Courts, Rulings & Lawsuits

Judge: Lawsuit to block early inmate releases can continue

On Friday, September 1, a Sacramento judge rejected California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s attempt to throw out a lawsuit challenging the Newsom Administration’s scheme to grant early release to tens of thousands of prison inmates. The suit, brought by the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation on behalf of crime victims and their families, argues that administrative regulations authorizing the inmate releases, adopted in 2021 by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, violate numerous state laws and ballot measures that specify when and how a prison inmate qualifies for credits to gain early release and when those credits may be used to advance a minimum eligible parole date.

Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

L.A. County sues pharmacy benefit firms, alleging they helped fuel opioid crisis

Los Angeles County has become the latest local government to accuse pharmacy benefit managers - the little-known middlemen of the prescription drug industry - of stoking the opioid crisis by helping flood the nation with highly addictive pills. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the county alleged that Express Scripts Inc. and OptumRx Inc. colluded with drug manufacturers to promote dangerously addictive opioids as a safe and moderate pain treatment option.

Los Angeles Times

Lowenthal finds Connolly didn’t act unethically as D.D.A.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Lowenthal has denied the resentencing bid of a man who was convicted of a 2006 murder, omitting, in his order, any reference by name to his colleague, Patrick E. Connolly, who earlier this year attempted to intercede in the proceeding and disqualify Lowenthal for cause. Connolly, elected to the bench in 2008, was the deputy district attorney who, in 2007, obtained the conviction of Justin Ashley Flint, the petitioner in the proceeding before Lowenthal. 

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

US sues SoCal Edison for $100 million in damages from 2020 wildfire

The federal government sued Southern California Edison for more than $100 million in damages it sustained from the 2020 Bobcat Fire that destroyed over 100,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest. "SCE failed to properly maintain its power lines in or around the area where the Bobcat Fire ignited," the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles said in its complaint Friday.

Courthouse News Service

Ninth Circuit: Forest Service has no duty to regulate lead ammo waste

The U.S. Forest Service has no responsibility to regulate the use of lead ammunition in the Kaibab National Forest, regardless of health hazards to endangered species, a Ninth Circuit panel ruled Friday. The panel affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the Center for Biological Diversity’s claim that the Forest Service contributes to and is responsible for the “disposal of any solid or hazardous waste,” by allowing hunters to use and abandon lead ammunition in the Kaibab. 

Courthouse News Service

Court overturns child molestation conviction, finding visa issues cloud accuser’s testimony

A state appellate court overturned the child molestation convictions and a 125-year prison sentence against a Santa Rosa man this week, ruling that the jury should’ve been told that one of the two female victims was trying to use the case to obtain a migration visa for her mother. The exclusion of the evidence violated the right of Cecilio Castaneda-Prado, 55, to confront a witness against him under the federal and state constitutions, according to Wednesday’s ruling by the California Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

Los Angeles Times

Appeal allows suit seeking CA marijuana track-and-trace data to proceed

A California marijuana company that brazenly accuses competitors of allowing legal product to be sold on the illicit market might yet succeed in prying loose track-and-trace data from the state that could prove it. That’s based on an Aug. 2 ruling by California’s 4th Appellate District Court that the state Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) did “not conclusively show” that it “created an electronic database that flags irregularities for further investigation.”


Measure ULA lawsuit rejected by federal judge

A judge dismissed a legal challenge to Measure ULA in federal court on Sept. 5, making L.A. Superior Court the only current legal venue to decide the fate of the controversial transfer tax. Judge John Kronstadt ruled that federal court was not the right place for the case Newcastle Courtyards LLC v City of Los Angeles. Federal court is not the correct forum to argue a Los Angeles tax, which the court believed the Newcastle case was arguing.

The Real Deal


Four men charged in organized retail thefts at Ross Dress for Less stores in Culver City

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced today that charges have been filed against four individuals in connection with organized retail thefts at two Ross Dress for Less stores in late August. Each of the defendants has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit a crime and two counts of second-degree robbery. Additionally, Skinner and Marshall face two counts of grand theft. Marshall and Tobias face charges that include special allegations of one or more serious or violent felony convictions.

Westside Today

3 charged with murder in botched robbery at Southern Californian scenic overlook

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has filed murder charges against three men who allegedly robbed and killed a driver parked at a scenic overlook along the Angeles Crest Highway in late July. The men, Luis Ventura, 24, Marco Antonio Hernandez, 18, and Abraham Ernesto Alvarenga Cortez, 21, were each charged with two counts of robbery and one count of murder for the July 22 slaying of Jessie Munoz, 32, during a botched robbery.

Pasadena Star News

Sheriff’s Department employee accused of illegally recording colleagues

A civilian employee of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been charged with illegally recording her colleagues. Operations Assistant III Meghan Capone, 43, is accused of using “a small electronic voice-activated audio recording device plugged into her work computer” between March and June 2021, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a Thursday news release.


Lawyer for LA sex therapist's accused killer presents surprising defense

A lawyer for the accused killer of Hollywood sex therapist Dr. Amie Harwick presented a novel defense, arguing that the victim accidentally fell from her own balcony as she tried to flee the defendant. Gareth Pursehouse, 45, is on trial in Los Angeles Superior Court for the February 15, 2020, murder of his 38-year-old ex-girlfriend, who was once engaged to comedian Drew Carey and wrote The "New Sex Bible for Women."

Fox News

Feds lay out case on long-awaited first day of Backpage trial

Opening statements in the federal trial against the former owners and employees of and its parent company had only just begun as the clock struck 4:30 p.m. Thursday evening. After three days of painstaking jury selection, whittling a panel of nearly 2,000 to just 16, those left standing were primed on the projected three-month trial by attorneys for the federal government and for only two of five defendants, who collectively face a 100-count felony indictment on charges of facilitating prostitution, money laundering and conspiracy.

Courthouse News Service

After witness cites fear of deputy gangs, D.A. declines to prosecute alleged poker chip theft

The district attorney’s office has decided not to prosecute an East L.A. deputy accused of stealing $500 in poker chips during a traffic stop after the driver who sparked the investigation said he feared retaliation from “deputy gangs.” When he was first questioned about the missing chips, prosecutors said, Deputy Braulio Robledo denied having pulled over the professional poker player at all.

Los Angeles Times


California says domestic violence is ‘nonviolent’ but link to mass shootings shows otherwise

Emily Hoeven, a former CalMatters staffer who now opines for the San Francisco Chronicle, has written frequently about misguided California legislators who refuse to classify domestic violence and other horrendous crimes as violent. Hoeven’s most recent missive points out that a former policeman who allegedly opened fire in an Orange County bar last week, killing three people and wounding six others, was apparently targeting his estranged wife.


2024 LA DA Candidate Siddall (Video)

NBC4’s Conan Nolan talks with Deputy DA Eric Siddall, a career criminal prosecutor and past vice president of the Association of LA County Deputy District Attorneys. He is running against LA County DA George Gascon.


OC snitch scandal

An Orange County public defender alleges in a new court filing that Superior Court Judge Brahim Baytieh led a criminal conspiracy to cover up police misconduct and withhold evidence in a murder case when he was a high-ranking prosecutor. The attorney says the evidence could affect the outcome of more than 100 criminal cases, including at least 45 murder cases.


Cancel culture at Cal Lutheran?

A number of high-dollar donors to California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks are demanding to know where their money went - and if it didn’t go where it was supposed to go, they want it back. At the heart of the issue is the Elton and Janice Gallegly Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement, founded about a decade ago when the former congressman came to an agreement with CLU to store his political archives at the school.

California Globe

Riverside County sheriff blames 'Proposition 47' for California's homeless and addiction crisis

California's homeless and addiction crisis has reached alarming proportions, with cities across the state struggling to cope with rising drug-related deaths and increasing vagrancy levels. Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco has taken a bold stance, attributing much of the crisis to Proposition 47, a law passed nearly a decade ago.


Organized Retail Crime

Democratic county supervisor condemns ineffectual California state laws leading to ‘epidemic of organized retail theft’

Democratic county supervisor from San Mateo, Calif., condemned state laws that have proven ineffective in the face of an “epidemic of organized retail theft.” “Enough is enough! All this retail theft. All this sort of crime. Enough is enough. We really need to look at state laws. What we have in place right now is not working,” David Canepa told NBC Bay Area on Tuesday. “We can’t go on like this.”

National Review

4 charged as part of organized shoplifting ring

Four men have been formally charged for partaking in two organized shoplifting sprees at Los Angeles area Ross Dress for Less stores in late August. The two thefts took place on Aug. 25 at a store in Los Angeles and Aug. 28 at a store in Culver City. The Los Angeles incident happened at a store on the 8900 block of Venice Boulevard, in which two men, identified by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office as 22-year-old Valentino Skinner and 31-year-old Marquis Marshall, allegedly entered the store and immediately began taking merchandise from the store in front of employees.


Nearly $200K worth of items from Victoria's Secret, CVS recovered in LA retail theft investigation

Two people were arrested Tuesday in connection with an organized retail theft "fencing" operation in Los Angeles, and nearly $200,000 worth of stolen merchandise was recovered. According to the California Highway Patrol, the suspects - a 47-year-old man from L.A. and a 43-year-old woman from Panorama City - were using a makeshift storefront-style display in downtown to sell the stolen retail merchandise. More than 13,000 items, which were mainly from Victoria's Secret and CVS stores, were recovered, carrying a value of $198,000, CHP said.


BHPD arrests three juveniles after robbery

The Beverly Hills Police Department arrested three juvenile males at approximately 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 30 for attempting to steal items from a store in the 9600 block of Wilshire Blvd, BHPD Lt. Reginald Evans said. According to Evans, three masked individuals entered the store and exited with items of clothing. The suspects were confronted by loss prevention staff, and store employees notified police.

Beverly Press

Flash mob summer: How can retail theft stampedes be stopped?

When brazen groups of thieves in all-black clothes and hoodies sprinted into the Nordstrom at the Topanga Mall, the Yves Saint Laurent store at the Americana on Brand in Glendale and a pop-up Gucci store at South Coast Plaza, 911 calls from startled workers and shoppers came immediately. It wasn’t soon enough. Stealth planning, disguises, sheer ransacking speed - the thieves are in and out in two to four minutes - and getaways in multiple cars mean even a rapid law enforcement response can be too slow.

Southern California News Group

Los Angeles City/County

LAPD moves to fire Valley officers suspected of concealing stops and searches

The Los Angeles Police Chief said this week that the internal investigation into allegations that some gang enforcement officers who worked out of the Mission Area police station - and are suspected of trying to hide some traffic stops and unlawful searches from being recorded - has already uncovered enough evidence to warrant the terminations of a least two of the officers under scrutiny.


Activist’s toddler is at center of LAPD Commission controversy

For months, activist Jason Reedy has been bringing his 14-month-old son to weekly meetings of the Los Angeles Police Commission. But the toddler’s playful romps at the oversight panel have recently become serious business. One commissioner, a frequent target of Reedy’s demands for greater police accountability, said during one Tuesday morning meeting it “made him sick” Reedy would bring his son to the emotionally charged meetings. 

Los Angeles Times

LASC: Nation’s largest trial court offers substantial incentives to retain and recruit official court reporters amid staffing shortage

The Court is prioritizing solutions to recruit, retain and reward official court reporters with the help of nearly $10 million in state funding to address a critical staffing shortage, Presiding Judge Samantha P. Jessner and Executive Officer/Clerk of Court David W. Slayton announced today.

First Legal

LA looks to track gun violence restraining orders

The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday approved recommendations intended to promote and track the filing of gun violence restraining orders against people who pose a danger to themselves or others. The council voted 14-0 to support recommendations in a report from the Los Angeles Police Department, with Councilwoman Heather Hutt absent for the vote.

City News Service

LAPD officers sue city over release of photos, citing safety concerns

Another large group of Los Angeles police officers with sensitive assignments has taken legal action against the city, alleging their safety was impacted by the release of department photographs earlier this year through the California Public Records Act. Prior to the department making the photos available, the officers went to great lengths to keep their identities concealed, according to the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of more than 140 current or retired plaintiffs identified only as Jane and John Does.

Westside Current


Will CA legislature pass SB 14 to make sex trafficking a felony once again?

A bill to make sex trafficking a felony once again in California was blocked in the Assembly Public Safety Committee by Democrats in July, after passing unanimously in the Senate. Eventually and two days later, the committee was pressured by the public and lawmakers to reconsider their vote, and passed SB 14. What should have been an easy vote for the safety and security of children should not have taken public outrage for passage.

California Globe

He lied to win a California rehab contract. Now he’s convicted of exploiting parolees in his care

Nearly three years after being released from state prison for defrauding the government, Attila Colar saw a new opportunity to pull in steady money from California taxpayers. He didn’t even need to hide his criminal past when he applied for a contract with a California rehabilitation program for parolees leaving state prisons. Former felons are welcome as landlords in the state-funded rehabilitation program, and many have a strong history providing services to their tenants. But he covered up his record, anyway. 


Felony convictions vacated for 4 former Navy officers in sprawling 'Fat Leonard' bribery scandal

The felony convictions of four former Navy officers in one of the worst bribery cases in the maritime branch’s history were vacated Wednesday following allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, the latest setback to the government’s yearslong efforts in going after dozens of military officials tied to a defense contractor nicknamed Fat Leonard. U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino called the misconduct “outrageous” and agreed to allow the four men to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and pay a $100 fine each. 



Americans are hopelessly confused about big-city crime. Partisanship is partly to blame

Americans think New York is more dangerous than New Orleans, even though the Crescent City’s homicide rate is 12 times higher this year. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents rank Washington, D.C., as one of the country’s safer big cities, above cities like Miami, where the homicide rate is much lower. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents see Seattle as ominously dangerous, even though Houston has twice the homicide rate so far this year.

Los Angeles Times

Thieves call rideshare after ransacking Macy’s store

Four people who allegedly stole from a Macy’s store in Brea on Tuesday were arrested after a pursuit and eventually calling a rideshare driver to pick them up, authorities said. The suspects were identified as Louie Velasco of South Gate, Jocelyn Mendoza of Simi Valley, Sherry Rogers and Marlon Deleon, both from Los Angeles. At around 12 p.m., the thieves were seen grabbing merchandise from the Macy’s department store at the Brea Mall, police said. 


One person stabbed to death at Pershing Square Metro station

A 23-year-old man died after someone stabbed him at the Pershing Square Metro station in downtown Los Angeles Thursday night. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the stabbing happened around 5:20 p.m. on the train platform at the intersection of Fifth and Hill Streets. Police said the suspect ran up the stairs connecting the underground platform to the surface streets above. 


Homeless Issue

Optimism in the war against homelessness in LA

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass had a meeting of the minds this week at City Hall about homelessness. Along with other city mayors, they meet with Biden senior adviser Tom Perez. Perez preached optimism, not futility, when discussing LA homelessness. When is a fed not a fatalist? "Inside the Issues: The Podcast" hosts Alex Cohen and Sara Sadhwani examine this "Kumbaya" attitude change and what it means for SoCal.

Spectrum News


Riverside County jury convicts man of murder in fentanyl-related case, a first of its kind verdict in California

A Temecula man was convicted this week of second-degree murder for knowingly supplying fentanyl to a 26-year-old woman who died from the drug, the first jury verdict for a fentanyl-related homicide in California, Riverside County prosecutors said. After one day of deliberation, the jury on Thursday found Vicente David Romero, 34, guilty in the 2020 fentanyl-related death of Kelsey King, 26, making it a landmark case, according to county Dist. Atty. Mike Hestrin.

Los Angeles Times

Second ex-LASD deputy to plead guilty to federal charge involving Compton skateboarder

A second former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy has agreed to plead guilty to violating the civil rights of a man at a Compton skate park by improperly detaining him and then acting to cover up his actions. Miguel Angel Vega, 33, of Corona, admitted that he falsely imprisoned the 23-year-old skateboarder in his patrol car, which crashed during a subsequent chase, leaving the man injured, his plea agreement states.


Danny Masterson sentenced to 30 years in rape case: 'You are not the victim here,' says judge

Danny Masterson was sentenced on Thursday to 30 years in prison for raping two women at his Los Angeles home in the early 2000s. Masterson, 47, chose not to speak during the hearing - he didn't testify in either trial. Judge Charlaine Olmedo announced her decision following emotional statements from his victims and "verbally dismantled Masterson's defense," according to legal journalist Meghann Cuniff.

Yahoo Entertainment

Articles of Interest

Appeals court denies DOJ request to block Trump deposition in lawsuit by ex-FBI officials

A federal appeals court on Friday denied the Justice Department's request to block former President Donald Trump from sitting for a deposition related to lawsuits filed by former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. In its ruling, a three-judge panel rejected the government's effort to reverse a federal judge's order this year saying Trump could be deposed for two hours in connection with the lawsuits.

NBC News

CJP Chsatises former O.C. Judge Derek Hunt

The Commission on Judicial Performance yesterday - for the second time - imposed a public admonishment on Derek Hunt, who retired in June as a judge of the Orange Superior Court. Hunt has incurred reversals by the Court of Appeal based on his arbitrariness. Ten members of the ciommission voted to impose a public admonishment; an eleventh member, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench, did not participate. Hunt’s latest transgressions included sending an improper email to Court of Appeal Presiding Justice Kathleen O’Leary of the Fourth District’s Div. Three.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Wells Fargo exec in accounts scandal deserves jail time, say prosecutors: ‘Corporate wrongdoers must be sent a clear message’

Wells Fargo & Co.’s former head of retail banking should spend a year in prison for impeding a probe of the bank’s practice of opening millions of accounts for customers without their authorization, prosecutors said. Carrie L. Tolstedt, the only executive at the bank to be accused of criminal wrongdoing stemming from its fake-accounts scandal of 2016, agreed this year to plead guilty to obstructing the investigation. Now the judge handling the case must decide how severely she should be punished.


Witness alerted police to altercation that led to arrest of Dodgers pitcher Julio Urías

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urías was arrested after someone saw a physical altercation between a man and a woman outside a Major League Soccer stadium and contacted police, according to the arrest report released Thursday. The report by the Department of Public Safety provided details on Urías' arrest late Sunday on South Hoover Street outside BMO Stadium in Exposition Park, south of downtown Los Angeles.



Consumer advocates want California's attorney general to investigate some insurance companies

The advocacy group Consumer Watchdog is calling on California's attorney general to investigate some insurance companies in the state, saying the companies are colluding to raise rates for homeowners in California. Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court said the proof is in a recording he made last week during a flight between Sacramento and Los Angeles. Court recorded part of a conversation between a flight attendant and Michael Gunning, chief strategy officer for Lighthouse Public Affairs - a group that lobbies for insurance companies.


Retail industry highly vulnerable to consumer data leaks

New research by password manager NordPass finds that businesses operating in the retail field have leaked consumers’ data more than most other industries. Since late 2019, almost 730 retail companies globally have reportedly suffered data leaks during which various consumer data (e.g., email addresses, passwords, and usernames) was leaked. This places the retail industry in third position among sectors with most client data leaks, behind entertainment and technology companies.

Retail Insight Network


Prison officer contract expected to cost state more than $1 billion over three years

State correctional officers and some other employees of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation are in line for salary increases, additional retirement fund contributions and other benefits expected to cost the state more than $1 billion over three years. The state currently operates five prisons in Kern County. These include the California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi, North Kern and Kern Valley state prisons in Delano and Wasco State Prison.

The Californian

California prison psychiatrists get double-digit raises in deal that avoids union strike

Physicians, surgeons, dentists and psychiatrists who work in California’s state hospitals and prisons have struck a deal with the state that will put double-digit raises and five-figure bonuses in some workers’ pockets. The agreement between CalHR and the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, which represents about 1,700 medical professionals in state service, averts a strike that union members authorized last month and arrives just days before the Legislature’s deadline to close out deals with state workers before lawmakers’ session ends. 

Sacramento Bee


Traditional pension plans are pretty rare. But here’s who still has them and how they work

The phrase “pension benefits” may come up a lot in the next several days as negotiations between the United Auto Workers union and the Big Three automakers go down to the wire to avert a strike. But for most private-sector US workers, pensions disappeared long ago. In a traditional pension, employers contribute, invest and manage retirement funds for their workers, who then receive guaranteed monthly checks for life after they retire.


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