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.

Court of Appeal Recuses Orange County District Attorney’s Office in Murder Case

On November 23, 2016, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the Superior Court’s Decision  recusing the entire District Attorneys Office in Orange County [OCDA] in the penalty phase of a case in which the defendant had previously pled guilty to eight counts of murder. The Superior Court concluded the OCDA had such a severe conflict of interest (its duty to fairly prosecute a case under the rule of law) with the [OCSD] Orange County Sheriff’s Department (in which the loyalty by prosecutors to  the sheriffs conflicted). As a result, the court held  it was unlikely the defendant could have a fair trial. This determination came after hearings over a period of six months in which nearly forty witnesses testified as to the systemic, known and prejudicial use of confidential informants that violated the constitutional rights of inmates, along with substantial discovery failures of the OCSD.

The ruling came after a  murder trial heavily reported by the media involving a defendant who with a barrage of gunfire killed eight individuals at a hair salon where his former wife was working. Although the Deputy Public Defender representing the defendant eventually discovered sheriff’s deputies were using confidential jailhouse informants to solicit incriminating statements from high-profile defendants, the District Attorney’s Office and its prosecutors on an ongoing basis failed to disclose this practice.

 

California Death Penalty. Vote November 8th

There are two measures  that deal with the death penalty in California that are on the ballot in the forthcoming November 8th election. California has the largest number of inmates awaiting the death penalty of all the states. The last execution in California was about ten years ago when it was legally challenged because of a claim, among other things, that the process of using lethal injections was inhumane. The last attempt to abolish the death penalty occurred in 2012.

The first measure on the ballot is Proposition 62, which replaces the death penalty with life in prison without any possibility of parole and applies retroactively to all previous and existing cases in which anyone is currently incarcerated and facing the death penalty. If enacted into law, it will [also] apply to all future first degree murder convictions in which the death penalty would have been the sentence. In September of this year, a Field poll was conducted of likely voters and found that a plurality of voters (the most posted online votes, but not a majority of all votes which would be over 50%) wanted to abolish the death penalty and, therefore, voted that it be repealed. It is noteworthy that there were a substantial number of “undecided” voters, however,  and they will likely make the difference in the outcome on November 8th.

Those that oppose the death penalty cite, among other things, the following reasons: it is unfairly applied to minorities, the procedure is inhumane, and the process is costing far too much to the people of the State of California. Proponents of execution as the form of punishment assert this penalty is reserved for what can best be described as a most heinous and despicable crime against humanity, causing unparalleled and life long suffering to the families of such victims; and, there are newly developed procedures associated with death penalty cases that are being considered.

The second measure on the ballot, Proposition 66, is considered a competing measure and much different than Proposition 62 in that it speeds up executions and the death penalty process by requiring the outcome of a defendant’s appeal to not take more than five (5) years. A little over 1/3 of those in the Field poll noted above were in favor of this Proposition, but more importantly, about 42% of those who were polled were “undecided” and will indeed make a difference in the outcome of this Proposition.

To promote justice for whom they claim at this point in time are at least 1000 victims and their families, there are District Attorneys in the multitude of California counties, the California Highway Patrol Association and Peace Officers Association, along with victim advocates who are among those behind Proposition 66 declaring it to be much needed. The Office of the California Legislative Analyst reported when it last made a study it costs nearly $50,000 per year per inmate to be incarcerated in our State Prisons. The cost of a death row inmate is about $90,000 more per year due to the costs of lengthy and complex appeals to the California Supreme Court, which currently has a backlog that can take ten or more years for a ruling.

Today, there are about 750 Death Row inmates that for decades have been incarcerated in prisons. Proponents of Proposition 66 also note such inmates get three meals a day in state prisons that have heating and air conditioning; with access to cable TV and a library; and each receive nearly unlimited heath care, including but not limited to eyeglasses; dental care; hearing aids; hip, kidney, knee, heart and sex change surgery, all of which are often far better than most of us who do not get free health care, including senior citizens who often cannot afford the escalating cost of living, prescription medicine and/or a satisfactory long term care facility. In summary, these are stated as further grounds to support Proposition 66 and limit the current delays and streamline the criminal justice system in California.

If both measures were to pass on November 8th, then the one with the greatest number of votes will become law in California.

You are urged to vote on these and other critical issues that concern all of us in the forthcoming election.

Are Firearms The Real Problem or People Who Abuse them?

With the escalating scourge of mass killings, we are obliged to examine both the underlying causes of and potential solutions to drastically reduce mass shootings, by those with depraved and evil minds, sociopaths, psychopaths, terrorists and barbarians who without any conscience (morals) whatsoever use military style assault weapons and/or stockpile and then utilize huge quantities of bullets and large quantities of ammunition magazines to murder innocent and unsuspecting individuals regardless of age, race, sex,  .

It is noteworthy, the subject of colossal shootings is complex and there are clearly two sides of the equation. Moreover, these concerns are not new; sadly and repeatedly have political overtones. Hence, it is hoped the reader of this blog will perform his/her own search on the internet to review state and federal firearms laws, exceptions, limitations and other issues, including actual statistics. We should be mindful that these are serious and horrific acts, yet we need to acknowledge there also are far more deaths that are due to other causes (such as deaths due to driving under the influence, but for the sake of this comment only and albeit an over simplification and generalization, but we do not outlaw or seriously limit the sale &/or consumption of alcohol).

Proponents of gun control claim we need stricter gun control laws. Opponents claim we already have strict regulations, and in those jurisdictions that have “gun-free zone” laws in which it is prohibited from having a firearm these locations have a far higher number of shootings.

First, it is noteworthy, that the Federal Gun Control Act, enacted in 1968, establishes a list of those (such as felons) who are prohibited from possessing, obtaining or receiving firearms and ammunition. In addition, there are many other restrictions as to the sale, use, possession, transfer, etc. of such weapons. Click the following link for the 247 page Federal Firearms Regulations: Federal Reference Guide

Second, California has one of the strictest gun control laws in the United States. Yet, the recent shootings in San Bernardino, a large metropolis in California, occurred even though assault weapons were used and are already against the law. Also, California has a huge number of restrictions, such as limiting large capacity magazines that hold a dozen or more bullets. Click the following Link for the California Firearms Laws summary: California Firearms Law

Is the solution to enact tougher gun laws? If so, why did the most recent shootings occur in three states (California, Colorado and Oregon) that already have very strict gun laws?

Some pundits argue the states that have the most lenient rules and regulations regarding firearms have the lowest number of mass shootings; perhaps, because terrorists look for sites where they will not face opposition by individuals that “carry” weapons. Maybe that is one of the reasons movie theaters and malls, shopping centers, schools, churches and social centers, etc. have been the place of choice and selected by such terrorists. These same pundits encourage individuals to arm them self to be able to defend and/or fight back; they note that police cannot be on every corner and the drive time to respond is too great to risk your death or anyone else in the interim. Some advocate we urge our legislators to pass emergency legislation to increase the number of police, sheriff and FBI, and give them the power they need to accomplish their job.

It is hoped this blog will open a further dialogue in the reoccurring debate that includes many who claim taking away &/or more severely limiting those law abiding individuals who desire to possess and/or carry firearms will not prohibit the lawless, who it seems inevitably find ways to obtain whatever weapons they desire, whether illegally or not. Choose the narrative you feel comfortable with, but be open to seeking a realistic solution that is based upon logic, reason, and, of course, our United States Constitution, and not political rhetoric. Contact your state and federal legislators to voice your opinion.

Appeals Court Upholds California Death Penalty

On November 12, 2015, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld
the constitutionality of the California Death Penalty and in so doing reversed the ruling by the US District Court that decided under the 8th Amendment it was unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment because of lengthy and unpredictable delays. The California Attorney General argued the delays were a result of the number and length of time involved in the legal maneuvers and appeal process that affords inmates their constitutional right to file appeals and writs of habeas corpus.

The history of the case is that in 2003, the California Supreme Court upheld the underlying conviction of the defendant/inmate on first-degree murder and rape charges.

In California since 1978, there have been approximately 900 defendants sentenced to death, with only 13 actual executions, and none in about ten years. Executions at San Quentin State Prison have been on hold since 2006 when a Federal Judge deemed there to be legal issues with the then current and past combined multi-drug lethal procedures. Since there is now a national shortage of single lethal drugs that too poses additional problems. In California, there are now about 750 inmates on death row (about 100 died while imprisoned due to other causes).

Boston Bombing – A Fortuitous Event?

On the anniversary of the Boston Bombing, April 15, 2013 in which three innocent victims were killed and nearly 300 others were injured, many are asking whether this was a fortuitous event, or calculated killings by terrorists using weapons of mass destruction. Even more compelling is the surfacing of information that one of the bombers has been linked to a triple murder in 2011 in which three individuals had their throats sliced. These insights raise a question as to whether the bombings last year could have been prevented had even only one of the radical extremists been arrested and convicted for the slayings in 2011.

Some commentators contend the government lacks the tools to prevent such horrific crimes to maintain the safety of our citizens. Others believe it may be politics and a lack of communication between agencies; they remind us of the 9/11 deaths they claim may have been prevented had the CIA and the FBI shared data bases and the substance of their respective investigations. The sad reality is that religious fanatics are rapidly increasing all over the world, and many in society are afraid to criticize under the veil of freedom of religion. Regardless how small in number they may be the fact remains the murders that have been committed have changed the way far too many people all over the world now have to live. Few will take issue with the fact we need to do more for the family members of those killed, other survivors and first responders, and to pay tribute to each and every one of them.No one disputes that we need to put a stop to senseless carnage.

$1-million arrest warrant issued for suspected killer

Authorities are searching for Dantjier Domenick Powell, who is wanted in connection with the murder of YouTube reality show star Domonique Newburn.

Newburn was found dead in her apartment on August 20. The transgender woman appeared in the premiere episode of “Hollywood Houseboys,” a program following the lives of young, gay black men trying to make it in LA.

According to the police, Powell may have been in a relationship with Newburn. This is a tragic story, and our hearts go out to Newburn’s family and friends.

 

Fort Hood trial resumes

The soldier on trial for the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood is continuing to represent himself after his standby attorneys claimed that he was trying to get the death sentence for himself.

The judge refused the attorneys’ request to be either removed from the case or be allowed to take over, saying that the lawyers simply did not agree with Maj. Nidal Hasan’s defense strategy. But they insisted, and said that they would file an appeal with a higher court.

The lawyers face an untenable conundrum in having a client refuse to follow their advice. The importance of trust and confidence as well as cooperation cannot be overstated as they are critical to the attorney-client relationship. The judge also has to struggle with guaranteeing the defendant is afforded the constitutional safeguards including the right to due process, even when the defendant refuses assistance and clearly inhibits the opportunity for a fair trial.

COMENTARY BY SAM SPITAL, SAN DIEGO CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER

When media interferes with politics

“This case is an example of how politics and the media wrongly interfered with our American justice system.
First, law enforcement did its job and after its investigation concluded they did not have probable cause to arrest Zimmerman. However, there were inappropriate remarks by some politicians and others, including statements made by the President, that in turn were publicized by countless reporters in the media, that made the case more about race than thousands of other tragic deaths in society all over the United States. This pressure changed the direction of the case from a tragic accident or one of self defense to a charge of murder and manslaughter.
Everyone knows there are more killings in Chicago and Detroit than other large cities, but this scourge in comparison has received very little media attention, and certainly less remedial action by politicians and the President.
Second, when the goal of honest journalism is to analyze all of the facts to produce a fair and balanced report,we have in this case instead witnessed the opposite. Furthermore, this case is an example of how reporters fueled the fires, forcing the system to improperly react, resulting in Zimmerman being arrested and having to be jailed for a year while he waited for a trial. Then, the pundits argued the wisdom or lack thereof of the “stand your ground law” and ignored the most elementary rule of law, self-defense.
Lastly, even the judge apparently feared she would be unfairly criticized so defense objections in the Zimmerman trial were overruled and evidence the defense sought to introduce was barred. It appears the judge was overly concerned the media would blame her if there was an acquittal.
In the end, we all lose when our justice  system is manipulated and/or influenced by politics and not objectivity and restraint. Here, the rule of law was sacrificed in order to satisfy political correctness (politics and the media), but it is hoped this case will now have a positive influence so what took place is never repeated.”
Commentary by 
Sam Spital, San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer and Former Deputy Attorney General, State of California Department of Justice. 

Former Marine accused of killing girlfriend in Panama

The disappearance of 42-year-old Yvonne Baldelli took a twist on Thursday when her boyfriend was accused of murdering her, then concocting an elaborate cover-up. He allegedly sent fake emails from her account, telling her family that she was having a great time, and he withdrew money from her bank account.

Brian Brimage, a 37-year-old former Marine, pleaded not guilty to charges of obstruction of justice and making a false statement to a federal officer.

Our hearts go out to Yvonne’s family during this difficult time.