Lancaster DA Solves Murder Case from 1984; BLM Can't Force Jackie Lacey to Testify Against her Husband; Prosecutors Hate Decriminalizaing Hallucinogens and Other Stories: Monday Morning Memo
Man allowed mental health diversion after threatening to kill wife; Prosecutor calls Gascon's office a "mangerial dumpster fire;" Facebook to pay $725 million for privacy violations
January 9, 2023
Courts & Rulings
Barring registered sex offenders from juries passes constitutional muster, C.A. declares
The First District Court of Appeal has upheld the constitutionality of a statutory bar on registered sex offenders serving on juries. "[T]he statutory disparity at issue withstands rational basis scrutiny and there is no denial of equal protection," Justice Douglas P. Miller of Div. Two said in an opinion filed Wednesday. He noted that Art. VII, §8 of the California Constitution provides: "Laws shall be made to exclude persons convicted of bribery, perjury, forgery, malfeasance in office, or other high crimes from office or serving on juries."
State high court says being a 'cheerleader' on social media not enough to support gang conspiracy verdict
More than a decade ago, the rivalry between two San Diego street gangs broke out into a simmering street-level war that lasted nearly three years and included at least four murders and a half-dozen attempted murders. In May 2014 the District Attorney's Office charged nearly two dozen people in a sweeping conspiracy case alleging a broad agreement among the gang members to kill their rivals, which resulted in numerous convictions and lengthy prison sentences.
San Diego Union-Tribune
Threat to kill didn't justify denying mental health diversion
The Court of Appeal for this district on Friday held that a judge abused her discretion in denying a mental health diversion to a man who fired a gun into the air and uttered a threat to kill his girlfriend. Presiding Justice Maria E. Stratton of Div. Eight authored the opinion. That opinion is perplexing insofar as it quotes the trial judge, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Amy N. Carter, as making a finding, then proclaims she did not make that finding.
Another lame lawsuit filed by the Santa Ana police union against Chief Valentin has been dismissed
The Santa Ana Police Officers Association (SAPOA) agreed to dismiss the second lawsuit filed against Chief David Valentin. In exchange for withdrawing Chief David Valentin's Motion for Sanctions and waiving fees and costs, plaintiff attorney Corey Glave and the SAPOA have agreed to dismiss their complaint with prejudice against Chief David Valentin.
New Santa Ana
Harmless error doctrine preserves wife-slaying conviction
Div. Three of the Fourth District Court of Appeal has held that three evidentiary errors did not compel reversing the murder conviction of a California lawyer who strangled his ex-wife while they were on a Mediterranean cruise, tossed her body overboard, then feigned surprise that when he awoke, she wasn't in bed, and reported her missing.
Fired former San Diego prosecutor Marlea Dell'Anno nets almost $6 million from city for damages, attorney fees
Earlier this year, a jury awarded $3.9 million to former San Diego assistant city attorney Marlea Dell'Anno for being wrongfully fired. City Attorney Mara Elliott vowed to appeal, and the jury award kept growing, along with legal fees. By October, Dell'Anno attorney Joshua Gruenberg suggested the city resolve the case by paying a combined $5,875,000 for damages, lawyer fees and court costs by Nov. 30.
San Diego Union-Tribune
Police shining a spotlight on your car? It's not a stop, California Supreme Court rules
The California Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a police spotlight on a vehicle does not necessarily constitute detention under the Fourth Amendment. The court, in a 5-2 decision, held that "a reasonable person would distinguish between a spotlight and red and blue emergency lights in considering whether the person was free to leave or otherwise terminate the encounter," according to the ruling.
Ninth Circuit dismisses Twitter's free speech lawsuit against Ken Paxton
In a Tuesday press release, Attorney General Ken Paxton claimed legal victory over Twitter after a federal appeals court threw out the social media company's lawsuit against him. After President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter following the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, the Texas Office of the Attorney General issued a "civil investigative demand" (CID) for Twitter to reveal information on how it moderates content.
Occasional use of marijuana didn't justify drug-test order
Div. One of the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge abused her discretion in ordering that a noncustodial father of two dependent children submit to 10 random drug tests predicated on his admitted occasional smoking of marijuana. At a May 11, 2021 dispositional hearing, Judge Debra R. Archuleta told the father, Brandon S .: "[Y]ou can smoke pot, or you can be a dad. But it's really hard to do both."
Court upholds Bay Area high school's expulsion of student over racist messages and images
An Albany High School student went beyond the bounds of free speech when he created an online account with racist messages including images of nooses and lynching, and the school district was entitled to expel him, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. While the First Amendment protects speech, and even offensive speech, by public school students, the Supreme Court ruled in 1969 that it does not protect expression that is likely to disrupt classroom activities or interfere with the rights of other students "to be secure and to be let alone."
San Francisco Chronicle
Governor Newsom announces judicial appointments 12.23.22
Governor Gavin Newsom today announced his nomination of Judge Shama Hakim Mesiwala to serve as an Associate Justice of the Third District Court of Appeal. The Governor also announced his appointment of 15 Superior Court Judges, which include one in Alameda County; one in Contra Costa County; three in Los Angeles County; two in Orange County; four in San Bernardino County; one in San Diego County; two in San Francisco County; and one in San Mateo County.
Office of Governor Gavin Newsom News Release
A good government union?
The terms "government employee union" and "civil service protection" tend not to inspire confidence amongst the general public, especially those who have been to the DMV, had to deal with the forms in triplicate, or have a child in public school. The image most government union's project is that of a bloated righteous shrill lazy massive bag of money that got that way because it is able - by using that bag of money - to hire its own bosses.
LA prosecutor pens scathing exit letter to woke DA George Gascon: 'Managerial dumpster fire'
A veteran Los Angeles County prosecutor scolded his boss Thursday, saying his progressive reforms and management style have alienated his colleagues and turned the nation's largest district attorney's office into a "managerial dumpster fire." In a lengthy letter to District Attorney George Gascon and his top aides, prosecutor Mark Burnley aired a number of grievances on his last day with the office.
Santa Clara County DA refuses to reinstate former employee
An embattled Santa Clara County deputy district attorney should be back at work after the DA's decision to fire him last year was overturned. But his boss is putting up a fight. A Nov. 10 arbitration ruling between the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office and the Government Attorneys Association, the union representing Deputy District Attorney Daniel Chung, ordered the office to reinstate Chung by Dec. 9 - overturning DA Jeff Rosen's decision to terminate him.
San Jose Spotlight
San Diego quietly prosecuting high-ranking members of ultra-violent Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación
For the better part of a decade, federal prosecutions of Mexican drug cartel leaders carried out in San Diego have focused largely on the Sinaloa Cartel, and before that the Arellano Félix Organization, the two groups that have historically dominated the lucrative Tijuana-San Diego smuggling route. But last month, a federal judge sentenced two former high-ranking members of the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, part of an ongoing prosecution against at least 12 people charged with drug trafficking and money laundering crimes.
San Diego Union-Tribune
An L.A. school trainer was investigated for sex abuse. Accusers want to know how he kept working
When she entered the athletic training room six weeks into the school year, a Birmingham Community Charter High School cheerleader assumed the treatment for her sprained ankle would be the same as always. But instead of the usual icing, stretching and taping, the 17-year-old said a trainer whom students called "RT" began massaging her leg with oils. He started at her calf, then moved up to her thigh, she said.
Los Angeles Times
Mistakes taint murder case against Santa Ana homeless man, defense claims
On a warm August evening in 2021, 29-year-old Jesus Jimenez, holding a can of Bud Light, walked his bicycle along North Raitt Street in Santa Ana. A couple of steps behind him was a man in a black T-shirt, carrying what appeared to be a metal pole. They appeared to know each other, according to footage from a home security camera. Less than a minute later, the oft-homeless Jimenez was beaten by the man with the pole and left mortally wounded on the sidewalk, according to a mother and her adult son who witnessed the attack.
Orange County Register
Handwritten note leads to arrest 38 years later: prosecutors
A 25-year-old woman's disappearance remained unsolved since 1984 - until police took a closer look at the handwriting on a note found at her Pennsylvania home. The handwritten note led to the arrest of her estranged husband, 67-year-old Jere Bagenstose, closing the 38-year-old cold case, the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office said in a news release.
San Luis Obispo Tribune
Gunman who killed Riverside County deputy should have been jailed on 'three strikes,' sheriff says
A Riverside County sheriff's deputy was fatally shot Thursday afternoon during a traffic stop in Jurupa Valley, sparking a high-speed chase across multiple freeways that ended with deputies killing the gunman in a shootout. The shooter was a violent felon who should have been incarcerated under California's "three strikes" law after a recent conviction but was released on bail while his case was pending, Sheriff Chad Bianco said at a news conference Thursday night.
Los Angeles Times
Lacey's attorneys challenge BLM protesters' bid for second deposition
Attorneys for Black Lives Matter demonstrators who were confronted at gunpoint by the late husband of former Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey at the Laceys' Granada Hills home in 2020 are not entitled to a second deposition of the county's former top prosecutor, Lacey's lawyers argue in new court papers. The BLM lawyers maintain Lacey, on the direction of her attorney, wrongfully refused to answer some questions based on the spousal communication privilege during her first deposition.
City News Service
California turned a constitutional shield into a government sword
California citizens who sue the government for violating their rights had better watch out: under a bizarre state law called "Anti-SLAPP," they risk being sued by the government for doing so, on the theory that they're violating the government's own constitutional rights. You read that right: California courts have ruled that government itself has a right to free speech, and therefore that anyone who goes to court to challenge the legality of something the government does risks being punished for trespassing on its expressive freedom.
Orange County Register
California prosecutors - allowing hallucinogenic drugs can lead to more violent crime, California District Attorneys Association reports
Prosecutors in California strongly object to SB 58 (Senator Wiener), which seeks the wholesale decriminalization of many dangerous hallucinogenic drugs. "This proposal recklessly puts policy before science for numerous psychedelic drugs that have proven to be highly unpredictable and have even been connected to violent crimes," said Greg Totten, CEO of the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA).
Table is set to amend Prop 47, but will voters be allowed to decide?
Addressing shoplifting and serial thefts is a bipartisan cause in the state Legislature. But, if history is a guide, neither of the two recently introduced bills to amend Proposition 47 will make it to the November 2024 ballot for voters to decide. Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, introduced AB 23 last week. The bill "hopes to hold criminals more accountable by reducing the threshold for what constitutes grand theft and shoplifting," Muratsuchi said in a tweet.
Santa Ana forces small pay raise on police officers, eliminates union president's full-time position
The feud between Santa Ana city officials and reelected police union President Gerry Serrano escalated this week, with a divided City Council taking away his full-time position representing the association and forcing him to spend half his time doing police work. The council, in a 4-3 vote, also unilaterally imposed a one-year contract with a 3% pay raise on officers and eliminated the city's retiree health contribution to the Santa Ana Police Officers Association.
Orange County Register
Overcoming online holiday merchandise returns
Holiday shoppers and gift recipients can close out the holiday season with just one more daunting task - returning merchandise for replacement, exchange, or a refund. E-commerce purchases can be more of a challenge than a simple return to a local retail store, as e-commerce sites each have their own policies and practices. Consumers will find that the return period is usually extended over the holidays, but don't wait on returns. You may discover stricter return policies or additional fees charged this holiday season.
The Counterfeit Report
Meta to pay record $725 million to settle class action over Cambridge Analytica scandal
Meta Platforms, the parent of Facebook, has agreed to pay $725 million to settle claims by its users that the social-media behemoth illegally gave third parties, including political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, access to their private information. The proposed settlement is the largest recovery ever achieved in a data-privacy class action, and it is the most Facebook has ever paid to resolve a private class action, attorneys for the users said in a request for preliminary approval filed late Thursday in San Francisco federal court.
Courthouse News Service
Calif. sheriff's deputy fatally shot during traffic stop, suspect dead following pursuit
A Riverside County sheriff's deputy died Thursday afternoon after being shot in Jurupa Valley during a traffic stop, according to a law enforcement source. The gunman then led police on a high-speed chase on Interstate 15 that involved more than two dozen police vehicles and ended in a gun battle. A law enforcement source said the suspect died. The pickup truck driven by the gunman was rammed and pinned by a SWAT armored vehicle on the side of the 15. TV coverage showed multiple gunshot holes in the windshield.
Los Angeles Times
Five women covertly steal safe from grocery store
Police are searching for a group of women who pulled off a covert burglary in the city of Orange. It happened last Saturday as employees at Produce World were busy helping customers. Police call it a distraction burglary. In total, five women were involved. According to officials, they posed as shoppers and peppered two clerks with all kinds of questions, allowing one of the women to sneak in the back and look for cash.
Thieves steal hundreds of pounds of weed from Los Angeles dispensary (Video)
A store owner is left devastated after a group of thieves broke into a Silver Lake dispensary on Wednesday, getting away with hundreds of pounds of marijuana. The owner hopes security footage of the thieves will help someone recognize them and bring justice. "They seemed organized though, like they've done this before," Toby Stein, owner of the Silver Lake Caregivers Dispensary Group, told KTLA.
Los Angeles County/City
Garcetti's last order as mayor: Light up the Hollywood sign. Bass rescinded it
It may have been the shortest-lived executive directive in Los Angeles City Hall history. Mayor Eric Garcetti, on his last day in office, quietly signed an executive directive - a regal-sounding action that amounts to an order to city departments - for a program to light up the Hollywood sign. The prospect of lighting the sign has been contentious for decades, and Garcetti's order immediately caused an uproar in the hillside neighborhood near the sign.
Los Angeles Times
LA County Sheriff's Department mourns K9 Jack killed in Gardena standoff
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is mourning a department K-9 killed during a deadly standoff that went on for two days at a Gardena condo. The department shared of photo of K-9 Jack, who was shot and killed by a man holed up in the residence in the 1800 block of West 145th Street. The sheriff's department dog and SWAT deputies entered the residence Thursday night and the man inside opened fire on Jack, the sheriff's department said.
Howard Jarvis group, apartment owners sue to block L.A.'s new housing tax
A coalition of real estate and antitax groups is seeking to prevent the city of Los Angeles from implementing a recently passed tax on the sales of properties over $5 million. The proceeds of Measure ULA, which passed with nearly 58% of the vote in the November election, would go toward a range of efforts to prevent people from becoming homeless. In addition, tens of millions of dollars would go to the construction of new housing and tenant defense.
Los Angeles Times
LAPD Chief Moore asks to be reappointed for another term
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore is asking to keep his job for another term. Moore was appointed chief in 2018 by then-mayor Eric Garcetti, to replace retiring Chief Charlie Beck. Moore's first five-year term runs through next June. Police chiefs can only serve a maximum of two terms. On Monday, Moore submitted a request to the Police Board of Commissioners asking to be reappointed for a second term.
Nearly 300 file lawsuit over alleged abuse at LA County juvenile halls
Nearly 300 boys and girls allege in a new lawsuit they were sexually assaulted, harassed and abused by Los Angeles County probation and detention officers while being held in county juvenile facilities. The 359-page Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Dec. 20 alleges minor detainees at county juvenile camps and detention centers were abused during the time of their mandated detainment.
Men in some U.S. areas face more risk of firearm death than in wartime
A new study found that young men living in some U.S. cities are more at risk of firearm death than American military personnel who served in Afghanistan and Iraq during active periods of war. The study by researchers at Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania looked at the risk of being killed by a firearm in the most violent areas in four major U.S. cities: Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and Los Angeles.
Newsom grants 10 pardons, including for drug crimes
California Gov. Gavin Newsom granted 10 pardons Friday, including for several people convicted of drug crimes more than 20 years ago and someone facing the possibility of deportation. The California Constitution gives the governor authority to grant clemency. A commutation reduces the length of a prison sentence. A pardon would effectively do the same, but it also restores certain civil rights for people who have already completed their sentences.
Bail group shuts down after being sued for helping release serial offender who shot waiter
A California bail reform group backed by A-list celebrities has shut down its operation in Las Vegas after being sued for releasing a serial criminal who less than a week later tried to murder a waiter there. The Bail Project - whose supporters include Danny Glover, John Legend and Richard Branson - said it began restructuring its Sin City office in early December, 8 NewsNow reported.
New York Post
New California laws you need to know in 2023
The new year brings hundreds of new laws with major consequences to Californians. Here's a summary of seven new laws taking effect in 2023. Jaywalking is no longer a crime, well sort of: Under a new law, law enforcement can only ticket someone for jaywalking if their action created an "immediate danger of a collision." Ban on "pink tax" gender-based price discrimination: It is no longer legal to charge more for a product that is targeted to women.
Air Force speeds up plans to eliminate spy planes on the front line of America's fentanyl war
The US Air Force is moving up its timeline for scrapping a small fleet of surveillance planes used to help take fentanyl pills off the streets, telling National Guard pilots they must fly their aircraft to the boneyard by the end of the month so they can be stripped for parts, according to documents obtained by CNN. The new plan to eliminate the twin-engine RC-26 aircraft months earlier than anticipated marks an escalation in the service's quest to phase out the small yet heavily used fleet of planes despite its contributions to counter drug and border missions.
Tory Lanez found guilty in shooting of Megan Thee Stallion
Rapper Tory Lanez was found guilty Friday of shooting music superstar Megan Thee Stallion in both feet during an alcohol-fueled curbside confrontation in the predawn hours of July 12, 2020. After seven hours of deliberations, a Los Angeles jury convicted the "Luv" singer on all three counts, finding that he assaulted Megan with a semi-automatic firearm, causing great bodily injury, discharged the weapon with gross negligence and possessed the concealed, unregistered weapon inside his SUV.
California woman convicted of killing stepdad after finding nude photos of herself on his computer
A California woman was convicted Wednesday of killing her stepfather after she found nude photos of herself on his computer. A San Diego County jury found Jade Janks, 39, an interior designer, guilty of first-degree murder after a day of deliberations. Prosecutors said Janks drugged her stepfather, Tom Merriman, and strangled him on Dec. 31, 2020. Janks appeared stunned when the verdict was read as she looked at her defense attorney.
Articles of Interest
How California's chief justice changed the state - and why you might not have noticed
Tani Cantil-Sakauye has been one of the most consequential California figures of the last 12 years. But you might not know it because the outgoing chief justice is unlike most consequential California figures of the last 12 years. Communicating chiefly through legal opinions, Cantil-Sakauye never sought to be well-known for anything other than her work.
Final House report on Jan. 6 calls Trump's fraud allegations 'concocted nonsense'
House lawmakers investigating the insurrection released their final report Thursday, marking the end of a nearly 18-month probe that resulted in a historic referral for criminal prosecution of former President Donald Trump for his actions connected to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. Spread out over 845 pages, the massive report fills in the gaps of an executive summary that the nine-member bipartisan panel released earlier this week, announcing criminal referrals for Trump's alleged efforts to stop the peaceful transfer of power to his eventual successor, President Joe Biden.
Courthouse News Service
Emails reveal Sam Bankman-Fried's courtship of federal regulators
Before his mid-December arrest, cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried repeatedly claimed that he was a responsible business leader who sought more regulation of cryptocurrency and wanted his industry to be part of the mainstream financial system. But now that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Justice Department are prosecuting the 30-year-old for fraud, the extensive professional relationships he cultivated with current and former federal regulators risk embarrassment for all involved.
Los Angeles Times
Sikh men can serve in the Marine Corps without shaving their beards, court says
A federal court has ruled that the Marine Corps cannot deny entry to Sikhs because of their unshorn beards and hair. The Marine Corps told three Sikh men that they could serve only if they shaved before going through basic training. Most Sikh men don't cut their hair as a sign of their religious commitment. But to serve in the military satisfies another aspect of their faith.
New York's AG says challenge to hate speech law gets it wrong
New York's attorney general is defending a new hate speech law called confusing and unconstitutional by a legal blog and other online platforms. AG Letitia James filed opposition to the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction against the Online Hate Speech Law on Dec. 13 in federal court. Eugene Volokh (who operates the Volokh Conspiracy legal blog), Rumble Canada Inc., and Locals Technology. Inc., filed a complaint 12 days earlier.
Amazon packages burn in India, final stop in broken recycling system
Muzaffarnagar, a city about 80 miles north of New Delhi, is famous in India for two things: colonial-era freedom fighters who helped drive out the British and the production of jaggery, a cane sugar product boiled into goo at some 1,500 small sugar mills in the area. Less likely to feature in tourism guides is Muzaffarnagar's new status as the final destination for tons of supposedly recycled American plastic.
Wells Fargo got slammed with a $3.7-billion penalty. So why doesn't it sound sorry?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau left very little unsaid when it announced, a few days before Christmas, $3.7 billion in assessments against Wells Fargo Bank for more than a decade of legal violations harming its millions of customers. The total included a $1.7-billion civil penalty, the largest imposed by the CFPB in its 11-year history, and an additional $2 billion in redress and restitution for cheated customers.
Los Angeles Times
Only 2 states can fully cover their promised pensions. See how your state handles retirement benefits.
Most U.S. states promise their employees pensions upon retirement, but aren't saving enough money to be able to deliver on those promises. The fallout could threaten state budgets more broadly. In a pension plan, employees and employers both pay into a system which the employer invests in order to be able to make payouts when the employee retires. Employees' contributions are deducted from every paycheck.
South Florida pension fund sues FIGS for disappointing financial performance
A South Florida police officers and firefighters retirement trust alleges a health apparel company misled its stockholders in violation of federal securities laws. City of Hallandale Beach Police Officers' and Firefighters' Personnel Retirement Trust on behalf of itself and all others similarly situated filed a complaint Dec. 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Figs Inc., Tulco LLC and others alleging violation of the Securities Exchange Act and other claims.
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