Suspect in Follow-Home Armed Robberies Had Been Repeatedly Arrested and Released; County Sups Direct Unvaxxed Workers Get Disciplined; CA Has $600 million in Unclaimed Recycle Deposits; and Other Stories Monday Morning Memo
No more masks in Superior Court; Ed Buck's defense bid fails; Limits Lifted on Drone Usage by Federal Court; Former LA city attorney pleads guilty in DWP billing case
April 17, 2022
Los Angeles District Attorney
Why so many of DA Gascón's prosecutors want him recalled
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office is in turmoil. Prosecutors opposed to DA George Gascón's reform agenda and unhappy with his management practices overwhelmingly support his removal - just 16 months after he assumed office. Gascón is seeking to make the criminal justice system less punitive. He says his policies are designed to end mass incarceration and racial disparities, and that he wants to turn the system "upside down."
Progressive Prosecutors: the unintended consequences of legal leniency (Podcast)
In this episode of True Crime Daily The Sidebar Podcast: Eric Siddall and Brooke Jenkins join host Joshua Ritter to discuss progressive prosecutors, bail reform, and the role of district attorneys in curbing crime. They also address reducing recidivism while keeping the public safe.
True Crime Daily
This murder only happened because George Gascon is our district attorney
On Jan. 8, 41-year-old Alejandro Garcia was working the drive-through at Taco Bell in South Los Angeles. Mr. Garcia was shot to death by Jonathan Madden after Madden tried to pay with a counterfeit $20 bill. Mr. Garcia is survived by his wife and three children. The tragedy of Mr. Garcia's murder is compounded by the fact that it was entirely preventable. If we had an elected district attorney who enforced the law, Madden would have been in custody.
Santa Monica Observer
Controversial Los Angeles DA Gascón vows '100%' fight against recall
Embattled Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón is vowing to "100%" fight a recall campaign that he blames on "unscrupulous politicians" who are scaring voters about rising violent crime rates and hard-line "ideological" prosecutors in his own office who have balked at his progressive policies.
'Justice' the forgotten word in district attorney wars
GOP senators who are attacking President Joe Biden's Supreme Court pick seem weirdly unaware of how our justice system works. By zeroing in on Ketanji Brown Jackson's former role as a criminal-defense attorney, they act as if it's wrong to provide a defense to people accused of a crime - and that if the government levels a charge, it must be right. Hey, if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear - or something like that.
Courts & Rulings
Judge erred in acting based on prospect bill would pass
The Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday that a judge erred in issuing a preliminary injunction barring Ventura County from releasing to news agencies autopsy reports on 11 victims of a mass shooting, with that action based entirely on the prospect that a pending bill will be enacted exempting such reports from a disclosure statute.
LA Superior Court to lift mask mandate Monday
Face masks will no longer be required in Los Angeles Superior Court buildings beginning Monday. The move aligns the courts with the county and state's COVID-19 face-covering guidelines, which only recommend masks in indoor settings, but do not mandate them. "For two years, the court has followed the guidance and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the (county Department of Public Health), while balancing public health and safe access to justice in the nation's largest trial court," Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor said in a statement.
City News Service
LA County Superior Court judge publicly admonished
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has been publicly admonished for writing two letters to Long Beach's police chief in 2018, including one on behalf of two of the agency's detectives after a murder case was dismissed, the state's Commission on Judicial Performance announced Tuesday.
Judge rules Sheriff Villanueva must testify under oath about alleged deputy gangs within the LASD
Sheriff Alex Villanueva will have to appear before the Office of Inspector General and answer questions about alleged deputy gangs within the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department while under oath and with his testimony transcribed by a court reporter, a judge ruled Monday. "He should testify under oath and I'm ordering him to do so," Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Malcolm Mackey said in denying a motion by Villanueva's attorney, Linda C. Miller Savitt, to quash the subpoena.
City News Service
California corporate diversity law, which mandated diversification of corporate boards, ruled unconstitutional
A Los Angeles judge ruled Friday that California's landmark law mandating that corporations diversify their boards with members from certain racial, ethnic or LGBT groups is unconstitutional. The brief ruling granted summary judgment to Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group that sought a permanent injunction against the measure that was signed into law last year. The ruling didn't explain the judge's reasoning.
CBS News Los Angeles
LADWP entitled to costs in county landfill case
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announced Friday that it is entitled to recover court-related costs stemming from its lawsuit with Inyo County regarding three landfills that the county wants to acquire through eminent domain. However, Inyo County Chief Administrative Officer Leslie Chapman in an email on Friday stated that "the bottom line is that the landlord/tenant relationship with LADWP has failed and is completely unacceptable."
LA judge rules Ed Buck sentencing to go forward
A federal judge has denied a defense bid to have Ed Buck's convictions for providing the drugs that killed two men in his West Hollywood apartment overturned on the grounds that the government used evidence of the defendant's sexual fetishes to unfairly prejudice the jury, according to court papers obtained Tuesday.
City News Service
Ninth Circuit queries state high court about duty to warn in medical products cases
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared Friday that it needs help from the California Supreme Court in deciding whether a woman who underwent psychiatric treatment entailing electrical shocks to the brain, and allegedly suffered harms, has a viable claim against the maker of the device that was used in the treatments for failing to provide adequate warnings as to dangers.
Retiree may have designation as 'Deputy District Attorney'
A retired prosecutor is entitled to the label of a "Deputy District Attorney" on the June 7 ballot, under a ruling yesterday by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in one of three writ denials in election cases. Judge James Chalfant, in addition to rebuffing Deputy District Attorney Melissa Hammond's challenge to the ballot designation of retiree Georgia Huerta, turned down Huerta's bid to have her designation changed to "Deputy District Attorney, County of Los Angeles."
Judge rejects Trump's demand he step back from suit against Hillary Clinton
A federal judge - nominated to the bench by President Bill Clinton in 1996 - on Wednesday emphatically rejected Donald Trump's demand that he recuse from Trump's sprawling lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, declaring that there's no legitimate basis to demand that he step back from the case. In a five-page order, Judge Donald Middlebrooks emphasized that he has never met either of the Clintons and was confirmed by unanimous consent in the Senate, requiring backing from both parties.
Senate confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson to US Supreme Court in historic moment
The Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court on Thursday, shattering a historic barrier by securing her place as the first Black female justice and giving President Joe Biden a bipartisan endorsement for his promised effort to diversify the high court. Cheers rang out in the Senate chamber as Jackson, a 51 year-old appeals court judge with nine years experience on the federal bench, was confirmed 53-47, mostly along party lines but with three Republican votes.
Jury sides with newspaper in police officer defamation case
A Maine jury has sided with a media company in a lawsuit over newspaper stories about sex abuse allegations involving a former police captain. The case stemmed from articles that were published in the Biddeford-Saco-Old Orchard Beach Courier seven years ago. Retired Biddeford police captain Norman Gaudette and his wife, who sued in 2015, sought damages for claims that included defamation.
Conservative justices seem again poised to reverse California courts on arbitration issue
Wednesday's argument in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana clarified several things. For one thing, it is pretty clear that this case will not be decided unanimously. For another, it is almost as clear that the majority will vote to reverse the decision of the California Court of Appeal, as it has reversed so many other decisions of the California courts in recent decades that reject the policy favoring arbitration that the Supreme Court discerns in the Federal Arbitration Act.
Texas law restricting drone use upended as unconstitutional
A federal court has ruled a Texas law considerably limiting the use of drones to be unconstitutional, particularly articles restricting images collected by journalists using UAVs in their reporting. In his ruling, District Judge Robert Pitman of the Western District of Texas in Austin declared elements of the contested law violated constitutional rights, particularly those covered by the First Amendment.
Dad arrested over bad case of diaper rash prevails at high court
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 Monday in favor of a Brooklyn man whom police tackled and handcuffed after a relative mistook his infant daughter's diaper rash for sexual abuse. "The question of whether a criminal defendant was wrongly charged does not logically depend on whether the prosecutor or court explained why the prosecution was dismissed," Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the majority.
Courthouse News Service
Supreme Court won't take up free-speech challenges to mandatory bar dues
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to revisit its 30-year-old precedent upholding state requirements that lawyers join state bar associations and pay dues, rejecting challenges by lawyers in Texas and Oklahoma. The lawyers had urged the Supreme Court to take up their separate cases and use them to extend the court's 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, which said states cannot require public workers who opt out of joining unions to pay them fees, to mandatory bar association membership.
Ninth Circuit to decide en banc if man who feloniously imperiled child can be deported
Active judges of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have voted to rehear en banc a case in which the majority of a three-judge panel declared last year that a non-citizen who was convicted in California of felony child endangerment, by driving while intoxicated with his six-year-old daughter in the car, cannot be deported. A rehearing was granted on Friday. Oral argument before an en banc panel was scheduled for the week of June 21 in Pasadena, with the date and time to be pinpointed later.
Suspect in L.A. follow-home robberies arrested and released repeatedly
An 18-year-old man suspected in a series of violent follow-home armed robberies was repeatedly arrested and released back onto the streets of Los Angeles, where he continued to terrorize people, Los Angeles police said Tuesday. Matthew Adams was one of three men believed to be responsible for armed robberies targeting people leaving nice restaurants and clubs around Sunset Boulevard, Melrose Avenue and the Hollywood Hills, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Los Angeles Patch
Former Inglewood police officers won't be charged in 2016 killing of couple (Video)
Prosecutors confirmed Wednesday that the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office decided it could not bring criminal charges against five former Inglewood Police Department officers - who shot to death a man and woman initially found asleep or unconscious in a parked car. The DA's decision, issued more than 5 years after the February 21, 2016 killings of Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin said, "we have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers' use of deadly force was unlawful."
Alleged tourist burglar in Oak Park facing felony charges: VCDA
Chilean national Alexis Provoste Aranguiz was in court Tuesday facing felony charges for allegedly burglarizing an Oak Park home. Aranguiz is facing felony conspiracy and first-degree residential burglary charges, as well as a special allegation that the burglary was a violent crime, Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko announced. Aranguiz, 43, was the burglar beaten and captured by an Oak Park homeowner who got home during the burglary Friday night, according to a press release from Nasarenko's office.
Tory Lanez violated restraining orders for Megan Thee Stallion, prosecutors say
A judge ordered that rapper Tory Lanez be remanded into custody Tuesday after prosecutors said he violated a restraining order obtained by his former girlfriend Megan Thee Stallion. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said in a pretrial hearing that Lanez, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, violated two types of orders filed in his case. One is a "discovery protective order," and the other is a temporary criminal restraining order.
US Justice Department unveils charges against Russian oligarch for sanctions violations
The US Justice Department is charging Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev with sanctions violations, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Wednesday, the first criminal charges against an oligarch since Russia invaded Ukraine. "As the indictment charges, the Treasury Department previously identified Malofeyev as one of the main sources of financing for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea, and for providing material support for the so-called Donetsk People's Republic," Garland said.
Sacramento County DA Schubert says tools for prosecuting guns crimes are being taken away
Sunday's gang-related shooting on K Street in Sacramento has reignited conversations about gun violence, illegal weapons, a rise in violent crime and prison release policies. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, a former Republican who is running for attorney general in California as an independent, sat down in the studio with KCRA 3's Ty Steele and Brandi Cummings to talk about the topics.
Mass shooting suspect served less time due to California law
A suspect arrested in connection with last weekend's mass shooting outside bars in Sacramento served less than half his 10-year sentence because of voter-approved changes to state law that lessened the punishment for his felony convictions and provided a chance for earlier release. Smiley Allen Martin was freed in February after serving time for punching a girlfriend, dragging her from her home by her hair and whipping her with a belt, according to court and prison records.
Sacramento shooting suspect got out of prison early despite district attorney's opposition
The man arrested for possessing a machine gun at the scene of Sunday's mass shooting in Sacramento, California, was allowed to leave state prison last year despite opposition from the county's district attorney to him winning early release. Smiley Martin, 27, was convicted in 2018 and was serving a 10-year sentence for domestic violence and assault when he was released.
Los Angeles Times
California has toughest U.S. gun laws. After Sacramento shooting, what else can lawmakers do?
They've banned high-capacity magazines and cracked down on assault weapons. They've made it so Californians have to pass a background check to purchase a gun and ammunition. They've prohibited buyers from having ammo or "ghost" gun parts shipped directly to their homes. When it comes to gun laws, California's legislators have passed some of the most stringent regulations in the country, checking off nearly every box on national gun control advocates' wishlist.
Kevin James, Marina Torres and Faisal Gill on Proposition 47
In 2014, California voters approved Proposition 47, which reduced certain low-level property and drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. The proposition requires the allocation of savings from reduced incarceration into rehabilitation and crime prevention programs. However, the measure has come under scrutiny from some legislators and law enforcement officials, who claim the measure may be contributing to increases in property crime.
Southern California News Group
Los Angeles County/City
DWP scandal: What did the LA city attorney know?
LA City Attorney Mike Feuer was scheduled to participate in a December 2017 meeting that's been revealed as a key moment in the extortion prosecution of one of Feuer's former top deputies, as part of a widening federal investigation into allegations of corruption at the Department of Water and Power amid the utility's excessive billing debacle, according to records obtained by NBC4's I-Team.
Suspect in shooting of Lady Gaga's dog walker mistakenly released from jail
One of three men charged with the shooting and robbery of Lady Gaga's dog walker was released from jail in what several law enforcement sources told NBCLA was an administrative mistake. James Howard Jackson, 18, who was accused in court papers of firing the shots during the theft of Gaga's dogs in February 2021, was freed Wednesday after a court appearance, and booking records showed it was because the charges against him were dismissed.
LA County supervisors empower personnel director to discipline employees over vaccine mandate
Despite allegations that it was "targeted overreach," Los Angeles County Supervisors on Tuesday, April 5, empowered the county's personnel director to fire employees who do not comply with the county's COVID-19 vaccination policy or directives. The action - 4-1, with Supervisor Kathryn Barger dissenting - was the follow-up to an earlier board action.
Los Angeles Daily News
We're going to Hollywood': Villanueva's plan to clean up streets
The Los Angeles County Sheriff has plans to make Hollywood feel safer despite it not being LASD's patrol area. Sheriff Alex Villanueva says he wants to have his deputies help clean up the streets in Hollywood. "Yes we're going to Hollywood," said Villanueva at the 5K event Saturday. "We're also shifting our homeless effort now, but we're gonna focus on Hollywood." LA County's top lawman compared the initiative to his efforts along the Venice boardwalk last summer - which he plans to do again in 2022.
L.A. juvenile hall fails inspection weeks after another facility shutdown
Barry J. Nidorf juvenile hall failed an inspection by state regulators Thursday, just weeks after approximately 140 youths were hastily transferred there due to the shutdown of Los Angeles County's other troubled juvenile facility. Once again, inspectors from the Board of State and Community Corrections found that youths were being held in isolation longer than necessary, according to Tracie Cone, a spokeswoman for the board.
Los Angeles Times
Help or handcuff? LAPD officers often delay providing medical aid after shooting people
By the time a group of Los Angeles police officers cautiously approached Rosendo Olivio Jr. with guns drawn, more than six minutes had passed since they'd shot him. Officers had confronted Olivio on a porch as the 34-year-old, seemingly in the grips of a mental crisis, held up a small knife and claimed to have doused the building behind him in gasoline, according to video from cameras worn by the officers. When he moved forward, imploring the officers to shoot, they did.
Los Angeles Times
LA County to consider permanent closure of juvenile probation camp in Santa Clarita
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger will propose a motion to permanently close a juvenile probation camp in Santa Clarita. Camp Scudder operated as a juvenile detention facility for more than 60 years, but closed in 2019. Barger says the facility is incompatible with the county's criminal justice vision of rehabilitation. She says the county must reduce the number of sites that detain youth in environments that aren't focused on rehabilitation.
These SoCal cities are among California's least safe: report
Santa Monica recently ranked among the least safe cities in California, according to a report by Safewise. Safewise analyzed FBI crime statistics to make its list, along with reports from other states using data from the numbers of violent and property crimes reported by cities and towns to the FBI. That was then computed with the rates of crime per 1000 residents in each municipal area. According to the report, Santa Monica's rate is 6 violent crimes and 42.6 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
Autopsy reveals new details about model Christy Giles' final hours
The coroner has released new details of the moments before Christy Giles and Hilda Marcela Cabrales-Arzola died four months after they went out to a party but never came home. In November 2021, Giles, a 24-year-old model, and Cabrales-Arzola, a 26-year-old architectural designer, attended a Los Angeles party where they met three men now identified as the suspects, according to reports by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner's office obtained by PEOPLE.
Man with stab wounds arrested on suspicion of trying to rape child at Long Beach Denny's
A man with stab wounds was arrested on suspicion of trying to rape a girl at a Denny's in Long Beach Sunday, authorities said. Officers responded to the businesses in the 600 block of Long Beach Boulevard around 1:39 a.m. after getting a call about a sexual assault involving a minor, the Long Beach Police Department said. A Good Samaritan had noticed what was happening with the girl and sought help.
Adidas store robbed on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, latest in chain of robberies, fires and harassments in the area
The Adidas store on the Third Street Promenade was robbed at around 2:30 am this morning by an individual who smashed the storefront window with a cinderblock, used a fire extinguisher to hide his tracks after he took merchandise, and then exited through the rear door of the building. Six police squad cars responded within 5 minutes of an initial call made by John Alle, a nearby property and business owner, who initially saw and heard the suspects inside the Adidas building.
Santa Monica Observer
Google issues warning for billions of Chrome users
Chrome users, you need to act. Google has confirmed another highly dangerous hack of Chrome, its third in 10 days. Here is everything you need to know to stay safe. Google released the news on its official blog, classifying the new hack (CVE-2022-1232) as posing a 'High' threat level. It also has a wide impact, with Chrome on Windows, Mac and Linux all affected. Little is currently known about the new exploit, with Google saying that "Access to bug details and links may be kept restricted until a majority of users are updated with a fix."
Millions of families can now research their history with 1950 US census records
Close to 7 million records from the 1950 US census have been made public. The digital records were released on Friday and are available to the public free of charge at a dedicated website, allowing viewers to research their family histories and backgrounds. They include 6.57 million population schedules - many of which include multiple families and households - and 33,360 Indian Reservation schedules for Native Americans living on reservations.
California has $600M in unclaimed can, bottle deposits
California is sitting on a $600 million pile of unclaimed nickel and dime deposits on recyclable cans and bottles and now wants to give some of that back to consumers. To get the state's nearly 40 million residents to recycle more and send more deposits back to them, Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration unveiled a plan Friday to temporarily double to a dime the refund for a 12-ounce (355 milliliters) bottle or can.
Don't play the 'audit lottery.' These are the top reasons your tax return may be flagged by the IRS
If you're among the millions of Americans scrambling to meet the tax deadline, it's critical to avoid errors that may flag your return or even trigger an IRS audit. The agency has processed more than 78.8 million returns as of March 25, the IRS reported Friday, including nearly 58 million refunds. But with the tax agency still wading through a sizable backlog of returns, it's better to reduce contact by filing yours correctly and avoiding any mistakes that may invite scrutiny, experts say.
Defendants on home confinement now get 2 days a week to roam freely, and some are getting in trouble
A little-known provision of the SAFE-T Act - the criminal justice reform law Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed last year - now requires that criminal defendants who are on home confinement while awaiting trial must be given a minimum of two days a week to move freely, without being actively monitored. During that time, they're supposed to be working or looking for a job, undergoing treatment for mental illness or drug addiction, attending school or buying groceries, according to the law.
New York is debating bringing back cash bail
New York policymakers are facing pressure to roll back the changes they made to the state's cash bail system three years ago. Ayesha Rascoe talks with Jon Campbell of WNYC about it. AYESHA RASCOE, HOST: "In 2019, New York became the latest state to diminish the use of cash bail in the court system. But now policymakers are under pressure to roll back those reforms as New York City deals with a spike in crime, even though there's no data supporting a clear link between the two."
With Alaska struggling to hire, state legislators consider revived pension plans for public employees
With the state of Alaska struggling to hire and retain employees amid the "Great Resignation," state legislators are more earnestly considering new pension programs for state employees. Lawmakers abolished pensions for new employees in 2006 amid a multibillion-dollar shortfall in the pension fund, replacing them with a 401(k)-style retirement system.
Anchorage Daily News
Report: 101 police officers shot in the line of duty, a 43% increase from 2021
The National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has released a shocking new report: 101 police officers have been shot in the line of duty as of April 1, including 17 fatally, so far in 2022. This statistic, FOX13.com reported, is a 43% increase compared to officers shot during the same time frame last year. Moreover, it's a 63% increase compared to the numbers in 2020. "We are in the midst of a real crisis," National FOP president Patrick Yoes said.
California con man again convicted of plotting to kill judge, FBI agents and prosecutors
A 66-year-old con man from Laguna Beach accused of plotting from behind bars to have a federal judge put in a wood chipper and several other law enforcement officials killed was convicted once again on Friday after his previous conviction was overturned on appeal.
Southern California News Group
Former LA city attorney's office lawyer pleads guilty in DWP billing case (Video)
A former senior lawyer in the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal charge connected to lawsuits involving the 2014 Department of Water and Power billing system debacle. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.
C.A. affirms $2.2 million award against ex-lawyer/stalker
The First District Court of Appeal has affirmed a $2.2 million judgment against a disbarred lawyer who shot arrows from a crossbow into the law office building of his former girlfriend, declaring inapplicable the usual statutory requirement in a stalking case that the victim had demanded that the conduct cease. Div. Four filed the opinion on March 3. An order dated last Friday, but publicly posted yesterday, certifies for publication the statement of facts and a brief portion of the discussion.
Articles of Interest
The implosion of Eric Garcetti has been a joy to watch
This past week, CNN and Politico reported that Democratic senators are privately raising concerns about Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's nomination to serve as ambassador to India. Given the 50-50 split in the Senate, Garcetti's nomination is clearly in danger, which would be a political blow to both Garcetti and President Joe Biden.
Southern California News Group
Trevor Bauer trying to 'turn the narrative around,' but suffers setback in court
Two attorneys for Trevor Bauer walked into a courtroom here Monday hoping to win access to the phone records of the woman who accused the baseball pitcher last year of choking and hitting her. It didn't work. A Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the woman instead, telling Bauer's attorneys that they failed to get past the procedural hurdle necessary for it. "The time has run for that," Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman said.
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