ACLU Works on Reducing Cost of Traffic Tickets; Newsom Goofed and Won't Get Named as a Democrat on Recall Ballot; Amazon and Google Investigated for not Removing Phony Reviews and Other Stories: Monday Morning Memo
LA begins experiment in deploying unarmed social workers; California closing youth prisons; Crime is hitting wealthier neighborhoods under Gascon
July 10, 2021
Courts & Rulings
Judicial misconduct requires reversing murder conviction
The Court of Appeal for this district on Friday reversed a conviction for second degree murder based on judicial misconduct on the part of then-Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Edmund Willcox Clarke Jr. It is a foregone conclusion that defendant Phillip Dorsett, convicted of a second-degree murder, will not be retried in light of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s stated aversion to lengthy sentences.
Man sentenced to death for triple murder in Downey; judge refuses to allow Gascon’s statement
A parolee was sentenced to death Thursday for murdering three people and trying to kill two others in Downey while posing as a prospective buyer of a Chevrolet Camaro. Jade Douglas Harris - who was prosecuted under prior Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s administration - is the first person to be sentenced to death during current District Attorney George Gascon’s administration.
City News Service
Supreme Court returns St. Louis excessive force case involving death in jail to lower court
The Supreme Court overturned a lower court's ruling Monday in a case about whether St. Louis police used excessive force on a man who died after officers handcuffed him and put their weight on his back inside a jail cell. In an unsigned opinion that drew dissent from three conservative justices, the court sent the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit for further review - a move that prompted cautious praise from groups seeking to overhaul policing.
Argument trivializing doubt standard requires reversal
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, yesterday reversed the conviction of a man for importation of controlled substances into the United States, declaring that he was prejudiced by the prosecutor, in remarks to the jury, trivializing the reasonable doubt standard. Awarded a new trial is Alfred Velazquez, who testified that he had no idea that his vehicle contained drugs.
The Supreme Court throws out a state law requiring nonprofits to name rich donors
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday sided with rich donors and their desire to remain anonymous against a state law aimed at policing the finances of charities and other nonprofits. By a 6-3 vote along ideological lines, the court struck down California's law requiring nonprofits to file a list of their large donors with the state. The court said the law subjected donors to potential harassment, chilling their speech in violation of the 1st Amendment.
Supreme Court justice signals openness to allowing religious beliefs to trump LGBTQ rights in hiring
When the Supreme Court issued its historic June 2020 ruling banning job discrimination based on either sexual orientation or gender identity, the author, Justice Neil Gorsuch, cautioned that the court was not considering arguments that hiring an LGBTQ worker would violate an employer’s religious beliefs. Those arguments may arrive soon. And some commentators think they will find sympathetic ears on a court that has issued a series of decisions in the past year exempting religiously affiliated institutions from rules governing secular bodies.
San Francisco Chronicle
C.A. takes judge to task for following order in footnote
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has been faulted by the Court of Appeal for this district for failing to follow its instruction as to what to do on remand in resentencing a defendant, although Div. Two’s 2019 opinion directed that the defendant be sentenced for robbery on the first count, which is what Judge Bruce F. Marrs carried out. The judge should not have followed what was spelled out in dictum in a footnote, but should have adhered to what was prescribed in the dispositional paragraph, Justice Victoria Chavez said in Wednesday’s opinion, which was not certified for publication.
Conspiracy claim against Vallejo police can stay in fatal shooting lawsuit, judge rules
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a lawsuit filed on behalf of Willie McCoy, a young rapper fatally shot by police in Vallejo, California, in 2019 can proceed on its claim that officers conspired to harm him, an allegation that rarely sticks in cases involving use of force. U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez in Sacramento denied Vallejo's attempt to have the conspiracy claim dismissed in the McCoy family's lawsuit, writing that "the Court finds that an agreement or meeting of the minds could be inferred to support the agreement element of a conspiracy."
Proposition 66 doesn’t bar showing of new evidence
Proposition 66 - the “Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016” - which bars successive petitions for habeas corpus in capital cases unless the defendant can show actual innocence or that the death penalty is applicable, does not preclude relief where the petition presents a ground that could not have been raised earlier, the California Supreme Court held yesterday.
Diversion properly withheld where psychotic man pushed stranger onto railroad tracks
The Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday that a judge did not abuse his discretion in denying pretrial mental health diversion to a defendant who, according to the medical evidence, acted as the result of schizophrenia in pushing a stranger onto the tracks at Union Station. The unprovoked attack by Jimmy Devalle was charged as attempted murder. Devalle was convicted, instead, of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Supreme Court to intervene in battle over digital billboards
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed this week to consider whether a Texas city's restrictions on digital billboards runs afoul of the First Amendment. Like most Texas cities, Austin only allows digital billboard ads on the advertisers' premises. The city has said the regulations aim to preserve the local landscape, and further road safety by limiting distractions. Austin doesn't impose similar restrictions on non-digital billboards.
Federal appeals court backs L.A. judge in migrant children case
All migrant children, including those who entered the U.S. illegally during the COVID-19 pandemic and were expected to be expelled from the country, must be placed in licensed facilities rather than hotels, a federal appeals panel ruled today, upholding a Los Angeles federal judge's order. The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a judge's decision that the so-called Flores settlement agreement - which set standards for the treatment of children in detention and ordered their quick release in most cases - applies to minors who illegally crossed the border in the midst of the pandemic.
City News Service
Los Angeles District Attorney
Los Angeles residents consider district attorney recall (Video)
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon is facing a recall movement by local residents. A former DA is also joining the effort, stating that Gascon’s policies are helping criminals instead of victims.
NTD Evening News
‘God has your back,’ mom tells son after DA George Gascón moves to cut decades from killer’s prison term
Bertha Cachu could barely contain her joy on the morning of May 10 as she spoke with her son by phone. Both had just attended his hearing at the Michael Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse, and Andrew Cachu was calling her from the courthouse lockup. His mother quickly relayed some exciting news to Cachu, a gang member who was just two months shy of his 18th birthday in March 2015 when he shot 41-year-old Louis Amela twice in the back outside a Palmdale restaurant, killing him.
Orange County Register
DA isn't tough enough on hate crimes, recall supporters say
Supporters of the recall effort against Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon held a demonstration today outside Sushi Fumi, 359 N. La Cienega Blvd., where Jewish diners were attacked in May for their ancestry in the wake of Israeli-Palestinian tensions. The rally was meant “to raise awareness of the attacks last month and how Gascon’s policies have resulted in certain hate incidents not being charged,” according to spokesperson Karen Roseberry.
City News Service
A tale of two district attorneys
One of the most devastating changes to California law in recent years was Proposition 57, Jerry Brown’s “Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act,” adopted by voters in 2016. Everything about the initiative was a lie. It was not about public safety and rehabilitation, it was designed to release thousands of hardcore criminals from prison, years and sometimes decades early. Governor Brown claimed it would only allow non-violent criminals to qualify for early release, but District Attorneys and the Courts determined that anyone, including criminals convicted of forcible rape and murder would qualify.
Crime & Consequences
West Covina sends letter to D.A. George Gascón criticizing changes he’s made
In a letter sent to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón on Wednesday, June 23, the West Covina City Council criticizes three of his new directives and calls for their rescission. Mayor Letty Lopez-Viado, who drafted the letter, said she opposes controversial moves Gascón has made since taking office in December. Specifically, the letter takes issue with three specific directives from Gascón.
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Ex-solicitor general to aid DA Gascón in suit filed by prosecutors union
Former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal has been retained to represent the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in a lawsuit brought by a prosecutors’ union that challenges criminal justice reform policies implemented soon after D.A. George Gascón took office late last year, it was announced Thursday. “Neal is one of the top lawyers in the nation and his vast legal experience will only benefit my mission to help reform the criminal justice system in Los Angeles County,” Gascón said in a statement.
Los Angeles just elected a liberal D.A. He’s already facing a recall effort.
Under Mr. Gascon’s predecessor, Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles maintained a more punitive approach to crime, sending people to state prisons four times more often than in San Francisco in recent years. Gascon, who won the office by a large margin from Lacy in November, often talks about finding himself as an officer trapping black men for generations in the same family. Over time, his view of crime and punishment changed, and he believed it was his job as a district attorney to undo the damage at the time, especially for the black and Latino communities in Los Angeles.
California News Times
DA Gascon's solution to the surge in violent crime: Therapy
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon held a press conference on Wednesday to explain to the public how he is going to address the surge in violent crime in Los Angeles, a surge that coincidentally began around the time he assumed the position of chief law enforcement officer in the county. "Public safety strategies have traditionally been reactive and reactionary, instead of proactive and preventative," Gascon said at the presser.
Santa Monica Observed
Los Angeles man charged with illegally transporting 32,000 pounds of fireworks
The man arrested at a home in South Los Angeles where 32,000-pounds of illegal fireworks were found and where a police bomb containment vehicle was destroyed in an explosion has been charged with transporting explosives without a license, according to court documents. Arturo Ceja III was arrested by federal agents on Saturday.
Calif. mom charged with murder after her 3 young children are found dead in home
A 28-year-old California woman is accused of killing her three young children inside their East Los Angeles home on Monday. PEOPLE confirms that Sandra Chico was arrested on suspicion of three counts of murder on Monday evening. She is being held on $2 million bond. According to an arrest report obtained by KTLA-TV, another family member called 911 and reported that there were two children in the home who were not breathing.
South LA teen who was left for dead shares story after young assailants face lesser charges
When 17-year-old Sean Michael Reynolds of South Los Angeles placed an ad on the mobile marketplace site "Offer Up," he thought it would be an easy way to make some extra cash for college. It turned out to be the worst decision of his life. "I didn’t know how to react, I was extremely scared," he explained. On May 4, Reynolds met up with the person who responded to his ad. They agreed to meet outside of 92nd Street Elementary School in Watts.
Nipsey Hussle’s alleged killer has ‘significant mental health history,’ his new lawyer says
A new lawyer for Nipsey Hussle’s accused killer said the long-delayed murder case should go to trial by early December. Deputy Public Defender Aaron Jansen appeared on behalf of Eric Holder in a Los Angeles courtroom Tuesday after the previous public defender on the case was appointed to serve as a state judge. “A lot of the work was done by my predecessor. Hopefully, by the end of the year, maybe early December, we can go to trial,” Jansen told the Daily News after the court agreed to postpone the trial setting yet again and set a followup hearing for Sept. 7.
New York Daily News
'He'd like to murder me,' estranged Durst brother testifies at trial in LA
Robert Durst's brother testified Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court that he never saw any violence in his older sibling's first marriage, but said his brother wanted to kill him and that he took those threats seriously. Asked about how his brother feels about him, Douglas Durst bluntly told jurors, "He'd like to murder me.’' "Are you aware of your brother, in fact, making calls from Pennsylvania discussing that very subject?'' Deputy District Attorney John Lewin asked.
Sixty defendants charged in nationwide takedown of Sinaloa Cartel methamphetamine network
An indictment was unsealed today in federal court charging 60 members of a San Diego-based international methamphetamine distribution network tied to the Sinaloa Cartel with drug trafficking, money laundering and firearms offenses. During the last month, hundreds of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents and officers have arrested dozens of defendants and searched multiple locations throughout San Diego County and in five states.
Department of Justice News Release
Unarmed mental health crisis teams deployment delayed (Video)
Six months after LA announced mental health crisis teams to respond to calls, the vans that would deploy them sit idle. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.
Judge orders LA Sheriff’s Department to release misconduct, use-of-force records after LA Times' lawsuit
A judge ordered the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to promptly turn over records on thousands of cases of deputy misconduct and on-duty shootings after finding the agency had failed repeatedly to honor a public records request filed by the Los Angeles Times. The department has 90 days to turn over records first sought by the newspaper in 2019, shortly after lawmakers passed a landmark police transparency law that made public previously confidential records about law enforcement officers.
Los Angeles Times
ACLU pushes Riverside Superior Court to end civil assessments on traffic tickets
The American Civil Liberties Union and a legal advocacy organization are demanding that Riverside Superior Court end hefty civil fines for unresolved traffic tickets, claiming they are excessive and unfairly target low-income minorities. In a seven-page letter sent Tuesday, June 22, to Superior Court Presiding Judge John M. Monterosso, the ACLU and Western Center on Law and Poverty in Los Angeles claim the court’s current blanket policy of imposing $300 civil assessments violates state law and the state and U.S. constitutions.
San Bernardino Sun
LAPD announces pilot program to reduce recidivism
The LAPD has announced a new pilot program to direct adults arrested for minor crimes to community support programs rather than face harsher legal consequences. According to the Daily News, the LAPD will work in conjunction with the Los Angeles County’s Alternatives to Incarceration Office to launch the Pre-File Diversion Program. The program aims to send people arrested for certain misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies to community support programs as an alternative to facing criminal charges, prosecution and jail time.
American Police Beat
Defunding cash bail (Audio)
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon introduces Special Directive 20-06 which curtails the use of cash bail for certain types of crime. So what are those offenses and what happens when offenders are instantly allowed back on the streets? Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee from Los Angeles County joins us.
Legal Talk Today Podcast
California senator whose bill relaxed sex offender law now wants to legalize some drugs.
Senator Scott Wiener represents District 11 in the California State Senate. District 11 includes all of San Francisco, Broadmoor, Colma, and Daly City, as well as portions of South San Francisco. Since being elected the Senator has written several controversial bills. The latest to inch closer into becoming law is the decriminalization of Psychedelic drugs. Introduced earlier this year, Senate Bill 519 would allow the possession and sharing of certain hallucinogenic substances such as magic mushrooms, MDMA, LSD, ketamine and ibogaine for those 21 years and older.
LA City Council seeks new law to prevent encampments in public right-of-way
Citing the need for urgent action on the homelessness crisis before the Los Angeles City Council leaves for summer recess, members voted Tuesday to instruct the city attorney to draft an ordinance that would restrict sleeping and homeless encampments in certain areas of the city. Councilman Paul Krekorian, who co-introduced the motion, said the ordinance would be presented for a vote on Thursday, when council members will hold a special meeting before the recess.
City News Service
Los Angeles County/City
Councilman Mike Bonin's staff privately requests displacing homeless person living in front of office
Westchester residents are accusing Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin and his staff of being "hypocrites" after an email from the Acting District Director Hanna Levien was made public. "What bothers me the most is that they can try and get homeless that are disturbing them from their front doorstep and yet when it’s our safety, our kids safety, our homes, they don’t care and they call us NIMBYs," said Westchester resident Lucy Han.
ATF sends National Response Team to investigate fireworks blast that injured 17 in South LA neighborhood
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is sending a National Response Team to investigate the fireworks blast that injured 17 people, including 10 law enforcement officers, when a bomb squad attempted to safely detonate illegal explosives Wednesday that were seized in a South Los Angeles neighborhood. Members of the ATF's National Response Team are flying in from all over the country.
Yikes! Is Sheriff Villanueva actually making sense about homelessness in Venice Beach?
The debate over homelessness in Venice Beach reminds me of the old advertising slogan for Certs: “It’s a breath mint. No, it’s a candy mint!” Some insist the explosion of people living on the street is a result of addiction and mental illness. Others blame the lack of affordable housing. Anyone capable of critical thinking, however, can see it’s actually all of those things.
Los Angeles Times
L.A. officials war with elected sheriff over threat to clear encampments from Venice Boardwalk by July 4
Liberal politicians, nonprofits, and the top homeless services agency in Los Angeles issued a joint statement Monday calling on L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to back off his threat to clear the Venice Beach boardwalk of homeless camps by July 4, urging him instead to allow “seasoned and knowledgeable agencies” to take the lead. Earlier this month, the Sheriff’s Department (LASD) began implementing an incremental plan to “compassionately reclaim and regulate public space” along the world-famous tourist attraction.
Who killed Ashli Babbitt?
On November 19, 2019, Nathaniel Pinnock was shot and killed by officers of the Los Angeles Police Department. Pinnock, 22, had robbed an auto parts store in Hollywood while armed with a machete and was walking from the scene when officers arrived and confronted him. Despite the presence of several officers, Pinnock refused orders to stop and drop the machete. Instead he ran to the drive-through lane of a nearby Chick-fil-A restaurant where he carjacked a Lexus and sped off.
Jack Dunphy/The Pipeline
Armed robbers held up news crew as it interviewed Oakland's chief of violence prevention
Two armed robbers held up a television news crew that was interviewing Oakland's director of violence prevention outside City Hall on Monday afternoon, just hours after the police chief warned of worsening crime amid cuts to the police budget. Oakland police reported that the two suspects approached the newscasters at 3:09 p.m. and tried to steal a camera. After a scuffle, a security officer pulled out a gun and ordered the suspects to leave.
San Francisco Chronicle
From broken windows to broken streets
Half a decade ago, I was honored to interview the late criminologist George Kelling for a magazine article I wrote about how New York City, starting in the early ’90s, snatched its subways back from two decades of ceaseless violent crime. Kelling told me something that didn’t make it into the article, but that has stuck with me over the past few years’ often-unproductive debates over public order: policing too often starts from a point of failure.
The American Mind
What’s striking about Biden’s Crime plan? It actually focuses on reducing crime
The issue of crime is frequently employed by politicians as an instrument of ideology. On the right, talk of law and order has often been a method to stoke racial and ethnic fears while remaining a step removed from racism. On the left, criminal justice reform has sometimes been narrowed to the issue of gun control or subsumed into a broader agenda of social justice activism.
Is shoplifting rising in San Francisco? Here's what the data says
On June 14, KGO television reporter Lyanne Melendez posted a video from a San Francisco Walgreens. The video showed a man shoving items into a garbage bag and biking out of the store without paying for them, as customers and a security guard looked on. The video received over 6 million views on Twitter alone and generated dozens of news articles. Even before it was posted, however, many outlets had reported on a perceived spike in store thefts, including an article in the New York Times titled “San Francisco’s Shoplifting Surge.”
San Francisco Chronicle
Hollywood Hills Horror: Los Angeles crime wave hits wealthy neighborhood in deadly shootout
Looks like the wealthy are getting the same treatment as folks in East L.A. and Watts - crime. With all their money, armed bodyguards, fancy and expensive security systems, the lack of police protection and the DA siding with criminals has brought crime to their doorstep. “A deadly shootout erupted in an exclusive neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills early Friday morning in what might have been an attempted robbery of a multi-million dollar home, according to multiple reports.
California Political Review
Editorial: Lawless Nation
Early this month a San Francisco police officer was dispatched to the city’s Chinatown neighborhood over a man making threats against Asians. She arrived to find a large and seemingly mentally ill and homeless man at the location. She got out of her car and approached the man while holding a less-lethal shotgun. Her apparent plan was to search the man for weapons, and he appeared to comply with her orders at first. Then he turned and attacked her.
Amazon and Google are being investigated for failing to remove fake product reviews
British regulators are investigating whether Amazon and Google have broken consumer protection law by not doing enough to protect shoppers from fake product reviews. The probe is the latest in a string of investigations piling up against tech giants around the world, as officials and policymakers scrutinize claims of anti-competitive behavior. The investigations could result in hefty fines and increase pressure on companies including Facebook and Apple to change the way they do business.
Amazon demands one more thing from some vendors: A piece of their company
Suppliers that want to land Amazon.com as a client for their goods and services can find that its business comes with a catch: the right for Amazon to buy big stakes in their companies at potentially steep discounts to market value. The technology-and-retail giant has struck at least a dozen deals with publicly traded companies in which it gets rights, called warrants, to buy the vendors’ stock in the future at what could be below-market prices, according to corporate filings and interviews with people involved with the deals.
Wall Street Journal
Newsom sues elections chief to get party preference on recall ballot
Gavin Newsom boasts a slew of advantages over the list of Republican challengers in California’s upcoming recall, including a mounting war chest and strong support from the state and country’s top Democrats. But thanks to a paperwork flub and a feud with his handpicked Secretary of State, Newsom won’t be listed as a Democrat on the ballot unless a judge steps in.
Courthouse News Service
Meet all 44 candidates to be Austin's next police chief
Earlier this month, the American-Statesman reported the names of 25 candidates who applied to be Austin's next police chief. The newspaper obtained those names through a public records request. Since then, 19 more candidates have emerged by submitting an application. Here's the complete list of all 44 candidates. We've placed asterisks (*) to denote newcomers whose names were not previously reported. The names are in alphabetical order.
Chicago’s summer shooting season has just begun as cops retire in record numbers
Help Wanted: Do you want to work nights, weekends, and holidays? Do you want to freeze your posterior off in the winter and roast alive in the summer? How about working 12-hour shifts for days and weeks on end? Are you interested? Wait, there’s more! Have you always wanted a job where your days off and vacations are canceled with little notice, leaving you holding the bag for airline and cruise tickets that can’t be refunded?
Jack Dunphy/PJ Media
California Democrats again seek to alter recall laws
Four years ago, California Democrats altered the state’s recall laws in part to slow down the process and try to aid a state senator facing a removal vote over his support for increasing the gas tax. Now, as Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom faces a recall of his own, they're trying to change the laws again. This time, though, Democrats want the option to speed things up to take advantage of what they see as favorable conditions for Newsom.
Portland, OR., leaders walk tightrope between calls to defund police, escalating violence
After a year of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the city of Portland, Oregon, is grappling with an increasingly disgruntled police force amid an uptick in violent crime and continued calls to defund law enforcement agencies. City leaders have scrambled to address both staffing shortages within the police department and reform demands by activists, walking a tightrope between those calling for a return to the status quo and others pushing for a demilitarized police department.
Crime and the 'root cause' the left won't say out loud
Whatever anyone thinks about Republicans, or conservatives, or anybody who ever said a kind word about Donald Trump, none of them is responsible for the chaos that has erupted in America’s biggest cities. The surge in crime we’ve been witnessing in New York (murders up 14 percent over last year during the first three months of 2021) and Chicago (homicides up 33 percent) and Los Angeles (homicides up nearly 36 percent) is evidence that, while progressives may know how to get elected, they don’t have a clue about how to govern.
Former California correctional officer sentenced to jail for sexual relationship with inmate, deputies say
A former correctional officer is returning to her old job for the wrong reasons. On Tuesday, a judge sentenced 27-year-old Tina Gonzalez to about seven months in Fresno County jail and two years of probation after she was charged with "sexual activity" with an inmate. Back in December of 2019, a different jail worker received a tip that a male inmate had a cell phone and was involved in a sexual relationship with Gonzalez.
Sex attacks on nine dental patients in Koreatown? Dentist pleads ‘not guilty’ to abusing victims as old as 73
A 50-year-old dentist charged with sexually abusing nine patients at his Koreatown office will be in court July 7 after pleading not guilty to more than a dozen criminal counts. Emad Fathy Moawad, who has dual citizenship in Egypt and the U.S., made his initial court appearance two weeks ago on nine counts of sexual battery by restraint, three counts of sexual penetration by use of force and one count of attempted sexual penetration by use of force.
A former Ventura County sheriff's deputy was sentenced Monday to jail for sexual misconduct with an inmate
Leonard Lopez, 50, was ordered to begin the jail time Aug. 11. He was also ordered to one year of probation, according to Ventura County Superior Court records. Lopez pleaded no contest in May to the misdemeanor offenses of engaging in a sexual act with an inmate and entering a cell occupied by an inmate of the opposite sex. He had worked for the Ventura County Sheriff's Office for 20 years and was working in the jail at the time.
Ventura County Star
Woman convicted of killing husband in Westminster
A woman was convicted Tuesday of conspiring with her boyfriend to kill her husband in Westminster. Olga Vasquez-Collazos, 44, was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy, but jurors, who deliberated for just a few hours, rejected a special circumstances allegation of murder for financial gain that would have mandated a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Co-defendant Roberto Rafael Saavedra Gallardo, 44, is charged with murder with a special circumstance allegation of murder for financial gain and will go on trial separately at a later date.
Corrections & Parole
Advocates for female inmates push back as transgender prisoner transfers ramp up in California
Advocates for incarcerated women are calling on California political and correctional leaders to halt and reverse the transfer of male-to-female transgender and nonbinary prisoners into the state's women's prisons. SB 132, which took effect Jan. 1, lets prisoners choose their gender identity for purposes of placement - and even bodily searches - regardless of sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy.
Just the News
Man convicted of 1995 West Sacramento murder granted parole
One of the men convicted of a 1995 West Sacramento murder was granted parole Tuesday. Kenneth Buffer, 59, now needs Gov. Gavin Newsom to approve or deny parole. Newsom has 120 days to make the decision. Buffer, along with Michael Andre Todd was convicted of the murder of James Williams in 1995, according to a statement from the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office. The DA’s Office stated that Buffer and Todd attacked Williams at a home in West Sacramento.
California moves to phase out its state-run youth prisons
California is phasing out its state-run youth prisons and shifting the responsibility to counties, 162 years after lawmakers created the first alternative to housing children as young as 12 alongside adults in San Quentin and Folsom state prisons. Advocates said the move reflects their belief that children who commit crimes can be reformed and are better served when held closer to their homes. But supporters and skeptics said there is plenty of uncertainty ahead as the three remaining state-run lockups stop admissions Thursday and close in 2023.
Inmate dies at NorCal prison; cellmate identified as suspect
The death of an inmate at High Desert State Prison in Lassan County is being investigated as a possible homicide, and the man’s cellmate was identified as a suspect, corrections officials said. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) said an inmate alerted prison staffers Monday at around 11:30 p.m. that his cellmate was unresponsive. Staffers began life-saving measures and transported the inmate to the prison’s treatment and triage area where he was pronounced dead.
Articles of Interest
Refusal to acquiesce to director's removal results in multimillion dollar damage award
A recent holding by the Second District Court of Appeal is a cautionary tale for directors who fail to acquiesce to a director's removal from the board.
Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs v. Macias, 63 Cal. App. 5th 1007 (2021). The case arose when the board of directors of Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) removed Amando Macias as its president and a director. The basis for Mr. Macias' removal was that he was no longer qualified to serve as a director.
The National Law Review
Law enforcement struggles with recruiting woes since George Floyd death
Since the death of George Floyd and the chaotic year of protests and riots that followed, law enforcement across the country has had a tough time recruiting new members to the force and retaining current officers. Mass protests, defunding police budgets, and increased threats to personal safety, especially during the pandemic, have contributed to low officer morale. According to the AP, some departments have experienced a 45% increase in retirements this year compared to the year before.
American Police Beat
Will voters’ decision on cash bail be defied?
California voters resoundingly backed the idea of cash bail last fall, when they rejected Proposition 25 by a 56-44 percent margin, more than a 2 million-vote majority relegating a state law passed early in 2019 to the trash bin. And yet…it now seems likely that money bail will play a far smaller role in the criminal justice systems of the state’s two biggest urban centers than it ever has, despite the decisive vote. That’s because the district attorneys of both Los Angeles and San Francisco counties supported Prop. 25 and the law it sought to uphold, the 2019 SB 10.
San Bernardino Sun
Head of the second-largest US public pension fund says active managers rarely added value
The hedge fund model has been under attack for decades, at least since the financial crisis, but assets under management continue to surpass records. Christopher Ailman oversees the nation’s second-largest public pension fund, CalSTRS, with $300 billion under management. Here he is, in conversation with Leslie Picker, on the high price of delivering alpha.