Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

5X More Mask Use in Crimes and other stories: Calif. Supreme Court says February bar exam will be online

Also, Thrice-deported illegal immigrant arrested for double homicide after jail ignores ICE detainer

 

December 4, 2020

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Masks are now aiding criminals - not only rioters but the garden variety type

Alleged cop killer whose 1988 conviction was overturned sent to state hospital for psychological evaluation

A San Bernardino Superior Court judge on Thursday, Nov. 19, remanded Dennis Mayfield to Patton State Hospital, where he will undergo a neuropsychological evaluation to determine whether he is competent to be retried for the 1986 fatal shooting of a Rialto police sergeant. At first reluctant to send Mayfield to Patton because it could, according to defense attorneys, mean a potential delay of up to two years for a new trial, prosecutors ultimately agreed to send Mayfield there for his evaluation.

Man who insists deputies framed him loses latest court battle

A man who claims he was set up by San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies in 2007 on a bogus charge of attempted murder, and made repeated ill-starred attempts to gain redress in the courts, has failed in his effort to persuade the Court of Appeal that the 2017 republication on a website of a newspaper article from 10 years before identifying him as an assailant creates a fresh cause of action for defamation.

Calif. Supreme Court says February bar exam will be online

The California Supreme Court on Thursday unveiled plans for the February 2021 exam to be administered online, saying the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make an in-person examination difficult. "The changing circumstances surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in California continue to severely limit the state bar's ability to administer the general bar examination in the traditional mass, in-person format," the court said in an administrative order.

Appellate ruling scolds Marin court over threats conviction

In October 2018, a San Rafael man was charged with threatening to kill his neighbors. He pleaded guilty just six weeks later without mounting a defense, despite the prospect of prison time. Now a state appeals court is indicting the Marin County legal system for the way the case played out. The 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco spiked a guilty plea by Patrick Sean O'Hearn, saying he was rushed to a conviction without due consideration of his mental health problems.

Marin Independent Journal

Inmate failed to prove breach of right to sleep in quiet

Prison officials at California's only supermax facility are entitled to qualified immunity in a civil rights suit alleging court-ordered welfare checks conducted around the clock deprived inmates of adequate sleep, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held on Friday. The majority opinion by Judge Richard C. Tallman reverses an order by Chief District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller of the Eastern District of California.

California officials improperly allowed cannabis billboards along highways, court rules

State officials improperly allowed hundreds of billboards advertising cannabis products along California highways even though the billboards were banned under the 2016 initiative that legalized the sale of pot for recreational use, a judge ruled last week. The state Bureau of Cannabis Control overstepped its power last year when it adopted a regulation allowing billboards to advertise pot along freeways, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Ginger E. Garrett said in a ruling on Friday.

Inmate serving LWOP sentence entitled to one additional day of custody credit

Div. Three of the Fourth District Court of Appeal held yesterday that a prisoner is entitled to 822 days of custody credits rather than 821 days - an adjustment not apt to be of benefit to the man, a first-degree murderer who was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole, with a concurrent sentence of 25 years to life based on a firearm enhancement.

Denied bar leadership post, veteran statehouse lawyer files $2.9M bias claim

Former statehouse attorney Fredericka McGee has filed a $2.9 million claim against the State Bar of California, alleging the agency's leaders illegally backed out of an agreement that would have made her executive director. In a 12-page narrative accompanying the claim form, McGee, through her lawyer, Pamela Price, said the bar's board of trustees voted in closed session July 17 to offer her the job and that she and bar representatives had negotiated a $340,891 first-year salary, a Sept. 21 start date and a five-year term.

Supreme Court affirms death penalty for murder, rape, burglary

The Supreme Court today affirmed the death sentence in People v. Schultz for a 1993 Port Hueneme murder committed during a rape and burglary. The court's unanimous opinion by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye rejects an argument the superior court had improperly excused two prospective jurors because of their views against the death penalty.

At the Lectern

Conviction upheld for inmate in Alpine murder-for-hire plot

The California Supreme Court on Monday upheld the conviction of a death row inmate found guilty of hiring another man to shoot and kill his fiancee in Alpine 20 years ago. Michael William Flinner applied for a life insurance policy for 18-year-old Tamra Keck, then arranged for his former employee, Haron Ontiveros, to kill her on June 11, 2000, according to the ruling.

City News Service

In a 5-4 ruling, Supreme Court sides with religious groups in a dispute over Covid-19 restrictions in New York

In a 5-4 ruling, the US Supreme Court sided with religious organizations in a dispute over Covid-19 restrictions put in place by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo limiting the number of people attending religious services. The case is the latest pitting religious groups against city and state officials seeking to stop the spread of Covid-19, and it highlights the impact of Justice Amy Coney Barrett on the court.

Appeals court affirms order to probationer to sell home

An order to a man to sell his home - the yard of which was littered with junk, creating an "eyesore" - was not an unlawful "punishment" by a court but was a valid condition of probation imposed after a guilty plea to Municipal Code violations and the continual failure of the probationer to bring the property into compliance with legal requirements, Div. One of the Fourth District Court of Appeal held yesterday.

Justice Department asserts unreviewable discretion to kill US citizens

Drawing alarm at the D.C. Circuit, a lawyer for the United States argued Monday that the government has the power to kill its citizens without judicial oversight when state secrets are involved. "Do you appreciate how extraordinary that proposition is?" U.S. Circuit Judge Patricia Millett asked Justice Department attorney Bradley Hinshelwood, paraphrasing his claim as giving the government the ability to "unilaterally decide to kill U.S. citizens."

Courthouse News Service

COVID-19 and the Justice System

Jury duty? No thanks, say many, forcing trials to be delayed

Jury duty notices have set Nicholas Philbrook's home on edge with worries about him contracting the coronavirus and passing it on to his father-in-law, a cancer survivor with diabetes in his mid-70s who is at higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19. Philbrook and his wife, Heather Schmidt, of Camarillo, California, have been trying to convince court officials that he should be excused from jury duty because her father lives with them.

DA: Half of Tulare County inmates released under emergency COVID-19 order have re-offended

The battle between Tulare County Superior Court and the District Attorney's Office over the early release of inmates continues. A study by Tulare County District Attorney staff found half of the inmates released from jail following an emergency COVID-19 order by the California Judicial Council have re-offended. In April and July, prosecutors opposed hundreds of motions requesting inmates housed in Tulare County jail facilities be released due to possible COVID dangers.

Visalia Times-Delta

Prosecutors say California's system for paying unemployment benefits is so dysfunctional that the state approved more than $140 million for at least 35,000 prisoners

California's system for paying unemployment benefits is so dysfunctional that the state approved more than $140 million for at least 20,000 prisoners, local and federal prosecutors said Tuesday, detailing a scheme that resulted in claims filed in the names of well-known convicted murderers like Scott Peterson and Cary Stayner.

'Severe' understaffing at DA's office could harm cases

District Attorney Chesa Boudin is calling on Mayor London Breed to remedy a "severe" staffing shortage in his office that threatens to harm criminal prosecutions unless key positions are filled. The District Attorney's Office has reached a "tipping point," with a single prosecutor in the General Felonies Unit handling as many as 229 cases a year compared to the national standard of 150 cases, according to Boudin.

San Francisco Examiner

2 former California prison guards indicted in inmate's death

Two former California state prison guards were charged Thursday with trying to cover up an attack by one officer that caused the death of an inmate. A federal grand jury in Sacramento indicted 38-year-old Arturo Pacheco, of Mather, for deprivation of rights under color of law and falsifying records in a federal investigation. Ashley Marie Aurich, 31, another state correctional officer, also was charged with falsifying records.

AP/CBS13

Ventura County District attorney introduces new Courthouse Facility Dog Program to support victims, witnesses

The Ventura County District Attorney's Office is introducing their new Courthouse Facility Dog Program which is designed to aid in the investigation and prosecution of crimes by providing crime victims and witnesses support as they navigate the criminal justice system. The DA's Office said studies have shown that facility dogs provide both physical and emotional benefit to vulnerable victims, resulting in more accurate testimony in the judicial system.

KEYT

Santa Clara Co. undersheriff, Apple security chief indicted in alleged concealed weapon scheme

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office formally announced Monday morning indictments against the county's undersheriff and Apple's security chief as part of its ongoing investigation into a concealed weapons permit scheme. DA Jeff Rosen announced the charges against Undersheriff Rick Sung and Thomas Moyer, the head of Global Security at Apple.

ABC7 Bay Area

SF district attorney files manslaughter charges against cop in 2017 shooting

For what's believed to be the first time, a San Francisco district attorney has filed a homicide charge against a police officer for shooting a citizen while in the line of duty. And while the result may still be an involuntary manslaughter conviction, it marks a major shift at a time when the country is reckoning with the role of police.

SFist

Politics/Elections

LA County's new district attorney-elect promises to work with Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles

On November 6, former Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey officially conceded in the race against George Gascón. Lacey had held her position for eight years, but Gascón won 53.7 percent of the total vote, leading by approximately 229,000 votes. For three years, Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles (BLM-LA) held weekly protests outside of Lacey's office to put a spotlight on her mishandling of the death of Kisha Michael.

The Cosair

"Burn It Down"

American cities are entering a period of chaos. Protests and riots have dominated headlines, but beneath the surface, activists are launching an unprecedented campaign to overthrow the traditional justice system and replace it with a new model based on a radical conception of social justice. In Seattle, where this campaign may be most advanced, activists have crafted a narrative about police brutality, mass incarceration, and punitive justice that leads to a natural sequence of solutions: "abolish the police," "divest from prisons," and "defund the courts."

City Journal

Black Lives Matter L.A. says Biden shouldn't select Garcetti for cabinet

Members of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter protested today in front of the official mayoral residence in Windsor Square, saying Mayor Eric Garcetti should not be picked for a cabinet position in President-elect Joe Biden's administration. Garcetti, who was a co-chair of the Biden-Harris campaign, has repeatedly said he is not seeking a cabinet position at this time, and his political team has told City News Service since Election Day that he has not considered a position.

City News Service

Policy/Legal Issues

Uptight city tries to silence neighborhood councils ... and, CityWatch

If you are a neighborhood council member, your freedom of speech is at risk, but this time it's from the City of Los Angeles through its neighborhood council agencies and its commission. The whole thing I'm about to discuss is a clown act that might eventually be defeated, but right now, it is a bureaucratic coup that would leave some questionable characters at the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) with a lot of power that they shouldn't have.

CityWatch LA

Legal experts and prosecutors push for nationwide criminal justice reforms

While criminal justice reform took a backseat to the pandemic in the 2020 elections, there's consensus in statehouses across the country major changes are needed in policing and incarceration practices. A panel of experts Friday laid out their reform wish lists for 2021. The November elections reflected Americans' changing views towards criminal justice.

Courthouse News Service

LA County supervisors uphold controversial outdoor dining ban despite some opposition

By a 3-2 vote, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday upheld the impending and controversial ban on outdoor dining which will take effect Wednesday night. Beginning at 10 p.m. Wednesday, all eateries in L.A. County will only be able to offer take-out, drive-thru and delivery services. The outdoor dining ban will last for a period of at least three weeks.

CBS LA

Los Angeles County/City

City of LA records 300th murder for the year, worst mark in over a decade

The city of Los Angeles over the weekend counted its 300th murder, a grim statistic not seen after a decade of reductions in overall crime and street violence. "Our people are doing everything they can to stop the violence but we need your help," the Los Angeles Police Department posted on its headquarters Twitter account Sunday.

NBC4 Los Angeles

'Pandemic of crime' - LA homicides hit decade highs

This past weekend, a surge in violent crime resulted in Los Angeles' 300th homicide for 2020, a bloody benchmark not seen since the dark days of the 2009 financial crisis, reported LA Times. Killings have risen 25% over last year, and shootings climbed by more than 32%, reflecting a similar trend across many other US metro areas as defunding the police and socio-economic implosions and the virus-pandemic have left urban areas in chaos.

Signs of the Times

What we know so far about the LAPD's dramatic cost-cutting measures

If you happen to be in a traffic accident in the city of Los Angeles in the near future, and it's a minor collision with no crime perpetrated by a driver, then forget about having the Los Angeles Police Department send a patrol car to the scene. Instead, you'll be directed to an online portal. Once there, you'll find a form to fill out.

Los Angeles Magazine

Taxpayer money in California used to pay PR firms millions for COVID outreach, celebrity influencers

Los Angeles County's Board of Supervisors, Department of Public Health and Department of Health Services have renewed contracts with two public relations firms for the second time after spending millions in taxpayer funding since March to have them craft and guide a Coronavirus Response Media campaign, despite the county having its own fully-staffed communications team.

Fox Business

LA prepares for rare coroner's inquest into the killing of Andres Guardado

For the first time in nearly 40 years, Los Angeles County's coroner is holding an inquest. The proceedings that begin next Monday will focus on the fatal shooting in June of Andres Guardado by a sheriff's deputy in Gardena. While the inquest will seek to determine exactly what happened, its findings will not affect any potential criminal or civil cases related to the incident. Guardado, 18, was shot five times in the back by Deputy Miguel Vega in the driveway of an autobody shop.

LAist

L.A. County moves to create a new juvenile justice system focused on 'care,' not punishment

After years of incremental reform, Los Angeles County is moving to dismantle the largest youth justice system in the country in favor of a "care-first" model that would look less like prison and would emphasize emotional support, counseling and treatment. The plan calls for children and young adults who have committed crimes to be served in home-like settings, and includes 24/7 youth centers and support teams that establish relationships with young people who might otherwise be locked in facilities far from home.

Los Angeles Times

LASD accused of inflated train-wrecking charges against protester

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has filed charges against a protester for allegedly attempting to wreck a train at the scene of a demonstration against the sheriff's department - a case where the defendant's attorneys have accused officials of gross exaggeration in retaliation for protest activity.

Los Angeles Times

Public Safety/Crime

Man who vanished from South LA in September found dead, 2 under arrest

A 21-year-old man who vanished from a marijuana business in South Los Angeles in September has been found dead in the desert in San Bernardino County and at least two people were in police custody. The remains of Juan Carlos Hernandez were found Sunday by a search team acting on information developed by detectives, LAPD said. His body was discovered in a shallow grave along Afton Canyon Road north of Barstow.

NBC4 Los Angeles

Suspect in cold case rapes kills himself with nail gun days after women testify

A man charged with raping two women in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1997 has died after shooting himself with a nail gun, and the case will be dismissed, prosecutors announced Friday. Gregory Paul Vien of Livermore had been arrested a year ago after DNA evidence linked him to the Alameda County attacks. But a court ordered his release from jail in April because of COVID-19 concerns, the county district attorney's office said.

AP

50 Aryan Brotherhood & Fresnecks gang members arrested for violent crimes orchestrated in state prisons

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office held a news conference Friday announcing the results of a multi-agency investigation. Lucky Charm began early this year and focused on a local gang and its ties to illegal activity within the California prison system. Sheriff Margaret Mims joined by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott, Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp and FBI Sean Regan participated in a Zoom call at various off-site locations.

KMJ Now

Sex exploited kids saved by LA County: 'No such thing as a child prostitute'

Los Angeles County's efforts to support sexually exploited youth with services rather than leaving them to face criminal charges has changed the lives of hundreds of young people, according to a report released Monday. "Over the last few years, more than 500 sexually exploited children have been recovered through collaborative efforts in L.A. County," Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said.

MyNewsLA

LACCD and LASD going separate ways

The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) will terminate its contract with Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) after failure to reach mutually agreeable terms. According to the Sheriff's department press release "LACCD does not want armed law enforcement personnel" on its nine college campuses. LACCD Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez wrote in a press release that they were unable to reach agreeable terms for a "short (six-month) or longer-term contract, in light of the current COVID-19 environment."

Pierce College Round Up

Veteran LAPD officer suing city alleging retaliation for not hitting arrest numbers

A veteran Los Angeles police officer is suing the city, alleging he was stripped of his gun and badge and reassigned to his home for not producing enough gang and gun-related arrests while a member of an elite unit. A representative for the City Attorney's Office could not be immediately reached for comment on Mario Fernandez's lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.

City News Service

Masked crime up in Los Angeles

While masks are meant to protect from the CCP virus, they may be allowing a new danger into daily life. Masked crime in Los Angeles is 5 times higher compared to last year. According to the LA Police Department, over 1,100 criminal incidents involved suspects wearing masks from January to October in 2020. For that same time last year, there were 200 cases involving masked individuals.

NTD

Consumer

Amazon, eBay, and Wish are bad choices for black Friday shoppers

Consumers love a good deal and will flock to the internet for Black Friday bargains. However, online-shopping may be risky, dangerous, and little, if any, actual value. A Red Points survey found that 68% of consumers were worried about buying fake or low-quality goods online. The Counterfeit Report, an award-winning consumer advocate and industry watchdog, has removed over 400 million counterfeit items offered on e-commerce websites, including Amazon, Walmart, Wish, Newegg, eBay and Alibaba.

The Counterfeit Report

Facebook Transparency Report shows interesting insights about government data requests and its global disruptions

Facebook released its biannual Transparency report for the year 2020 this week and included insights from the Community Standards Enforcement Report as well. According to the report, the company received 173,592 government requests for user data in the first half of 2020. This was a 23% increase from the 140,875 the company saw in the last six months of 2019. The majority of requests were received from the USA, followed by India, Germany, France, and the UK.

Digital Information World

Patients pay thousands for back pain treatment - with little scientific evidence that it works

Desperate to relieve their suffering, people with chronic back pain who comb the internet looking for help sometimes stumble upon a device called the DRX9000. It's a mechanical table attached to Space Age-looking controls that its manufacturer claims can stretch the disks of the vertebrae, allowing bulges and herniations to be pulled back into place and taking pressure off nerve roots.

NBC News

California/National

Here's how George Soros is stealthily taking over the American law enforcement system

With all these tyrant governors and sheriffs running the UN & the WHO-Rockefeller-Bill Gates vaccine agenda at all costs, violating the Constitution by raiding people's home in squads and pulling them off their homes, or echoing the WHO in raiding and "isolating" members of the family who have been in contact with the virus, it makes clear that a solo sheriff breaking his oath is not the case but it is a "system".

The Millennium Report

In scathing ruling, judge dismisses Trump campaign's effort to overturn election results in Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania federal court on Saturday denied President Donald Trump's request to block certification of the state's election results to give his lawyers time to find evidence to support their claims of a fraudulent election system and improper ballot counting. In a scathing ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann criticized the Trump campaign's lack of evidence to support its argument to potentially disenfranchise every voter in the commonwealth who cast a ballot - nearly 7 million.

USA Today

Alleged cartel boss arrested over slaughter of Mormon family in Mexico

The alleged boss of a Mexican drug cartel has been busted in connection to the slaughter of three Mormon mothers and their six children last year, according to reports. Roberto González Montes, the alleged leader of La Línea, who is known as "El32" or "El Mudo," meaning the mute, was arrested as part of a huge multi-agency investigation into the murders in Mexico last November, sources told El Diario on Monday.

New York Post

Thrice-deported illegal immigrant arrested for double homicide after jail ignores ICE detainer

Federal law enforcement announced the arrest of a thrice-deported illegal immigrant who now stands accused of murdering two people after a California county jail allowed him to leave against the wishes of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In a statement released Wednesday, ICE blamed the Santa Clara County Jail for ignoring a retainer for Fernando de Jesus Lopez-Garcia and releasing "a dangerous criminal alien back into the community."

Washington Examiner

Convictions/Sentences

Former UC Berkeley employee nicknamed 'NorCal Rapist' convicted in string of attacks

A former University of California at Berkeley employee nicknamed the "NorCal Rapist" was convicted Wednesday of attacking women in a string of sexual assaults and kidnappings dating back almost 30 years. Roy Charles Waller, 60, was found guilty on 46 counts, including rape, sodomy and kidnapping in connection with attacks on nine women between 1991 and 2009 in six counties throughout Northern California.

Fox News

Glendale man gets 7 years in federal prison for $5M bank fraud scams

A Southern California man was sentenced to federal prison Monday for bilking banks out of nearly $5 million by racking up expenses on illegally obtained credit cards, including cemetery plots, liquor and Rolex watches, prosecutors said. Mikayel Hmayakyan, 43, of Glendale, was sentenced to seven years in prison. He pleaded guilty in June to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. He also was ordered to pay nearly $5 million in restitution.

AP

Corrections & Parole

Video visitation between inmates, families start this weekend at 5 California prisons

Video visitation is being launched at California prisons just in time for the holidays. California prisons have been closed to in-person visits since mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says it had 283 cases COVID-19 last month, its lowest number since April, but those numbers are on the rise as they are in the rest of the state.

CBS LA

CDCR investigating fatal officer-involved shooting at Sacramento prison

An inmate at California State Prison Sacramento was shot and killed today by a correctional officer after he and two other inmates attempted to murder another inmate who has connections to Kern County. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said just before 9 a.m., inmates Gustavo Reyes, Martin Pacheco and Angel Torres attacked inmate Paul Solis with weapons they had made.

KGET

Articles of Interest

"Defund the Police" is a self-destructive slogan

For two weeks, Democrats have been arguing over why they didn't do better in the election. Was it socialism? The Green New Deal? Bad organizing online? These disputes will rage on. But there's one lesson on which all sides should agree, because the evidence is clear, and the remedy is semantic: Stop saying "Defund the police." Most activists, when they talk about defunding police, mean that we should fund social services and thereby reduce the scope of what police have to do.

Slate

Kamala Harris and the noble path of the prosecutor

In the opening of her memoir, "The Truths We Hold," from 2019, Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris writes that, as a law student, she found her "calling" while interning at the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, in Oakland, California, in 1988. Harris then spent nearly three decades in law enforcement, referring to herself as "top cop," rising from local prosecutor to district attorney of San Francisco and then attorney general of California - the first woman and the first Black person in these jobs - until she joined the U.S. Senate, in 2017.

The New Yorker

Why some neighborhoods do not want a 'slow street'

Slowing down streets and giving the right of way to bikes and walkers during the COVID-19 pandemic has been praised by many in transportation and community development circles. It was seen as the sort of common sense step for government to take when traffic all but vanished across cities as residents suddenly began working from home while also scaling back family extracurriculars.

Government Technology

Conservationists challenge 'destructive' Central California dam project

A proposed dam in California's Central Valley is billed as a vital agricultural resource. But conservationists say it would also flood important cultural and recreational sites for surrounding communities and destroy wildlife habitat. Del Puerto Canyon near Patterson, California, is a "treasured place" supplying critical habitat for protected plants and animals as well as bicycle routes, hiking trails and bird-watching areas for residents, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in Stanislaus County Superior Court.

Courthouse News Service

 

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