12/1/22Just signed into law by California
Governor Gavin Newsom, SB-731 will automatically
expunge records of non-serious, non-violent felony convictions once defendants complete all requirements of their sentence. (Existing law did that for misdemeanors.) It also allows persons
convicted of serious felonies other than sex crimes and those who served time in state prison to petition courts for expungement. Prohibitions against
firearms possession and holing public office remain in place.
A massive law enforcement effort that includes
forty-four FBI agents is underway to develop leads on the killer - or killers - who stabbed four University of Idaho students to death as they slept in a
rental home near its flagship Moscow campus. With no suspects as yet identified, an implicit threat remains, and nearly half the school’s students
have chosen to go online and avoid its grounds altogether.
Justin Flores, a multi-convicted felon, was on probation when he gunned down El Monte, Calif. police officers Michael Paredes and Joseph Santana on
June 14 as they responded to a domestic violence call. He would have been in prison had a prohibition on filing sentence enhancements for prior offenses,
which was issued by progressively-minded D.A. George Gascon, not been in effect when Flores was last convicted. Cpl. Paredes’ family has now filed
a multi-million dollar claim against the D.A. for that move, and against the probation department for its lax supervision of Flores.
11/30/22Gun-rights groups are
suing to overturn California restrictions on, among other things, assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, home-made “ghost guns,” and age
restrictions. These actions, which have been filed in San Diego’s assertedly gun-friendly Federal court, are based on the Supreme Court’s
recent decision in New York State v. Bruen, which held that gun laws must
be “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” In the Justices’ predominant view, New York’s
requirement that gun-carry applicants show “good cause” wasn’t, so it didn’t survive. Related posts
NIJ assigned a “promising” rating to a Minnesota program that places selected
high-risk prison releasees under intense supervision. Agents make frequent visits and assure that participants complete required activities, including
work, job training, education and treatment of psychological disorders. A one-year followup revealed significant reductions in rearrest and reconviction
for ordinary and violent offending. But there was also a significant increase in revocations for technical violations.
Jurors convicted Stewart
Rhodes, the Oath Keeper’s founder and leader, and Kelly Meggs, the leader of its Florida chapter, of seditiously conspiring to keep Trump in
power. Rhodes, who never entered the Capitol, was acquitted of conspiring to disrupt the certification, and of conspiring to prevent Members of Congress
from doing their jobs. Co-defendants Kenneth Harrelson, Thomas Caldwell and Jessica Watkins were acquitted of seditious conspiracy. All five were
convicted of obstructing an official proceeding. Seditious conspiracy and obstruction can each draw up to 20 years. Rhodes, Meggs and two others were
also convicted of document tampering (i.e., erasing messages from their phones).
During his campaign for office, New York City Mayor
Eric Adams, a former police Captain, emphasized his commitment to clearing homeless camps. He has now directed police officers and mental health workers
to involuntarily hospitalize persons who appear to be seriously mentally ill and pose a risk of harm to themselves. Those steps, which are
authorized by State law, go beyond past practice, which required there be a threat to
others. But the city’s progressive voices warn this move will cause harm.
11/29/22Payton Gendron, the 18-year old avowed White supremacist who shot and killed ten Black persons as he stormed a TOPS supermarket in Buffalo, NY,
pled guilty to all State charges, including terrorism and ten counts of murder. He is expected to draw multiple life terms without parole. Federal charges,
which could include the death penalty, are pending.
In June 2017 former St. Anthony, MN officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter and other charges for shooting and killing Philando Castile
during a traffic stop one year earlier. Officer Yanez “separated” from his agency and became a part-time teacher. But in 2020 the State denied
him a teaching license because the incident - his victim was Black - supposedly suggested that Mr. Yanez was morally unfit to teach. A Minnesota appeals
court just directed the Board to reconsider its decision, and that its reasoning “must relate to professional morals in the occupation of
teaching,” not policing.
In June a prisoner of
New Haven, CT police was paralyzed “from the chest down” after smashing his head when a police van came to a sudden stop. Five officers are
now charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment and cruelty for failing to secure Randy Cox in the van, then handling him roughly on arrival and
jailing him despite his complaints. “You can make mistakes, but you can’t treat people poorly, period. You cannot treat people the way Mr.
Cox was treated,” said their chief. A $100 million lawsuit is in the works.
An unforgettable AP photo essay depicts the effects of the scourge of fentanyl on Los Angeles’ homeless population. According to the DEA, the synthetic opioid, “50-100 times stronger than morphine,” is secretly manufactured in Mexico,
then smuggled into the U.S. A recent Federal indictment alleges that the “Eastside Playboys,” a Latino gang, “used the U.S. Post Office, United Parcel Service and FedEx to distribute kilos of cocaine, methamphetamine
and fentanyl and were partly responsible for deadly fentanyl-laced pills that flooded the drug markets of Southern California.”
According to a new report by the National Registry on
Exonerations, innocent Black persons are approx. “seven-and-a-half times more likely to be convicted of murder” than innocent Whites.
Contributing to the disparity is the far higher rate of murder in areas populated by Black persons. Innocent Blacks are also more than eight times more
likely than innocent Whites to be convicted of rape. And because “racial profiling” leads them to be stopped far more often, innocent Black
persons are also disproportionately convicted of drug crimes. Related posts
In a small Brazilian town, a 16-year old
former student opened fire with his father’s pistol in two schools, killing four persons and wounding twelve. The youth, who suffered from mental
health problems, wore an armored vest and used the gun carried by his father, a member of the military police. A swastika was pinned to his vest, possibly
reflecting the extreme far-right sentiments that have recently become popular. School shootings have been occurring with some frequency in Brazil, where
gun rights are strongly protected and firearms ownership is widespread. Related posts
In 2021 L.A. city laws were amended to allow LAPD officers to select a civilian-only panel of three to oversee Board of Rights hearings, which have
the final say over severe discipline or termination. But LAPD’s Inspector General just reported that letting the accused boot cops from panels -
there used to be two officers and one civilian - has led to much lighter discipline and far fewer firings. That greatly frustrates the Chief. So the City
Council is being asked to go back to the old way of doing things.
11/26/22Andre Bing, the Chesapeake,
VA Walmart team leader who gunned down six colleagues, left a “death note” in his phone that bemoaned his childhood and complained of
harassment by coworkers “with low intelligence and a lack of wisdom [who] gave me evil twisted grins, mocked me and celebrated my down fall the last
day.” But he apologized. “Sorry everyone but I did not plan this I promise things just fell in place like I was led by the Satan.” Bing
had legally bought his pistol earlier that day. Related posts
11/25/22 Mass shootings are becoming a near-daily occurrence. Two days ago four Philadelphia teens were shot and wounded in a drive-by as they stood by a corner store near their high
school. One day earlier a Chesapeake, Virginia Walmart team leader with a reputation for picking on employees inexplicably opened fire with a pistol as night-shift stockers gathered in a break room.
Andre Bing, 31, killed six and wounded an equal number before shooting himself dead. It was the State’s second mass shooting in less than two weeks.
On November 13 a University of Virginia student used a handgun to
kill three fellow students and wound two others at the end of a field trip. Related posts
Clear Creek County, CO deputies Andrew Buen and Kyle
Gould were charged with felonies ranging to 2nd. degree murder for shooting and killing a mentally disturbed man who refused to exit his car last June.
Christian Glass, 22, called 9-1-1 after getting his vehicle stuck, then negotiated with deputies for an hour while flaunting a knife. Bean-bag rounds and
a stun gun were deployed without effect, and when Mr. Glass made what deputies Buen and Gold thought was a threatening move they opened fire. Marijuana
and amphetamines consisted with ADHD medication were found in his system.
Drug legalization updatesRelated post
11/23/22LAPD Chief Michel Moore’s decision that opening fire inside
the Burlington clothing store was neither “proportional, objectively reasonable or necessary” was overruled by the Police Commission, which
voted 3-2 that the first shot (the officer fired three times) was justified. Officer William Jones had leapfrogged his colleagues and shot and killed
Daniel Lopez, a felon high on meth who went on a violent rampage in the store last December. One of his rounds penetrated a wall and killed a girl in a
dressing room. Chief Moore has also faulted the Sergeant on scene for not adequately taking charge.
Calling Ariel Roman’s testimony an “absurdity,” a judge acquitted Chicago police officer Melvina Bogard of aggravated battery and
misconduct for shooting and severely wounding Roman two years ago. Bogard and another officer got into a physical struggle with Roman, a large man who
was behaving suspiciously on a train. He resisted their attempts to detain him and grabbed her partner’s Taser and handcuffs. In a lawsuit, Roman
claims he was having an “anxiety attack” when the officers encountered him. Police Superintendent David Brown has recommended that both
officers be fired.
Miami police arrested Wu Chen, 45, for the “execution-style”
murder of four employees, all of Chinese descent, of a rural Oklahoma marijuana farm. Chen reportedly knew the victims and spent some time at the farm
before opening fire. Authorities are investigating whether the farm’s license was fraudulently obtained. Licenses for two-thousand of the
state’s 8,500 licensed farms were reportedly acquired by fronting local “ghost owners” to pretend that the farms are legitimate, where
in fact they’re being operated by unauthorized immigrants and supply the black market.
Drug legalization updates
11/22/22“Reducing Racial Inequality in Crime and Justice,”
a massive new report by the National Academy of Sciences, proposes that reducing the number of police stops and searches, cutting back on “jail
detention, prison admission, and long sentences,” and improving the socioeconomic conditions of neighborhoods can ease the pronounced racial and
ethnic disparities produced by America’s criminal justice system.
Closing arguments in the Oath Keepers
trial revolved around a key issue: were the five accused leading a “seditious conspiracy” to storm the Capitol and stop the “transfer of
power?” Stewart Rhodes, the group’s leader, was in a motel room during the “storming.” He and two co-defendants had taken the
stand and insisted, as did an Oath Keeper who testified for the Government, that the breach wasn’t pre-planned: it happened spontaneously. But the
Government pointed to the group’s “quick reaction force” that had weapons in a Virginia motel room. What was its purpose?
In a televised interview with his
lawyer present, Nicholas Gutierrez, the 22-year old who plowed his SUV into a group of L.A.-area police academy trainees on a jogging run, insisted that it
was not intentional: he fell asleep at the wheel while on his way to work. “They tried to say that I did it intentionally, which I didn’t. I
kept on telling them I didn’t.” Gutierrez, an electrician, installs solar panels. He was arrested for attempted murder, but the D.A. has not yet
filed charges and he was released. His lawyer said that Gutierrez “had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of this tragic accident.”
No mention was made of the marijuana reportedly found in the vehicle.
Drug legalization updates
11/21/22Alabama has interrupted two executions
in two months because of difficulty in accessing a condemned inmate’s veins. Kenneth Eugene Smith, who was convicted of a 1988 murder, was the most
recent beneficiary. In October another 57-year old,
Alan Eugene Miller, reportedly endured an hour’s poking with needles before authorities gave up. Smith and Miller remain alive and have filed
objections to a re-do. Not Joe Nathan James
Jr. While the same issue arose during his execution last July, authorities succeeded after three hours in establishing a line, and James was put to death.
Late Saturday night, November 19, Colorado Springs-area
resident Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, burst into a local gay nightclub and opened fire with an AR-15 style rifle, killing five and injuring two dozen. A patron
quickly subdued him. Last June
deputies responded to a call by Aldrich’s mother, who said her son was threatening her with a homemade bomb. Aldrich was arrested, but no bomb was
found and no charges were filed. El Paso County, where the incident occurred, has declared itself a “Second Amendment sanctuary” and passed a
2019 resolution criticizing Colorado’s Red Flag law. Related posts
11/19/22After a bench trial, a Cook County judge found insufficient evidence that Ruben Roman, 23, fired the shots that alerted a Shot Spotter
device, setting off a chain of events that led officers to shoot and kill Roman’s companion, 13-year old Adam Toledo, as he ran off with the gun.
Prosecutors agreed that the evidence linking Roman to the gun was circumstantial, and in the judge’s view it was insufficient to convict him of
its misuse. Related posts
A search of the dorm room assigned to University of Virginia shooter
Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. turned up both guns that he (legally) purchased: a Ruger .223 caliber semi-auto rifle and a Smith and Wesson 9mm. pistol.
Police also found a Franklin Armory “binary
trigger,” which doubles a rifle’s rate of fire by discharging a round when the trigger is released. (It’s Federally legal but has
been outlawed by a number of States, not including Illinois.) UVA regulations prohibit guns in dorms. Related posts
11/18/22Shamel Capers was sixteen
when he allegedly gunned down a rival New York City gang member in 2013. He has always denied guilt, and after serving eight years of a fifteen-to-life
sentence a judge set him free. Lael Jappa, the gang member whose testimony was key in convicting Capers, has since repeatedly admitted - including in a
recorded phone call to his mother - that he lied to get a break on other charges. And the Queens D.A. said that “we could not let miscarriages of
justice stand.” Related posts
resident Shane Jason Woods, 44, was back home awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to assaulting a police officer during the Capitol riot. He
was facing 33 to 41 months in Federal prison. He now faces murder charges for purposely crashing his car in an alleged suicide attempt that caused the
death of a motorist who got trapped in her burning car.
Uvalde police Lt. Mariano Pargas, Jr. was the city’s acting
police chief when the school massacre took place. He was also one of the first responders. Like the school police chief, he’s been severely
criticized for the delay in confronting the assailant. And like the school police chief, he has consistently denied having been in charge of the
response. Facing a bleak future, Lt. Pargas just resigned his cop job. But he remains a county commissioner, a position to which he was recently
11/17/22In a guest editorial, Howard Wolfson, a
deeply-connected New York City political figure, attributes the Blues’ loss of the House majority, in part, to a failure to prioritize voter
concerns about crime. As evidence he points to New York State’s “deeply unpopular” 2019 move that eliminated cash bail for nonviolent
felonies. But then crime steeply rose. Concerns that bail reform was a contributing factor were met with meager adjustments, leaving New York as
“the only state in the nation where judges cannot take into account whether a person arrested for a crime is a danger to the community.
In September the University of Virginia was tipped off that Christopher
Darnell Jones Jr., the student who recently opened fire at the end of a field trip, killing three students and wounding two, had a gun on campus.
Although neither the tipster nor Jones’ roommate said they saw a gun, it was learned that in 2021 Jones was convicted of concealed carry. It also
turns out that a gun dealer had rebuffed Jones’ attempt to buy a gun because he had a pending felony charge. But the charge was reduced to a
misdemeanor, and this year he sold Jones a rifle and a 9mm. pistol. All this has left victim families and others wondering why authorities
didn’t pursue their inquiries with more vigor. Related posts
During the early morning
hours of November 16, seventy-five police recruits were on a training run near the L.A. Sheriff’s Academy. Although they were accompanied by
marked cars, drill instructors, and road guards wearing reflective vests, an approaching SUV veered into the formation. Twenty-five recruits were
injured, five critically. Police suspect that the driver (he said he was “sleepy”) may have been affected by a substance other than
alcohol, as he tested clean on a Breathalyzer. Marijuana was found in his vehicle.
Drug legalization updates