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

Caruso and Buscaino Support Gascon Recall; Smollett Files Motion to Throw Out His Guilty Verdict; Politician's Facebook Page Not Considered Public Forum; More Laws to Prohibit Gun Ownership and Other Stories: Monday Morning Memo

CA State Bar disciplinary records stolen; City attorney wants landlord to live in his own gang-infested apartment building; Sheriff Villanueva says too short-staffed to protect cities under contract

 

March 10, 2022

Facebook

LA Board of Police Commissioners to name a station after Margaret York, real-life inspiration for the Cagney and Lacey TV series

Courts & Rulings

Judge Ryan grants standing to family of murder victim

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan, the court's specialist in resentencing, has recognized the standing of the kin of a murder victim to speak out, in a public session, against a proposed order vacating a death sentence and substituting a term of life imprisonment without possibility of parole, shunning a request by the office of District Attorney George Gascón that he issue such an order in chambers.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Santa Ana officials say police union president's lawsuit is an intimidation campaign

Santa Ana officials are arguing that police union president Gerry Serrano's lawsuit against the city is nothing more than an intimidation tactic designed to silence City Hall while he aims to spike his pension. City Hall's return-fire comes in the form of a Feb. 22 anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) motion which requests three claims be stricken from Serrano's six-count lawsuit, in which he alleges spying and interference by police and city officials into his union duties.

Voice of OC

260,000 confidential attorney discipline records published after data breach, State Bar says

A shadowy website on Saturday removed 260,000 confidential attorney discipline records it had published after a massive data breach at the State Bar of California. An anonymous administrator for judyrecords.com said in a note on the website that the records, as well as others it intended to publish, had been deleted in response to the State Bar's disclosure of the breach and a subsequent Southern California News Group article.

Orange County Register

Conspiracy suit against County, former D.A. lacked merit

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday affirmed a summary judgment in favor of the County of San Bernardino, former District Attorney Michael Ramos and others in an action in which a former assistant assessor claimed he was retaliated against through prosecutorial persecution based on an exercise of his First Amendment rights.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Appeals court: Politician's Facebook feed not a public forum

A federal appeals court has rejected a lawsuit that accused county commissioner and Cowboys for Trump cofounder Couy Griffin of free speech violations for blocking a local resident from discussions on the commissioner's personal Facebook page, in a judgement published Friday. The 10th Circuit Court in Denver sided with Griffin in the dispute over his social media account and whether it functioned as a public forum concerning county affairs, with implied guarantees to public access and free speech.

AP

Supreme Court reimposes death penalty for Boston bomber

The Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Friday, reversing a federal appeals court decision contending that he was denied due process when the judge in his trial excluded certain evidence and testimony that the defense team believes could have lessened his sentence.

National Review

Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor issues general order extending certain Juvenile deadlines

Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor today announced a new General Order to extend certain Juvenile deadlines through March 25, 2022. The General Order is issued under the authority granted by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye pursuant to Government Code section 68115. "While the winter surge has subsided in LA County with a decrease in Omicron cases, test positivity and hospitalizations, the Court continues to need extensions for certain Juvenile Dependency matters and to address potential operational stresses caused by pandemic-related inventories," Presiding Judge Taylor said.

L.A. Court News Release

Massachusetts judge can be prosecuted for blocking immigration arrest, court rules

A federal appeals court on Monday declined to dismiss an "unprecedented" criminal case filed during the Trump administration against a Massachusetts judge accused of impeding a federal immigration arrest of a defendant in her courtroom. Lawyers for Newton District Court Judge Shelley Joseph had argued that she enjoyed immunity as a sitting judge for actions she took within her official capacity and that the prosecution was unconstitutional.

Reuters

California's auto-retirement program denied Supreme Court review

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case asking whether California's automatic retirement program for workers without employer-sponsored plans can coexist alongside the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the justices announced Monday. The lawsuit by Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a California policy group that supports lower taxes, asked the court to strike down the CalSavers Retirement Savings Program as preempted by the federal ERISA statute.

Bloomberg Law

SFPD sanctioned for withholding evidence in Dacari Spiers SFPD beating case

A judge today imposed sanctions on the city after the San Francisco Police Department did not disclose three interviews with officers the day after the October 2019 beating of civilian Dacari Spiers - including an interview with Officer Terrance Stangel, who is currently being criminally charged for that beating. U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley today ruled that the city and the police withheld evidence in a manner "tantamount to bad faith."

Mission Local

Seventh Circuit: No immunity for Chicago cop who lied to a judge before accidentally raiding the right apartment

There's a good reason we have strict standards for warrant requests - ones that require plenty of probable cause and factual statements. Because if we didn't have that, people would literally die when officers raid the wrong house or point guns at the wrong person. Innocent people would end up in jail and people's rights would be routinely violated when subjected to searches backed by nothing but boilerplate and meaningless assertions about "training and expertise."

TechDirt

Los Angeles District Attorney

LA mayoral candidate Rick Caruso endorses recall of DA George Gascón

Los Angeles mayoral candidate and real estate developer Rick Caruso Monday endorsed the effort to recall LA County District Attorney George Gascón, joining a chorus of prosecutors, law enforcement officials and victims' advocates who have expressed concern over what they deem Gascón's soft-on-crime policies.

City News Service

How a single case challenged the LA prosecutor's reform agenda: 'Nobody is happy'

The Los Angeles district attorney's handling of a sexual assault case and decision to backtrack on part of his reform agenda has caused political division and media outrage, in a case that signals the intensifying opposition to progressive prosecutors across the US. George Gascón, who leads the largest local prosecutor's office in the nation, had banned the practice of charging youth as adults at the start of his term in 2020.

The Guardian

George Gascón wouldn't compromise, until he did. Now, no one is happy

Since taking over as Los Angeles County's district attorney, George Gascón had refused to compromise on sweeping changes he said were needed to remake an office he believed was prioritizing convictions and lengthy prison sentences over justice. A rough few weeks has changed that. Gascón has begun wavering in the face of incessant attacks from critics, a mounting recall effort and a growing perception he's becoming politically isolated.

Los Angeles Times

ADDA Vice President Eric Siddall appeared on KABC's John Phillips Show March 1, 2022 to address Caruso's decision to back the recall. (Audio)

LA ADDA

Family of 41-year-old father-of-three who was shot 'execution-style' in 1992 blast woke DA Gascon for 'fighting for the murderer' by pushing for killer's death sentence to be commuted

Los Angeles' woke District Attorney George Gascon is seeking to commute the death penalty sentence of a career criminal who kidnapped, robbed and shot 'execution-style' a father-of-three in 1992. Scott Forrest Collins, now 51, kidnapped 41-year-old Fred Rose and held him at gunpoint as he left his work office in Palmdale for a lunch break three decades ago.

Daily Mail

Prosecutors

16 charged in alleged Southern California hospice care fraud

Sixteen people have been charged with defrauding the California Medi-Cal and federal Medicare systems of more than $4.2 million by enrolling people who were not terminally ill into hospice care. California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Thursday that 14 of those charged in San Bernardino County Superior Court have been arrested and two remain at large. The allegations involve two locally based companies and span the period from 2015 to 2021.

AP

Ex-deputy charged with deadly shooting in Willowbrook (Video)

Prosecutors have charged a former LA county sheriff's deputy with manslaughter for a deadly on-duty shooting in Willowbrook three years ago. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on March 3, 2022.

NBC4

City attorney wants landlord to "live" in North Hollywood apartment allegedly infested by gangs

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who filed a nuisance abate suit against an owner of a North Hollywood apartment complex because the property - according to the suit - is controlled by a local gang. The 116-unit complex, located on between the 13100 and 13200 block of Vanowen Street, is owned by Swaranjit "Mike" Nijjar, who according to the city owns and manages approximately 20 residential properties in Los Angeles.

San Fernando Sun

California man faces charges for urinating in Southwest Airlines cabin during Dallas-Burbank flight

A California man is in federal custody after allegedly urinating outside the restroom during a Southwest Airlines flight last week between Dallas and Burbank, forcing the crew to divert the plane to Albuquerque. Samson Hardridge, 33, of Lancaster, Calif. appeared in federal court Wednesday on a charge of interference with flight crew members and attendants, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Mexico said Thursday.

Dallas Morning News

Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office: Whittier man charged with setting fire that damaged half-dozen homes

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced that a Whittier man was charged today with setting an arson fire which destroyed two homes and severely damaged four others. "This fire could have had fatal consequences and even though it didn't, there was tremendous loss for several families due to the unnecessary actions of one individual," said District Attorney Gascón. "My office will offer services to all of the victims affected by this blaze."

Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Press Release

Former N.Y.P.D. union head charged in fraud case

The former president of a powerful New York City Police union has been charged with defrauding the union of hundreds of thousands of dollars by filing false and inflated expense reports for bills that were purportedly for union business but in fact were not, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday. The former union president, Edward D. Mullins, the combative longtime leader of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, sought reimbursement for hundreds of high-end meals, clothing, jewelry, home appliances and a relative's college tuition, the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan said in a court filing.

New York Times

Policy/Legal

New gun legislation expands list of convictions that ban criminal gun ownership in California

On Friday, several San Diego leaders including Mayor Gloria, Assemblymember Brian Maienschein and City Attorney Mara Elliot announced a new piece of gun legislation. They say the legislation prevents individuals convicted of specified crimes from possessing firearms in California. Currently, state law prohibits a person convicted of a felony from possessing a firearm. It also prohibits individuals convicted of specified misdemeanors from possessing a firearm for 10 years after their conviction.

CBS8 San Diego

Changes in law may let prisoner out on parole

Dealio Lockhart - who was convicted and sentenced to state prison for more than two decades after pleading guilty to the crash that killed two Valencia teenagers in February 2016 - could be released on parole imminently. His release is the outcome of recent changes in the law, through Proposition 57 (The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016). The law now requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to change how individuals convicted of a nonviolent felony are considered for early parole.

The Signal

Why crime is at the center of California elections this year

A little-seen attack ad roasting state Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta as an "anticop politician" may be just a blip in the social media universe, but it serves as a flashing neon sign warning Democrats what to expect in California's election season. "How can someone who cares more about criminals' rights than victims' rights, and is routinely at odds with law enforcement, serve as our state's top cop?" the ad says. "It's time for a change."

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County/City

George Gascón factor in L.A. mayor's race: Caruso, Buscaino back the recall

His name won't be on the ballot in the June primary, but Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascon still looms large over the LA mayoral race. In a contest that has been largely dominated by discussion of homelessness and crime, the embattled district attorney has become a foil for two prominent candidates to voice their frustration with the direction of the city. On Monday, real estate developer Rick Caruso joined City Councilman Joe Buscaino in backing the second attempt to recall the county's top prosecutor in as many years.

Granthshala News

LA City Attorney Mike Feuer accused of perjury by former utility lawyer

A former Los Angeles Department of Water and Power attorney has accused LA City Attorney Mike Feuer of perjury, as well as aiding and abetting an "extortion scheme" designed to cover up a lawyer's double-dealing. Paul Paradis, an attorney who worked for the DWP as an outside counsel, is at the center of a sprawling scandal involving the water agency and the city attorney's office that has already lead to four guilty pleas.

Courthouse News Service

Sheriff: LASD may need to return money to contract cities

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, should it not be able to fulfill its contracts with cities around the county, may be forced to return money to the municipalities it works with, according to Sheriff Alex Villanueva. In a phone call with The Signal on Thursday, Villanueva said the department may not be able to fulfill its contracts with cities, such as Santa Clarita, due to staff shortages and sheriff's stations being required to be on patrol for a certain number of minutes.

The Signal

Kobe Bryant's widow gave up many crash claims, LA County says

The widow of former NBA standout Kobe Bryant waived all but one of her civil rights claims over personal photographs taken and shared by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and firefighters of the helicopter crash site where her husband and daughter were killed, the county told a federal court.

Bloomberg Law

LAPD wants to name station after Margaret York, groundbreaking cop and first female deputy chief

The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners on Tuesday, March 1, unanimously recommended naming one of the Police Department's stations after the first female deputy chief, a woman who had already been a groundbreaking cop and helped inspire a TV show. Adding her name to the department's Northeast Station was "one way we can memorialize the legacy of a trailblazer," Cmdr. Ruby Flores told the commission while briefly discussing the legacy of Margaret Ann "Peggy" York, part of the department's first all-female homicide detective team that served as inspiration for the 1980s television series "Cagney & Lacey."

Torrance Daily Breeze

New limits on 'pretextual stops' by LAPD officers approved, riling police union

Under a new policy adopted Tuesday, Los Angeles police can no longer use minor violations as an excuse to investigate motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians for more serious crimes unless they first have information that justifies the intrusion. And when officers do make these stops, called "pretextual stops," they now must record themselves on their body-worn cameras stating their reasons for suspecting a more serious crime has occurred, according to the new rules.

Los Angeles Times

More than 100 illegally-owned guns seized, 13 people arrested in LA County

A five-day sweep to remove guns from people legally barred from possessing them in Los Angeles County resulted in 13 arrests and the seizure of 114 firearms, the California Department of Justice announced Tuesday. The seizures included assault weapons, "ghost guns," handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Also seized were more than 49,000 rounds of ammunition, and 87 high-capacity magazines, authorities said.

City News Service

Alleged gang violence at North Hollywood apartment complex prompts city lawsuit

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer Thursday urged Angelenos to report unsafe and violent conditions in their neighborhood while speaking about the latest nuisance abatement suit filed by his office, this one against the owners of a North Hollywood apartment complex where a local gang allegedly roams freely.

City News Service

LA County OKs $185,000 settlement in lawsuit over Sheriff's Department records dispute

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $185,000 settlement on Tuesday, March 1, with a New York law school that sued the sheriff's department alleging a failure to adequately respond to a request for public records. The board's action specifically ordered that the settlement funds come directly from the sheriff's department's budget.

City News Service

Consumer

AliExpress added, Amazon dropped from U.S. govt's notorious counterfeit market blacklist

Alibaba's AliExpress joins the U.S. "Notorious Market List." The U.S. Trade Representative's blacklist identifies 42 online markets and 35 physical markets reported to engage in counterfeiting or piracy - the world's largest criminal enterprise. After two years on the list, Amazon was dropped without explanation, yet retains the distinction of being the first and only U.S. company on the list.

The Counterfeit Report

Counterfeiting ring hit with $3.6 million in penalties, barred from downtown Fashion District

Six members of a counterfeiting ring face $3.6 million in civil penalties and a 10-year injunction barring them from downtown L.A.'s Fashion District after selling thousands of knockoff luxury items, the Los Angeles city attorney's office announced Tuesday. The subjects of the injunction, who had gang ties, also offered to sell Xanax and marijuana, according to the judgment.

Los Angeles Times

New Chinese hacking tool found, spurring U.S. warning to allies

Security researchers with U.S. cybersecurity firm Symantec said they have discovered a "highly sophisticated" Chinese hacking tool that has been able to escape public attention for more than a decade. The discovery was shared with the U.S. government in recent months, who have shared the information with foreign partners, said a U.S. official. Symantec, a division of chipmaker Broadcom, published its research about the tool, which it calls Daxin, on Monday.

Reuters

Crime/Public Safety

2 men arrested after Simi Valley police detectives uncover SoCal theft ring targeting Home Depot stores

Detectives uncovered an alleged organized retail theft ring behind dozens of heists from Home Depot stores throughout Southern California, Simi Valley police announced Thursday. Two people were arrested Tuesday in connection with a series of thefts at Home Depot stores across Southern California - 29-year-old Luis Delasancha of Anaheim and 45-year-old Prudencio Avelar-Lemus of Santa Ana, the alleged fence, both face charges of conspiracy, organized retail theft, and grand theft.

CBS LA

Beverly Hills police impound car they believe was involved in Feb. 18 vehicle takeover

A car involved in a "large scale sideshow" in Beverly Hills on Feb. 18 was seized and impounded Friday night, the Beverly Hills Police Department announced. The so-called vehicle takeover at Canon Drive and Lomitas Avenue already resulted in "several arrests and vehicle impounds," but the BHPD said in a news release they "will continue to investigate this case and seek criminal charges for the crimes that occurred in Beverly Hills last weekend."

KTLA

Former TSA officer arrested on federal criminal complaint alleging he attempted to smuggle methamphetamine through LAX

A former Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer was arrested today on a federal criminal complaint alleging he smuggled what he believed was methamphetamine through Los Angeles International Airport in exchange for a total of $8,000 in cash. Michael Williams, 39, of Hawthorne, is charged with one count of attempting to distribute methamphetamine. He is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

Department of Justice Press Release

California/National

Gascón, Boudin hang over California attorney general race

What do the June recall election of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and the ongoing effort to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón have to do with California's state attorney general race? A lot, according to attorney general candidate and Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, who on Tuesday secured a key endorsement from powerful law enforcement groups.

CalMatters

Bail reform group bailed out repeat offender with recent elder and child sex abuse cases

A suspect bailed out of the Bexar County Jail despite two recent charges of child sex abuse and elder abuse. It's the latest case uncovered by News 4 Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila's investigation into bail reform. Bexar County has now started posting information on suspects bailed out by Texas Organizing Project, or TOP, the bail reform group Jaie reported on in his first story.

News4 San Antonio

Chicago police union members fume after arbitrator rules they must get vaccine

Members of Chicago's local Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 are less than happy after its President John Catanzara announced that the union's monthslong legal fight with City Hall over Covid-19 vaccination rules did not end in their favor. The city's police unions, which operate under the FOP Lodge 7 umbrella, and Catanzara particularly, have opposed the city's vaccine mandate for municipal employees since Mayor Lori Lightfoot first announced them last August.

Courthouse News Service

Rise in violent crime could slow resentencing momentum

Growing up in a "slum" in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in the 1970s, Marvin Mayfield's first contact with the justice system came as a teenager in 1979, after he trashed the security guard's office at the high school he attended. He pled guilty to a felony burglary charge and received three years of probation as a first-time offender. A few years later, Mayfield was arrested again and charged with another burglary, one he says he didn't commit.

Law360

Minneapolis patrol officers down by more than half

The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has fewer than 270 officers who can patrol the streets. "There are 268 officers in 911 patrol right now," a source told Alpha News on Saturday, noting that this number doesn't include officers who are in field training. "Those 268 are spread out between the five precincts and then further spread out between the three shifts," the source added. "We continue to lose people weekly."

Alpha News

How a man's death in Beverly Hills exposed a sprawling Hollywood drug delivery business

Ray Mascolo was spending a Sunday evening at home in Beverly Hills with his Chihuahua puppy, Versace, when his yearlong stretch of sobriety came to an end. "What's good babe," Mascolo, 37, texted a woman listed in his iPhone as "Mimi Snowie." She replied with a menu offering acid ($40), ecstasy ($20), mushrooms ($120) and half a dozen other drugs. They cut a deal: a gram of cocaine and two oxycodone pills for $160, plus a $30 delivery fee.

Los Angeles Times

Surge of public defenders heading to federal bench drives wedge at Senate

Casting a shadow over President Joe Biden's historic Supreme Court nominee, tense discourse broke out at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday regarding the nomination of a former public defender to the Third Circuit. Republicans at the hearing seized on Arianna Freeman's 12-year career as a representative for indigent clients, saying such a history would jeopardize the ability to serve as an impartial judge.

Courthouse News Service

Convictions/Sentences/Pleas

Man pleads guilty to fatal shooting of Jacqueline Avant, wife of 'Godfather of Black Music'

A man pleaded guilty to murder Thursday in the death of Jacqueline Avant, the wife of a legendary Los Angeles music executive, officials said. Aariel Maynor, 30, was accused of killing Avant, 81, and shooting at her security guard during a robbery at her Beverly Hills home on Dec. 1, the office of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. Maynor pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder, attempted murder and two counts of burglary.

NBC News

Two Los Angeles men sentenced to federal prison for collecting ransom payments for brutal kidnap-for-ransom conspiracy

Two Los Angeles men were sentenced today to federal prison terms for collecting ransom payments for a criminal conspiracy in which multiple victims were kidnapped near the United States-Mexico border. Edgar Adrian Hernandez Lemus, 23, of the Central-Alameda neighborhood in Los Angeles, was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison by United States District Judge John F. Walter. At a separate hearing today, Judge Walter sentenced Junior Almendarez Martinez, 23, of Watts, to 24 months' imprisonment.

Department of Justice Press Release

Swiping Pelosi's podium will put Capitol rioter behind bars

A Florida man infamously pictured grinning and waving to the camera as he toted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's podium around the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection was sentenced on Friday to 75 days in prison. U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton called his decision to make Adam Johnson serve prison time a difficult one but said it "has to be done." "I think a message just has to be sent," the judge appointed by President George W. Bush said.

Courthouse News Service

3 former tribal officials sentenced in embezzlement case

Three former officials of an American Indian tribe that runs a Northern California casino have each been sentenced to more than three years in prison for embezzling nearly $5 million from the tribe and using the money to fund luxurious lifestyles, federal prosecutors said. John Crosby, 56, his mother Ines Crosby, 76, and her sister, Leslie Lohse, 67, stole money over five years from the Paskenta Tribe of Nomlaki Indians, which owns the Rolling Hills Casino north of Sacramento, prosecutors said.

AP

South Los Angeles man pleads guilty to arson for setting Hancock Park pizzeria ablaze during May 2020 civil disturbances

A South Los Angeles man pleaded today to a federal criminal charge for deliberately setting Hancock Park's Pizzeria Mozza restaurant on fire during the civil disturbances that struck the city in May 2020. Mario Ernesto Alvarado, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of arson of a commercial building. According to his plea agreement, during the civil disturbances that occurred in Los Angeles on May 30, 2020, Alvarado walked into a commercial building on Melrose Avenue that housed Pizzeria Mozza and its related business, Mozza2Go.

Department of Justice Press Release

Beverly Hills private vaults company to plead guilty to conspiracy charge

A Beverly Hills business that rented safety deposit boxes to customers who were not required to use their real identities will plead guilty to a federal money laundering charge, admitting in federal court that it sought drug traffickers and other criminals as customers who often kept stacks of illegally obtained cash in their personal vaults, according to court papers obtained by City News Service early Thursday.

MyNewsLA

Corrections & Parole

19-year-old murder convict killed by 2 other inmates in state prison, officials say

A 19-year-old man sentenced last year to life in prison for murder was killed by two other inmates at a Northern California state prison last week, corrections officials said. Employees at High Desert State Prison in Susanville saw inmates Christopher Dolan and Michael Ellison attack Michael Hastey with manufactured weapons Friday morning in an exercise yard, officials alleged.

AP

California's death row inmates fan out across prison system

Scores of California's condemned prison inmates are being removed from their cells on San Quentin's death row and sent to eight high-security lockups in the state's sprawling penal system. The transfers follow an executive order by Gov. Gavin Newsom halting executions in California. The governor also has vowed to remodel San Quentin's death row, where executions have been conducted for generations.

Capitol Weekly

Pensions

California lawmakers push pension funds to divest of Russian assets

A bipartisan group of California lawmakers will try to force the nation's two largest public pension funds to divest financial holdings connected to Russian assets in the wake of the Ukraine invasion. State Senate Majority Leader Mike McGuire said Monday he planned to introduce a bill that would require the California Public Employees' Retirement System and California State Teachers' Retirement System to disentangle themselves from investments tied to Russia.

Politico

Articles of Interest

Courts struggle with handling juror history of sexual abuse

When a juror in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial spoke out about his own sexual abuse in a media interview, there was a swift and resounding reaction that sexual abuse victims cannot be impartial jurors in sex crime trials and that this juror should have been excluded during jury selection. But experts told Law360 that the process of screening jurors for any personal experience of abuse is causing problems, for jurors, for attorneys and for courts, and needs to be reformed.

Law360

Jussie Smollett files motion to throw out his guilty verdict for staging hate crime

Jussie Smollett's lawyers asked a Chicago judge Friday to toss out his conviction for staging a hate crime - or grant him a new trial - claiming that his constitutional rights were violated by the court during the jury selection process. Lawyers for the former "Empire" actor argued that the court made a litany of errors during the trial, which they claimed was "a lightning rod for the political divisions plaguing the country," according to a filing obtained by The Post.

New York Post

Giuliani's legal problems deepen as 'false electors' scheme investigated

Legal pressures are mounting for Donald Trump's ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani as the US justice department and the House panel investigating the January 6 assault on Congress are both investigating a "false electors" scheme which Giuliani reportedly helped lead to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 election.

The Guardian

Jan. 6 committee: Evidence Trump engaged in 'criminal conspiracy,' may have broken laws

rollinghillscasino.com

Three former tribal officials sentenced for embezzling more than $5 million from the Paskenta Band of the Nomlaki Indians at the Rolling Hills Casino north of Sacramento

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack said Wednesday it has evidence that former President Donald Trump and some of his associates may have illegally tried to obstruct Congress' count of electoral votes and "engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States" in their efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

ABC News

Federal judge defends dismissal of Sarah Palin's libel case, says he didn't realize jurors could see smartphone alerts

The judge presiding over Sarah Palin's defamation case against The New York Times said he was unfamiliar with push notifications and didn't realize news of his decision to toss out the lawsuit would reach jurors deliberating simultaneously. Despite that, he wrote that it didn't really matter. U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff said in a written decision released Tuesday that he was "frank to confess" that he was unfamiliar with the term "push notifications" and did not "fully appreciate the potential for jurors to be involuntarily informed" about his plans.

AP

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