US Supreme Court Invalidates Federal Ban on Sports Betting

In the May 14, 2018 case of MURPHY. vs. NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC ASSN., the U.S. Supreme Court held the Federal law that barred sports betting was null and void.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote in the majority opinion: the Federal law was a violation of state sovereignty because it “unequivocally dictates what a state legislature may or may not do.” The Decision is consistent with the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because the Federal Government only possesses those powers delegated to it by the U.S. Constitution. As such, all remaining powers are reserved for the states or the people.

Consistent with this Decision, it is anticipated that several states will enact legislation to legalizing sports gambling. There are clearly two sides to legal gambling, but more and more of the focus of proponents now include those States who also seek ways to increase their revenues to offset the escalating budgets from year to year.

Beware of Cyber Attacks

It has been said, and bears repeating:

  1. There are those that know they have been hacked and those that do not.
  2. There are those who have been hacked and those that will be;
  3. There are those who will be hacked again;
  4. Our devices and products, at home, at work and on the go, are connected to the internet (via wireless networks, millions of Hotspots or Wi Fi). These include the web sites and pages we view online; the social media we view &/or utilizing our own accounts; the GPS we use or are integrated into our computers, smart phones, lap tops, tablets, the cloud, and the hugely increasing products constantly and newly introduced into the marketplace; and,
  5. Cyber attacks are growing beyond our imagination, and they are more sophisticated every day.

In addition, we need to remind ourselves and be constantly vigilant to appreciate that it is not enough to have antivirus, spyware, spam filters and malware programs because it is painfully obvious no one is immune from the targets of malicious others who are thrilled in breaching our devices. And, what could be worse than this unlawful interference with our privacy, as well as our sensitive personal data, confidential business and individual information stolen Be diligent in preventing cyber attacks, detecting, and responding to breaches,

DISCLOSURE OF CONVICTIONS TO EMPLOYERS

Effective January, 1, 2018, employers in California with five or more employees cannot make employment decisions regarding convictions unless first performing an individualized assessment. The Assessment entails consideration of: [1] the underlying facts of the crime as they relate to the nature and seriousness of the conviction; [2] the period of time that has elapsed since the crime was committed and whether the terms and condition of the sentence have been completed, along with [3] the duties and functions of the employment position [nature of the job] in question. Under the existing law through and including December 31, 2017, only governmental entities (City, County and State) were barred from making such personnel decisions.

Additionally, a private employer cannot ask questions, whether during a face to face interview and/or on the Application for Employment form, regarding a criminal history of a prospective employee until after a preliminary decision has been made that the applicant is qualified for the open position. Essentially, an employer cannot consider a person’s criminal history until after a preliminary or conditional job offer has been made to the prospective employee. As such, the employer is prohibited from having a background check performed until after making a conditional employment offer.

Assembly Bill 1008 (AB 1008) was signed into law on October 14, 2017 and, as a result, a new section has been added to the Fair Employment and Housing Act, commonly referred to as FEHA, to wit: Government Code Section 12952.

Shortly before signing into law the above mandate, on October 12, 2017, the Governor took a quite similar position as above when he made it a misdemeanor for violating AB 138, which prevents an employer from asking questions of a prospective employee regarding their previous salary, nor could employers consider the salary history as a factor in making decisions regarding an applicant for employment. The new law does not prohibit an applicant from voluntarily providing salary history information and it can be used by the prospective employer in making its own decisions in connection with the salary to be offered. Labor Section 432.3

None of the above should be interpreted as a prohibition against any Governmental agency (Board, Bureau and/or Department) from inquiring as to a conviction, commonly referred to as a background check, as part of the process of obtaining a professional or occupational license; similarly, this inquiry is an integral part of the renewal process regarding any such license. It should be remembered, there are approximately 50 agencies, including the California Department of Consumer Affairs. All of these state agencies have the power to investigate, deny, suspend or revoke a license, in the interest of the health and safety of the public, and thereby rely upon the underlying facts of the crime, as they relate to the duties and functions of a licensed professional or occupational license. Business and Professions Code Section 475-499.

For additional information, see Administrative Law Attorney.

Rehabilitation of Inmates and Prisoners

When we go back in history, there was a time when those incarcerated would receive vocational training, such as wood shop, electric shop, metal shop, upholstery, plumbing, gardening, and most importantly learn any other skill that would increase their basic knowledge, enhance their self esteem, provide an opportunity for a more positive transition to life outside of prison or jail, and decrease recidivism.

Unfortunately, as the budgets for nearly everything else seem to have increased, the amount allocated to skills building activities within the penal system has substantially decreased and to some extent has become nonexistent.

Recently, with the devastating wildfires, inmates have been allowed to volunteer to assist in fighting these catastrophic disasters throughout California. It has been reported the savings to taxpayers has been in the millions of dollars. Inmates get paid a $1. an hour for fighting the fires, and two days off their sentence while serving in this capacity (in contrast for one day off a sentence for each day of good behavior.

Some commentators object to this policy as they believe the prisoners are being treated as a “captive labor force.”Although there are clearly disadvantages to the utilization of inmates to fight wildfires, there are countless proponents who believe the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks.

Only more time and continued [forensic] studies will produce reliable data evidencing the nature and extent of support and/or activities associated with time spent in prison or jail greatly enhance an inmate’s knowledge, social, physical, vocational, emotional and other positive skills, contributing to unprecedented levels of rehabilitation.

PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF VIDEO AND AUDIO RECORDINGS BY LAW ENFORCEMENT

In California, an increasing number of law enforcement officers are using body cameras [more commonly referred to as “body cams”], which are attached to their clothing to record the encounters and work they perform while on duty.

Proponents claim the goal is to increase the public’s trust and confidence in all peace officers, including the most obvious such as the police, sheriffs and CHP; as such, there may be 25% or more police agencies currently utilizing these devices. Additionally, it affords officers an opportunity to have actual evidence of their work in the field, and to defend against false accusations such as police brutality. Others accept transparency and police accountability as a valid premise, however, note the fact these devices can be shut-off and/or not turned on as a reason they feel far less confident in the process.

In criminal cases, body cam footage is available to defense lawyers as part of the discovery. On the other hand, such video records are not readily available in civil cases. However, during the earlier 2017 sessions of the California legislature, Assembly Bill 748 would have made the footage of body cams a public record; although proposed and later amended, AB 748 remains unapproved at this point. Hence, the public does not have an absolute right to the disclosure of video and audio recordings by law enforcement officers.

This subject might seem straightforward to most observers however, it is not. One of the arguments against the public’s right to obtain such audio and video recordings involves a person’s individual right to privacy. Whether it is a traffic violation, a misdemeanor &/or a serious felony, all of us believe in the premise “one is innocent until proven guilty.” As such, an individual’s identity, license number, address and other personal information that is part of the cam footage is and should remain protected. Until the Legislature adopts standards that can be incorporated into a bill that is passed and then signed by the governor, or becomes a referendum initiated by a vote of the public,  the matter remains an open issue depending upon the local jurisdictions in California and/or the courts that may deal with it on a case by case basis.

Federal Judge Halts California Ban on 10 Bullet Gun Magazines

California has one of the strictest gun laws in the nation. After voters on November 8, 2016 passed Proposition 63, the state legislature concurred and the Governor signed into law a ban on possessing high capacity ammunition magazines (those that hold 10 or more bullets), which law was to go into effect July 1, 2017, making it a misdemeanor with punishment of a $100 fine and up to one year in County Jail. Previously in 2000, it was only unlawful to sell or buy high capacity gun magazines. On June 29th, a San Diego Federal District Court Judge ruled the ban was an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment to the U.S Constitution.  A Sacramento Federal Judge previously declined to take such action. At this time, therefore, those that already possess large capacity gun magazines can now keep them until a higher court rules on the temporary injunction or it becomes final.

Proponents of the ban have claimed it forces those using guns to reload by changing smaller capacity gun magazines, thereby allowing a victim to subdue the assailant and/or have an adequate period of time to flee.

Opponents state that argument does not apply to law-abiding citizens who previously were allowed to keep the high-capacity magazines they owned, as part of their constitutional right to defend themselves and their families. Additionally, they argued the law would have taken away private property without compensation.

Although not the subject of this blog, the U.S. Supreme Court decided on June 31st to not hear a case in which gun owners had complained their right to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense outside of one’s home was denied because they could not prove their desire to do so in public was no different than the right to self-protection of the general population. Both Justice Clarence Thomas and President Trump’s recent nomination of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch came out with a very strong dissent to that of the majority essentially criticizing the indefensible power of the State to regulate.

California Bail Policies

There are over one million adult arrested in California on an annual basis. Current statistics reveal that approximately one third of these individuals are bailed out, and only about three percent (3%) fail to appear in court for one or more legal proceeding.

The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection of the law and the right to reasonable bail, but this subject is not simple and for some it is controversial. The intent of the bail system is to protect an individual who is presumed innocent  from being punished unless and until proven guilty. It involves the payment of money or a deposit of security to assure a defendant who is charged with a crime will be present in Court on each of the hearing dates. A fixed amount of bail is established by case law or statute, and it is based upon the severity of the crime(s) and the flight risk of the defendant. In other words, bail is used as an incentive for the defendant to  show up for each of the court proceedings

It has often been argued that being required to post bail places an unfair and unreasonable burden on the middle class, and even a far greater challenge for the poorer population who cannot afford to post large sums of money to be released from jail. Because one is considered innocent until proven guilty, which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the opponents of California bail policies point to the fact far too many are required to remain in jail because they cannot afford to post bail, and these very same individuals may later be deemed not guilty and/or likely enter into a plea agreement of a much lesser crime, which if that reduced offense was charged in the beginning, the bail would have been much lower. These opponents of the California bail system also argue taxpayers have to pay for the time and costs to maintain a defendant in jail, such as the salary of the Deputy Sheriffs, food and many other expenses related to the incarceration. It is further postulated that lawyers who have contested bail by taking the case to one of the six districts of the California Courts of Appeal, universally have been unsuccessful in reversing the Superior Court’s Order re: Bail.  

Proponents of the bail system in California contend that Superior Court Judges do an excellent job in their role of determining at a bail hearing or arraignment whether the facts support no bail (O.R. or free on one’s own recognizance); and/or imposing a lesser or higher bail amount. The Court reviews the defendant’s prior criminal history, if any; the seriousness of the current charges; whether there is  potential danger to the victim(s) of the crime and/or their family; the potential risk of harm to the public safety and, therefore, society at large; whether the defendant has ever failed to appear and, therefore, may now as well be a flight risk; and/or a host of other facts, including the “ties” the defendant has to the community, such as full time employment, a lease or ownership of his/her residence; and, family members; all of which tend to be relevant to the Court’s order regarding the extent of bail, if any.

California Government Considering Law to Become Sanctuary State

California Senate Bill 54 has recently been introduced; it proposes to establish a new law to prohibit law enforcement agencies from cooperating with Federal Immigration Authorities. Whether state law enforcement (State Police; CHP, etc.), county (Sheriff), city (local police),  school police or security departments, organization or individual, they would be prohibited from investigating, detaining and/or arresting anyone suspected of a crime that would constitute or be characterized as aiding, assisting, helping or facilitating the enforcement of immigration laws. The Attorney General of the State of California will also be mandated to publish model policies limiting assistance with immigration enforcement by the U.S.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In addition, the bill would require the University of California, public schools and libraries, along with all other facilities that provide services related to education, wellness, physical or mental health, and courthouses to implement a similar policy.

ICE would still be permitted to conduct deportation raids in California, however, they could not rely upon or be assisted by state or local law enforcement (police, sheriffs, etc.). Basically, California would become a “sanctuary state” and countless numbers of individuals claim the state would be protecting criminal felons from being deported. In addition, ICE would be banned from entering jails to interview inmates suspected of living in the United States illegally.

You may be against the idea of sanctuary cities, but as you can see from SB 54, our California government is currently in the process of establishing it as a “state sanctuary.”

Opponents have argued against this bill because it would allow those with criminal records, such as violent felons, to remain on the streets. Proponents  claim by protecting immigrants, even those who have committed violent crimes and/or other felonies,  it is the only humane thing to do for anyone who lives in California. They cannot accept the proposition that there have been many innocent citizens who have been murdered at the hands of undocumented immigrants with prior criminal felony records.

Additionally, Senate Bill 54 does not distinguish between those non-documented immigrants who have a minor infraction, such as driving with an expired vehicle registration tag or broken taillight, and those who are extremely serious and heinous criminal offenders, such as having been convicted of murder, rape, arson and child molestation. Hence, California’s 2013 Trust Act that protects unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16 and other undocumented individuals living in California, who otherwise have been law-abiding, would be superseded by SB 54 and, therefore, these individuals would then be subject to deportation by ICE officers if they were arrested for an infraction.

 It has been reported that California gets about $1 BILLION A DAY from the federal government, and if that is withheld as a sanction against stopping immigration officers from picking up non-documented individuals (politically correct name for illegal immigrants) who have a criminal record, there will inevitably be budget shortfalls in California.

Even if the majority of the California  population oppose sanctuary cities, and no doubt will oppose SENATE BILL 54 that otherwise will make California a “sanctuary state,” if you want this to go to a referendum (to be put on a forthcoming ballot so everyone can have a chance to vote their conscience), you should place your name, city and email address on the web page posted by and this link from California State Senator Jeff Stone.

CAUTION: You May Get An Email, Text or Pop Up And It May Not Be Authentic !!

One of the newer scams is pop ups; these are windows that automatically appear on your cell phone screen, desktop monitor, laptop, tablet or notepad. Originally they were intended and, therefore, designed as a form of online advertising to attract business to a website. More recently, some have become a tool to not only capture the email addresses on your device, but some may also be fraudulent, using 1000’s of popular site names.

Be extremely cautious before you do anything on your device, such as replying to an email, &/or acting on a text message, or a pop up.

Sadly, they can easily copy genuine logos and addresses.  +The following are examples merely listed to remind each of us these are elusive criminals preying on billions of people and businesses on a daily basis +using all too familiar and very common genuine business names like: Microsoft, Intel, Norton’s, Facebook, iTunes, HP, Epson, Apple, Yahoo, Google, AT&T, Gmail, AOL,  National, Regional or Local Banks, Maps, Media Player, Real Player, Music, Weather, Flashlights, Apps, Texts, a nd many other popular applications that are used by hundreds of billions of individuals, including each of us.

It is not that you have yet to see any of these scams, but when this will occur.

Merely shutting down your device might not be a solution, as it might also be the trigger for them to gain access, if not already!!

They look genuine and are intended for you to simply:

push “ok” 

or

click ” here

or

update now

or to simply

reply

and your Computer, Cell phone, Tablet &/or Laptop is open to them to see everything, including your usernames, passwords, and anything you want to be private; and, then face the huge problem of getting them off, if they have not also “ locked your device ” so you cannot access it without calling or texting a number to pay a ransom.

It has been suggested that the alternative is to go online and find the “actual” and “genuine” business, then search to see if they have and use a genuine app, and/or call and speak to their customer service to inquire if there is a link to their app and the online page for you to click. Remember, to be extra cautious and really certain the email, text message, popup and app is authentic before you click, update, open or reply.

Some cyber specialists also recommend we do not provide our identification information to a retailer; nor to anyone when surfing the internet. Take the same precautions whether you have contacted a business to make a purchase or sought a service through the internet This cautionary note is also important when providing your private information to anyone who has contacted you, whether in person, via text, email or on the telephone.

It is a sad commentary that we have to be guarded when we get an email, text message, see a pop up or we are asked to update a particular software on any of our devices. Now we may even need to have a concern, for example, when we get a call from a charitable organization asking us to make a contribution; here as well, we may want to ascertain if they are the authentic entity who they say they are, and/or do not adequately protect the credit card information you decide to give to them. Some individuals do not respond at all; others have chosen to use a money order or check, and send it through the U.S. Postal Service.

California Recent Change to Marijuana Law

Under the ballot measure designated as Proposition 64 that was passed by 57% of the voters in the November 8, 2016 election that became effective November 9th:

1) those convicted of a felony as a result of possession, transportation &/or cultivation of marijuana can have it reduced to a misdemeanor;

2) the County Public Defender in San Diego has offered to file the Petition for free even if the crime occurred years ago, and even if the defendant was previously represented by private counsel;

3) if the San Diego District Attorney decides there is a basis to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor, the defendant may not even have to appear in Court;

4) the current process in San Diego allows the Superior Court to re-sentence a defendant from a felony to a misdemeanor, or dismiss the charges [it would seem beneficial to have private counsel if one hopes to obtain a full dismissal of a prior felony conviction];

5) the law also now permits anyone over age 21 to possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana, or grow at any one time up to six marijuana plants at their residence.

6) the maximum penalty is now up to six months in the County Jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for those who grow, transport or sell marijuana, which are now misdemeanors.

7) there are certain exceptions causing the case to be charged as a felony, such as:

  • the defendant has prior convictions for the sale of drugs;
  • the defendant is charged with transporting marijuana into the United States &/or across state borders. For example, one cannot obtain marijuana in a state in which recreational use is legal and bring it into California;
  • the defendant has a prior conviction of certain felonies that are deemed “strikes;”
  • the defendant is a Registered Sex Offender [RSO].

8) in addition, there are miscellaneous restrictions in connection with marijuana, such as:

  • there are Federal laws that apply to the use, possession, sale, transportation and/or cultivation of marijuana;
  • driving while impaired by the use [under the influence] of marijuana is a crime in California;
  • smoking marijuana (a joint) (pot) in public is still illegal;
  • a store, shop, or retail establishment that sells recreational marijuana must check ID’s to be certain they are not selling marijuana to a minor; and such a business cannot be within 600 feet of a school, daycare or youth center;
  • unless the law is amended, a medical marijuana dispensary and/or an entity that cultivates marijuana cannot legally sell to an adult recreational user [includes social, personal or nutritional uses] until January, 2018;
  • advertising that is aimed to minors is prohibited;
  • a city or municipality has the power to issue an ordinance to ban the sale of marijuana; and if they permit such a commercial entity to do business, they have the power to regulate those entities under zoning laws.
  • an employer can lawfully require all prospective employees to pass a drug test as a condition of employment for certain positions as long as no individual or group is unlawfully selected, such as discrimination on the basis of race, nationality, religion, sexual preference, etc.
  • an employer can lawfully refuse to hire an employee who has tested positive for marijuana, even though it was legally prescribed for a medicinal purpose

9) nonetheless, there are still advantages to have a felony reduced to a misdemeanor, including but not limited to allowing an individual to maintain &/or obtain current and future: employment, security clearance, insurance, rent or lease property, and, in specified instances to possess a firearm, etc.

On the other hand, it is still likely if one has a professional or occupational license in California, or seeks to obtain such a license,  the state licensing Board, Bureau, or Department will require one to report a crime, whether a felony or misdemeanor; and, they will investigate and likely file an Accusation even if a misdemeanor is expunged. At Spital and Associates, we aggressively seek to present a comprehensive and cogent treatise with a compelling defense and offense and utilize forensic experts (adding the technical science) to marginalize any such investigation or Accusation.

Any discussion of marijuana of necessity has to include what opponents consider to be the dangers of such use. The short term effects include but are not limited to causing changes in a person’s mood, but  it can also impair body movement; as well as difficulty in attention and/or memory (learning) and/or problem solving (thinking). It has also been reported that marijuana raises one’s heart rate, which can increase the risk of a heart attack, particularly with older individuals and/or those with congenital or later developed or contracted heart problems.

The long term effects can adversely impact the previously mentioned mental abilities, and possibly cause permanent loss of certain brain functions. In some individuals,  the long term use of marijuana can cause temporary symptoms such as paranoia and hallucinations, as well as anxiety and depression that has been linked to mental illness. Not only can there be a loss of physical and/or mental health, but it has also been described as a “gateway drug” because it can lead to the use of other drugs and narcotics (some of which are highly addictive and deadly).  In addition, the smoke can harm a person’s lungs and, therefore, cause lung cancer. The risk to the development of a child during and after pregnancy is still unknown. When one seeks to stop using marijuana, there may be withdrawal symptoms.

You are encouraged to consult with a physician in terms of  medical and psychological issues; and, it is recommended that you obtain the advice of an experienced lawyer in regards to each and all of the above items to determine whether and to what extent any apply to you, a loved one, and/or a friend or associate. If you desire a Free Attorney Consultation, call 619.583.0350 and ask for Sam Spital, Managing Lawyer or send an email

Ratings and Reviews