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

Murder Suspect Released and At Large Due to Data Entry Error; Gascon Turns Down Sheriff's Offer to Probe Government Corruption (Sheriff Supports his Recall); AG Becerra Witholds Gun Violence Statistics and Other Stories: Monday Morning Memo

County to fight anti-Asian crimes, More robbery victims getting shot, Walgreens closes 10 SF stores due to rampant shoplifting

 

March 17, 2021

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A California judge said she would likely strike Hill's lawsuit against a journalist for disseminating the nude photos of her that led to allegations she'd had an improper sexual relationship with a campaign staffer.

Courts & Rulings

Court narrows law used to target white supremacists

A federal appeals court on Thursday struck down portions of an anti-riot law used to target white supremacists. Still, the ruling found enough of the law constitutional to reinstate charges against four men prosecuted under the statute. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturned a district court judge's ruling in 2019 that found key sections of the Federal Anti-Riot Act violated the First Amendment by criminalizing speech that did not incite imminent lawless action.

Politico

DAs accused of illegally interfering in California death penalty litigation

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups asked a California appeals court Friday to block three district attorneys from intervening in a federal lawsuit to undo an agreement related to a statewide freeze on executions. District attorneys from San Bernardino, San Mateo and Riverside counties sought to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging California's lethal injection protocols in 2018.

Courthouse News Service

Deputies names are public in Kobe Bryant crash scene photo scandal, judge rules

The federal judge overseeing Vanessa Bryant's lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department that alleged deputies were caught taking and sharing grisly photographs of human remains at the scene of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe Bryant, their daughter Gianna, and seven others, ruled late Monday that Sheriff Alex Villanueva cannot keep secret the names of the deputies suspected of misconduct.

NBC4

California county will have to comply with police transparency law after appeals court ruling

California's Ventura County Sheriff's Office will be forced to fully comply with a state law seeking to create more public access to law enforcement misconduct records following an appeals court ruling. The Ventura County Deputy Sheriffs' Association (VCDSA) sued the county and sheriff after legislators amended the state law to allow for public disclosure of records of officer-involved shootings, use of force, sustained findings of sexual assault and serious dishonesty.

The Recorder

Man who impregnated his ex-pupil, 18, in 2006 properly stripped of teaching license

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing properly revoked the teaching license of a man because, 10 years earlier, he had an affair with a former student, causing her pregnancy, the Court of Appeal for this district has held, rejecting the trial court's view that the penalty was excessive inasmuch as the student was 18 at the time of the relationship and was then enrolled at another school, and in light of the long delay in taking the action.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Supreme Court to hear case about when defendant can sue police for misconduct

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a case that could settle one aspect of when criminal defendants can sue police and prosecutors for civil rights violations. New York City police pushed their way into Larry Thompson's apartment in 2014 after receiving a 911 call alleging child abuse. When Thompson resisted their entry he was arrested and thrown in jail for two days.

USA Today

Ex-Rep. Katie Hill's revenge porn suit meets skeptical judge

A California judge indicated Wednesday she will likely strike claims against a journalist accused of violating the state's revenge porn law by distributing nude photos of former U.S. Rep. Katie Hill taken without her consent, although she put off any final ruling after Hill filed a last-minute discovery motion.

Law360

Court rejects ACLU attempt to bar California DAs from execution case

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in September on the prosecutors' appeal of a federal judge's ruling that denied intervention and said it was up to the governor and attorney general to represent the state on death penalty issues. Last Friday, the ACLU and civil rights groups asked the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco to step in and rule that California law prohibits district attorneys from taking part in such cases.

San Francisco Chronicle

California judge weighs bail for woman who used meth before stillbirth

A central California woman charged with murder after delivering a stillborn baby who tested positive for methamphetamine may be released on reduced bail as her lawyers argue that the state's homicide law does not apply to pregnant women, a position backed by California's attorney general. Chelsea Becker, 26, has been in a Kings County jail since her arrest in November 2019, unable to raise $2 million bail.

AP

Diversity growing among California judges but trial courts lagging

California's bench of judges and justices is growing more diverse, according to data released this week by the state's governing body for the court system. Amid brightly colored graphs and charts, the Judicial Council touted adding more women and people of color to its ranks over the past 15 years. Women now represent nearly 38% of judicial officers at all levels - trial and appellate courts, as well as the state's highest court, the new data show.

CalMatters

Defaming California lawyer does not, alone, create jurisdiction in California Courts

A Mexican company did not subject itself to jurisdiction of courts in California by telling clients of a Palm Springs attorney who specializes in cases involving timeshare disputes that their lawyer runs a "scam operation" and they should report him to the State Bar of California, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held yesterday. The decision came in a memorandum opinion signed by Judges Ronald M. Gould, Kenneth Kiyul Lee, and Lawrence VanDyke.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

'Excellent lawyers are civil': LA Appellate Court affirms lowered attorneys fees tied to impolite behavior

It may be impossible to put a price tag on civility, but the Second District Court of Appeals tried to do just that on Tuesday. A Los Angeles appellate court upheld a $90,000 attorneys' fees award to plaintiffs who argued they were due three times as much. The court said that the trial judge offered good reasons for capping the fees, including the plaintiffs' "incivility."

The Recorder

Policy/Legal Issues

Criminals or victims, who should justice serve?

It's a fundamental question these days among California's leading district attorneys: Should the justice system serve criminals or their victims? This question never arose seriously before now. Criminals, especially repeat offenders, were bottom priorities when it came to whom district attorneys aimed to help. That matched the sentiments of California voters, who over generations passed one initiative after another toughening laws on the death penalty, the three-strikes-and-you're-out law that targets criminals who keep preying on others and threw out a law that banned cash bail.

Lompoc Record

LAPD wants Instagram to reveal identities of possible cops who posted offensive memes

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has identified at least one member of its police force who shared a tasteless George Floyd valentine meme and have expanded their investigation into Instagram accounts that reportedly track back to officers. LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday that internal affairs had identified the officer and investigators were in the process of interviewing him about the post, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Police Tribune

Prosecutors

CHP officer who fatally struck pedestrian in Long Beach faces manslaughter charge

A California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer was facing a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge after he fatally struck a pedestrian in Long Beach in 2019, with allegations that the officer was speeding excessively, lawyers said Monday. Alfredo Gutierrez, 38, was accused of speeding when the motorcycle he was driving struck and killed Cezannie Mount, 24, on Del Amo Boulevard near Cherry Avenue the morning of Oct. 27, 2019, according to a criminal complaint.

Long Beach Press-Telegram

District attorney drops investigation into $400K paid to Inglewood mayor's assistant and girlfriend

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has concluded Inglewood did not break the law by paying the mayor's former assistant and ex-girlfriend more than $400,000 annually in salary and benefits, according to a newly released closing memorandum. Deputy District Attorney Michele Gilmer found the city increased Melanie McDade-Dickens' salary through simultaneous "acting" and "assignment" pay that violated the city's contract with the Inglewood Executive Organization.

Pasadena Star News

California inmate charged with unemployment benefits fraud

A California prisoner is one of two people accused of stealing more than $100,000 in unemployment benefits in the latest allegation related to what authorities say is a multibillion-dollar fraud aided by lax safeguards at a state agency. Alana Powers, 45, an inmate at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, was indicted by a federal grand jury last week, along with 51-year-old Jason Vertz of Fresno, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

KCRA

'I miss my baby': Parents demand justice for daughter killed by teen driver accused of speeding in West LA

Carol Cardona finds it very hard to believe her 32-year-old daughter Monique Munoz was killed in a violent crash two weeks ago in the West Los Angeles area. "It hurts so much to see that she's gone. I miss my baby," said the grieving mother. Monique recently got a job at UCLA Health as an administrative assistant in their Beverly Hills Oncology Department.

Fox11

Murder charges in fentanyl deaths? Riverside County carves new path in Southern California

Struggling to contain an 800% increase in fentanyl-related deaths in the past four years, Riverside County has joined a trend building elsewhere to pursue murder charges against those believed responsible for fatal overdoses. In the past two weeks, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office has charged three men with murder for supplying the cheap synthetic opiate to unwitting drug users.

San Bernardino Sun

Los Angeles District Attorney

Video: Gang killer, expecting early release, toasts LA County DA George Gascón's policies from prison

Convicted killer Phillip Dorsett, who came from a life of wealth and privilege in Rancho Palos Verdes, was in a celebratory mood one Monday night inside his cell resembling a college dorm room at New Folsom State Prison. Dorsett, sentenced to 40 years to life for the 2005 execution-style shooting death of a rival gang member, had just learned Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón had issued a new directive calling for the possible resentencing of inmates who have already served 15 years in prison.

Southern California News Group

Murder suspect wanted in Downtown LA released from jail by mistake

A suspected killer who appears to have escaped a large dragnet in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday afternoon had mistakenly been released from custody due to a data entry error, several law enforcement sources told NBC News. Steven Manzo vanished after running across the 101 Freeway in jail clothes, and the sources said officials discovered that an incorrect entry in a computer system had led to his release.

NBC4

California murder victim's mother slams LA County DA: Gascón 'doesn't care'

Jessica Corde, whose son's killer was granted parole last month, slammed L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón and his policies, telling "Justice with Judge Jeanine" on Saturday night that he "doesn't care" about murder victims. "I should not have to fight this hard for the justice that had already been given to my son," the emotional mother told host Jeanine Pirro.

Fox News

L.A. DA will not seek death penalty for cop killer

Los Angeles District Attorney (DA) George Gascón said Friday that he will not pursue the death penalty for a gang member who killed a police officer and his cousin, and wounded another officer, according to a Fox News report. Officer Keith Boyer was shot and killed by Christopher Mejia while responding to a routine traffic collision. He was not aware that Mejia, 30, had just murdered his cousin, Roy Torres. Officer Patrick Hazell was shot in the abdomen but survived.

American Police Beat

Anthony Avalos: Tortured, murdered by mom, her boyfriend; death penalty off table under DA Gascón

Anthony Avalos was 10 years old when he was allegedly tortured and murdered by his mother and her boyfriend. Under the new directives of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, prosecutors will no longer be allowed to seek the death penalty. "The Avalos family will be victimized once again as they try to seek justice for Anthony!" Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva tweeted on Monday.

Fox11

Death penalty petition withdrawn against alleged Torrance double killer

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office dropped its bid Friday to seek the death penalty against a Torrance man charged with raping and murdering a teenage girl and a young woman who were found dead less than a year apart. Geovanni Borjas, 36, is charged with murder and rape in the April 24, 2011, killing of 17-year-old Michelle Lozano and the Dec. 26, 2011, slaying of 22-year-old Bree'Anna Guzman, along with a charge that he kidnapped Guzman to commit another crime.

City News Service

Can LA's top prosecutor transform the criminal justice system?

George Gascón was elected Los Angeles district attorney after promising to end "tough on crime" prosecutions, free people from overcrowded prisons and hold police accountable for misconduct. But three months into his tenure, law enforcement leaders across California have launched an aggressive campaign to thwart his signature reforms. Gascón is facing court challenges and a rightwing backlash, and some are now pushing to recall him from office.

The Guardian

Sheriff to DA: Let's probe corruption together. DA to sheriff: No thanks.

Last month, L.A. District Attorney George Gascón received an unusual proposal from Sheriff Alex Villanueva: The sheriff wanted to create a joint task force with the DA to fight government corruption and target dirty politicians. "The mission of [the task force] is to develop meaningful and productive investigatory relationships among our detectives and deputy district attorneys, who are charged with investigating public corruption," said a draft memorandum of understanding written by the Sheriff's Department and obtained by LAist.

LAist

Change or cronyism? D.A. George Gascón's executive team met with mix of praise and suspicion

A public defender who has called for the abolition of prisons. A young prosecutor who has tried only a handful of cases in a six-year career. A veteran defense attorney who once described herself as a check against a racist criminal justice system. In assembling the executive team that will serve as his closest advisors in the nation's largest prosecutor's office, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón brought together a group of people whose voices would have almost certainly been ignored under previous administrations.

Los Angeles Times

Embattled LA DA Gascon points to phony poll of crime victims, claiming they favor rehabilitation over incarceration

On Thursday, Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon released a press statement regarding a poll conducted by Californians for Safety and Justice, claiming the results proved that crime victims prefer public resources go toward crime prevention and rehabilitation of criminals rather than their incarceration. Gascon wrote, "Large majorities [of victims of violent crime] support policies to shift resources away from incarceration and move toward prevention and rehabilitation."

Santa Monica Observed

District Attorney Recall

Los Angeles County Sheriff supports recall effort against D.A. Gascón

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is publicly backing the recall effort against newly-elected controversial District Attorney George Gascón. Victims rights advocates launched a campaign to oust Gascón last weekend, organizing a "victims vigil" and rally in downtown L.A. Sheriff Villanueva appeared at the event wearing street clothes and voiced his support for the drive.

The Daily Wire

City Council approves vote of no confidence in district attorney

The Santa Clarita City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a vote of no confidence in District Attorney George Gascón, citing recent policy changes from the D.A.'s office as having a detrimental impact on public safety. Although the City Council cited nine special directives and two amendments from the D.A.'s office as being problematic to the council, the council members specifically highlighted three particular directives and two amendments they took issue with.

The Signal

It's ON: Recallgeorgegascon.com begins recall effort.

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon has officially been served with a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition. The formal service triggers the final steps leading up to the approval and public circulation of official recall petitions. Once the recall petition is approved, proponents will have 160 days to collect 580,000 signatures from registered voters in Los Angeles County.

Recallgeorgegascon.com Press Release

LA DA Gascon accuses recall proponents of 'using victims of violent crime' in 'unconscionable' ways

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, who was recently served with a recall notice, addressed the issue of a potential recall election with supporters Wednesday night. RedState was exclusively provided video of portions of a Zoom meeting of local Democrats for which Gascon was the main speaker. He took questions on a variety of topics. One of the last questioners mentioned the recall notice and asked how supporters can help keep him in office.

RedState

Gavin Newsom has company as LA District Attorney George Gascon gets targeted for recall

As the deadline for California Governor Gavin Newsom's recall approaches, another unpopular politician's recall efforts are just getting started. Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon has been served a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition. Gascon has come under fire in the months since taking office over his pro-crime stances. After winning in 2020 thanks in large part to an infusion of cash from George Soros, Gascon made enemies quickly among law abiding citizens.

NOQ Report

Jonathan Hatami | Not even the DA is above the law

The city of Santa Clarita has been my home for over 38 years. Both of my children were born here. My wife serves our community as a Sheriff's Department detective. We are raising our family here. And, I have dedicated much of my life to the service of my country, my city and my county. However, the residents of Santa Clarita need to realize that we are now at a crossroads when it comes to the safety of our community, our homes, our neighborhoods and our families.

The Signal

'Victims Vigil' launches effort to recall 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 late last month during a "Victims Vigil'' at the downtown Hall of Justice. At least 100 people attended, including many crime victims and Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami, an outspoken critic of Gascon's changes.

City News Service

Los Angeles County/City

Granada Hills junk house: 'Hoarders' TV show, city, LAPD get involved as junk remains piled in yard of Granada Hills home

Residents of a Granada Hills neighborhood fear for their safety and property values after what looks to be a junkyard has taken over one home's yard. Neighbors have been trying to get the city to force the owner to clean it up for nearly three years, but to no avail. "They failed to protect us, they failed services, and the property taxes that we're paying right now is for nothing, we're not getting anything from the city," said Sam Meldonian, a concerned neighbor.

CBS LA

Attorney ordered to pay back $1.65 million in DWP case

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ordered an attorney who worked on a lawsuit against the Department of Water and Power over faulty bills to pay back $1.65 million in fees that he earned in the case. The attorney, Michael Libman, was also ordered to pay more than $116,000 in sanctions, cited for contempt of court and fined $44,000 by Judge Elihu M. Berle. Berle's ruling marks another significant disciplinary action in litigation stemming from the DWP overbilling debacle.

Los Angeles Times

Sergeant who sued LAPD says alleged retaliation increased after he sued

A Los Angeles police sergeant, responding to a motion by the City Attorney's Office seeking dismissal of the sergeant's lawsuit, says he deserves a trial of his case alleging he was prohibited from speaking Spanish in his role as a media spokesman for the LAPD, where he says his work conditions have worsened. "Since my lawsuit was filed, I have been the repeated target of further retaliation by the department,'' Sgt. Frank Preciado says in a sworn declaration opposing the city's motion to toss his case, scheduled for hearing March 17 before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark V. Mooney.

City News Service

LAPD severely mishandled George Floyd protests, report finds

The Los Angeles Police Department severely mishandled protests last summer in the wake of George Floyd's death, illegally detaining protesters, issuing conflicting orders to its rank-and-file officers and striking people who had committed no crimes with rubber bullets, beanbags and batons, according to a scathing report released Thursday. An ill-prepared department quickly allowed the situation to spiral out of control when some protesters got violent, failing to rein in much of the most destructive behavior while arresting thousands of protesters for minor offenses, according to the 101-page report commissioned by the City Council.

WION News

LA County looking to expand anti-hate program following surge in incidents

Tracking a rise in hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will on Tuesday consider allocating more money to fight the problem. Supervisor Hilda Solis authored the motion calling for additional resources for a Human Relations Commission program called LA vs Hate. "Despite our efforts to combat hate, the situation has gotten worse," Solis said.

City News Service

Hollywood music producer details alleged LAPD racial profiling arrest, asks for release of body cam video

A music producer and recording studio owner from Hollywood said he was thrown to the ground and arrested by Los Angeles Police Department officers in a case of mistaken identity, and said he thinks it happened because he's Black. "They pushed me up against this gate, boom!" Antone Austin showed NBC4's I-Team during an interview at the arrest scene on Fountain Avenue. He was stopped and grabbed by Hollywood Division patrol officers on May 24, 2019.

NBC4

Public Safety/Crime

Shootings increase in L.A. in 2021 compared with 2020

In the first two months of this year, Los Angeles Police Department officers fielded 570 reports of shots fired, up 88% from the 303 incidents during same time frame in 2020 - and 267 people were hit by gunfire, a 141% increase from the 111 people wounded in the time frame in 2020, it was reported Thursday. And homicides in Los Angeles are also up, according to Crosstown, a nonprofit news organization based out of the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, in partnership with the Integrated Media Systems Center at the Viterbi School of Engineering.

MyNewsLA

Attack on Lady Gaga's dog walker fits 'disturbing trend': More L.A. robbery victims being shot

When Lady Gaga's dogwalker was shot in Hollywood last week as he tried to fend off assailants who stole two of the singer's French bulldogs, the attack not only made international headlines, but fit into a local crime pattern raising alarm among Los Angeles police officials: More robbery victims being shot. Calling it a "disturbing trend," LAPD Asst. Chief Beatrice Girmala told the L.A. Police Commission this week that 18 robbery victims had been shot in L.A. through Tuesday, compared with just one such shooting during the same period last year.

Los Angeles Times

19 arrested, $750K worth of catalytic converters recovered amid spike in thefts in L.A. County

Nineteen people were arrested and $750,000 worth of catalytic converters were recovered in an operation targeting several locations in Los Angeles on Wednesday, officials said. There's been a spike in thefts of catalytic converters from cars throughout the region. In the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's jurisdiction alone, reports of catalytic converter thefts skyrocketed 400% in 2020 compared to the year before, according to the agency.

KTLA

Beverly Hills shooting latest in string of brazen robberies of high-end jewelry

A shooting at a Beverly Hills restaurant marks the latest in a string of brazen robberies involving high-end jewelry. On Thursday, a woman shot in the leg at Il Pastaio on North Canon Drive as three male suspects demanded property from a different restaurant diner. The suspects got away with an expensive wristwatch as all three of them remain on the run, police in Beverly Hills said.

Fox11

Walgreens shutters 10 stores in San Francisco as residents point to rampant shoplifting

Pharmacy giant Walgreens has closed its 10th store in the San Francisco area, prompting residents to blame rampant shoplifting caused by the city's soft-on-crime policies. The store is set to permanently shut its doors on March 17, and the move has drawn an online petition against the closure, which accrued over 200 signatures at the time of publishing. The closure is the third since mid-October 2020, and those living in the area reported brazen thefts at Walgreens pharmacies throughout their hometowns.

Washington Examiner

Man shot to death in Redondo Beach, four suspects in custody

Four suspects were in custody Sunday in connection with the shooting death of a man in Redondo Beach. The shooting was reported at about 8 p.m. Saturday in the 600 block of North Juanita Avenue, according to Redondo Beach Police Lt. Shawn Freeman. Officers found the mortally wounded man, who was pronounced dead at the scene, according the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which was assisting Redondo Beach police with the investigation.

City News Service

Lady Gaga dognapping may have been part of gang initiation, TMZ reports

The suspects accused of shooting Lady Gaga's dog walker and then stealing two of the pop superstar's dogs for hours may have been part of a gang initiation, according to a report from TMZ. The latest on the violent dognapping comes just days after a woman - not yet identified by neither police nor Lady Gaga's representatives - turned in the two stolen French bulldogs to the Los Angeles Police Department. According to TMZ, that woman has not yet received her $500,000 reward.

Fox11

Consumer

DEA warns of phone scammers impersonating agents, demanding money

The Drug Enforcement Administration is warning that telephone scammers have been impersonating DEA agents in an attempt to extort money or steal personal identifiable information. A new public service announcement says the DEA will never phone to demand money or ask for personal information. There are variations in the false narrative, among them, that the targeted person's name was used to rent a vehicle which was stopped at the border and contained a large quantity of drugs, the DEA said.

City News Service

The evil side of Amazon

Amazon's unchecked monopoly power is leaving a tsunami of destruction on Amazon third-party sellers, bullied retail partners, manufacturers, and deceived consumers. Allegations of stealing from its employees, fake product reviews and blocked feedback, along with improperly using third-party data for its strategy for developing and selling its own private-label products contribute to its nefarious business profile. The e-commerce giant has grown into a global juggernaut of fraud, scams, counterfeits, replicas, and false claims.

The Counterfeit Report

FBI statement on Microsoft Exchange Server vulnerabilities

The FBI is aware of Microsoft's emergency patch for previously unknown vulnerabilities in Exchange Server software, attributed to the APT actor known by Microsoft as HAFNIUM. The FBI is working closely with our interagency and private sector partners to understand the scope of the threat. Network owners should immediately patch their systems. Help us respond to victims and hold those responsible accountable. If your Exchange Server from Microsoft has been compromised, please contact your local FBI field office.

FBI Press Release

California/National

3 Calif. district attorneys go to court to speed up future executions

The district attorneys, including San Mateo County's Steve Wagstaffe, are trying to "usurp the role of the governor and the attorney general" in overseeing California's laws, including its death penalty law, the ACLU said in a filing Friday with the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco. The filing quoted a 1975 ruling by the state Supreme Court that said local prosecutors have the powers assigned to them by law, not "a roving commission to do justice" in cases they have already prosecuted.

San Francisco Chronicle

California DA's association asks state attorney general for probe of its own finances

The California District Attorneys Association asked California's attorney general Friday to open an investigation into the group's own accounting practices, saying an internal review has determined more than $1 million in asset forfeiture funds may have been spent improperly. Greg Totten, the new chief executive officer of the Sacramento-based association, said in a letter to the Attorney General's Office that more than $1.2 million in asset forfeiture funds and another $406,984 in high-tech funds the association received had improperly been used for general fund expenses rather than for training as required.

Fresno Bee

Vegas parties, celebrities and boozy lunches: How legal titan Tom Girardi seduced the State Bar

The warning signs about Tom Girardi flashed year after year, allegations that he skimmed settlement money, inflated costs, abandoned clients and cheated colleagues. The vaunted Los Angeles trial lawyer, a regular on "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," and his firm were sued more than a hundred times between the 1980s and last year, with at least half of those cases asserting misconduct in his law practice.

Los Angeles Times

Black Lives Matter's most prominent chapter launches drive targeting police unions

Black Lives Matter's most prominent chapter recently launched a campaign to "end police associations" as part of its ongoing effort to defund and abolish the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). According to the Los Angeles Times, Black Lives Matter-LA is "targeting two of Southern California's biggest police unions, saying they will push to have them ejected from the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and ultimately disbanded."

The Daily Wire

How billions in pandemic aid was swindled by scammers (Video)

State and Federal officials tell NBC News the scale of fraud during the pandemic has been "staggering." The Labor department inspector general is currently investigating at least 63 billion dollars may have been stolen from taxpayers; leaving millions of unemployed workers without their much-needed relief.

NBC News

Can the 'progressive prosecutor' movement survive?

A backlash fueled by fear of rising crime threatens to undermine the "progressive prosecutor" movement, just as it has begun to gain traction across the country. "We can never, ever, underestimate the power of fear to create bad policy," warns Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm. "We are at a time in our nation when people do not feel safe. I think somewhere around the range of 20 million to 25 million handguns were sold in the U.S. last year alone."

The Crime Report

No surprise: California AG Xavier Becerra is withholding vital firearm statistics and data

The California Department of Justice, under Attorney General Xavier Becerra's leadership, is withholding vital firearm-related statistics from researchers at the UC Davis Firearm Violence Research Center, a prominent "gun violence prevention" program. The UCFC was established to study gun control policies and their impact on society. The researchers at UC Davis play a vital role in California's anti-gun agenda. They frequently recommend policies that are said to curb "firearm violence."

Townhall

A California lawmaker wants to repeal an anti-loitering code that critics say has been used to target trans women

A California state senator introduced a bill Monday night to repeal a law commonly known as "walking while trans" that advocates say has led to decades of discrimination against the transgender community, particularly Black and brown trans women. State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat representing San Francisco and neighboring areas, drafted SB 357, which would overturn the "loitering for purpose of prostitution" law.

CNN

Convictions/Sentences/Pleas

Man gets prison for insurance fraud in sons' 2015 drownings

A man accused of drowning two of his sons and trying to kill his ex-wife by driving them off a Los Angeles wharf to collect an insurance payout was sentenced Thursday to 212 years in federal prison for fraud. Ali F. Elmezayen, 45, received the maximum sentence from a judge who denounced an "evil and diabolical scheme." "He is the ultimate phony and a skillful liar and is nothing more than a greedy and brutal killer," U.S. District Judge John R. Walter said.

AP

Man sentenced for triple-murder in Harbor Gateway area

One of two men convicted of the shooting deaths of three men in the Harbor Gateway area in a confrontation over a missing batch of marijuana was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The third jury to hear the case found Randall Weir, now 39, guilty of first-degree murder for the May 10, 2013, killings of Dwayne Cover, 33, of Torrance; Laurent Latty, 33, of Jonesboro, Georgia; and Courtney Murray, 44, of Torrance, at an apartment in the 1600 block of West 205th Street.

MyNewsLA

Corrections & Parole

Newsom sparks international outrage: Turkey blasts parole of Armenian Westwood killer who murdered Turkey Counsel General in 1982

Gov. Gavin Newsom will not appeal a Los Angeles Superior Court judge's decision allowing the parole of a man convicted in the 1982 Westwood murder of a Turkish diplomat. The decision and impending parole immediately drew outrage from Turkish diplomats. Hampig "Harry" Sassounian, now 58, was convicted in 1984 for the shooting death of Turkish Consul General Kemal Arikan.

MyNewsLA

Wealthy California rehab doctor pays $100 a night for 'boutique' jail stay as he awaits trial

It's rough, life behind bars. On an average day, thousands of men are packed into Orange County jails. Most face felonies. Inmates complain of violence and disease. Dozens of assaults on staff were reported last year. But for the accused who can afford it, there's a kinder, gentler way: "pay-to-stay" lockups at Southern California's smaller city jails, which some have called the "soft cell" or boutique incarceration option.

Southern California News Group

San Quentin sex offender killed in his cell by fellow inmate from LA County

A San Quentin State Prison inmate from Los Angeles County killed a fellow inmate incarcerated as a sex offender who died Wednesday in the facility, authorities said. Los Angeles inmate Sammeon Waller, 28, is a burglar who injured a dependent adult causing death. He killed John Sullivan, 66, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

MyNewsLA

Articles of Interest

Google denies collecting users' app data without permission

A federal judge on Thursday demanded more details on how Google allegedly collects data on consumers' use of more than a million software applications without obtaining explicit permission from users. "You've got to do more than, 'Maybe this is going on,'" U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg told an attorney for a proposed class of app users in a virtual hearing Thursday.

Courthouse News Service

'Collusion' invalidates SF tax, opponent tells Calif. Appeals Court

"Improper collusion" between a San Francisco school district and its teachers union should invalidate a 2018 parcel tax ballot measure because it didn't receive enough votes, an opponent of the tax told a California appeals court. The San Francisco Unified School District and the United Educators of San Francisco worked together to game the system to try to evade the two-thirds vote requirement for special taxes, according to a Wednesday filing from attorneys for Wayne Nowak, a San Francisco resident who has challenged the measure.

Law360

Wisconsin city sues makers of firefighting foam over 'forever chemicals' pollution

A city in western Wisconsin on Thursday sued multiple chemical manufacturers it claims polluted local wells with firefighting products they knew contained toxic manmade chemicals. Filed in La Crosse County Circuit Court by the city of La Crosse, the complaint alleges Minnesota-based manufacturing giant 3M and more than 20 other companies involved in chemical production made and sold firefighting foam they knew for decades contained per- and polyflouroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS.

Courthouse News Service

Twitter sues Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, asks court to halt his investigation of the social media company

Twitter filed a lawsuit against Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a California federal court Monday and asked a judge to halt the state's top lawyer from investigating the company. The social media giant's court filings include a request for a temporary restraining order that would keep Paxton and his office from enforcing a demand that seeks documents revealing the company's internal decision making processes for banning users, among other things.

The Texas Tribune

Plaintiff suing over board diversity law faces some skepticism from 9th Circuit panel

Facebook

The DA won't investigate the $400k public salary of Inglewood Mayor James Butts's former executive assistant and ex-girlfriend, Melanie McDade-Dickens

A corporate shareholder challenging a California law requiring corporations to include women on their boards of directors faced tough questioning Wednesday from a federal appeals court panel. Creighton Meland Jr., a retired banking and finance partner who'd worked in Baker McKenzie's Chicago office, has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to overturn a 2020 trial court order dismissing his lawsuit.

The Recorder

Pension

GOP Targets CA's underfunded pensions in effort to sink Biden's COVID stimulus plan

There's lots of fiery Republican rhetoric these days about how the $1.9 trillion economic relief plan would help bail out ailing state and local pension systems.

It won't. It's not supposed to. And for the foreseeable future, no one's benefits in California are in danger of being cut because of the pension system's status, even though the state has about $167 billion in unfunded commitments to state workers and teachers.

Sacramento Bee

 

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