Those Guilty of Assault Can Sue Their Victims; Teen Linked to Three Murders Gets 7-Year Sentence; Rand Says County Can Release 60% of its Jailed Mentally Ill and Other Stories: Monday Morning Memo
Gascon to stop Tweeting; CA Legislature Seeks to Ban Employees Confronting Shoplifters; CA also wants to release Death Row Inmates; Newsom wants to change the US Constitution to restrict gun access
June 14, 2023
George Gascon--Gascón's office fails in lawyer-disqualification bid
The Office of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón failed yesterday to persuade a judge to bar a pro bono attorney for victims from further connection with a habeas corpus proceeding. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli determined at a hearing that Deputy District Attorney Shelan Y. Joseph, a "special advisor" to Gascón, made an inadequate showing that attorney Kathleen Cady of the Glendale firm of Dordulian Law Group, should be disqualified based on having reviewed, as a law clerk in the District Attorney's Office in 1989, cases in which the prosecution had utilized testimony of jailhouse informants.
'Deadly consequences' of Los Angeles DA Gascon's 'soft-on-crime' approach felt after murder suspect released
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Shea Sanna joined "Sunday Night in America" host Trey Gowdy to discuss the "deadly consequences" of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon's "soft-on-crime" approach to criminal justice. Gowdy highlighted the case of Stefan Sutherland, an attempted murder suspect who was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department in November 2020.
ADDA makes inquiry about Chief of Staff Joseph Iniguez
Below is a letter sent Tuesday by John Rees, executive director of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys to Tim Pescatello, senior manager of the Los Angeles County's Employee Relations Division. The letter sets forth an inquiry concerning Joseph Iniguez, District Attorney George Gascón's controversial chief of staff. Iniguez ran for district attorney in 2020, then pulled out of the race, endorsing Gascón.
LA County District Attorney to stop posting on Twitter
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office will stop posting content on Twitter a "rise in unchecked vitriol targeting marginalized communities" as well as a handful of other reasons, including misinformation and a lack of oversight on the social media platform. "While we respect the principles of the First Amendment, we also recognize that the comments regularly posted on our Twitter page have violated not only our own standards of conduct but have had the potential to harm members of our community," the office tweeted.
Courts, Rulings & Lawsuits
Former deputy who survived beating in Victorville stunned at attacker's acquittal
A former San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputy says she's angry that a jury acquitted a man charged with her attempted murder, for a video-recorded attack in 2019 in Victorville in which she was beaten and her gun was taken during a fight. "If he's found not guilty, then what happened to me?," ex-deputy Meagan McCarthy told NBC4 Monday. "This is just how I feel - if a video proof of a crime occurring is not enough to change a narrative that people hear, then what will be enough?"
Pretrial diversion cannot be requested after trial starts
The Court of Appeal got it right in holding that a defendant acted too late in making a request for pretrial diversion based on mental illness after the jury turned in its verdict, the California Supreme Court held yesterday, in a 5-2 decision. Justice Carol Corrigan wrote for the majority in declaring that Cory Juan Braden Jr.'s conviction for punching a sheriff's deputy will stand. Justice Kelli Evans dissented and was joined by Justice Goodwin H. Liu.
Appeals court says people convicted of nonviolent crimes can own guns
The U.S. government cannot ban people convicted of non-violent crimes from possessing guns, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday. The 11-4 ruling from the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest defeat for gun control laws in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year expanding gun rights nationwide. The decision stems from a 2020 lawsuit by a Pennsylvania man, Bryan Range, who was barred under federal law from possessing a gun after pleading guilty to welfare fraud.
Public officials can't maintain lawsuits for whistle-blowing retaliation
An elected public official cannot state a claim under Labor Code §1102.5 for retaliation based on whistleblowing, Div. One of the Court of Appeal for this district has held, declaring that an anti-SLAPP motion should have been granted in its entirety in favor of the mayor of Inglewood and all four members of the City Council as to causes of action brought by the city treasurer pursuant to that statute.
Punitive damages claim against El Monte motel dropped in officer's death
Relatives of one of two El Monte police officers who was fatally shot by a convicted felon in that city in 2022 have dropped their punitive damages claim against the motel where the tragedy occurred. Officers Joseph Santana and Michael Paredes responded to a report of a stabbing on June 14 at the Siesta Inn, where Justin Flores was staying with his wife. The officers rescued the victim, but were subsequently shot to death by Flores.
City News Service
Man's assault, battery convictions don't bar suing victims
A man who pled guilty to the assault and battery of a man and his mother during a Halloween night confrontation is not precluded from suing those victims for attacking him, the Third District Court of Appeal held yesterday, reversing a judgment of dismissal that followed the sustaining of demurrers without leave to amend. The plaintiff is Matthew Davies, a self-described "entrepreneur and real estate investor."
Supreme Court ruling could chill labor strikes
The U.S. Supreme Court has delivered the latest in a series of rulings undercutting organized labor, with some legal experts predicting that the decision will make unions that engage in strikes more vulnerable to lawsuits while others see a more modest impact. An 8-1 ruling on Thursday authored by conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett made it easier for companies to sue over strikes that cause certain instances of property damage.
C.A. affirms $500,000 award against Cochran firm
A fee-sharing agreement is not invalidated by virtue of a law firm's client not having assented to the arrangement where the agreement was entered into before the attorney who was to receive a share went off on her own, the Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday in an opinion that affirms a $500,000 award against the Cochran Firm. Justice Audra Mori of Div. Four authored the unpublished opinion which upholds a judgment by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael P. Linfield.
LAPD officer's alleged killer stands trial again after conviction in 1983 case was tossed
A little more than four decades have passed since Paul Verna's final day as a police officer. The 35-year-old motorcycle cop thought he was making a routine traffic stop on June 2, 1983, prosecutors said. But he had pulled over a vehicle occupied by four people who'd committed a string of armed robberies in the San Fernando Valley in recent weeks.
Los Angeles Times
San Fernando police officer Jeffrey King charged with stealing money from man during arrest
A San Fernando police officer has been charged with stealing money from a man during an arrest nearly a year ago, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced Thursday. Jeffrey King, 37, was charged Tuesday with one felony count each of second-degree robbery and extortion, along with a misdemeanor count of petty theft, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Socialite accused of killing 2 boys while driving intoxicated in Westlake Village has trial delayed
The wealthy socialite accused of killing two young brothers while driving intoxicated nearly three years ago had her trial delayed on Thursday, leaving the victims' mother "crushed" that the judge would not set a start date. Rebecca Grossman shielded her face as she left the courtroom. The 59-year-old wife of Dr. Peter Grossman, the director of the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills, is accused of killing 8-year-old Jacob Iskander and 11-year-old Mark Iskander as they walked through a crosswalk with their mother.
Former USC football player charged with raping 2 university students
A former University of Southern California football player was arrested on Wednesday and charged with one felony count of forcible sexual penetration and three felony counts of forcible rape, according to police. In a press release obtained by PEOPLE, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced that Joshua Fred James Jackson Jr. had been charged with raping two women from the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Crime against the vulnerable a priority for region's top federal prosecutor
As the top federal prosecutor for the Central District of California - which includes Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties - U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada says his overriding goal is making an impact in the lives of the most vulnerable. That includes children, the elderly, immigrants and other groups that seem powerless against criminals of all sorts - from perpetrators of child sexual exploitation to operators of fraud and extortion schemes, Estrada told City News Service.
California teen linked to three murders gets just 7 years, sheriff blames woke DA
A California teen linked to three murder cases - including the brutal road-rage slaying of a newlywed - was sentenced to just seven years in prison after a radically woke DA declined to try him as an adult. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office in a Facebook post ripped local head prosecutor Pamela Price for rejecting its call to slap Sergio Morales-Jacquez, now 18, with a stiffer penalty.
New York Post
Founder, ex-executive of edgy sexual wellness company OneTaste charged with forced labor conspiracy
Two former executives of a company known for offering "orgasmic meditation" sessions have been charged with using sex, psychological abuse and economic exploitation to coerce work from people while taking over their lives, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. The case follows years of scrutiny and a recent Netflix documentary on the business, known as OneTaste. Ex-sales chief Rachel Cherwitz was arrested in northern California and was due in court there Wednesday, while founder and ex-CEO Nicole Daedone remained at large.
Bill to stop employees confronting shoplifters passed by California Senate
Lawmakers in California are hoping to push through controversial legislation that would ban retail staff from stopping thieves stealing from their stores. Senate Bill 553, which was submitted by State Senator Dave Cortese, has been passed by the State Senate and will now progress to policy committees in the State Assembly. Cortese hopes the proposed law will prevent workplace violence and protect staff from being forced by their employers to step-in during robberies.
Supreme Court rules Alabama's congressional maps violate Voting Rights Act
The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Alabama's congressional maps, redrawn after the 2020 census, violate Section 2 of the landmark Voting Rights Act by diluting the influence of the state's Black voters. The 5-4 decision, which effectively strikes down Alabama's GOP-drawn election map as illegal, came as a surprise to most court watchers after a series of rulings in recent years sharply rolled back protections against race discrimination under the law.
Attorneys in Danny Masterson rape case sanctioned for giving discovery to Scientology
Two of Danny Masterson's former attorneys were hit with financial sanctions Wednesday, after a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled they improperly shared information about the actor's victims with the Church of Scientology, which has long been accused of harassing and stalking the women.
Los Angeles Times
Mental health diversion has been touted as a vehicle by which incarcerated LA County inmates can be released from jail and supervised out of custody. The LA County Board of Supervisors cites a 2020 Rand Report that concluded that 60 percent of the thousands of mentally ill inmates now housed in County jails can be safely released through diversion. This, the Supervisors and anti-jail advocates claim, will permit the closure of Men's Central Jail.
Joseph P. Charney/Medium
California's digital privacy battle: It's police vs. civil libertarians, with an abortion twist
California is considering banning the use of "reverse search warrants," which compel tech companies to disclose the identities of individuals based on the location of their phone and internet search history. Abortion activists call it vital. On March 1, 2019, 38-year-old Adbadalla Thabet arrived at a Bank of America in the Paramount neighborhood of Los Angeles to deposit cash from a string of gas stations he helped his family manage.
Thousands are living in RVs on Los Angeles' streets. Leaders want to shrink the number, but the solution is elusive
Early one recent Friday morning, sanitation workers, homeless-outreach workers and LAPD officers arrived on a little street in the west of Los Angeles. Jasmine Avenue is lined with low-rise apartment blocks, an imposing Catholic Church, a school and a handful of dilapidated recreational vehicles. That morning on Jasmine Avenue, RV residents were offered $500 gift cards and a motel room.
District Attorneys sound off on death-row inmates early release bill
A California Senate Bill has passed the Senate Public Safety Committee, that could allow for the early release of death row inmates, or life without parole inmates. SB-94, if passed into law, could have their cases reviewed and potentially resentenced if they committed their crime before June 5th, 1990, and spent at least 20 years of their sentence in prison. Advocates for the bill want this passed to give those prisoners' cases a second review.
Supreme Court's conservative majority to decide direction of law on race, elections and religious freedom this month
As the Supreme Court races to issue all outstanding opinions by a self-imposed early July deadline, there is little doubt that the conservative majority is prepared to continue the right-ward trajectory on areas concerning affirmative action, election law and LGBTQ rights. The real question is just how far and how fast the 6-3 majority wants to go. As is the case every term, there have already been some unanimous opinions.
Born to run: LA County Judge Craig Mitchell's Skid Row Running Club is changing lives
Discipline and commitment is at the heart of long distance running as well as recovery from drugs and alcohol and LA County Judge Craig Mitchell is changing lives down at Skid Row each and every day. For Judge Mitchell, one cannot be defined by one horrendous act as he applies empathy and second chances for those in his world renowned running club that has become a model of self-help and getting back on your feet and moving forward in this marathon called life.
Los Angeles City/County
Homeless encampment dubbed 'Chatsworth Skid Row' leaves residents frustrated with county and city
There are growing concerns over a homeless encampment near a Metrolink station in Chatsworth that's reportedly gotten so bad, someone put up a sign calling it the "Chatsworth Skid Row." The station is located at 10040 Old Depot Plaza Rd. and people say it's been there for years. All around it, there are tents, trash and now - controversy. "I love this sign because to me, this really is the Skid Row of Chatsworth. It's just horrible," said resident Jill Mather.
California is shutting down LA County's juvenile halls, but this unit is exempt
Another of Los Angeles County's juvenile facilities could soon end up in the cross hairs of state regulators if a legislative rider attached to Gov. Gavin Newsom's revised state budget is approved by the Legislature. The legislation would grant the Board of State and Community Corrections the power to shut down juvenile camps and Secure Youth Treatment Facilities, a type of juvenile detention facility that holds more serious offenders returned from state to county custody since the realignment of California's Division of Juvenile Justice in 2020.
Pasadena Star News
Enlarged heart, cocaine factors in death of man tased by LA police
A Washington, D.C. teacher who was shot with a stun gun multiple times by Los Angeles police following a traffic collision in Venice Jan. 3 died from the effects of an enlarged heart and cocaine use, according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner. The results came from a Jan. 11 autopsy on 31-year-old Keenan Anderson and additional tests that were certified Thursday.
City News Service
Black, gay doctor sues LA County, USC, UCLA for discrimination
A Black, gay orthopedic surgeon is suing Los Angeles County, USC-Keck and their health-related entities as well as UCLA Health, alleging she was subjected to racial and disability discrimination and that one supervisor carried a gun while on duty. Dr. Melani Cargle's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges race and disability discrimination, retaliation, failure to engage in the interactive process and defamation.
More firefighters needed amid more medical calls: LAFD report (Video)
The city of Los Angeles needs more firefighters and paramedics amid an increase in medical calls, a new report found. Eric Leonard reports June 6, 2023.
LA moves forward with plan to create an Office of Unarmed Response
Los Angeles took the first steps toward creating an Office of Unarmed Response with the approval of a motion Tuesday by the City Council. Considered the beginning of an effort to develop alternative responses to some emergency calls, the motion instructs some city departments to create a framework of what the Office of Unarmed Response will look like. That framework is based on scope of work, funding, staffing and determining primary objectives.
Inside the $2 TRILLION counterfeit economy: As Nordstrom Rack faces lawsuit for selling 'knock-off' Patagonia clothing experts say fake products are becoming too difficult to spot
The counterfeit goods market has exploded into a $2 trillion economy worldwide, as experts warn it is increasingly difficult for consumers to know the difference between real products and dupes. Nordstrom Rack has this week been at the center of a legal dispute after it was accused of selling knock-off clothing from designer Patagonia. Images submitted in the lawsuit show sweatshirts with Patagonia labels stitched in - along with the retailer's standard assurance they are made from 'organic cotton.'
Casino holdup crew arrested in murder of guard in North Hollywood
Detectives have arrested four men in connection with the murder of a security guard who was shot to death during a botched robbery of an underground casino in North Hollywood. Two of the men were charged with murder for allegedly shooting to death guard Anthony Rivas with assault rifles, authorities said. Matthew S. Riley, 29, and Rudy J. Madrid, 26, were expected to make an initial appearance in LA Superior Court in Van Nuys Wednesday afternoon.
SoFi Stadium employee accused of hurting girl while flipping mom's hot dog cart
A worker at SoFi Stadium is accused of hurting a 12-year-old girl when he flipped her mom's hot dog cart while the woman was using the restroom. Marlene Morales was watching the cart with her siblings at a concert outside the stadium Saturday when several witnesses say the employee, identified by the stadium as a third-party vendor who has been fired, flipped the cart, scattering the family's potential earnings onto the ground.
LA taco truck robbery spree sees two shot after five businesses are held up at gunpoint
It's nacho average crime spree. A string of armed robberies at taco trucks in Los Angeles turned violent after two people were shot in the early hours of Monday morning. LAPD investigators responded to a shooting on June 5 on Manchester Avenue in South Los Angeles at around 12:30 a.m. Local news station KTLA showed video of the Tacos Los Primos truck riddled with at least three bullets.
New York Post
Hawaii allows more concealed carry after Supreme Court ruling
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green on Friday signed legislation that will allow more people to carry concealed firearms but at the same time prohibit people from taking guns to a wide range of places, including beaches, hospitals, stadiums, bars that serve alcohol and movie theaters. Private businesses allowing guns will have to post a sign to that effect. The legal overhaul comes in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from last year that expanded gun rights by saying Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense.
Newsom proposes constitutional amendment to restrict access to guns
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is proposing an amendment to the Constitution to implement four gun control measures he says have wide support across the country. Newsom's office said in a Thursday release he is calling for enshrining four gun safety regulations into the Constitution - raising the minimum age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21, implementing universal background checks, instituting a "reasonable" waiting period for gun purchases and preventing civilians from buying "assault weapons."
Reward offered for man who sold criminals encrypted phones, unaware they were tracked by the FBI
The United States offered a $5 million reward Wednesday for a Swedish man who marketed an encrypted communications network for drug traffickers - unaware that the technology was developed by the FBI. The State Department posted the hefty reward for Maximilian Rivkin, who has escaped arrest since the 2021 takedown of the ANOM network, which saw 800 arrested on three continents as well as seizures of 38 tons of drugs and $48 million in various currencies.
Mar-a-Lago pool flood raises suspicions among prosecutors in Trump classified documents case
An employee at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence drained the resort's swimming pool last October and ended up flooding a room where computer servers containing surveillance video logs were kept, sources familiar with the matter told CNN. While it's unclear if the room was intentionally flooded or if it happened by mistake, the incident occurred amid a series of events that federal prosecutors found suspicious.
Ex-Beverly Hills underwear model gets 2 years, 8 months for role in Capitol riot
A former Beverly Hills model and actor, who along with an anti-vaccine doctor joined in the breach of the U.S. Capitol in 2021, was sentenced this week to two years, eight months in federal prison and three years of probation for his role in the insurrection. A federal jury in Washington, D.C. last year found John Strand guilty of a felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding, as well as several lesser counts that included entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct.
Orange County Register
Fired Sacramento police officer Alexa Palubicki pleads no contest
Fired Sacramento police Officer Alexa Palubicki accepted a plea deal Monday, entering no-contest pleas to felony charges of filing a false report in connection with the July 12, 2020, arrest of a motorist. Palubicki had been scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Monday afternoon in Sacramento Superior Court, with two police witnesses standing by to testify.
Another major insurer is halting new policy sales in California
Allstate, one of the nation's largest insurance companies, has joined State Farm in deciding to halt sales of property and casualty coverage to new customers in California, saying it's too pricey to underwrite policies in the state which has seen thousands of natural disasters in recent years. Allstate quietly stopped issuing new policies in California months ago, but didn't announce the move until Friday. Allstate was the fourth-largest insurer in California, according to the most recent 2021 state data.
Articles of Interest
Revenge served ice cold? Top L.A. law firm outs former partners' racist, sexist emails
Last month, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, one of the nation's largest law firms, was rocked by the announcement that two top partners were starting their own boutique practice and taking as many as 140 colleagues with them. The shock inside Lewis Brisbois' downtown Los Angeles headquarters soon gave way to anger as the recently departed partners embarked on a press campaign that portrayed their former employer as a profit-focused legal mill that ground down the aspirations of its lawyers.
Los Angeles Times
Supreme Court takes last word in 'Trump too small' dispute
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide a trademark dispute over T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan "Trump too small," a reference to a flashpoint in the 2016 U.S. presidential primaries when the future president was ribbed about the size of his hands. Senator Marco Rubio initiated the joke during a campaign stop after Donald Trump had referred to the Florida Republican dismissively as "Little Marco." "You know what they say about men with small hands," Rubio pushed back.
Courthouse News Service
Probe of US appeals judge to focus on failure to cooperate
A committee investigating a 95-year-old U.S. appeals court judge over her competency is narrowing its probe to focus on whether the judge's refusal to cooperate amounts to misconduct, according to court documents made public on Monday. Judge Pauline Newman of the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals was initially under investigation over whether she has an impairment that interferes with her ability to carry out her responsibilities.
Meet the former Los Angeles prosecutor leading Moldova's returning reformists
Veronica Dragalin had never imagined she would become a senior prosecutor in her homeland of Moldova, a country sandwiched between Ukraine and EU member Romania that has become a key space for a battle of influence between Brussels and Moscow. Only two years after the former Soviet state gained independence, she left Chisinau at the age of seven with her parents, both mathematicians, to Italy then Germany, before settling in the US in 1996.
OpenAI sued for defamation
OpenAI is facing a defamation lawsuit filed by Mark Walters, who claims that the AI platform falsely accused him of embezzling money from a gun rights group in statements delivered to a journalist. The lawsuit argues that ChatGPT is guilty of libel and alleges that the AI system "hallucinated" and generated false information about Walters. Walters' attorney John Monroe said that the software was making up stuff about people.
Ex-correctional officer at federal prison in California convicted of sexual misconduct
A former federal correctional officer was convicted Monday of sexually abusing two inmates at a women's prison in California where the warden and other employees were charged with similar conduct. A jury found the officer, John Russell Bellhouse, guilty on five counts of sexual abuse for incidents involving the two women between 2019 and 2020 at FCI Dublin, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) east of Oakland.
California, NY pension systems vote against Toyota chairman re-election
Two of the largest U.S. public pension systems have voted against the re-election of Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T chairman Akio Toyoda, shareholder voting records showed, sharpening the focus on the automaker's annual meeting later this month. The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the Office of the New York City Comptroller both also voted for a resolution urging Toyota to improve disclosure of its lobbying on climate change, according to online postings by the funds.
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