Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Gascon Lets Off "Sniffer" From Having to Register as Sex Offender; Cancer-Patient Wig Store Robbed; CA Prison Data Does Not Support Effectiveness of Shortened Prison Sentences and Other Stories: Monday Morning Memo

Scammers are impersonating a WeHo Sheriff; LA City Council funds the police; 2 Dodgers' Stars Burglarized; CALPERS under scrutiny for climate change investments

California Barnes & Noble 'sniffer' won't be charged for failure to register as sex offender after arrest: DA

A Los Angeles man who was released from jail again despite a history of sex crimes and other offenses will not face failure to register as a sex offender charges, according to the district attorney's office. Calese Carron Crowder, 37, was arrested on Thursday for failing to register as a sex offender and was released on Friday. Earlier this week, he pleaded no contest to peeping and prowling charges for staring into a home with children inside on August 6.

Judge can't bar county road commissioner from removing encroachments

A judge of the Santa Barbara Superior Court improperly issued a preliminary injunction barring the county's road commissioner from removing encroachments, placed by property owners in the area, along a public highway in Montecito, Div. Six of the Court of Appeal for this district declared in an opinion certified for publication yesterday.

Failure to instruct on 'imperfect self-defense' amounted to federal constitutional error

The California Supreme Court held yesterday that the Third District Court of Appeal too casually concluded that a trial court's failure to instruct a jury on "imperfect self-defense" in a murder case was harmless error, reversing the judgment and remanding the case for a more thorough analysis, under the appropriate standard.

LAUSD sues teacher accused of sexually abusing student

Having been sued by an adult woman who alleges she was sexually abused by her high school English teacher, the Los Angeles Unified School District has now brought its own legal action against the same teacher. A woman identified only as Jane Doe was 29 years old when she brought her suit in Los Angeles Superior Court in April 2021 against the district and her former teacher, Barry Smolin, who was married and had children.

Three are named to Los Angeles Superior Court

Three persons - a private practitioner, a criminal defense lawyer and a prosecutor - were appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday. Statewide, 10 Superior Court appointments were made by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The Los Angeles appointees, all Democrats, are: Andrew Esbenshade, a partner in Morrison & Foerster since 2023. Brock Hammond, a Los Angeles deputy alternate public defender since 2005. Philip Marshall, a deputy-in-charge at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office since 2019 and a prosecutor in that office since 1999.

Prop 65 group loses latest challenge to injunction blocking coffee-causes-cancer lawsuits

A new judge is no more receptive to a California group run by a plaintiffs lawyer that wishes to sue companies that don't warn consumers about products like coffee possibly causing cancer. Judge Daniel Calabretta on Aug. 15 rejected a pair of motions from the Council for Education and Research and Toxics, which operates out of the offices of plaintiff attorney Raphael Metzger. The case concerns acrylamide, a naturally occurring compound that appears in roasted foods and coffee.

C.A. won't reinstate conviction of man not bused to court on day scheduled for trial

The Court of Appeal has left standing an Appellate Division opinion saying that a judge breached an accused's speedy-trial rights in a last-day case by declaring good cause for continuing a trial to the next morning where jail officials had failed to put the defendant on the bus headed for the courthouse and, as it was around 11:30 a.m., it was too late to assemble a jury panel or provide for transportation.

Prosecution's indecision doesn't justify bail forfeiture

The Court of Appeal for this district held Friday that a judge was obliged to extend the period for seeking exoneration of a $100,000 bail bond that had been forfeited when the defendant fled where the bonding company had located the fugitive in Mexico and temporarily detained him within the period for seeking a return of the money but the prosecution had not yet decided whether to seek extradition.

C.A. affirms order for hospital-commitment of offender based largely on police report

The Court of Appeal for this district has affirmed the commitment to the Department of State Hospitals for treatment of a man who pled guilty to two counts of felony indecent exposure, spurning a concession by the Office of Attorney General that sufficient evidence does not support the order, and being unpersuaded by the dissent's insistence that a vague reference in the police report to the defendant's mention of "killing people" lacks force.

Lawyer kicked out of Los Angeles plaintiff attorney group sues, claims anti-Semitism on message board

An ex-member is suing the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles for giving him the boot when he says he was just standing up to anti-Semitism and a threat of violence on CAALA's message board. Neal Zaslavsky, of West Hollywood, filed a lawsuit Aug. 8 against CAALA, the nation's largest local association of plaintiffs' attorneys who sue businesses over their products and conduct. CAALA has a member's only Listserv that allows attorneys to send emails to a group to opine on a topic.

Michael Jackson sexual abuse lawsuits revived by appeals court

A California appeals court on Friday revived lawsuits from two men who allege Michael Jackson sexually abused them for years when they were boys. A three-judge panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal found that the lawsuits of Wade Robson and James Safechuck should not have been dismissed by a lower court, and that the men can validly claim that the two Jackson-owned corporations that were named as defendants in the cases had a responsibility to protect them.

After decades in prison, man is convicted in retrial for 1983 killing of LAPD officer

(AP) For the second time in four decades, an alleged armed robber has been convicted in the 1983 killing of Los Angeles Police Officer Paul Verna. Kenneth Gay, 65, was convicted Friday of murder and a weapons offense in connection with the decades-old slaying. Gay was retried this summer after his conviction was thrown out on appeal. During his closing arguments, L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. Eric Siddall displayed pictures of several of their robbery victims sporting ugly bruises, and noted how the couples went to Las Vegas to get married and celebrate their spoils between crimes. Both men had discussed killing police officers who "got in their way" during their crime rampage, according to Siddall.

Alleged gunman pleads not guilty in murder, kidnapping of 19-year-old woman at Whittier park

The alleged gunman in the killing of a 19-year-old woman in Whittier has been charged with multiple felonies including murder, kidnapping and attempted rape, prosecutors announced Wednesday. Seven formal charges were filed against 20-year-old Gabriel Esparza in connection with the death of Andrea Vazquez, according to a criminal complaint submitted in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Sheriff's deputy accused of trying to help colleague cover up crash

Criminal charges have been filed against a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who was off-duty when he allegedly tried to cover up a fellow off-duty deputy's crash of a patrol vehicle last summer in Stevenson Ranch, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced Wednesday.

Two teens charged with attacks on elderly victims, including horrific purse snatching

Two teens have been arrested for a string of robberies and attacks - including a heinous purse snatching caught on a viral video that showed an 18-year-old drag an elderly woman across a parking lot. Cameron DeShawn Perry, 18, is charged with a months-long crime spree in the San Gabriel Valley - including the viral video of the elderly woman's attack on August 14. The alleged getaway driver in several of the robberies, Russell Hardy, 19, was also charged.

Suspect charged in six violent robberies of taco trucks and street vendors across L.A.

A Los Angeles man was charged Monday in a series of robberies of taco trucks and street vendors last week. Prosecutors say that, over a violent two-hour span, three men drove to six sites where they waved guns in workers' faces, went through their pockets and stole their tip jars. Stayshawn Stephens, 26, pleaded not guilty Monday during a brief appearance in a downtown L.A. courtroom to a dozen counts of second-degree robbery with the aggravating factor of violent conduct.

Organized Retail Crime

Married couple among three retail theft ring suspects arrested

A man and his wife were among three people suspected of being involved with an organized retail theft ring arrested by a California Highway Patrol task force, the agency announced Friday. Victor Marcomarino, 32, along with his wife, 30-year-old Maria Orozco, were arrested in Anaheim Thursday by officers with the CHP's Border Division Organized Retail Crime Task Force Border Division, Officer Mitch Smith said.

3 arrested for $30,000 luxury handbag theft in Southern California

Three women were arrested for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of designer handbags from a Glendale mall on Wednesday. Glendale officers on e-bikes were patrolling on Colorado Street near The Americana at Brand when they noticed a vehicle without license plates obstructing traffic in the area. After pulling the vehicle over, officers found burglary tools inside the car, along with several stolen designer handbags with price tags attached.

How organized shoplifting became a billion-dollar industry

In a May earnings report, Brian Cornell, CEO of Target, said that a loss of inventory is expected to reduce the company's profits by more than $500 million compared to the previous year. While he said there were "many potential sources," theft and organized retail crime were becoming "increasingly important drivers." The corporate disclosure was a rare public recognition of the already large and increasing issue that theft is posing for retailers since the coronavirus pandemic.

Retail theft: Walmart, Home Depot, Target detail 'unacceptable amount' of crime

Porch pirates aren't the only problem. Thieves are going straight to the source. Inventory shrinkage - the loss of items to retail theft, organized crime, damage, vendor fraud, and other factors - is still a major headache for US retailers. At least, that was a common thread heard on recent earnings calls from Home Depot (HD), Target (TGT), Walmart (WMT), and other large retailers last week. On Wednesday, Target CEO Brian Cornell said the retailer is up against "an unacceptable amount of retail theft and organized retail crime."

Beverly Hills wig shop theft: Tens of thousands of dollars worth of hair products stolen from The Wig Fairy - which sells to cancer patients

This is the shocking moment thieves smashed their way into a Beverly Hills wig shop and stole tens of thousands of dollars worth meant for cancer patients. The brazen heist was carried out by three masked miscreants around 3:30am, and saw The Wig Fairy on La Cienega ruthlessly ransacked. The perpetrators are seen shattering the business's glass storefront with poles and rocks before grabbing multiple wigs meant for those undergoing chemotherapy.

Dick's Sporting Goods blames 'increasingly serious theft problem for profit plunge

Dick's Sporting Goods warned Tuesday that retail theft is damaging its business and would lead to lower annual profits. The sporting goods and athletic clothing seller reported second-quarter results Tuesday morning that included a 23% drop in profit, despite sales that rose 3.6% in the period. Shares of Dick's (DKS) plunged nearly 24% Tuesday. The company blamed shrink, the industry term for theft and damaged inventory, for its surprisingly poor earnings.

Data does not support claim that Prop. 57 reduces recidivism

In April, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) released a report suggesting that the number of inmates given early release in the year after enactment of Proposition 57, who were convicted of new crimes over the next three years, declined by 3%. The report tracked inmates released in 2017-18 who were convicted of a new crime by 2021.

Are California counties ready to handle juvenile offenders now that state youth prisons are shuttered?

In the months leading up to the June 30 shutdown of California's more than 100-year-old lockups for juveniles, teenagers through 25-year-olds convicted of crimes such as robbery, rape and murder were transferred to county-run juvenile detention facilities nearer to their homes. The closures of the state's youth prison system had been in the works since Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020 announced the shutdown, which would trim costs from juvenile justice budgets.

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Rick Caruso's crime-stopper gambit

Billionaire businessman Rick Caruso has a large voice and an outsized pocketbook. As a now well-known and credible political figure - he came very close to being elected Mayor - he's also got a private sector bully pulpit that he's turning toward a solution to the smash and grab phenomenon ripping through Los Angeles. Caruso occupies a unique civic niche: private sector boss and public sector savant, accountable only to his conscience.

CityWatch LA

Activist who succeeded in ending affirmative action targets law firms' diversity efforts

A conservative activist who led the campaign against affirmative action in college admissions is suing two major law firms for fellowships that they offer to increase diversity in the legal profession. Edward Blum, president of the American Alliance for Equal Rights, filed the lawsuits Tuesday against Perkins Coie in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas and against Morrison & Foerster in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami.

ABA Journal

Los Angeles City/County

LA City Council OKs nearly $1 billion in police raises and bonuses

The LA City Council voted Wednesday to approve a near-$1 billion package of raises and bonuses designed to improve recruiting and retention of LAPD officers, after acknowledging the new contract could limit the city's ability to fund other core services. In a 12-to-3 vote, the council agreed to a near-13% increase in starting pay for new officers, 12% cost of living increases over four years, and a variety of bonuses and incentives that city officials said they hoped would slow the pace of existing officers' decisions to retire, resign, or transfer to other agencies.


LAPD to use AI to analyze body cam videos for officers' language use

Researchers will use artificial intelligence to analyze the tone and word choice that LAPD officers use during traffic stops, the department announced Tuesday, part of a broader study of whether police language sometimes unnecessarily escalates public encounters. Findings from the study, conducted by researchers from USC and elsewhere, will be used to help train officers on how best to navigate encounters with the public and to "promote accountability," said Cmdr. Marla R. Ciuffetelli of the Office of Constitutional Policing & Policy;

Los Angeles Times

LA Mayor Karen Bass proposes changes to Metro stations to make them safer (Video)

Following a KCAL News investigation, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass proposed new changes to make Metro train stations safer. KCAL investigative reporter David Goldstein has the details.


Scammers impersonating West Hollywood sheriff's captain, LASD says

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is searching for the people accused of posing as high-ranking West Hollywood deputy. According to an advisory sent out by the department, detectives have received reports of scammers impersonating Captain William Moulder, the head of the West Hollywood station, hoping this will threaten them enough to buy into their grift.


This rarely happens: The L.A. City Council blocked a commission appointee

It almost never happens. But on Friday, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously blocked a nominee to a city commission. The council voted 14 to 0 to reject the nomination of Reseda Neighborhood Council President Jamie York to the five-member Ethics Commission, which proposes policy and issues penalties for campaign finance violations.

Los Angeles Times

Closing Men's Central Jail in LA without a replacement will do a lot more harm than good

For over a decade now, Los Angeles has debated the fate of Men's Central Jail, a massive, outdated facility located in the county detention complex near downtown. When it began, the debate was about how to replace Men's Central Jail with a modern correctional facility. Over the years, though, progressives, animated by "defund" ideology, have shifted the focus to closing Men's Central without a replacement, which would shrink county jail capacity by about one-quarter.

City Journal


Two Dodgers stars had homes burglarized

Two Los Angeles Dodgers stars have been the victims of home burglaries over the past month. Law enforcement sources in L.A. told TMZ that homes belonging to both Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman and third baseman Max Muncy have been broken into by burglars in recent weeks. The incident at Muncy's residence happened when he was on the way home from Dodger Stadium last week. A similar incident took place at Freeman's home in July.


Multiple kosher restaurants in Pico-Robertson area burglarized, police say

Police are investigating a series of burglaries in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles in which thieves appeared to have targeted several kosher restaurants. The crimes happened early Saturday morning in the 9300 - 9400 block of W Pico Boulevard. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, five restaurants were burglarized, including one that was set to have its grand opening on Monday.



New documents reveal how the Angels tried to pull the strings at Anaheim City Hall

The directions from a consultant representing the Angels were clear and went to some of the most influential leaders in Anaheim City Hall. They outlined the agenda for a mock City Council meeting to rehearse how the mayor and two council members would push forward the controversial sale of Angel Stadium from the city to a company controlled by the owner of the Major League Baseball team.

Los Angeles Times

California officer accused in probe of racist texts kept 'gory' police dog injury photos for himself, authorities say

Three Northern California police officers under investigation in a probe into racist and derogatory text messages were indicted on conspiracy charges alleging they "touted" their use of excessive force and collected "trophies," court documents unsealed Thursday show. Eric Rombough, Devon Wenger and Mortez Amiri have been accused of conspiring to "injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate" residents in Antioch, a city of roughly 114,000 people located 45 miles northeast of San Francisco, according to a 30-page indictment filed in federal court in California's Northern District.

NBC News

Court tosses Jan. 6 sentence in ruling that could impact other low-level Capitol riot cases

A federal appeals court on Friday ordered a new sentence for a North Carolina man who pleaded guilty to a petty offense in the Capitol riot - a ruling that could impact dozens of low-level cases in the massive Jan. 6, 2021 prosecution. The appeals court in Washington said James Little was wrongly sentenced for his conviction on a misdemeanor offense to both prison time and probation, which is court-ordered monitoring of defendants who are not behind bars.


Judge won't delay Trump's defamation claims trial, calling the ex-president's appeal frivolous

A New York federal judge expressed growing impatience Friday with what he calls ex-President Donald Trump's "repeated efforts to delay" a defamation lawsuit against him, saying he won't stop a January trial to await the outcome of a "frivolous" appeal of one of his rulings. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan made the remarks in a written ruling as he criticized arguments made by Trump's lawyers in asking him to mothball the 2019 civil claims by a New York columnist who says Trump raped her in a luxury Manhattan department store dressing room in spring 1996.


Homeless Issue

California spends billions on homelessness, but political squabbling undermines efforts

Since Gavin Newsom began his governorship more than four years ago, the state has spent upwards of $20 billion on efforts to solve - or at least reduce - California's worst-in-the-nation homelessness crisis. The spending continues, but the number of people living on the streets, in squalid camps or in ramshackle motorhomes and trailers continues to climb. That sad fact was underscored recently by a new census of homelessness in Los Angeles County, which has a quarter of the state's population but nearly half of its homeless people.



Man sentenced in crash that killed pregnant woman, man

A man who pleaded no contest to murder charges for striking and killing two bicyclists in Chatsworth, including a pregnant woman, has been sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison. Nelson Rodriguez, 60, of Chatsworth, pleaded no contest last month to two counts of murder in connection with the Jan. 4, 2022, deaths of Ana Hernandez, who was 37 years old and 29 weeks pregnant, and Matthew Zink, 58, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.


Attorney General Bonta announces sentencing in $400,000 identity and grand theft scheme in Southern California

California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced the guilty plea and sentencing of Jean Parret, who carried out an extensive identity theft and grand theft scheme across several Southern California counties. Parret used victims' stolen identities to open lines of credit and purchase numerous high-end vehicles from car dealerships, resulting in losses of over $400,000. Parret will serve a total of 11 years in state prison.

Attorney General Rob Bonta Press Release

Articles of Interest

9th Circuit cancels Jan 6 plaintiff's oral arguments against the FBI

Although the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's dismissal of Siaka Massaquoi's Fourth Amendment claim, arguments scheduled for his First and Fifth Amendment claims on Aug. 18 were abruptly canceled. "The federal government violated my first amendment rights when the FBI barged into my house and now the court is continuing to do the exact same thing by canceling my chance to raise my grievance in person," Massaquoi said.

Legal Newsline

Another favorable standing ruling for CA nonprofits

Last week, we wrote about the California Supreme Court strengthening the opportunities for whistleblowing nonprofit directors to sue fellow board members for breaches of fiduciary duty. See Forced-Out California Nonprofit Directors Don't Lose Standing to Sue (August 3, 2023) FPLG Blog, discussing Turner v. Victoria (August 3, 2023, 4th Dist, Div. 1 [San Diego]). Today, we're highlighting another unanimous high court ruling that has reopened a door for certain California nonprofits to successfully assert standing to sue.


CBS News poll finds Trump's big lead grows, as GOP voters dismiss indictments

Well, there's no debate about this: Right now, the Republican Party would easily renominate Donald Trump for 2024. And it's not close. The former president now holds his largest lead over his rivals in our polling amid his recent legal troubles. In fact, most of his voters cite those troubles as yet one more reason to show him support. His nearest - but not too near - rival Ron DeSantis has fallen even further back. Everyone else is in single digits.

Two courts of appeal repudiate their earlier decisions

Two courts of appeal yesterday abandoned positions they had taken earlier, with the Third District now holding that a manufacturer of an allegedly defective vehicle may not invoke an arbitration clause in a contract between a dealership and a purchaser, and Div. Six of this district declaring that the People may appeal from an order following a preliminary hearing reducing a felony "wobbler" to a misdemeanor.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Big California pension fund hands over trove of climate-related documents demanded by House GOP

The California Public Employees' Retirement System has turned over thousands of pages of documents in recent months to Congress as the country's largest pension fund faces Republican scrutiny for its investment practices intended to combat climate change. The $464 billion fund has been handing over the trove of information to the House Judiciary Committee led by Ohio Republican Jim Jordan since the committee sent letters in December to Calpers and Ceres, an environmental non-profit that Calpers works with on climate issues, seeking public and private documents dating back to 2016.


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