Market in Highland Park, according to investigators. Police said four teenagers went into the liquor store and tried to steal a six-pack of beer. "As he was kind of following them trying to get the product back, one of the individuals took an electric scooter and bashed him in the head," said Nelle Reyes, the victim's daughter.
Person dies after being dragged by vehicle driven by carjacker in South LA area
One person is dead after they were caught in a horrific crime spree and a murder suspect accused of being linked to two deaths is in custody following a pursuit in South Los Angeles late Thursday night, officials said. Earlier Thursday, LAPD homicide detectives arrested 20-year-old Miracole Brown of South LA and 28-year-old Derek Hall of West Covina, stemming from a murder that occurred in late July in the San Fernando Valley. Brown and Hall were booked on robbery and murder charges with a bail set at $2,000,000.
California is a hotspot for catalytic converter theft. Will new laws make a difference?
A beam of light glints beneath Isaac Agyeman’s 2009 Prius, parked outside his Temecula home early one August morning. One person is under the hatchback, another by its side and a third is stationed nearby. After a few mechanical roars and a quick scoot out from under the car, all three hurry away. It was the second time Agyeman’s catalytic converter - which scrubs a car’s emissions to make them less toxic and contains precious metals - had been stolen. This time, he caught the whole thing on camera.
NYPD’s failure to submit crime data to feds could cost NYC millions
The NYPD could lose out on millions of dollars in federal grants for failing to report last year’s city crime to the FBI, The Post has learned. The federal agency had asked departments for a more detailed reporting system starting in January 2022 - after having spent the past six years warning the NYPD and other police agencies of the move. Since 2017, the feds even paid New York City a total of nearly $24 million in grants that the police agency was allowed to use to get its reporting system in line.
Was crime up or down in 2021? Why the FBI can’t tell us
The FBI’s annual report on crime in the United States, released Oct. 5., was the first one produced under a new and far more detailed data format - the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). NIBRS replaces the “summary system” the FBI has used since the 1930s, which included major felony offenses and arrests recorded by local law enforcement agencies. NIBRS counts many more offenses and provides much greater detail about them, such as the age, sex, and race of victims and the circumstances of the crime
Court rules in favor of Ryan O’Neill, South Bend in civil rights case over Eric Logan shooting
Ryan O’Neill, the former South Bend Police officer who shot and killed Eric Logan two years ago, has been granted summary judgement in a civil rights violation case. The suit was filed against O’Neill and the city of South Bend by Logan’s family in 2019. It argued that O’Neill violated the civil rights of Logan, who was Black, by using excessive force and racial discrimination in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments during the shooting.
Defense for Oath Keepers seizes on tip to FBI ahead of Jan. 6
An FBI source faced cross-examination Tuesday about the bureau's handling of a tip it got less than two months before the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot regarding the Oath Keepers, an extremist right-wing group whose members are charged with seditious conspiracy. “The FBI gets thousands of tips a day,” FBI Special Agent Byron Cody testified, insisting that the information was not ignored but rather “filed away for future reference, possibly.”­­­
LA Politics
In Los Angeles, a carnival of grievance politics
What a spectacle, what a carnival, what a glorious, over-the-top bacchanal of grievance politics we’ve seen unfolding in Los Angeles this week. On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported on a conversation secretly recorded nearly a year ago among Los Angeles city council members Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, and Kevin de León. Also participating was Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. During the conversation, Martinez spoke in crude terms about the son of fellow councilmember Mike Bonin, saying, “Parece chango,” which in Spanish means, “He’s like a monkey.”
LA City Council president resigns following leaked racist remarks
Former Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez resigned from her seat Wednesday, becoming the first to do so out of three council members overheard taking part in a leaked conversation that featured racist remarks and disparaging comments about colleagues and has ignited public fury and prompted calls from President Joe Biden and other prominent Democrats. Martinez, who previously stepped down from the position of president and then said she was taking a leave of absence, only indirectly addressed her remarks in a written statement announcing that she was leaving the council.
LA Times and LA workers union at war over audio of council members’ racist comments
An attorney representing the LA County Federation of Labor, Julie Gutman Dickinson sent a letter on Sunday to the Times before it was published, threatening to take legal action if it went public. The letter claimed the conversation “was recorded in violation of California’s privacy and recording laws on LA County Federation of Labor property.” “If the LA Times publishes this illegal recording, or information contained within it, it is condoning this illegal conduct and subjecting itself to potential liability."
Is Hugo Soto-Martinez the man who sprung the City Hall leaks?
The City Hall scandal that has consumed L.A. since Sunday as the rest of the nation watches on began with a series of audio clips that an anonymous user posted on Sept. 19 on Reddit, the sprawling social news and discussion site known for its freewheeling and often anonymous exchange of views. The more than hour-long audiotape purported to record a conversation between four of the city’s most powerful Latino leaders - Council President Nury Martinez, Council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin De León, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera.
Ex-county official to plead guilty in cannabis bribe scheme
A former county official in Southern California will admit he funneled bribes through his company to a city councilman in exchange for the councilman’s votes and influence in the city’s cannabis permitting process, federal prosecutors said. Gabriel Chavez, a former San Bernardino County planning commissioner, has agreed to plead guilty to one count of bribery, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Ex-Angels employee gets 22 years in Tyler Skaggs overdose death
A former Los Angeles Angels employee was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison Tuesday for providing Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs the drugs that led to his overdose death in Texas. Eric Kay, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with handcuffs and leg shackles, didn’t react when U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means read his sentence. Kay faced at least 20 years in prison on one of the two counts. There was no reaction from Skaggs’ widow and mother or members of Kay’s family, including one of his sons who read a statement on his behalf before sentencing.
La Luz del Mundo: Woman sentenced in church sex crime case
A woman who was charged along with the leader of a Mexico-based evangelical megachurch with sex crimes involving underage girls was sentenced Wednesday to four years in state prison. In imposing Alondra Ocampo's sentence, Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen said in his 38 years on the bench that he has never ceased to be amazed at the "depravity that is committed in the name of God."
4 years ago California ‘integrated’ prison yards. A judge paused the policy, citing violence
A Sacramento County Superior Court judge this week restricted prisoner transfers in California, saying the state corrections department ran afoul of rulemaking procedures and introduced the potential for violence with a policy change it made four years ago. In 2018, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation began housing general-population prisoners with a previously separated group including gang members, high-profile prisoners, informants and others with special needs.
Articles of Interest
Jackie Lacey says she did not know late husband would point gun at protesters
Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey states in new court papers that she did not know her late husband planned to point a gun at Black Lives Matter demonstrators outside the family home in 2020. The confrontation occurred when members of the group showed up at the couple's Granada Hills home early on the morning of March 2, 2020.
How California’s bullet train went off the rails
Building the nation’s first bullet train, which would connect Los Angeles and San Francisco, was always going to be a formidable technical challenge, pushing through the steep mountains and treacherous seismic faults of Southern California with a series of long tunnels and towering viaducts. But the design for the nation’s most ambitious infrastructure project was never based on the easiest or most direct route.
Weber Shandwick provides PR for Moderna and Pfizer, while staffing the CDC’s vaccine office
Early last month, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky endorsed recommendations by the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for updated COVID-19 boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. “This recommendation followed a comprehensive scientific evaluation and robust scientific discussion,” Dr. Walensky said in a statement. “If you are eligible, there is no bad time to get your COVID-19 booster and I strongly encourage you to receive it.”
If you notice this on your batteries, don't use them, FBI says in new warning
On Sept. 30, the FBI released a new public service announcement for Americans, warning them about counterfeit batteries. "Scammers are leveraging the vulnerabilities in the global supply chain, as well as the public's continuing need for new batteries to sell a wide variety of counterfeits or unauthorized replicas online," the agency said. Most electronic devices usually come equipped with an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) battery.
A parents' lawsuit accuses Amazon of selling suicide kits to teenagers
Amazon is facing a lawsuit accusing it of selling so-called suicide kits, brought by the families of two teenagers who bought a deadly chemical on the company's website and later used it to take their own lives. The parents of 16-year-old Kristine Jónsson of Ohio and the parents of 17-year-old Ethan McCarthy of West Virginia say the retail giant assisted in the deaths of the two minors by selling them sodium nitrite, a food preservative that is fatal at high levels of purity.
More than 100,000 retired California teachers receive pension boosts because of inflation
Soaring inflation this year triggered special pension boosts for about 112,000 retired California teachers, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System announced Thursday. The teachers’ retirement system provides a unique benefit that preserves retirees’ “purchasing power.” When inflation reduces the value of their pension dollars by more than 15%, the system makes a permanent adjustment, pushing retirees’ purchasing power back up to 85%.
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