No Parole for Charles Manson Follower Leslie Van Houten and other Stories: Monday Morning Memo
Hacker gets 8 years for bomb threats to schools; Bill Cosby's appeal for sexual assault doesn't look good
December 11, 2020
Courts & Rulings
Juvenile justice reform's legal challenge impacts Santa Cruz child murder case
Adrian "A.J." Gonzalez, now 21, was arrested and charged with murder as a 15 year old. The California Supreme Court will soon weigh a case with implications for whether Gonzalez and others like him should face the adult or juvenile justice system. Oral arguments begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday in San Francisco in the "O.G. vs The Superior Court of Ventura County" case, challenging the constitutionality of 2018's Senate Bill 1391.
Santa Cruz Sentinel
$5 million civil rights suit against City of L.A. revived
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday revived a civil rights lawsuit brought against the City of Los Angeles by a former Glendale police officer who is seeking roughly $5 million in damages, alleging that his right to due process was breached by the failure to give him notice of the impending destruction of more than 300 firearms from his collection, seized during a 2004 sting operation.
Applicant's psychological distress from denial of job did not constitute work-related disability: Metropolitan News-Enterprise
A California appellate court ruled that a county employee who is found to be unqualified for a new position, and who then suffers a psychological disability triggered by the failure to obtain that position, is not entitled to a service-connected disability retirement. Case: Marquez v. Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (unpublished)
C.A. Division rejects judge's interpretation of opinion by its predecessors 34 years earlier--Leagle
Div. Five of the Court of Appeal for this district has declared that a judge misread the division's 1986 opinion affirming a second-degree murder conviction of a man, saying that the decision provides no support for the notion underlying a Los Angeles Superior Court order earlier this year, denying the inmate's motion for resentencing, that he had been the triggerman. An actual killer is barred from relief under Penal Code §1170.95, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
Amazon loses in landmark product liability ruling
The California Supreme Court refused to review Amazon's appeal of an appellate court ruling holding Amazon liable for injuries caused by third-party products sold on its website. The high court also denied Amazon's request to have the case depublished. "This means the opinion will remain the only published appellate decision in the country holding Amazon strictly liable for a product sold on its marketplace," said attorney Jeremy Robinson, representing plaintiff Angela Bolger.
After 7 years in prison, California woman's murder conviction overturned by state Supreme Court: The Counterfeit Report
The California Supreme Court on Monday tossed out the murder conviction of a Corona woman who spent seven years in prison for the 2003 death of her boyfriend. The high court sided with an earlier decision by a Riverside County Superior Court judge stating the outcome of Kimberly Long's high-profile murder trial would have been different had the jury heard about a time-of-death analysis for the victim, 33-year-old Oswaldo Conde.
Disparate impact claim fails against welfare program--Southern California News Group
A public assistance program, providing benefits primarily to Hispanics and African Americans, which requires unannounced home visits by investigators looking for signs of fraud, does not, on those facts alone, establish a policy having a disparate impact on protected classes, Div. One of the Fourth District Court of Appeal has held.
Supreme Court upholds death penalty for Figueroa Corridor serial killer
The California Supreme Court yesterday affirmed a death sentence for a Los Angeles serial killer who murdered 10 women between 1987 and 1998, while reversing a second-degree fetal murder conviction, finding that expert testimony regarding the fetus' viability was improperly admitted at trial. That evidence, Justice Carol A. Corrigan wrote in the opinion for a unanimous court, was case-specific hearsay.
Some federal judges plan to retire when Trump exits. Will Biden be able to replace them?
For the last four years, some federal judges postponed retirement plans rather than give President Trump the opportunity to name more conservatives to the nation's powerful appeals courts. When Joe Biden assumes office, many of those judges are expected to step aside to allow the new Democratic president to appoint their successors, especially if Democrats regain the U.S. Senate.
25-year-to-life sentence was infirm under state constitution, Says LA Times
The Court of Appeal for this district yesterday ordered the resentencing of a man who tried to set up a minor league protection racket - in two instances crushing oranges being sold at freeway off-ramps, each time telling the vendor he would have to pay him money - and who drew a sentence, under the Three Strikes Law, of 25 years to life in prison plus 14 years.
Ninth Circuit won't revive woman's claim of firing for reporting sexual harassment
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a summary judgment against a woman who contends that the termination of her employment with the federal government, which came one day after she submitted a memo complaining of sexual harassment by her supervisor, was in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Where the California Judiciary has spent millions in legal services contracts
A big legal services spender in California also happens to be a public agency that's home to plenty of lawyers: the Judicial Council. The judicial branch's administrative arm paid more than $7.2 million to 42 law firms over a recent 18-month period, according to public records obtained by The Recorder. The recipient firms of the court's cash include some of the nation's biggest and best-known: Jones Day, Duane Morris and Reed Smith all submitted six- and seven-figure invoices for work between July 1, 2018, and Dec. 13, 2019, the records show.
NY's 1st Dept. rules for software developer in dispute over Major League Baseball gaming app
A panel of Appellate Division, First Department judges has allowed a California-based software company to proceed with claims that it was duped into entering a contract to develop a predictive gaming app for Major League Baseball's tech arm. The order upheld a lower court's ruling that blocked MLB Advanced Media's breach-of-contract counterclaim against Sports Technology Applications in a dispute dating back to 2013.
High Court census hearing shows Barrett in Trump's corner
The Supreme Court sketched uncertainty Monday for the Trump administration's latest census ploy, with the government downplaying Democrats' fears about lost seats in Congress. President Donald Trump announced the new format in July, saying he would order the Commerce Department to exclude undocumented immigrants in the census reporting used to determine states' seats in the House of Representatives.
Imprisoned hacker ordered to be released, promptly deported--Courthouse News Service
A computer hacker serving 20 years for giving the Islamic State group the personal data of more than 1,300 U.S. government and military personnel has been granted compassionate release because of the coronavirus pandemic and will be placed in ICE custody for prompt deportation, a federal judge ordered Thursday. U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in Alexandria signed the order reducing the sentence of Ardit Ferizi to time served.
AP: In-flight federal crime may be tried where plane lands
A crime allegedly committed during a commercial flight is not limited to prosecution where the plane was passing over at the moment the conduct occurred and may be prosecuted in the venue in which the plane lands, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, held yesterday. The opinion by Judge Mark J. Bennett affirms a judgment of conviction of Monique Lozoya, who was found guilty in the District Court for the Central District of California of a misdemeanor assault.
California Supreme Court refuses to halt San Bernardino civil trial over COVID-19 fears
The California Supreme Court has denied an emergency request from attorneys for the California State University Board of Trustees to halt the largest civil trial in San Bernardino County since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic amid fears it could become a virus super-spreader event.
LA parents sue state over remote learning inequities
The parents of a second-grader at a Los Angeles Unified School District magnet school are among seven families suing the state of California for allegedly failing to meets its constitutional obligation to ensure "basic educational equality'' during the ongoing period of remote learning stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to court papers obtained Tuesday.
At US Supreme Court, California defends COVID-19 capacity restrictions
Lawyers for California are defending temporary restrictions on large indoor worship services, telling the U.S. Supreme Court in a filing Monday that the state has appropriately balanced pandemic rules with religious freedoms. Writing in opposition to a legal challenge brought by Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his legal team acknowledged the high court's ruling last Wednesday in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, which blocked a New York state order capping the number of people who could attend houses of worship.
When the pandemic ends, will law firms still have a culture to return to?
Months of working remotely, social distancing and uncertainty have impacted law firm cultures, but firm leaders are largely confident that what is unique about their firms will survive whatever COVID-19 throws at them. Maintaining culture and communication in the present moment requires effort - and a lot of it. Staying in contact over videoconferencing just isn't the same as working in the same office, where lawyers and staff can walk down the hall to talk to each other.
Exclusive: LA County DA-elect Gascon promises big changes--www.Law.com, Prosecutors
L.A. County District Attorney-elect George Gascon will be sworn in Monday. In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Eyewitness News anchor Marc Brown, Gascon promises big changes.
Prosecutors to retry man accused of killing police officer--yahoo!news
Prosecutors will re-try a case against a man accused of killing a Los Angeles police officer over 30 years ago, but the incoming district attorney will not seek the death penalty again despite the family's wishes for capital punishment. Kenneth Earl Gay, 62, is charged with murder in the death of Officer Paul Verna in 1983.
AP: LAPD officer ordered to stand trial for Boyle Heights beating caught on video
A Los Angeles police officer who was seen on cellphone video repeatedly striking a trespassing suspect in late April in Boyle Heights was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on a felony charge of assault under color of authority. Following a preliminary hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Alison Estrada ruled there was sufficient evidence for the case against Frank Hernandez to proceed to trial and scheduled a Jan. 19 arraignment date for the 49-year-old defendant.
Former LA Deputy Mayor among new defendants added to sprawling corruption indictment-- City News Service
Former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan and four others have been added to the criminal case alleging a widespread corruption scheme led by former City Councilman Jose Huizar, bringing to nine the number of defendants charged as a result of the federal investigation, according to the updated indictment unsealed Monday.
Editorial: George Gascón can't fire prosecutors for opposing his vision. Can he win them over?--City News Service
Three days after taking office in 2018, newly elected Philadelphia Dist. Atty. Larry Krasner fired 31 of his prosecutors and in so doing gave virtual notice to the remaining 500: We're doing things my way now. Like it, or get out. Firings are a postelection staple in many jurisdictions, especially when an incumbent is tossed out. They're a way for victorious challengers to put their stamp on their offices, along with hiring new personnel whose attitudes better align with the new regime.
Los Angeles Times
Incoming Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón promises criminal justice reform
Nearly 20 years ago George Gascon was the deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. This month he was elected as the city's new district attorney overcoming fierce opposition from law enforcement groups. Gascon, the former district attorney and police chief of San Francisco, campaigned on a platform of criminal justice reform, including a promise to stop prosecuting children as adults, not seeking the death penalty and possibly reopening investigations into fatal shootings by police officers.
KQED: 'Mercenary' donor sold access for millions in foreign money
As an elite political fundraiser, Imaad Zuberi had the ear of top Democrats and Republicans alike - a reach that included private meetings with then-Vice President Joe Biden and VIP access at Donald Trump's inauguration. He lived a lavish, jet-setting lifestyle, staying at fine hotels and hosting lawmakers and diplomats at four-star restaurants. Foreign ambassadors turned to Zuberi to get face time in Congress.
AP: $3.8 million in food stamp fraud carried out at Oxnard markets, prosecutors allege
A criminal case involving two Oxnard food markets alleges a years-long scheme in which participants fraudulently accepted more than $3.8 million worth of public assistance benefits. Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten's office recently announced the arraignment of four defendants on felony charges after a lengthy investigation by the DA's government fraud unit and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Ventura County Star
California district attorneys describe widespread unemployment fraud by inmates
California officials estimate that jail and prison inmates could have filed close to $1 billion in fraudulent claims for pandemic unemployment assistance. District attorneys of Sacramento, El Dorado, Kern and San Mateo counties convened a Nov. 23 press conference to describe what they called widespread unemployment fraud among inmates of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) facilities in their counties.
San Jose Inside
Conception dive boat captain charged with 34 counts of seaman's manslaughter
The captain of the P/V Conception, a dive boat that caught fire last year off the coast of Santa Barbara, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on 34 counts of seaman's manslaughter. According to the indictment, 67-year-old Jerry Nehl Boylan, of Santa Barbara, "was responsible for the safety and the security of the vessel, its crew and its passengers," as the captain and master of the vessel.
New jury selection procedure in California: Is this the end of peremptory challenges? Is this the end of Batson?
Jury selection in California is undergoing significant change. In August 2020, the California legislature passed AB 3070, which was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 30. Beginning in 2022, objections to peremptory challenges in criminal cases will have more teeth, including a list of presumptively invalid reasons for striking a prospective juror and a new standard of review for appellate review of a trial court's decision.
National Law Review
Officers evict people occupying state-owned homes in Los Angeles
The California Highway Patrol contended with protesters on Thanksgiving eve as officers forcefully removed people who had taken over vacant state-owned homes in a Los Angeles neighborhood. The group Reclaim and Rebuild Our Community said 20 families occupied 20 houses in El Sereno on Wednesday, and the so-called "reclaimers" included families with infants who had previously been living in cars and encampments.
LA Animal Services GM wants LAPD to pay vet bills for dogs shot in the line of duty
Los Angeles Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette told the Board of Animal Services Commission this week that she wants the Los Angeles Police Department to pay any veterinarian bills accrued due to shooting a dog in the line of duty - a charge she understands is currently paid by L.A. Animal Services.
What's 'reasonable' when cops use force?
In August 2008, police were called to a San Francisco group home after a social worker reported a resident was acting dangerously, in a threat to herself and others. When the officers arrived, the resident, Teresa Sheehan, threatened them with a knife - forcing the officers to retreat. Fearing that Sheehan would try to flee, they reentered her room and shot her 14 times after their efforts to disarm her with pepper spray failed.
The Crime Report
Bill Lockyer discusses how Proposition 69 helped law enforcement
Since the passage of Proposition 69 in 2004, California significantly expanded its DNA database. Originally only to document the DNA of perpetrators of serious, violent crimes, voters passed Proposition 69 in 2004 to allow expansion of the number of crimes for which DNA samples get collected, Bill Lockyer said. As knowledge of criminal profiling grows, law enforcement's knowledge of the escalation of criminals from one type of crime to another type has increased.
Bill Lockyer Press Release
Transfer of DWP's surplus to city's general fund is lawful
The $5.22 that customers of the Los Angeles City Department of Water and Power pay each month which winds up being transferred to the city's general fund as surplus does not constitute a "tax" which is illegally imposed in light of the absence of voter approval, Div. Two of the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday.
Los Angeles County/City
Compton deputy thanks supporters in video message weeks after she and her partner were shot, wounded
A positive update this Thanksgiving from one of two Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies who were shot and wounded Sept. 12 in an ambush attack in Compton. The LASD tweeted an emotional video of Deputy Claudia Apolinar. The 31-year-old mother said she wanted to thank everyone for the support she and her partner have received over that last few weeks. This video marks the first time Apolinar's face has been seen publicly since the incident.
ABC7 Los Angeles
LASD said 'doxing' threats could have led to deputies violating policy to cover up their nameplates
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is investigating its deputies for allegedly hiding their badges so the public could not identify them. Activists who were protesting in downtown L.A. outside the Twin Towers jail on Thursday said deputies showed up in riot gear and some appeared to have tape covering their identification information. All deputies on the job are required to wear their nameplates as part of the issued uniform.
Initial price tag for lead up to reformed youth justice system: $75 million
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors this week voted to move juvenile offenders from the probation department into a new department focused on care and rehabilitation. It is a process the NBC4 I-Team has been following closely and comes in the wake of reporting on spikes in pepper spray use in juvenile halls and camps. Today when a juvenile is suspected of committing a crime, there's a 911 call, the person is arrested.
NBC4 Los Angeles
LAPD captain says she was humiliated by nude photo distribution
A veteran Los Angeles police captain says she was subjected to a hostile work environment after a nude photo of a woman was shared in the department by some who falsely claimed the image depicted her. Carranza filed suit in January 2019 and alleges that LAPD command staff knew the naked image was being circulated within the force, along with disparaging comments about her, but didn't tell the 31-year veteran, who is the commanding officer of Commercial Crimes Division.
NBC4 Los Angeles
LAPD could see layoffs as city struggles with budget deficit
City officials say layoffs at the Los Angeles Police Department are "on the table" as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the local economy and take its toll on government coffers. Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday he hopes laying off city employees, including LAPD personnel, will be a last-resort measure, but the city is prepared to do so amid financial struggles due to the health crisis.
City News Service
Protesters descend on Garcetti's house for sixth consecutive day
A sixth consecutive day of demonstrations outside Mayor Eric Garcetti's official residence was held Sunday in an attempt to persuade President-elect Joe Biden not to appoint Garcetti to his cabinet. Police stood by in riot gear as demonstrators chanted and spoke into bullhorns. No arrests were reported.
City News Service
Stay-at-Home order protestors descend on Echo Park home of public health director
As many as 100 protestors opposed to Stay-at-Home orders staged a noisy demonstration this afternoon outside the home of LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. After marching from Echo Park Lake, the crowd filled a narrow hillside street, waving American and Trump flags while chanting "Open LA" and "No Science, No Data, No Shut Downs."
Secret packed parties happening in LA, across the country amid tightening COVID-19 restrictions
With the coronavirus pandemic raging across the country and cases going up, there are still underground parties, packed secret night clubs and more happening across the country. Los Angeles is not immune to the secret partying. Young people especially tend to believe they're invincible and are having a hard time not holding underground parties.
KNX1070 News Radio
Sheriff's Department: Southern California man killed after attacking ex-girlfriend
A man in his 40s was stabbed and beaten to death Saturday after he broke into his ex-girlfriend's South Pasadena home and assaulted her, authorities said. The man had thrown a concrete block into the window of the home before 10 a.m. in the 530 block of Five Oaks Drive, said Lt. Barry Hall with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau.
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Shots fired at car by DA's investigator near Jackie Lacey's home, LAPD says
A shooting took place Saturday near the Granada Hills home of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, the Los Angeles Police Department said. The shooting took place around 6:21 p.m. in the 17900 block of Mayerling Street, police said. A DA's investigator opened fire at two people in a vehicle wanted for carjacking, the LAPD said. No one was struck and the suspected carjackers were not caught, police said.
NBC4 Los Angeles
Rep. Waters to formally request federal investigation into sheriff's deputy killing of Andres Guardado
Rep. Maxine Waters said Tuesday she will formally request U.S. Attorney General William Barr investigate the killing of 18-year-old Andres Guardado by a sheriff's deputy near Gardena as a civil rights violation. "Enough is enough," Waters said in the announcement, a day after multiple sheriff's department officials declined to answer questions during the Los Angeles County coroner's office inquest into Guardado's death. The officials cited advice from attorneys.
City News Service
Homicides, aggravated assaults on steep rise across U.S. during pandemic
Homicides across America rose more than 28 percent in the first nine months of this year, and aggravated assaults increased nine percent, while rapes and robberies saw significant drops compared to the same period last year, according to statistics compiled this month from 223 police agencies by the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Police Executive Research Forum.
More than 700 members of transnational organized crime groups arrested in Central America in U.S.-assisted operation
El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have brought criminal charges against more than 700 members of cross-border criminal organizations, primarily the MS-13 and 18th Street gangs, in a U.S.-assisted effort, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Friday. "The U.S. Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners in Central America are committed to continued collaboration in locating and arresting gang members and associates engaged in transnational crimes," said U.S. Attorney General William Barr, according to the statement.
Armed carjacker killed: He's shot by intended victim, then struck by hit-and-run vehicle
Authorities confirmed Tuesday that a carjacking suspect who died was shot by his intended victim in Compton before being hit by a passing vehicle that kept going. The shooting was reported at 8:40 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of Compton Boulevard and Santa Fe Avenue, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Authorities withheld the name of the fatally injured man, who died at the scene, pending notification of his relatives.
EDD fraud could total $1 billion in losses
District attorneys from across the state, including El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson, last week announced they have been investigating a scam run out of local, state and federal prisons that could involve the theft of up to $1 billion. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials said between March and August over 35,000 unemployment claims were filed in the names of inmates, with 20,000 of those claims paid. Sixteen claims were filed for one inmate alone.
OC jail recorded tens of thousands more calls between inmates and attorneys, defense lawyer says
The Orange County jail's telephone vendor apparently recorded 21,645 more attorney-client calls than the company initially acknowledged and continued recording after it said it had stopped in 2018, according to a court motion Tuesday. Court papers filed by Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders say that phone vendor GTL - which acknowledged nearly 34,000 breached recordings ending in 2018 - continued recording attorney-client calls into 2019.
Orange County Register
Serial Home Depot thief arrested
After working more than four months in an effort to track down a thief targeting Home Depot stores throughout Southern California, on November 24th undercover detectives attached to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department Camarillo Special Enforcement Detail finally arrested 38-year-old Camarillo resident Anthony Cisneros.
Don't fall for the Santa Claus letter scam
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer gave a warning today for residents to beware of scammers this holiday season, including a Santa Claus ruse that seek to capitalize on children's wishes. "It starts with an email – an unsolicited email – offering to sell you a handwritten letter from Santa to your child, usually with a signing a price of $19.99," Feuer said.
Los Feliz Ledger
Attorney General Barr: DOJ finds no evidence of widespread voter fraud
In the most prominent break from President Donald Trump's attempt to overturn the election, Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that the Justice Department has not found evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the vote. Barr's comments in an interview with The Associated Press represented an especially public retreat from Trump's repeated claims of voter fraud by one of the president's closest allies in the administration.
House passes bill decriminalizing marijuana at federal level
The House of Representatives has approved legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and seek to "address the devastating injustices caused by the War on Drugs." Friday's vote in the Democratic-led House is the first time a chamber of Congress has voted on federal marijuana decriminalization. It has little chance of passing the Republican-led Senate, however. The bill passed largely along party lines: 222 Democrats, five Republicans and Rep. Justin Amash, a libertarian, voted in support while 158 Republicans and six Democrats voted against.
A prosecutor and police chief were adored in their community. Then their scheme unraveled.
What's described as the biggest corruption case in Hawaii's history started with a stolen mailbox and unspooled into a seven-year legal saga that concluded Monday with a once-esteemed Honolulu power couple handed 13 and seven-year prison sentences for conspiracy, bank fraud and other charges. For federal public defender Alexander Silvert, who has since retired, it began in 2013 with a low-level crime and a familiar plea.
LA Times sues feds for records on sex abuse of ICE detainees
The Los Angeles Times sued a trio of government agencies claiming they are withholding crucial documents detailing allegations of widespread sexual abuse and misconduct at ICE detention centers. Enacted in the 1960s, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has for decades allowed news organizations, businesses, nonprofits and even private citizens to lodge requests with the government to turn over records that may shed light on how government agencies are conducting themselves.
Courthouse News Service
Belltown stabbing suspect used military-grade knife to kill caseworker, documents say
The man accused of fatally stabbing a caseworker earlier this week at a Belltown apartment building was formally charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in connection with the death of the woman who was stabbed 12 times by a military-grade knife, according to court documents filed in the case. Hans Dewey Van-Belkum, 58, was being held at the King County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond in the death of Kristin Benson, who worked at the Scargo-Lewiston apartment building.
NYU experts offer 'evidence-based' smart policing plan
New York University School of Law's Center on Race, Inequality and the Law released a report on Tuesday outlining an evidence-based approach to law enforcement focused on community safety. The center called it "a roadmap to smart policing under President-elect Joe Biden's Administration." Authors called their version "a direct counterpoint to the unlawfully produced and incomplete" report of President Donald Trump's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, which The Crime Report described on Monday.
The Crime Report
Firing squads, poison gas, electrocution: DOJ rule change gives feds execution options beyond lethal injection
The Justice Department is quietly amending its execution protocols, no longer requiring federal death sentences to be carried out by lethal injection and clearing the way to use other methods like firing squads and poison gas. The amended rule, published Friday in the Federal Register, allows the U.S. government to conduct executions by lethal injection or use "any other manner prescribed by the law of the state in which the sentence was imposed."
No more name tags for Buffalo cops
Concerned with officer safety following an uptick in online harassment, Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood is no longer requiring Buffalo cops to display name tags on their uniforms. Many officers had been ignoring the previous edict requiring officers to display their name tags on their outermost garments since anti-racism protests began in late May. Members of the public, including demonstrators, have said the absence of name tags makes it impossible to identify officers engaged in misconduct.
U.N. Panel: Digital technology in policing can reinforce racial bias
Police departments across the United States have been drawn to the use of digital technology for surveillance and predicting crime on the theory that it will make law enforcement more accurate, efficient and effective. The alarming reality, United Nations human rights experts warned on Thursday, is that they risk reinforcing racial bias and abuse.
New York Times
Supreme Court takes up Trump order to remove undocumented immigrants from population count
President Donald Trump's attempt to exclude people living in the country illegally from the population count used to divvy up congressional seats is headed for a post-Thanksgiving Supreme Court showdown. The administration's top lawyers are hoping the justices on a court that includes three Trump appointees will embrace the idea, rejected repeatedly by lower courts.
Police cracking down on underground bars, illegal parties in New York, Los Angeles amid COVID-19
As COVID-19 cases skyrocket, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to crowd into a jam-packed bar, but police say it's happening in secret. From a fight club called "The Rumble in the Bronx" to a warehouse shooting in Los Angeles. "These activities were illegal and sometimes deadly before COVID-19,' said New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito. Coast to coast, secret parties busted by cops like an alleged illegal bottle club with 120 people inside last weekend in New York City.
Judge refuses to toss challenge to Texas drone photo ban
Texas photojournalists have cleared a major hurdle in their lawsuit seeking to overturn the state's restrictions on drone photography at prisons, sports arenas and other newsworthy locations and events. State officials asked an Austin federal judge to dismiss the plaintiffs' lawsuit, but their constitutional challenges survived the motion with hardly a scratch Monday.
Courthouse News Service
Judge holds Portland in contempt over violent policing of protests
Police in Portland, Oregon, shot peaceful protesters with rubber bullets and paintballs during demonstrations against police violence in violation of a court order barring that very thing, a federal judge ruled Monday night. In the weeks following the May 30 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Portland's streets were often filled with thousands of protesters calling for an end to police violence, especially against black people, who are more than three times as likely to be killed by police than white people, according to a nationwide study published in June by researchers at Harvard.
Courthouse News Service
CHP officer, struck by pickup in Palmdale on Nov. 23, dies
A California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer, struck by a pickup truck in Palmdale on Nov. 23 while on his way to the scene of a collision, died Thursday, Dec. 2, of his injuries. While en route to the crash site, a Ford F-150 pickup on Avenue North made a U-turn directly in Officer Andy Ornelas' path, said Chanelle Gonzalez, a CHP spokeswoman. Ornelas was thrown from his motorcycle and taken to Antelope Valley Hospital, where he died.
City News Service
Member of hacking group sentenced in L.A. to federal prison
A member of a worldwide computer hacking group was sentenced Monday to nearly eight years in federal prison for making bogus shooting and bombing threats against schools both abroad and domestically, including some in Southern California, and possessing child pornography. Timothy Dalton Vaughn, 22, of North Carolina, pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to make threats and damage a computer, computer hacking and possession of child pornography.
People v. Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc., Ventura County Superior Court
District Attorney Joyce E. Dudley announced today that the Ventura County Superior Court has ordered New Jersey-based Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. ("Bed Bath & Beyond") to pay $1,498,750 as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution. The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit collaborated with 30 other California District Attorneys and the Los Angeles City Attorney to achieve this result.
Office of the District Attorney, County of Santa Barbara
Man sentenced to 7 years, 4 months for setting fire inside store at Westfield Century City Mall, prompting evacuation
A Missouri man was sentenced to over seven years in prison Thursday after pleading no contest to setting a fire inside a store at the Westfield Century City mall prompting a mass evacuation last year. Nicholas Kyle Oates, 27, was immediately sentenced to seven years and four months in state prison following his plea to one count each of arson and assault with a firearm, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Corrections & Parole
Calif. Governor Newsom nixes parole for Manson follower Leslie Van Houten
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has reversed parole for Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten, marking the fourth time a governor has blocked her release. A California panel recommended parole in July for Van Houten, who has spent nearly five decades in prison. Newsom reversed her release once previously and his predecessor, Jerry Brown, blocked it twice.
Guard kills California prisoner during stabbing attack
A guard at a California prison shot and killed an inmate who was trying to kill another prisoner Wednesday, authorities said. Guards used chemical agents and fired three rifle shots to break up the 9 a.m. attack by three inmates on another man at California State Prison, Sacramento in Folsom, according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Martin Pacheco, 34, was shot in the back and died a short time later.
California paid $400 million in fraudulent jobless benefits to state prisoners
California sent about $400 million in fraudulent unemployment benefit payments to state prisoners, a state official said Tuesday, nearly triple the amount disclosed last week and a number that could grow as a criminal investigation continues. Nine county district attorneys and a federal prosecutor are investigating unemployment fraud involving payments from the California Employment Development Department, which was under intense pressure to quickly process millions of claims as the economic impact from the coronavirus intensified last spring.
Officials spar over Covid spread through prison system
Prison officials defended their handling of the pandemic before the House on Tuesday even as reports show that nearly 20% of the federal inmate population have tested positive for Covid-19. Congresswoman Karen Bass, a California Democrat who chairs the subcommittee that oversees prisons, began this morning's hearing by reading some disturbing trends that the Council for Criminal Justice observed this fall.
Courthouse News Service
Ex-FBI lawyer seeks probation after admitting to altering email in Russia probe
The former FBI lawyer who altered an email so that the bureau could renew a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page urged a federal judge Thursday to keep him out of jail. A defense sentencing memo says Kevin Clinesmith made a "grievous mistake" and "cut a corner," but that he did not intend to mislead federal investigators or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Courthouse News Service
Articles of Interest
Longtime LA reporter has died
Some sad news on this Thanksgiving.... Longtime KCBS/KNBC/Spectrum Inland Empire Reporter Mary Parks has passed away. Her daughter Haleigh posted the sad news on social media: "To the beloved friends of Mary Parks, It is with the heaviest of hearts that I share the passing of my mother, Mary Parks, who died peacefully at home this afternoon. My mother was an angel in every sense of the word, so after a year long, tremendously difficult battle with brain cancer, it is only fitting that she spend her eternal days with God and His Angels, including her mother and father who she loved so dearly."
Cosby appeal appears to curry little favor at top state court
Labeled a sexually violent predator on the evidence of witness testimony spanning decades, Bill Cosby told Pennsylvania's highest court on Tuesday that his trial was a sham. The appeal comes two years after a retrial that saw the once-beloved comedian convicted of assault and given an sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Cosby was convicted only of one woman's assault, but prosecutors supplied the jury with a bevy of examples to show that the octogenarian defendant had drugged and assaulted Andrea Constand in the same manner recounted by dozens of other women over the years.
Courthouse News Service
Los Angeles moves closer to forcing oil & gas drillers out of city
After a lengthy legal analysis and at least one threat of a lawsuit, Los Angeles will consider a ban on all oil drilling within the city limits. Environmental advocacy groups say the proposal - made during a committee meeting Tuesday - to consider a zoning update that would ban oil drilling is a big victory for people who live near drill sites and signals that LA is prepared to phase out fossil fuel use in the next few decades.
Courthouse News Service
No more emotional support animals on planes after DOT closes major loophole
The U.S. Department of Transportation just announced a major revision to its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) with specific updates to the Traveling by Air with Service Animals section. In it, the agency makes a final ruling on emotional support animals. When the final ruling goes into effect, 30 days after the publication date in the Federal Register, emotional support animals will no longer be considered service animals.
The Points Guy
Courts in California still sorting out public pension rulings
The California courts are still sorting out rulings made by appellate courts and the state's Supreme Court in lawsuits brought against public pension reforms signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013. The high court denied on November 24 two requests for depublication of the First Appellate District's decision in Marin Association of Public Employees v. Marin County Employees' Retirement Association.
The Bond Buyer
Alameda Health System sues Alameda County over misuse of pension fund money
The Alameda Health System (AHS), which operates Highland Hospital and other safety net hospitals and clinics, is suing Alameda County's Employee Retirement Association (ACERA) to recover tens of millions of dollars in improper payments toward under-funded employee pensions, Oakland News Now has learned from a legal filing by AHS in San Francisco Superior Court. AHS is essentially suing the Alameda County Board of Supervisors because it contros ACERA – which AHS's lawsuit says is siphoning off pension funds and illegally using the money to plug the County's own deficits.
Oakland News Now
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