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By Monday Morning Memo
Association of Deputy District Attorneys 

LA Sheriff Heard Having Sex Over Open Mic and Other Stories: Monday Morning Memo

Woman faces murder charges for using drugs during pregnancy, LA DA Gascon may not have authority to end cash bail

 

December 31, 2020

Friends of the Elephant Seal

A man pled guilty to shooting a protected elephant seal in San Simeon

Courts & Rulings

Court refuses to bar woman's murder prosecution for death of fetus, a loss for Becerra

The state Supreme Court cleared the way Wednesday for the murder prosecution of a drug-using woman whose fetus was stillborn, rejecting a rare challenge by Attorney General Xavier Becerra to criminal charges filed by a local district attorney. Becerra's office normally represents county prosecutors when their cases are appealed to higher courts.

San Francisco Chronicle

Gascón blacklists judge for non-adherence to his policy

Los Angeles County's new district attorney, George Gascón, has blacklisted at least one Los Angeles Superior Court judge - Shellie Samuels, who sits in Van Nuys-West - based on her refusal to strike an enhancement allegation in an information filed under the administration of the previous chief prosecutor, Jackie Lacey.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

L.A. County DA George Gascón's sweeping changes already met with resistance

On his first day in office, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón announced sweeping changes that he promised would dramatically alter how justice is delivered in the county. But in the week since his heady proclamations, Gascón's reform plans have been met with resistance from judges, his own prosecutors and crime victims, who are challenging both the ethics of his vision and whether he has the authority to carry out one of its main components.

Los Angeles Times

Court declares doubt about mental competency in Lancaster decapitation case

Criminal proceedings were suspended Monday for a Lancaster man who allegedly decapitated two of his children and forced his two other children to view their slain siblings' remains, as the court declared a doubt as to his mental competency. Maurice Jewel Taylor Sr., a 34-year-old personal trainer, appeared in a Lancaster courtroom Monday morning but did not enter a plea.

City News Service

ExamSoft flags one-third of California bar exam test takers for cheating

One of EFF's chief concerns about exam proctoring software - in addition to the fact that it subjects students to excessive surveillance - is the risk that it will incorrectly flag students for cheating, called "false positives." This can be due either to the software's technical failures or to its requirements that students have relatively new computers and access to near-broadband speeds.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Judge had no authority to force visits of adult conservatee with father

Div. Two of the Fourth District Court of Appeal has declared that a judge went out of bounds in ordering that a mentally impaired 33-year-old woman who accused her father of raping her must participate in joint counseling sessions with him, over the objection of her mother, her conservator.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Supreme Court grants review in Three Strikes case; LA DA drops objections to legislation restricting juvenile transfers

At yesterday's conference, the Supreme Court ordered further proceedings in a case about protecting prisoners from the COVID-19 pandemic and it refused to put an early end to a fetal-murder prosecution of a defendant who used drugs during her pregnancy.

At the Lectern

Second appellate District of California Court of Appeal upholds constitutionality of felony forfeiture statute

As the public pension community in California is well aware, on July 30, 2020, the California Supreme Court issued its landmark decision on vested rights and the constitutionality of legislative changes to public retirement statutes in Alameda County Deputy Sheriff's Association, et al. v. Alameda County Employees' Retirement Association, et al. (State Of California) (2020) 9 Cal.5th 1032 ("Alameda").

JD Supra

Victory! Federal Appeals Court confirms FOIA requests requiring a database query are allowed under the law

At a time when the federal government is collecting and creating massive amounts of digital data that can implicate people's privacy and free speech rights, it is crucial that the public know what the government is doing with that information. A ruling from a federal appellate court earlier this month ensures that the Freedom of Information Act, one of the most important legal tools citizens and reporters have for furthering government transparency, allows the public to understand the government's use of digital data.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

LACBA has shaky finances, owes in excess of $1.1 million for rent of office space

The financial picture for the Los Angeles County Bar Association is blackening, with the organization's executive director, Stanley Bissey, declining to say yesterday whether the liabilities now exceed the assets. He did indicate, however, that "LACBA currently owes $1,122,880 in unpaid rent." An inquiry to Bissey was triggered by the Council of Section's dissemination by email on Tuesday to 114 persons of LACBA's latest financial report, showing 2020 losses through Oct. 31 of $826,524.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Judge won't wade into naval academy expulsion over tweets

A federal judge dismissed a civil rights case brought by a midshipman challenging his Naval Academy expulsion over offensive social media posts about the police shooting of a Black woman, finding it's too early for a court to weigh in. Chase Standage, a 21-year-old white midshipman hoping for a career as a fighter pilot, was widely condemned on social media in June after he tweeted that Breonna Taylor, killed by police in a botched drug raid in Louisville, Kentucky, "received justice" on the night she was shot and that Antifa protesters and rioters are "terrorists."

Courthouse News Service

'Virtual Presence' suffices for emotional distress action

The requirement laid down by the California Supreme Court that a person suing for emotional distress based on a physical injury to another must have been present when the injury was inflicted is satisfied where the plaintiff is "virtually present," viewing the event live, via remote technology, the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

COVID-19 & Justice System

Chief Justice taps retired judges to slash 'significant backlog' of criminal cases

California's chief justice has enlisted the help of retired judges to cut down the "significant backlog" of criminal cases caused by state courts' COVID-19 response plans. In a Tuesday memorandum, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye announced that she will be making retired judges available through the Temporary Assigned Judges Program (TAJP).

The Recorder

Restaurateur in viral video sues California over outdoor dining ban

A restaurant owner whose viral video showed a film production's dining area operating next to the patio she was forced to close sued California officials in federal court Sunday aiming to overturn the outdoor dining ban part of state orders meant to curb Covid-19 transmission.

Courthouse News Service

Judge denies LA County church's request to can indoor worship ban

A federal judge Monday again denied a California church's request to block state restrictions on indoor gatherings, saying the church is still free to hold outdoor religious services and that lifting the rules would likely contribute to the spread of Covid-19.

Courthouse News Service

Newsom's restrictions on indoor religious services ruled valid by federal judge

A federal judge says Gov. Gavin Newsom's shutdown of indoor worship services in most of California is a valid measure to protect public health and protects religious freedom by allowing outdoor services, unlike the New York restrictions struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

San Francisco Chronicle

Coronavirus outbreak forces Ventura County Jail to release 76 inmates

Dozens of inmates were released early this week due to a coronavirus outbreak in the Ventura County Jail system. Seventy-six inmates were released in an effort to mitigate the effects of a massive outbreak in which 45 inmates and three staff members tested positive for COVID-19, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office reported Tuesday.

CBS LA

DA Policy Changes

Mom of 20-year-old man brutally murdered, thrown off cliff lashes out at LA County DA George Gascón

The mother of a young man who was brutally murdered and thrown off a cliff in Azusa is outraged after learning her son's suspected killers had special charges dismissed in court Friday morning. The dismissals came under new Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón.

Fox11 LA

Gascón lacks authority to end cash bail

Newly elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon is clearly a man on a mission to create new laws, whether the public likes it or not - or even if his authority to do so is in question. He has been so obsessed with the idea of ending money bail that his head-scratching plan was long-posted on his campaign website, where it still appears.

Daily Journal

New district attorney will allow sentencing enhancements in some cases

Bowing to pressure, newly elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon has amended his directive to eliminate sentencing enhancements and will now allow them in cases involving the most vulnerable victims and in specified "extraordinary" circumstances.

City News Service

Gascón backs down on absolute 'no-enhancements' policy

Los Angeles County's new district attorney, George Gascón, on Friday retreated from his proclamation on Dec. 7, his first day in office, that deputies, going forward, may not allege enhancements, ever, and must ask the judge in each case in which such allegations have been made to strike them "in the furtherance of justice."

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

George Gascón facing backlash from his own deputy district attorneys

He has been a Los Angeles County prosecutor for the last 15 years but in the last two weeks under new rules by District Attorney George Gascón, Moll says it feels more like he's working for the defense. He says, "It's like it's been a hostile takeover of the DA's office by the defense bar, the way they work together to prevent us from keeping people safe. It's shocking!"

Fox11 LA

Black Lives Matter leader stands with L.A.'s new progressive D.A., 'don't let the a**holes sway you'

A prominent Black Lives Matter leader gave controversial, newly-elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón a vote of confidence on Friday, urging her own allies to "stand alongside [Gascon] because his enemies are coming with a vengeance." Dr. Melina Abdullah, a founding member of the BLM activist network who leads its L.A. chapter, told her social media followers that Gascón "seems like the real deal to me."

The Daily Wire

New L.A. County D.A. George Gascón will keep some sentencing enhancements amid backlash for eliminating all

After George Gascón directed his prosecutors to no longer file sentencing enhancements in any cases, the new Los Angeles County District Attorney announced amid backlash on Friday, Dec. 18, that some will remain, including for hate crimes and cases involving children. Sentencing enhancements add time to a defendant's sentence, such as when a crime was committed on behalf of a gang or a victim suffered great bodily injury.

Long Beach Press-Telegram

Los Angeles DA George Gascón favoring criminals over victims in new policies

Newly elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón hit the ground running. Within minutes of being sworn in, Gascón announced he would be getting rid of all crime enhancements, and eliminating cash bail, despite California voters rejecting the elimination of cash bail in the November election.

California Globe

Prosecutors

City attorney receives grant to prosecute more DUI cases

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer is warning the public about the heightened risks of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs during the holidays, especially while hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. Feuer also announced that for the ninth consecutive year, his office has been awarded a Driving Prosecution Grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to expand the prosecution of impaired drivers.

Beverly Press

Federal prosecutors accuse Zoom executive of working with Chinese government to surveil users and suppress video calls

A security executive with the video-tech giant Zoom worked with the Chinese government to terminate Americans' accounts and disrupt video calls about the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square, Justice Department prosecutors said Friday.

Washington Post

Google fights DOJ-led antitrust suit as leaked details drag in Facebook

Not 24 hours out from mounting its defense to one of three federal antitrust suits it faces, Google was thrust in the headlines Tuesday upon the leak of a draft version of the suit in Texas that accuses the search engine of secret dealings with Facebook. The Wall Street Journal first broke the story this morning, saying it had reviewed an unredacted version of the antitrust suit that 10 states filed against Google last week in Sherman, Texas.

Courthouse News Service

Orange County deputy stole from dead man? Indictment alleges welfare check turned to theft

A former Orange County sheriff's deputy has been indicted by a grand jury for allegedly breaking into the home of a Yorba Linda man he found dead during a welfare check and returning several times, including once while on duty and in uniform, to steal guns and other items.

MyNewsLA

Policy/Legal Issues

Mandatory professional liability insurance for California police? Lawmakers are interested.

During a California Assembly select committee hearing on Friday, state lawmakers asked expert after expert how the state can better hold police accountable. The lawmakers' heads turned for one idea in particular: making police officers personally liable for their misconduct lawsuits, and requiring them, by law, to carry professional liability insurance - just like doctors and truck drivers.

Mission Local

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco's refusal to enforce coronavirus orders gets national attention

The unfiltered thoughts of Riverside County's sheriff are a mouse click away. And when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, Chad Bianco is clear. The virus is real and people should be responsible, he said, but COVID-19 is not a lethal threat to the healthy, and don't expect his deputies to crack down on the maskless or business owners. He also doesn't plan to get vaccinated against the virus.

Riverside Press-Enterprise

After promising not to, LBPD says it accidentally shared license plate data with ICE

Despite city policy restricting what information police can provide to federal immigration officials, the Long Beach Police Department was sharing data from automatic license plate readers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a 10-month span this year, the department confirmed Monday. The LBPD's admission that it had been accidentally sharing the sensitive information was first reported by the Los Angeles Times on Monday.

Long Beach Post

Los Angeles County/City

For the first time in over a year, Villanueva appears at sheriff watchdog meeting

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva attended the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission meeting Thursday, marking the first time he's made an appearance since July 2019. "Thanks for being here, you've been missed over these last many, many months," Commissioner Priscilla Ocen told the sheriff.

LAist

Crisis de-escalation training for 'war situation' comes to urban sheriff's dept.

Organizers of a conflict resolution training course for sheriff deputies in Los Angeles hope to make de-escalation techniques commonplace within law enforcement. The course is the product of a unique partnership between the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the Safe Communities Institute at the University of Southern California's Sol Price School of Public Policy and the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles.

Jacksonville Free Press

In reversal, L.A. says no enforcement against nearly 60 marijuana firms with expiring permits

Los Angeles marijuana industry regulators have given at least 57 companies a new lifeline, only days after saying the licensed businesses in question won't be allowed to conduct any commercial cannabis activity after New Year's Eve. In an email sent this week by the L.A. Department of Cannabis Regulation to at least 57 license holders whose permits will expire at midnight PT on Dec. 31, the agency wrote that it "will not proactively report the expired status of any licenses to the Los Angeles Police Department or state agencies, or participate in an enforcement action related to the expiration of the license against any applicants/licensees until March 1."

Marijuana Business Daily

Public Safety/Crime

Giving protesters a pass

The police exist to keep people safe by preventing crime and disorder. That's a mission dating back nearly 200 years to Sir Robert Peel and the Metropolitan Police. At the same time, our First Amendment promises not to abridge freedom of speech, nor the right of the people peaceably to assemble.That's an American principle dating back even further, to 1787.

Cops Count - Police Matter

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept .: COVID-19 patient kills fellow virus patient in Antelope Valley hospital

A man was in custody Wednesday following his arrest for allegedly killing a fellow patient at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, where both men were being treated for COVID-19, authorities said. Jesse Martinez, 37, was booked on suspicion of murder and his bail was set at $1 million, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

City News Service

What's behind the sharp rise in murders across the U.S.?

Murders across the U.S. have skyrocketed in 2020, while nonviolent offenses have largely dropped, according to publicly available crime data. But efforts to curb homicides come at a time when police departments are facing both staffing shortages because of the COVID-19 pandemic and lingering distrust in communities of color following months of nationwide protests.

PBS

San Bernardino is California's most dangerous city, by this math

When you look at one financial measure of crime, San Bernardino is the state's most dangerous city and Thousand Oaks, the safest. An intriguing safety scorecard with an economic twist was created by MoneyGeek, a financial website, and analyzes the cost of crime per resident in 300 large U.S. cities, including 73 in California. The analysts combined traditional per-capita FBI crime statistics with a measurement of the societal cost of crime.

Orange County Register

China-based executive at U.S. telecommunications company charged with disrupting video meetings commemorating Tiananmen Square massacre

A complaint and arrest warrant were unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Xinjiang Jin, also known as "Julien Jin," with conspiracy to commit interstate harassment and unlawful conspiracy to transfer a means of identification. Jin, an employee of a U.S.-based telecommunications company who was based in the People's Republic of China, allegedly participated in a scheme to disrupt a series of meetings in May and June 2020 held to commemorate the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in the PRC.

Department of Justice News Release

More than 10% of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department personnel in coronavirus quarantine

More than 10% of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's employees are in quarantine due to the coronavirus, a number officials attributed to the explosion of cases throughout the county. As of Monday, 655 non-sworn and 1,216 sworn personnel were in quarantine after having tested positive or having had a confirmed exposure, according to department data. The department has about 17,500 employees, according to spokesman Lt. John Satterfield. Of those, more than 10,100 are sworn personnel, according to data from early September.

Head Topics

2 men shot up a California strip club with an AK-47 after refusing to wear masks, authorities say. Now they face life in prison.

When a group of friends rebuffed multiple demands to wear masks inside the Sahara Theater in Anaheim, they were kicked out of the strip club in the early-morning hours of Halloween for not following the state's coronavirus restrictions. The men returned to the gentleman's club in their Honda sedan shortly thereafter, but they were not looking to reenter and keep the party going.

Washington Post

L.A. County cop heard having sex on an open radio

Hopefully he used protection while serving. A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was put on leave after an open mic appears to have recorded him in a sex act, according to TMZ, which posted audio of the alleged incident. A dispatcher can be heard warning the officer that she can hear him entertaining his guest, but the deputy doesn't respond. "95 Ocean you have an open mic," the dispatcher said several times to no avail.

New York Daily News

Consumer

Scammers fake delivery-related notifications to steal personal financial data

During the holidays, it's advised to keep an eye on your packages so that no one steals them from your porch, but scammers are also tracking your holiday gifts, with something different in mind. It is recommended to be aware of the delivery alerts that many parcel companies send, so as not to fall into the hands of imposters.

NBC4 Los Angeles

CBP New York/Newark seizes nearly $1.3 million in counterfeit toys ahead of the holidays

These toys were definitely not the "real ones," as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of New York/Newark recently discovered. A total of 141,112 UNO card games, 9,600 LOL Surprise! Under Wraps balls, and 1,980 LOL Surprise! Under Wraps capsule toys were seized. If authentic, these toys would have a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of approximately $1,300,000.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection News Release

'Operation Stolen Promise' targets counterfeit vaccines

Throughout the pandemic, criminal organizations keep trying to financially profit through scams and counterfeit remedies. Now that there are two COVID-19 vaccines on the market, the Department of Homeland Security is warning the public about the counterfeit efforts from criminals. "Whenever there is a demand for something there will be nefarious people who produce counterfeit products," US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said.

Nexstar

California/National

Overdose deaths far outpace COVID-19 deaths in San Francisco

A record 621 people died of drug overdoses in San Francisco so far this year, a staggering number that far outpaces the 173 deaths from COVID-19 the city has seen thus far. The crisis fueled by the powerful painkiller fentanyl could have been far worse if it wasn't for the nearly 3,000 times Narcan was used from January to the beginning of November to save someone from the brink of death, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday.

AP

CHP highlights California's new traffic laws for 2021

With the new year just over a week away, the California Highway Patrol on Wednesday sought to highlight some of the traffic laws that will take effect in 2021. The new laws include liability exemptions for rescuing unattended children from motor vehicles and license points for repeat distracted driving infractions, according to a CHP news release.

KTLA5

Mueller probe figures skate in Trump pardon spree

President Donald Trump on Tuesday pardoned 15 people, including two men who pleaded guilty in Robert Mueller's Russia probe and three former Republican congressmen. Among the numerous Trump allies on Tuesday's list of pardons were former Republican Representatives Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York.

Courthouse News Service

Biden's impact on federal judiciary may be limited despite liberals' talk of 'court-packing'

President Donald Trump will be out of a job next year, but the life tenure enjoyed by his three Supreme Court justices and 230 lower court judges will cement his legacy and create a major obstacle for President-elect Joe Biden. A concerted effort by Senate Republicans that began before Trump even was elected left him more than 100 federal court vacancies to fill upon entering office in 2017 - a vacuum Trump and GOP leaders made sure not to leave Biden entering 2021.

USA Today

After George Floyd killing, prosecutions of police increase. How will jurors react?

Not long ago, charging law enforcement officers with homicide or assault was virtually unheard-of, even in liberal California. But outrage over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May appears to have changed the prosecutorial climate. Chesa Boudin, elected district attorney in San Francisco last year after promising to hold police accountable for lawbreaking, has filed manslaughter charges against an officer for a fatal shooting in 2017, the first homicide charge against San Francisco police in decades.

San Francisco Chronicle

Report: Slain officer tripped during California bar massacre

A sheriff's sergeant accidentally shot by a fellow police officer as they responded to a mass shooting at a California bar had tripped and fallen during the chaos and was struck by the fatal bullet when he stood up and tried to retreat, according to a prosecutors' report Thursday that finds both officers acted lawfully when they fired their weapons.

AP

Report: gov't spyware targets phones of Al-Jazeera reporters

Dozens of journalists at Al-Jazeera, the Qatari state-owned media company, have been targeted by advanced spyware in an attack likely linked to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a cybersecurity watchdog said Sunday. Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto said it traced malware that infected the personal phones of 36 journalists, producers, anchors and executives at Al-Jazeera back to the Israel-based NSO Group, which has been widely condemned for selling spyware to repressive governments.

AP

Iranian cyber actors responsible for website threatening U.S. election officials

The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) possess highly credible information indicating Iranian cyber actors almost certainly were responsible for the creation of a website called Enemies of the People, which contained death threats aimed at U.S. election officials in mid-December 2020.

FBI Press Release

Convictions/Sentences/Pleas

San Gabriel Valley man admits to cyberstalking two teenage girls

A Covina man pleaded guilty today to federal cyberstalking charges for his multiyear internet harassment campaign against two teenage girls who rejected his sexual advances. Carl De Vera Bennington, 34, pleaded guilty via videoconference to two counts of cyberstalking. According to his plea agreement, Bennington repeatedly sent one victim unsolicited online messages over a period of several years.

Department of Justice News Release

NorCal rapist' sentenced to 897 years in prison for rape of nine women

Roy Charles Waller, the NorCal Rapist, was sentenced Friday to 897 years in prison following a conviction for assaulting nine women from 1991 to 2006. Waller was convicted of 46 counts including kidnapping, forcible rape, oral copulation, sodomy, and foreign penetration in six counties, including Sonoma, Solano, and Contra Costa counties in the Bay Area.

Q13 Fox Seattle

Man pleads guilty to fatally shooting protected elephant seal near San Simeon: DOJ

A former Santa Maria resident on Monday pleaded guilty to shooting and killing a protected elephant seal on a beach along California's Central Coast, federal prosecutors announced Monday. Jordan Gerbich, 30, pleaded to a "single-count information charging him with taking a marine mammal" as part of a plea agreement, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.

KTLA5

Corrections & Parole

Loved ones calling to release incarcerated inmates at CTF due to COVID-19 pandemic

Families and friends of those incarcerated at the Soledad Correctional Training Facility protested the conditions inside the prison Saturday, including what they said was a lack of protection from COVID-19. "We are demanding mass releases as the only way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in prisons. And as really the only way to prevent future deaths from happening," said Courtney Morris, Oakland resident and activist for No Justice Under Capitalism.

KSBW8

Prisons in California's Central Valley are COVID-19 hotbeds. Here's how it happened

Coronavirus infections inside prisons have exploded in recent weeks with one of the worst surges taking place in California, where more than 40,000 inmates and staff across the state's 35 prisons have tested positive for the virus. In the past two weeks alone, the state has raked in about 8,200 new cases, a staggering number that has public health experts worried the outbreaks could threaten the wider community and further strain the hospital system.

Fresno Bee

California inmate, James Odle, dies naturally after 37 years on death row

A California inmate condemned to death nearly four decades ago for killing a police officer died Friday of natural causes at age 71, prison officials said. James Odle died at an outside hospital 37 years after he was sent to the nation's largest death row at San Quentin State Prison, which has 709 condemned inmates. California hasn't executed anyone since 2006. Gov. Gavin Newsom has halted executions so long as he is governor.

AP/CBS13 Sacramento

Articles of Interest

For Garcetti, there's no escape from L.A.

Supporters and critics alike envisioned Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti escaping L.A. just in time - the term-limited mayor of a beleaguered city finding new life in Washington. That's not what happened. The mayor, a one-time presidential prospect and Biden ally, is passed over for a major administration post. Garcetti is on the sidelines.

Politico

How Tom Girardi went from top lawyer to broke

Thomas Girardi was at the top of his game for decades, but today, he's facing millions of dollars worth of lawsuits as well as a potential bankruptcy. So, what went wrong? According to a bombshell new report, Thomas, who gained fame after one of his cases inspired the 2000 film Erin Brockovich, began facing legal drama in 2015 and after seemingly borrowing more money than he could pay back, as he now faces the likely demise of his legacy after allegedly embezzling money from his clients.

Reality Blurb

Why the Russian hack is so significant, and why it's close to a worst-case scenario

It's not often that the Treasury Department and Iowa State University are dealing with the same security problem. Such is the breadth of what's known as the SolarWinds hack, named for a Texas-based company that was used as a staging ground for an espionage campaign so widespread that experts say we're only beginning to understand who was affected and what was stolen.

NBC News

Federal judge dismisses Covington Catholic Students' defamation suit

Defamation and harassment claims brought by students at Kentucky's Covington Catholic High School against CNN, the Washington Post and NBC were dismissed by a federal judge Wednesday after he found that none of the twelve plaintiffs had been defamed or unlawfully threatened. The suit stems from a confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial in January of 2019 during the annual March for Life, and followed on the heels of CNN's settlement with fellow student Nicholas Sandmann.

Courthouse News Service

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