30-days for Involuntary Hospitalization for Mental Illness Mulled In Ventura County; Palm Springs Machete Killer Released Early; Fire and Vandalism at Japanese Buddhist Temple, and Other Stories: Monday Morning Memo
The 'I-5 Strangler' Killed in Prison; Doctors May Not Charge a "Covid-19 Fee" for Additional Sanitizing
March 11, 2021
Courts & Rulings
Judge rules victims lack standing to seek recusal of District Attorney's office
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Christopher Smith has rebuffed the plea by family members of two slain females, who were half-sisters, to recuse the Office of Los Angeles County District Attorney in pending Juvenile Court proceedings against the alleged killer, now an adult, ruling that they lack standing to seek such relief.
Mandatory bar fees could violate attorneys' constitutional rights, 9th Circuit rules
A California appeals court revived in part a lawsuit brought by Oregon attorneys alleging that the state bar association's mandatory bar dues violate their First Amendment rights. Friday's ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is the latest in an ongoing feud in Oregon and elsewhere over whether such compulsory payments violate the constitutional rights of attorneys.
Prostitute has reasonable expectation of privacy
The Third District Court of Appeal yesterday affirmed a man's felony conviction on six counts of recording confidential communications, rejecting his contention that the statute does not apply to videotaping encounters with prostitutes because they have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Appellant Michael J. Lyon was convicted by a jury under Penal Code §632(a).
US court dismisses lawsuit against LA's mobility data-sharing requirement
A US District Court judge has approved a Motion to Dismiss a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Los Angeles Department of Transportation regarding its requirement for e-scooter firms to provide real-time data to the city. In delivering its ruling, the court said LADOT's interests were "legitimate and substantial" and dismissed privacy concerns regarding the Mobility Data Specification, finding it legal and consistent with both the Fourth Amendment and the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
Appellate court allows release of county peace officer misconduct records
An appellate court Wednesday overturned a Ventura County judge's ruling blocking the release of certain police misconduct records made public under a 2018 law. The three-justice panel in the 2nd District Court of Appeal's Division Six, located in downtown Ventura, reversed the trial court's judgment and dissolved a court order opening up the records to the public for the first time.
Ventura County Star
Judge did not abuse discretion in denying probation to 73-year-old assailant
A judge did not abuse his discretion in sentencing a man to seven years in prison for an attack on his girlfriend's son with a machete, the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday, rejecting the defendant's contention that he ought to have been placed on probation because he was, at the time of the fray, 73 years old and his only prior offense was a misdemeanor committed more than two decades earlier.
Court reverses Newsom's rejection of Sassounian parole
The Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday reversed a decision by Governor Gavin Newson who rejected the parole eligibility and application of Hampig Sassounian, court documents obtained by Asbarez show. Despite a recommendation in December 2019 by the Board of Parole in favor of Sassounian's suitability, Newsom, last May, rejected that decision and denied his parole, saying in a lengthy decision that while he acknowledged the steps Sassounian had taken over decades to rehabilitate himself, he did not believe Sassounian to be fit for release.
California's judicial diversity numbers stay flat in Newsom's 2nd year
The gender and racial diversity of California's judges changed little between 2019 and 2020, a report released Monday by the Judicial Council revealed. The numbers show 640 women serving on the bench at the end of 2020, down from 648 in 2019. Men still account for 62.4% of judges in the trial and appellate courts, according to the annual summary required by state law.
A look at how the CA Supreme Court came to rule unanimously that 14 & 15-year-old kids can't be tried in adult court
On Thursday morning, February 25, the California Supreme Court ruled in a very strongly-worded opinion that 14 and 15 year old kids cannot be transferred to adult court under California state law, contrary to the claims of a great many prosecutors around the state, including Santa Clara District Attorney. Jeff Rosen, Ventura D.A. Erik Nasarenko, and former Los Angeles D.A., Jackie Lacey.
Judge concludes Pasadena acted properly, rules against claim by cannabis operator in lawsuit
Last week, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled against a cannabis company that claimed Pasadena's permitting process was unfair and illegal. Sweetflower LLC's application was rejected by the City Council after city staff deemed the application incomplete because the company's location map was not prepared by a licensed surveyor.
Church not exempt from property-related special tax
A church, which is exempt from property taxes under the California Constitution, is not spared liability for payment of special taxes imposed on property owners for services, Div. One of the First District Court of Appeal declared yesterday. The opinion interprets the state constitutional provision that says that properties "exempt from property taxation" include "[b]uildings, land on which they are situated, and equipment used exclusively for religious worship."
COVID-19 & Justice System
Judge didn't abuse his discretion in ordering civil trial to commence despite pandemic
Div. One of the Fourth District Court of Appeal on Friday denied a writ that was sought by Wells Fargo and other defendants to a delay in a civil trial rather than holding proceedings during the pandemic. A writ was summarily denied by Div. One on Oct. 23, 2020; trial commenced in San Diego Superior Court on Oct. 26; that same day, the California Supreme Court issued a stay; on Nov. 6, it granted review and bounced the case back to Div. One, instructing that it issue an order to show cause why relief should not be granted.
Do small claims court cases now go through a settlement process? Ask the lawyer
The Los Angeles Online Dispute Resolution program became effective just this past week. The court is seeking to utilize remote technology in a positive way. Thus, the court notifies litigants with pending and new small claims cases about LA-ODR. There are step-by-step written questions to answer regarding the parties' disputes.
Torrance Daily Breeze
With in-person court hearings set to resume, backlog of cases remains
Nearly a year after COVID-19 shut down local courts, officials in the Onondaga County court system said cases could be backed up for months or potentially years. The Onondaga County Supreme Court only held a few time-sensitive or urgent cases in a virtual format over the past year, said Justice James Murphy. In-person cases are slated to resume April 1, but officials are concerned that nearly 60 homicide cases and thousands of other civil cases have gone unheard.
The Daily Orange
LA District Attorney
California crime victims 'tormented' by DA's justice reforms (Video)
Crime victims' families urge for the recall of Los Angeles District attorney George Gascón.
Families of crime victims speak out on Gascón's controversial reforms
For the first time in nearly four decades, Connie and Bob Vargo of Anaheim Hills can look at photos of their late son, Jeffrey, with some sense of relief. Last week, they received word that the man charged with kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and killing their 6-year-old son in 1981 will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
State DAs criticize Los Angeles DA for defending law that 'puts guns in the hands of criminals'
This week, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón defended a law that the California District Attorney's Association says, "puts guns in the hands of criminals at the exact moment that Los Angeles County is descending into gun violence." "It's a reckless law, but yesterday, George Gascón defended it," said Vern Pierson, President of the California District Attorneys Association, an organization that represents almost all of the elected district attorneys in California and is committed to reforms, but not to the decriminalization of dangerous crimes.
Paso Robles Daily News
L.A.'s new controversial D.A. hires prosecutor who suggested cops are 'trained to kill us'
Los Angeles County's new top prosecutor has made another controversial move that has angered local law enforcement unions. According to FOX 11, "Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón is under scrutiny after he hired a public defender who helped with his campaign to a high-ranking prosecutor position in his administration." The outlet reports that Tiffany Blacknell "has in the past posted anti-police comments on social media," which first surfaced last year.
The Daily Wire
Unions blast District Attorney George Gascón's hiring of controversial prosecutor
Unions representing Los Angeles County prosecutors and law enforcement officers are blasting District Attorney George Gascón's hiring of controversial Deputy Public Defender Tiffiny Blacknell, a political supporter who has described police officers as "barbarians" and advocated abolishing prisons.
Orange County Register
Fight over George Gascón's LA criminal justice reforms speaks to larger national debate
This is a story about Los Angeles - but to fully understand it, let's start halfway across the country, in Chicago, where Kim Foxx was elected the top prosecutor five years ago. When Foxx won the Cook County, Illinois, district attorney post in 2016, her progressive platform was still unusual in a country that had long embraced incarceration as the answer to crime.
District Attorney Recall
Los Angeles district attorney faces recall effort less than 3 months into term
A campaign to oust Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón kicked off Saturday evening as pressure mounts over his criminal justice reforms that critics claim have gone too far. Recall advocates, including victims' families and law enforcement officials, claim Gascón, who ran on a progressive campaign to implement sweeping change in the district attorney's office, has prioritized criminals over victims since taking office less than three months ago.
In Tinseltown, a glimmer of hope on law and order
A recently launched effort to recall Los Angeles district attorney George Gascón might represent the first encouraging sign for opponents of the "progressive-prosecutor" movement in American cities - among the most consequential developments in criminal-justice policy in recent years. From Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Boston to Chicago, St. Louis, and Dallas, cities have handed the job of representing victims and holding criminals accountable to self-styled "reformers" and former defense attorneys who campaigned on promises to restructure our nation's criminal-justice system.
Group to launch recall effort against newly elected L.A. Dist. Atty. George Gascón
Victims rights advocates on Saturday kicked off their recall campaign against newly elected Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón, who has vowed sweeping criminal justice reforms to the nation's largest prosecutor's office. The recall campaign group held a "victims vigil" outside the Hall of Justice downtown and planned to gather the minimum of 20 signatures required to file a notice of intent to formally begin the recall process next month. About 100 people attended the event, organizers said.
Los Angeles Times
Victims rights advocates launch recall effort against DA George Gascon
Crime victims and law enforcement officials have launched an effort to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, claiming the sweeping changes he has initiated since taking office in December favor the rights of criminals over their victims. Organizers began to gather the signatures needed to file an intent to recall Saturday during a "Victims Vigil" at the downtown Hall of Justice.
Campaign launched to oust Los Angeles DA Gascón (Video)
The progressive district attorney has introduced sweeping reforms that effectively lessen sentences for violent offenders. Recall George Gascón member Siannah Collado and former Los Angeles district attorney Steve Cooley join 'Fox & Friends First.'
Recall effort launched against LA County DA George Gascón, with support from Sheriff Villanueva
Victims rights advocates joined with the support of Sheriff Alex Villanueva to launch a recall campaign against newly-elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón. Gascón campaigned on a reform agenda when he successfully unseated incumbent DA Jackie Lacey last year. But after he took office and began detailing how many of those reforms would take shape, victims advocates and others in law enforcement and even from within Gascón's own office have begun to protest.
Sex messages from Manhattan Beach cop to 'vulnerable' 15-year-old girl crime victim? Outraged DA Gascon files felonies
A Manhattan Beach police officer has been charged with sending sexually explicit messages to a 15-year-old girl he initially met while she was at the police station to report a crime, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday. "Instead of providing assistance and support to the victim, this officer is alleged to have abused his authority when she was most vulnerable," District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.
Westlake nursing home accused of dumping residents for more lucrative COVID-19 patients agrees to settlement
A nursing home accused of illegally "dumping" patients onto city streets and into ill-equipped homes in order to take in more lucrative COVID-19 patients will nearly double its nursing staff, allow increased oversight and pay $275,000 in penalties and costs to settle a lawsuit brought by the Los Angeles city attorney's office.
Los Angeles Times
Few details surround misdemeanor charges against Fullerton Councilman Ahmad Zahra
Fullerton City Councilman Ahmad Zahra currently faces two misdemeanor charges of vandalism and battery, after an incident last year where county prosecutors say he damaged someone's cell phone. Yet there are few details around the case: No booking photo, few facts around the incident beyond a brief charging document, no access to body-worn camera footage as it's under a protective order, and few public statements around the incident from the man charged himself.
Voice of OC
COVID-19 unemployment benefit fraud scheme charged
On Thursday, Feb. 25, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging two defendants in a scheme that targeted California Employment Development Department (EDD) unemployment insurance benefits that were intended for Californians hit hardest by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
Department of Justice Press Release
California prosecutors speaking out against zero-cash bail policy
California prosecutors are speaking out against a zero-cash bail policy for minor offenses that they say has led to a rise in crime from repeat offenders. Yolo County assistant chief deputy district attorney Melinda Aiello says more than 740 new crimes have been committed since zero-cash bail was implemented.
California lawmakers eye aiding those with criminal records
California lawmakers are pushing several new efforts this year to largely seal or expunge criminal records for people who have completed their sentences, expanding on existing laws that proponents said aid people who are trying to re-enter society. Nearly 8 million of California's 40 million residents have an arrest or conviction on their record, said state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, a Democrat from Los Angeles who proposed one of the measures on Wednesday.
Dognapping of Lady Gaga's dogs & the restorative justice movement
If the dastardly deed that sent a 19-pound Bichon Fise named Leo to his death happened today in San Jose instead of in February 2000 and George Gascon was the Santa Clara District Attorney would the man convicted for the crime ever have seen the inside of a jail let alone state prison? The dog's owner was driving on Airport Boulevard near San Jose Airport on a rainy night when she got in a fender bender by rear ending the vehicle driven the man eventually convicted of felony animal cruelty in connection with the dog's death.
Family of slain Arcadia senior stunned that suspect could avoid life sentence
Chyong Jen Tsai immigrated from Taiwan to America in 1985 with her two daughters to join her husband, Hsiu Nan Tsai. The 43-year-old's English vocabulary consisted of "Hi", "How are you?", "My name is" and "Bye." Her husband arrived earlier in New York the same year, then moved to Arcadia. She helped him manage a laundromat, then a dry cleaner, worked 10-hour days, went to adult school at night to learn the language and did extra jobs like sewing clothes to earn money.
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Alameda DA unveils 'groundbreaking' mental health diversion program
Four Alameda County cities will participate in a pilot diversion program aimed at keeping people with mental illness who are arrested out of the criminal justice system, the county's district attorney announced this month. In a news release, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley touted the "groundbreaking" 3-D Program that she said will divert people with addiction and mental health issues away from criminal prosecution.
Bay Area News Group
CHP Newhall engages in three pursuits in three days
For the third time since Tuesday, personnel with the California Highway Patrol Newhall-Area Office engaged in a vehicle pursuit that wound its way through the Santa Clarita Valley. On Tuesday, while CHP officers were joining or preparing to join Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies on Interstate 5 to support a containment operation for one of LASD's pursuit suspects, pursuits on Highway 14 were either just beginning or ending.
Amendment would ban 'servitude' by California prison inmates
California relies on thousands of inmates to fight massive wildfires, churn out vehicle license plates, mop prison floors and myriad other tasks - all for wages that rarely top a few dollars a day. Opponents want to end what they call a visage of slavery. They propose to amend the state Constitution's ban on indentured servitude to remove an exemption for people who are being punished for crimes.
Three Strikes Project helps California inmates facing disproportionate sentences
It's a long road to restoration for his '85 Cutlass Supreme, but Charlie Ramirez sees the potential in the beat-up, old car. After all, he also got a second chance at life. Ramirez has just one photo of himself from the early 1990's - a time when he lived on the streets and stole to support his addiction. After two home break-ins, he got his third strike for stealing a car stereo. He ended up sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Los Angeles County/City
Police video shows chaotic moments after man with intellectual disability killed in Corona Costco
A former Los Angeles Police Department officer who, while off duty, shot and killed a man with an intellectual disability and wounded the man's parents inside a Costco in Corona in 2019 was recorded on police body-worn video saying he thought he had been shot before opening fire himself in the store's refrigerated food section.
The sound behind you is reality catching up (and it's carrying a gun)
What value is there in a newspaper that ignores or subverts the truth in the service of some fashionable agenda? And if this abuse of what once were universally observed journalistic standards isn't shameful enough, how much worse is it when it results in needless death and bloodshed?
Jack Dunphy/PJ Media
Residents beg L.A. city services to remove burnt out RV 'drug den' on Rose Ave
Rose Ave. and Penmar Ave. has long been a hotspot of homeless issues in Venice, but a string of recent RV fires and the city of Los Angeles' failure to remove a burned out bus for over a month has many residents at their wit's end. The vehicle in question exploded on Jan. 20, waking residents from their sleep and filling the surrounding area with toxic fumes.
Santa Monica Daily Press
LA City Council will boost unarmed crisis response, universal basic income to reinvest LAPD dollars
In December, Mayor Eric Garcetti took the unusual step of rejecting the City Council's plan to reinvest Los Angeles Police Department funds in the Color Community. Garcetti said he was pleased to approve the revised proposal, including some changes, such as creating an unarmed crisis response program to handle the 911 phone. The mayor will get the chance on Tuesday, March 2nd.
California News Times
Will the City of Los Angeles seize private property?
Homelessness and affordable housing are major issues facing the City of Los Angeles. But this does not give the City the right to commandeer hotel and motel rooms for use as homeless housing or to seize an apartment complex through eminent domain at prices that are less than fair market value.
LAPD's SMART teams responding to more calls after deployment change, commander says
The specially trained unit of Los Angeles Police Department officers charged with de-escalating encounters with people with mental illnesses is asking for more officers as the city tries to change the way police respond to such incidents. A commander for LAPD's Mental Evaluation Unit on Tuesday said it currently has 63 officers who deploy in 12 teams, called SMART units, across the city per day, waiting for requests to help respond to calls involving people in mental health crises.
Los Angeles Daily News
In four large cities, California homicides increase
Los Angeles recorded over 300 homicides in 2020, a statistical high mark it had not reached in 11 years. Now, a little over a year later, the body count from that sharp homicide increase continues to stack up - not only in California's largest city but also in other major cities across the state. As authorities begin to investigate the uptick in crime-related deaths, one thing is clear: a majority of those homicides have occurred in urban areas of the state where large numbers of African Americans live.
California Black Media
Study: Gun and knife wounds increasing in Southern California amid COVID
UC Irvine researchers led a study that shows that gunshot and knife wounds increased during the COVID-19 pandemic in Southern California, but injuries from traffic crashes were down. UCI Health researchers reviewed 20,450 trauma patients who were treated at 11 hospitals across seven counties. The study, which the researchers say is the first large-scale analysis of the stay-at-home orders on trauma treatment, was published online in the Journal of Trauma & Acute Care Surgery.
San Diego news crew records gunfight between officer and suspect
A traffic stop in San Diego's Gaslamp District in front of the Convention Center led to a gunfight between an officer and the driver Monday night. The shootout was captured on live TV by a local news crew. Just after 7 p.m. on West Harbor Drive, a FOX 5 crew was reporting live on Comic-Con's plans to remain virtual this year when multiple gunshots rang out.
24 people were shot in January as gun violence intensified in Long Beach
After months of increases, gun violence further intensified in Long Beach at the beginning of this year. There was a shooting nearly every day in January, with most days counting more than one. And more people were wounded by the bullets than in any other month over the past five years, according to data obtained by the Long Beach Post through a public records request.
Long Beach Post
Former federal law enforcement agent arrested for allegedly participating in bribery scheme that brought him at least $122,000
Federal authorities this morning arrested a former special agent with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on federal bribery charges that allege he accepted cash payments and other benefits to provide assistance to a person linked to organized crime, including taking official action designed to help two foreign nationals gain entry into the United States.
Department of Justice Press Release
Rape of 87-year-old dementia victim at Santa Ana senior living facility: Male nurse arrested
A male nurse is behind bars on suspicion of raping an 87-year-old woman with dementia at a senior living facility in Santa Ana, where he had worked for three years, police reported Friday. Juan Sandoval, 33, of Orange, was booked on suspicion of rape, elder abuse and kidnapping with the intent to commit rape, with bail set at $1 million, according to the Santa Ana Police Department.
Woman creates booklet on how to report a hate crime to fight against anti-Asian hate
There's a growing concern about a recent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in Southern California, and one woman is helping victims find a voice, so they can report when they've been targeted. Esther Lim is an activist and the writer of a booklet designed to help people report these hate crimes. Lim remembers vividly when anti-Asian hate speech first reared its ugly head during the national political discussion about COVID-19 when former President Donald Trump referred to COVID as the "China virus."
LA police probe fire, vandalism at Japanese Buddhist temple
Authorities are investigating a vandalism and fire at a Buddhist temple in the Little Tokyo section of downtown Los Angeles. Surveillance video caught a man jumping the security fences at the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple on Thursday night, smashing a 12-foot-high glass window with a rock, yanking a pair of metallic lanterns off their concrete bases and lighting two wooden lantern stands on fire, the temple's head priest told the Los Angeles Times.
Lady Gaga dog walker Ryan Fischer speaks out in first post since shooting
Lady Gaga's dog walker, who was shot while out for a stroll with the star's French bulldogs in Los Angeles, penned an emotional social media post on Monday morning describing the ambush and thanking the star for her support. "4 days ago, while a car sped away and blood poured from my gun shot wound, an angel trotted over and laid next to me."
New York Post
Nude pix posted of 14 underage girls in 'revenge porn' attack: Juvenile boy arrested in Glendale
A juvenile accused of posting nude or partially nude photos of underage girls on social media in acts of "revenge porn" was arrested in Glendale, police said Monday. An investigation into the posts began in October, when police responded to a report from a girl who told them that several people she followed on Snapchat reposted an account "that had pictures and videos of naked, under-age girls," the Glendale Police Department said in a news release.
Intoxicated man arrested after being found impersonating a police officer in Moorpark: Officials
A 53-year-old man was arrested after deputies found him driving under the influence of drugs and impersonating a police officer, authorities said Wednesday. The incident began around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, when a woman reported a man blaring a siren in her direction as she walked across the parking lot at Mission Bell Plaza on Los Angeles Avenue, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.
Amazon refuses to act on counterfeit product complaints
When you make a claim, you better make sure it's true and that you are actually doing what you claim you are doing. When you get caught in a lie or exaggeration, your credibility is destroyed. That has happened to Amazon, now flooded with counterfeit, replica, and fraudulent products, scams and fake reviews, along with allegations of data leaks, anti-trust violations, and employee bribes.
The Counterfeit Report
Your ambulance ride could still leave you with a surprise medical bill
I knew I shouldn't put off facing the stack of medical bills piling up on my dining room table any longer. They'd started to arrive even before I got home after five weeks in the hospital, a mountain amid mounds of other medical paperwork and get-well cards. My saga started in mid-March, when I had a cough that wouldn't go away and a mild fever spiked to 103° F. I went to the emergency room, where I suddenly became unable to breathe.
U.S. CPSC issues consumer safety warning on Amazon, eBay, and Walmart Li-Ion batteries
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers not to buy or use loose 18650 lithium-ion battery cells. These cells are manufactured as industrial component parts of battery packs and are not intended for individual sale to consumers. However, unscrupulous China salvagers separate the battery packs and re-label the recycled unprotected 18650 cells as "new" with wild capacity claims, selling them online.
The Counterfeit Report
Attorney general issues consumer warning about illegal COVID-19 fees
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a warning to consumers, yesterday, about some health care providers reportedly charging a COVID-19 fee that many people are not obligated to pay. People enrolled in Medi-Cal, Denti-Cal and Medicare may not be charged this fee, which is purported to be for more frequent cleaning and disinfecting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bay City News Service
A new crime wave - and what to do about it
For two decades, many New Yorkers had assured themselves that a return to the crime and squalor of the early 1990s was unlikely. Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who presided over a 62 percent drop in major felonies from 1994 through 2001, proved that violence was not an urban inevitability. His successor, Michael Bloomberg, drove crime down further, through the 2008 recession and beyond.
FBI chief labels domestic terrorism an emerging threat
Extremist militia groups played the biggest role in the January 6 attempt to overthrow the U.S. government, FBI Director Christopher Wray noted in a nearly four-hour appearance Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. One of the few appointees from the last administration still in office, Wray announced the finding while otherwise resisting calls from the committee to parse out the details of the FBI's investigation, citing the unclassified setting of today's hearing.
Courthouse News Service
Utah sought to make its bail system more fair to the poor. And months later, some lawmakers are calling it a disaster.
Last legislative session, Rep. Stephanie Pitcher wrangled together groups from across the criminal justice system to solve what she sees as a longstanding flaw in the way Utah treats defendants before trial, when their guilt or innocence hasn't yet been established in court. Her problem was this: Why should relatively low-risk defendants sit behind bars for weeks or months awaiting trial because they're poor, while rich people can simply post bail and walk free?
Salt Lake Tribune
LAPD cop steals cash from worker's backpack at illegal pot warehouse in downtown LA? 'Not guilty' plea
A not guilty plea was entered Monday on behalf of a Los Angeles police officer charged with stealing money from a backpack at an illegal marijuana grow facility. Luis Alfredo Mota, 47, is facing one felony count of second-degree burglary and one misdemeanor count of petty theft. His next court date is March 10, when a date is expected to be scheduled for a preliminary hearing if a plea deal has not been reached.
Former Fullerton police sgt. could avoid jail time after lying in police report regarding 2016 city manager DUI
A former Fullerton Police Sergeant has been sentenced to pre-trial diversion, meaning he could avoid jail time, for lying in a police report in 2016 during an investigation into whether then-City Manager Joe Felz was driving under the influence when he got into a car accident. Fullerton residents and watchdogs for years questioned how Joe Felz was given a ride home by police officers when he hit a tree and tried to flee the scene after drinking on election night that year.
Voice of OC
'Evil in his eyes': Long Beach killer gets 40 years for murdering estranged wife, second woman in deadly love triangle
A Long Beach man who pleaded guilty to murdering his estranged wife in Covina and another woman who was shot two months earlier in Azusa was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years to life in state prison. Miguel Angel Prieto, 46, pleaded guilty Feb. 24 to one count each of first-degree murder and second-degree murder, along with two counts of attempted murder.
Three underage boys sexually molested by bicycle racing BMX coach: Even defense attorney cites 'disgusting' porn pix on computer
A 40-year-old BMX bicycle racing coach from Cypress was convicted Monday of sexually assaulting young three boys and possessing and trading child pornography online. Mandak Kohn Griffin, who was charged nearly 10 years ago, was convicted in a non-jury trial by Orange County Superior Court Judge Michael Cassidy. The boys were 7, 8 and 9 at the time they were first sexually assaulted, according to prosecutors.
LA woman sentenced for involvement in staged collision insurance fraud ring
Zandra Monterrozo, 44, of Corona, pleaded guilty and was sentenced for her involvement in an organized ring that intentionally staged vehicle collisions in order to collect over $135,000 in undeserved insurance payouts. Eleven other suspects have been either charged or prosecuted. Monterrozo was sentenced on February 19, 2021, to one felony count of insurance fraud, paid $6,000 in restitution and was ordered to serve one year of probation.
Innocent 3-year-old was shootout shield when murdered in Compton: Ex-cons sentenced to 103 years to life
Calling the case "tragic," a judge Friday sentenced two ex-cons to potential life prison terms for the murder of a 3-year-old boy who was struck by gunfire during a shootout in the parking lot of a Compton liquor store just over three years ago.
Judge denies mental health diversion for former supervisor candidate
A former county supervisor candidate has been denied a mental health diversion. Judge Christopher Wilson on Friday denied a mental health diversion for Richard French, 76, of Hydesville, who is accused of assaulting his neighbor with a machete on April 30, 2020, though Wilson said it was a close call.
Corrections & Parole
Petaluma man who strangled wife deemed ready for release from prison
The Petaluma man being held in state prison for the 2002 slaying of his wife was recommended for parole Friday during a hearing conducted by members of the California Board of Parole Hearings. Michael DeLongis, 57, who is serving a 23-years-to-life prison sentence at Vacaville's California Medical Facility, was deemed ready for release from the institution during the Friday hearing, moving his case to a 120-day review period that includes a full evaluation by the California Board of Parole Hearings, board spokesman Joe Orlando said.
The Press Democrat
Man charged in North Palm Springs machete slaying freed from prison months early
A man accused of killing a North Palm Springs woman with a machete, who is also accused of trying to kill another person, has racked up more than 10 convictions in Riverside County. He was most recently sentenced last March to more than two years in prison. Publicly available sentencing documents for David Earl Williams, Jr.'s 2020 conviction for evading arrest and vehicle theft indicate he should have been behind bars until at least June 2021.
Palm Springs Desert Sun
California serial killer known as 'I-5 Strangler' killed in prison
A Northern California serial killer known as the "I-5 Strangler" has been killed in prison, state correctional officials said Monday. 81-year-old Roger Reece Kibbe was serving multiple life sentences for a string of murders in the 1970s and 80s. A correctional officer doing rounds spotted Kibbe unresponsive in his cell at Mule Creek State Prison after midnight Sunday. His roommate was standing nearby, officials said.
Articles of Interest
Advisory panel urges option for longer hospitalizations of Ventura County's mentally ill
An advisory board is recommending major changes for care of Ventura County residents with serious mental illness, including the option to lengthen involuntary hospitalizations by up to 30 days. Voting 16-1 last week, the county Behavioral Health Advisory Board approved sending a report with eight recommendations addressing patient care to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors.
Ventura County Star
Study: 1 in 7 U.S. prisoners is serving life, and two-thirds of those are people of color
In America, over 203,000 people are serving life sentences in prison, more than the country's entire prison population in 1970. Of the lifers, 30 percent are at least 55 years old. And, according to a new study by the Sentencing Project, more than two-thirds of those serving life in prison are people of color. Renaldo Hudson checked all those boxes. Originally sentenced to death for fatally stabbing a man in Chicago, his term was later commuted to life without parole, and he spent decades in the Illinois prison system.
California's pension woes are made worse by moving emergency services in house
The California Pension system is way under water and in dire need of reform. The state's unfunded pension and retirement liabilities approach $1 trillion, or roughly $80,000 for each taxpayer in the state. Given its aging workforce and increasing longevity, actuaries project this shortfall to increase in the next few years. Left unchecked, the state's budget obligations will soon force it to reduce services and raise taxes, as well as take extraordinary steps to stave off fiscal collapse.