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Thursday, January 30, 2014

LAPD Detective and Deputy District Attorney attacked in courtroom

The LA Times reports that Wednesday morning, in Department 134 of the CJC (CCB), Deputy District Attorney Hilary Williams and LAPD Detective Myra Kellum were injured when defendant Jesus Mendez threw a metal chair at them.


For full details here are links to the LA Times articles:

LAPD detective injured when murder defendant throws chair in court.

Defense attorney describes courtroom attack on LAPD detective.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sheriff Baca: Expect “No Apologies” on Retirement.

On Wednesday, January 29, 2014 Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca will give a “keynote” farewell speech at his retirement party. Those who have watched the sad demise of the four-term Sheriff might have expected Baca to make a speech consistent with his stated reasons for retirement; a desire to end the rancor and avoid any further tarnishing the image of the Sheriff’s Department with the scandals that have plagued Baca’s reelection bid.

Sheriff Baca has chosen Carmen Trutanich to be "Guest Speaker" at his retirement celebration. 
But Baca’s choice of failed former City Attorney and onetime District Attorney wannabe, Carmen “the Clown” Trutanich as his “Guest Speaker” at the farewell event, suggests that Baca is planning to deliver the same kind of blame-shifting no apologies “I’ve done nothing wrong” exit strategy that was the hallmark of each and every one of Trutanich’s many monumental failures.

This is not a joke. Trutanich is indeed slated to be "Guest Speaker" as Baca's retirement.
In June 2012, when Trutanich suffered a humiliating defeat in the District Attorney primary election, Baca was one of the last men standing at the San Pedro “Victory Party” when the LA Weekly reported that the self-anointed front-runner wasted no time in blaming the media for a "major league onslaught" against his candidacy. "Barack Obama is getting hammered right now," Trutanich said. "I think the negative campaign against me is worse."

Baca’s choice of guest speaker probably means we are in for more of the same, with the media to blame. It is truly a pity that Baca has chosen to mark the end of his career on such a low note with such a shabby guest speaker.

Sheriff Baca was to have delivered a keynote victory speech at Trutanich's
San Pedro Victory Party. It was not to be.
The specter of Trutanich has already cast a dark shadow over the event; many are opting to “be somewhere else” rather than be publicly associated with the kind of flawed morality and failed leadership that defined Trutanich’s brief tenure as City Attorney. And while many political and law enforcement leaders were willing to risk their reputations by attending a farewell event for Baca, the Trutanich factor pushes the envelope of acceptable political sacrifice too far. “I was stunned to see Trutanich named as guest speaker on the invitation,” one longtime Baca supporter said. “I love Lee, but Trutanich was a self-promoting piece of crap from the get go and I never understood why Lee allowed himself to be used by him.” he said, adding that he will send Baca a card rather than attend the event. Others have cited the “short notice” (invitations went out on Friday, 5 days before the event) as the reason they will be unable to change their schedules to attend.

Baca’s choice of Trutanich to herald his departure from the Department is also seen by many as yet another sign of the 48-year law enforcement veteran’s failing judgment. “Why would you want someone publicly branded as a liar by the LA Times, someone who shamelessly broke his promise to voters, and someone who spectacularly lost two elections, to be the guest speaker at your retirement?” an observer commented. “It undermines all the good that Sheriff Baca has done, and suggests he is the same as Trutanich.” he said.

Guest Speaker at Baca's retirement will forever be remembered by the LA Times headline
"Carmen 'I am a Liar' Trutanich"
As poorly advised as Baca must be to have someone like Trutanich as his retirement speaker, Baca cannot claim to be entirely unaware of the many reasons why he could not have picked a more unworthy and unpopular guest speaker. Baca was fully involved in many of the political scandals that torpedoed Trutanich’s DA campaign.

It started with Baca making an illegal “in uniform” endorsement for Trutanich.



That caused the Trutanich campaign to have to pull and edit their lavishly produced “True Stories” campaign video to remove the illegal endorsement. The added expense of removing the illegal endorsement was for naught, when days later, the reedited video was pulled altogether for violating YouTube’s “deceptive content policy” when the LA Times reported that Trutanich had paid for some 724,000 YouTube views, falsely claiming the video had “gone viral.”

Sheriff Baca must have been aware of moves by Trutanich to unlawfully divert a $2M
settlement check from the DA's Office to Baca, a 'political ploy' according to the DA
Baca also became embroiled in Trutanich’s failed attempt to divert a $2M consumer fraud settlement check to Baca. Trutanich tried to justify the diversion on the grounds that the money could be used to pay for processing rape kits. The diversion was not only illegal, but at the time there was no longer any backlog of rape kits. Tellingly, then District Attorney Steve Cooley described Trutanich's actions as a "political ploy."

Sheriff Baca was not involved in Trutanich's lie about being "surrounded and shot at by gangmembers"
but even he must have realized Trutanich's tale was sheer fantasy and utterly false.
Although Baca was not involved in the scandalous allegation that Trutanich had lied about being surrounded and shot at by gang members, as a law enforcement expert, even Baca must have realized that Trutanich’s tall tale of bravado in the face of death, was completely implausible.

An investigation by the FBI into fundraising activities on behalf
of Trutanich's failed DA campaign is said to be ongoing.
More recently, Baca was linked to the FBI’s investigation into improper fundraising activities in support of Trutanich’s failed DA campaign. That investigation is understood to be separate from the FBI’s inmate abuse investigation and is believed to be on going.

If Baca’s unwise association and involvement in many of Trutanich’s failings was not reason enough for many to shun the retirement event, there is another; the awful prospect of having to listen to another one of Trutanich’s overly long, often rambling and largely incomprehensible speeches. Some time ago, former Daily News Editor, Ron Kaye, published An Hour With Carmen Trutanich. It was, perhaps, intended to be a puff piece for Trutanich hailing his so-called accomplishments in the face of growing criticism. Kaye himself must have been surprised by the 24 comments he rapidly received, all of which likened the prospect of spending an hour with Trutanich to something akin to Chinese water torture or running fingernails down a chalkboard.

There is, of course, another reason why Baca may be stuck with Trutanich as guest speaker; perhaps nobody else wants the job. If that’s true, it’s a sad endnote to a career that despite a rocky ending, has some highlights. Baca has made huge progress in the jails with his Education By Incarceration program, offering inmates a chance to learn life skills to help them upon release. He has also saved the futures of many young people with his Youth Foundation. But to have those achievements, and many others, hailed by someone who will forever be remembered by the LA Times headline “Carmen ‘I am a Liar’ Trutanich,” is an insult to the Sheriff. For all his flaws, he deserves better than Trutanich.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Newsbriefs

Deputy District Attorney Serena Murillo to run for Judge


The Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports that Deputy District Attorney Serena Murillo will become the eleventh DDA to enter the race to become a Los Angeles Superior Court Judge in the June primary election.

Murillo previously ran for Judge of the Superior Court in 2008, narrowly losing out to then Commissioner Harvey Silberman amid shenanigans that led to the conviction of two of Silberman's campaign consultants. Murillo stated that she found the experience so distasteful that she would never run for office again.   

Serena's campaign website is: www.MurilloForJudge.com

Full report to follow. Click here for details of the other DDAs who have announced their candidacies.

Sheriff candidate Paul Tanaka probably regrets his interview with John & Ken


Former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who was Sheriff Lee Baca's right hand man, must have thought he was in for a right-wing law and order love-fest when he accepted an invitation to appear on the John & Ken Show on KFI AM640 on Tuesday evening. Tanaka wants to replace Baca, and doubtless thought he would boost his chances with a prime time interview during LA's rush hour.

He was wrong, as LA Weekly's Gene Maddaus reports, and as anyone who listened to the interview must surely agree. Tanaka sounded more like a suspect than a candidate, dodging questions, claiming lack of memory, and denying any responsibility for having anything to do with the scandals that occurred on his watch.

The interview can be heard by clicking her to link to KFI's website, and it's truly shocking. So shocking that John & Ken have decided to replay the entire interview on Thursday afternoon.

Sheriff Baca has made the selfless decision to withdraw from reelection to save the department (and himself) further embarrassment. Tanaka should do the honorable thing and withdraw for the same reasons.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Game Changer: Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell to run for Sheriff

Ever since Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca announced that he would withdraw his reelection bid, speculation has been rife that Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell would reconsider his June 2013 decision not to run for Sheriff. Last week the Dragnet hinted that the speculation was fact, and today the LA Times confirmed that McDonnell has indeed entered the race.


McDonnell's decision is understood to have been made late last week, and delayed only while the former LAPD second in command, and current Long Beach Police Chief, put the final pieces of his campaign in place. McDonnell has secured the services of political strategist Parke Skelton, who expertly handled District Attorney Jackie Lacey's campaign. He is also understood to have secured  key endorsements District Attorney Jackie Lacey and former District Attorney Steve Cooley, as well as a soon to be announced slew of endorsements from law enforcement and political leaders in Los Angeles County.

McDonnell's entry to the race is believed to be the "game changer" that had been rumored even before Sheriff Baca announced his retirement. The devastating news that 18 deputies had been indicted on the same day that Baca's downtown fundraiser flopped, increased pressure on McDonnell to throw his hat into the ring, and Baca's withdrawal ended any doubt that McDonnell could muster the support he needs to win election as LA County's next Sheriff.

The news of McDonnell's candidacy must come as a blow to former LASD Commander Bob Olmsted. With Baca out of the race, and his former second in command Paul Tanaka likely to withdraw his candidacy, Olmsted looked like the clear favorite. Olmsted has raised and impressive $250k from grassroots supporters, and retained Shallman Communications to handle his campaign. But with the media now likely to support McDonnell's candidacy, and the public perception that much needed change at the Sheriff's Dept must come from the outside, Olmsted's chances of doing better than second place in the run off looks dim. In a statement to the LA Times, Olmsted attacked McDonnell, labeling him as a political opportunist for jumping into the race after Baca dropped out. Olmsted will have to do better than that.

McDonnell, a 28 year veteran of the LAPD, before becoming Chief of the Long Beach Police Dept. in 2010, rose under former LAPD Chief Bratton's reign and, according the the LA Times, "was viewed as an ambassador who helped the department build bridges with the city's diverse communities and political leaders as Bratton's chief of staff and second-in-command."

With many hoping for a Bratton-like leader to replace Baca, McDonnell's candidacy could not be stronger. Bratton, who has not been shy to weigh in on political endorsements, could son become one of the many law enforcement leaders to support McDonnell for Sheriff and light up the race for Sheriff.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Deputy District Attorney Candidates for Los Angeles Superior Court 2014

UPDATED: See below, a tenth DDA candidate has emerged.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Carter has become the ninth member of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office to throw her hat in the ring to become Los Angeles Superior Court Judge in the 2014 primary election.

Deputy District Attorney Amy Carter is running for Los Angeles Superior Court Judge
in the 2014 Primary Election
Like many of her fellow DDAs in the 2014 race to be elected as Superior Court Judge, Carter has retained David Gould to manage her campaign. Unlike many, it is understood that Carter has amassed a substantial campaign warchest to finance her campaign, rumored to be over $500k.

Carter has the endorsement of District Attorney Jackie Lacey and retired District Attorney Steve Cooley as well as other endorsements on her website www.AmyCarterForJudge.com.

Carter recently boosted her profile with a stellar performance in the high profile case, People v. Barker, in which Carter co-chaired the First Degree murder trial with fellow DDA Linda Loftfield.  Scott Barker was found guilty of the 2010 brutal slaying of Tony Takazato in Beverly Hills. Takazato, son of Japanese movie producer Fuminori Hayashida, was 21 when Barker stabbed him 58 times at his father's multimillion dollar home in Beverly Hills' exclusive Trousdale Estates. The four week long trial attracted media attention with the LA Weekly providing, perhaps, the most colorful coverage.

Carter's expert handling of that case established her amongst the ranks of the most qualified to become Superior Court Judges, like many of her fellow DDAs also seeking election. That coupled with an enviable campaign warchest establishes Carter as a candidate for Judge to be taken seriously. Very seriously.

For the sake of completeness, here is an alphabetical list of the eight other DDA candidates who have announced their intention to seek election to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 2014.

Andrew Cooper

Website:  http://AndrewCooperForJudge.com

Christopher Frisco
 
Website: http://ChristopherFriscoForJudge.com (currently under development), click here for Met News-Enterprise reportage.

Donna Hollingsworth Armstrong
Website:  http://www.ArmstrongForJudge.com

Dayan Mathai
Website:  http://MathaiForJudge.com and click here for Dragnet's previous coverage.

Alison Matsumoto Estrada

Website: http://EstradaForJudge.com and click here for Met News-Enterprise reportage.

Stacy Okun-Wiese

Website: http://WieseForJudge.com

Ann H. Park

Website: http://ParkForJudge.com and click here for Met News-Enterprise reportage.

Teresa Pineda Magno
 
Website: http://www.MagnoForJudge.com

It is understood that there could be as many as eight open seats on the 2014 ballot, so there should be few instances where DDAs will have to run against each other. Careful choice of ballot designations and well funded campaigns will hopefully see many these candidates continuing the tradition of furthering the mission of the DA's Office as Judges, seeking to enhance the fundamental right of the people of Los Angeles County to a safe and just society in a fair, evenhanded and compassionate manner.

UPDATED: DDA Carol Najera to run against sitting Judge

Sources inform the Dragnet that veteran Deputy District Attorney Carol Najera is running for Superior Court, making ten Deputy District Attorneys seeking Judicial Office in the June 2014 primary election.


Website: http://www.carolnajeraforjudge.com

Unlike the nine other DDA candidates detailed above, it is understood that Najera plans to run against a sitting judge; the Hon. James B. Pierce who presides at the Long Beach Courthouse. Najera is currently assigned to the DA's Office in Long Beach. Najera is, perhaps, best remembered for co-chairing the successful re-trial of the murderous Menendez Brothers.

It is not the first time that Najera has sought election to the Superior Court, in 2003 the Met News-Enterprise reported that Najera filed a declaration of intent to run for an open seat in the 2004 primary election. At that time Najera provided this information to the League of Women Voters. Najera placed third out of a field of five candidates in the primary election, with 19.73% of the vote.

According to Najera's FaceBook Page, she will kickoff her campaign at a "Launch Party and Fundraiser" on January 23, 2014 at the District Wine Bar in Long Beach.



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Baca Out, McDonnell In?

The LA Times has confirmed the rumor that has been rattling around, veteran LA County Sheriff Lee Baca is to drop out of the race to be reelected.


Whether Baca will retire before his term expires at the end of 2014 to allow the Board of Supervisors to appoint an interim Sheriff, or remain in office to the end, remains to be seen.

Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell, who dropped out of the race last year citing difficulties associated with running against an incumbent, it understood to be making an announcement imminently as to the way Baca's withdrawal changes the scenario.

Currently, former Commander Bob Olmsted is the only candidate in the race to replace Baca who has raised funds for the countywide battle.

Also rumored to be sizing up the Sheriff's seat for a return to Los Angeles is former LAPD Assistant Chief and current San Francisco DA George Gascón

More to follow...