Archive for the ‘California Über Alles’ Category

Short random notes: September 24, 2015.

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

James Mee has his job back.

I feel sure I’ve written about this before, but I can’t find the post now. Mr. Mee was a deputy with the LA County Sheriff’s Office. He was fired because of his alleged involvement in a police chase that ended when the vehicle he was supposedly chasing crashed into a gas station.

At least, that was the claim. So why was he really fired? Well, Mr. Mee was also one of the officers who arrested Mel Gibson back in 2006.

Mee’s lawyers argued that sheriff’s managers falsely blamed Mee for leaking details of Gibson’s 2006 arrest and the actor’s anti-Semitic tirade to celebrity news site Mee, his attorneys alleged, was repeatedly subjected to harassment and unfair discipline in the years that followed, culminating in his firing over the 2011 crash.

This one’s for Lawrence: Frank Gehry is working on a project to rehabilitate the Los Angeles River. This has some people upset.

(Obligatory. Plus, the video I’ve linked to before has been taken down, so call this a bookmark.)

Flaming hyenas update: September 10, 2015.

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow’s trial is set to start November 2nd.

But that could change.


Six of “Shrimp Boy”‘s co-defendants pled guilty yesterday.

…George Nieh pleaded guilty to every count filed against him, including 146 counts of money laundering and a slew of weapons and drug charges. Leslie Yun pleaded guilty to five counts of money laundering and drug-related charges.
Kevin Siu pleaded guilty to eight of the 24 money laundering counts against him, and Alan Chiu pleaded guilty to 13 of 36 money laundering charges.
Yat Wa Pau pleaded guilty to trafficking in contraband cigarettes and admitted to his involvement in sales of contraband cigarettes worth more than $300,000.
Andy Li pleaded guilty to felony possession of a firearm along with money laundering and marijuana possession.

The judge is considering postponing the trial, I guess so “Shrimp Boy”‘s legal team has time to evaluate the situation and possibly change their strategy in light of the guilty pleas.

As a side note, sentencing for convicted former California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee is scheduled for October 21st.

Flames, hyenas, chow: August 5, 2015.

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

I got dragged into something literally the moment I hit the door at work this morning. Not that I’m bitter or anything. But it did mean that my blogging time was cut short.

This, in turn, meant that Lawrence beat me to the latest developments in the Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow case. Really, I was going to blog that. But, to summarize:

…federal authorities shielded San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee from prosecution despite evidence from the FBI that he had taken bribes, funneled through two members of the city’s Human Rights Commission.


Lee “took over $20,000 from federal agents in his first four months in office,” Briggs said. He said the government “successfully engaged both (state Sen. Leland) Yee and Mayor Ed Lee in bribery scandals, yet only indicted Yee,” who had run unsuccessfully against Lee for mayor in 2011.

I suppose it could be selective prosecution. Then again, it could be: if you have a choice between indicting the guy who took bribes, and the guy who took bribes and engaged in gun running, who are you going to pick?

Also possibly of interest:

…state Assemblyman David Chiu wore a wire for the FBI as part of a years-long investigation of the alleged Chinatown gang leader.

Chiu and Chow were involved in a dispute: Chiu pulled funding for the Night Market after finding out Chow was involved with it.

As we reported at the time, Chow wasn’t happy and took out an ad in the Chinese press likening Chiu to “a corpse eating a vegetarian dinner.” Chow’s attorney wrote a letter to the supervisor threatening legal action for having disparaged his client.

“a corpse eating a vegetarian dinner”? Perhaps that makes more sense in the original Klingon.

Notes from the legal beat: July 9, 2015.

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

It’s Baltimore, gentlemen. The gods will not save your job as police commissioner.

I’ve been sort of generally following the whole “illegal alien shoots woman on a pier” story, and there’s something I’m wondering about. Set aside for the moment the whole “five-time deportee” thing. Ignore the “gun belonged to a federal agent” thing.

The guy claims he was shooting at sea lions. So? Well, aren’t sea lions generally out to sea? Or at least in the water? Like at a 90 degree angle to the actual pier? Okay, maybe it wasn’t exactly 90 degrees; it could be 45 or 30. But my point is, the sea lions would be in the water; you’d have to swing the muzzle pretty far around to “accidentally” shoot someone on the pier. Then again, your average drug addict is probably not exactly well known for muzzle discipline.

(Edited to add: Mike the Musicologist informs me that they guy has changed his story: “the gun went off accidentally”. Three times.)

(Hattip to Tam on the shirts. I’m planning to order one soon.)

I’ve written previously about Kelly Siegler, the former Harris County prosecutor (famous for re-enacting a stabbing during a murder trial) who helped get Anthony Graves off of death row and Charles Sebesta disbarred for hiding exculpatory evidence. I’ve never met Ms. Siegler, but I’d like to: I have enormous respect for her role in the Graves/Sebesta case, and she’s another person that I’d enjoy having some good barbecue and a large orange with.

So this makes me a sad panda, but honesty requires me to note it:

A Beaumont judge who decided that David Mark Temple deserves a new trial in the 1999 slaying of his pregnant wife cited 36 instances of prosecutorial misconduct in his ruling, most of which are tied to legendary former Harris County prosecutor Kelly Siegler.

“Of enormous significance was the prosecutor’s testimony at the habeas hearing that apparently favorable evidence did not need to be disclosed if the state did not believe it was true,” Gist wrote.

For example, the judge noted, Siegler specifically called only a small number of the many investigators who worked the case to testify in the trial. By doing this, the prosecutor would not have to give the defense team any reports from the investigators who did not testify.

This does raise a question in my mind (and please remember that I Am Not A Lawyer): is the prosecution required to disclose all evidence, even evidence that they don’t believe to be true? Or that is clearly not true?

The “don’t believe to be true” is kind of slippery; I’d tend to think that simple “don’t believe it” isn’t enough to bar disclosure. But let us say that the DA investigator is interviewing someone who claims to be a witness to the murder. And let’s say that witness has spent the past 30 years marinating every one of his brain cells in pruno, Sterno, Thunderbird, and anything else he can get his hands on. And let’s say the witness tells the investigator, “Yes, I saw that man stab the victim. And then the UFO came down with a bunch of little green men, and the guy with the knife climbed on board the UFO, and then it took off again.” Is the prosecution required to give that statement to the defense?

(And, if they did, would any defense attorney actually use that statement in court?)

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#21 in a series)

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

“…Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.”

Yes, I am chortling.

Indicted former California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee will soon be convicted former California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee.

Former California state Sen. Leland Yee pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering in federal court Wednesday, admitting that he “knowingly and intentionally agreed with another person” to take part in a criminal enterprise and commit at least two offenses and affect state commerce.

More from the SFChron:

In return for the payments, which totaled $34,600, Yee said in his plea agreement that he promised to vote for legislation his donors favored, recommend a software company for a state contract, arrange a meeting with another state senator over legislation, and illegally import firearms, including automatic weapons, from the Philippines. He said the transactions covered a period between October 2012 and March 2014, when he was planning his campaign for California secretary of state.

You may recall that Yee was a gun control advocate, and was honored by the Brady bunch.

Also pleading guilty to racketeering were Keith Jackson, a former San Francisco school board president who served as a consultant and fundraiser for Yee, Jackson’s son, Brandon, and sports agent Marlon Sullivan.

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

The racketeering charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

This appears to be the Federal statutory maximum sentence. As we all should know by now, this figure is misleading. But:

Yee’s plea agreement, as described in court, did not include a recommended sentence. But the agreement for Keith Jackson, who admitted the same charge, specified that prosecutors could seek a maximum of 10 years in prison, and the defense could request a minimum of six years.

And the judge can ignore those requests and recommendations.

The important question: what of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow? Still awaiting trial, but the judge “asked prosecutors to include Chow, who is still in custody, in the next group scheduled for trial.”

Related question that you may have been wondering about: does the plea deal mean that Yee is going to roll on Chow? I can’t deny it: I love using the phrase “Yee is going to roll on Chow”. But:

The plea agreements do not require any of the four defendants to testify or cooperate with the prosecution, said Brandon Jackson’s lawyer, Tony Tamburello. Both Brandon Jackson and Sullivan pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy involving the Ghee Kung Tong.

The Ghee Kung Tong was Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow’s organization, which is described as “…as a racketeering enterprise that trafficked in drugs, weapons and stolen goods” in the Federal charges against Chow.

Edited to add: Thanks to Ken at Popehat for linking to convicted former California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee’s plea agreement. I apparently can’t copy or paste stuff from the plea agreement PDF, so I’ll just note that Yee specifically admits to the gun running charges in his plea.

Not going to go there. Wouldn’t be prudent.

Friday, May 8th, 2015

What prompts this? Today’s LAT:

Why the police shouldn’t use Glocks

I hate to be a wimp about this, but I don’t have either the time or the need to stress test my cerebral arteries this morning. I’m hoping that someone smarter than I am, like Tam, will take on this dreck: if not, maybe I’ll give it a shot at lunch.

What? What?

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

An aide to [California] state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris and two others are accused of operating a rogue police force that claimed to exist for more than 3,000 years and have jurisdiction in 33 states and Mexico, authorities said Tuesday.

This is not an Onion article.

Brandon Kiel, David Henry and Tonette Hayes were arrested last week on suspicion of impersonating a police officer through their roles in the Masonic Fraternal Police Department, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“The Masonic Fraternal Police Department”. You know what the difference between fiction and the real world is? Fiction has to be believable.

In other news…

Law enforcement officials have long focused on Georgia and neighboring states with looser gun laws as the starting point of a so-called iron pipeline of guns flowing north, to New York and other cities, where the restrictions on legal gun purchases are more stringent — and the profits higher for traffickers.

Odd that these places with “looser” gun laws have lower crime rates. Also odd that this is tied to the death of NYPD officer Brian Moore, because…

Early one October morning in 2011, two masked men with gloved hands smashed their way into a roadside pawnshop in rural Georgia, fleeing with 23 handguns.
Four years later, on a street in Queens on Saturday, a man raised one of those guns — a silver, five-shot Taurus revolver — and fired three times at New York police officers. A bullet struck Officer Brian Moore in the face; he died on Monday.

Yes. The gun was stolen, so of course Georgia’s looser restrictions on gun purchases are at fault.

Happy April Fools Day!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Our policy regarding your personal data:
Please stop sending us your personal data.
We are running out of places to put it.
Is this even yours?
Does anyone recognize whose data this is?
Oh jeez never mind here comes more data.
Why are you doing this?
Please stop.

NSA Tells Public To Reduce Use of Passive Voice In Email

“Congress To Extend Copyright Terms for All Artistic Works to ‘Life of Mickey Mouse plus 70 years.'”

The Internet of Fish.

California’s new state flag.

More later, maybe. It has been a busy morning.

The Taste of Schadenfreude.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

From the Austin Chronicle‘s runoff endorsements for District 8:

In October, when we endorsed Scruggs, we noted his bulldog efforts to create a Demo­cratic outpost in Circle C, his attention to thorny issues like global warming and gun control, and his affable leadership style.

Ed Scruggs was also one of the people who lobbied the Travis County Commissioners not to renew the contract for gun shows at the Expo Center.

How did that work out for you, Ed?


Oooooooh. Not so well.

By way of Overlawyered, here’s an Orange County Register article on the Costa Mesa PI case, which I wrote about a few days ago.

I was not aware that the law firm had shut down; that’s a good first start, but nothing in the article indicates that any of the lawyers involved have been forced to surrender their licenses.

Even after the phony DUI report, as the union attempted to distance itself form its former law firm – Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir – and the P.I.’s records show that money continued to flow from the union to the law firm to investigators.
The affidavit shows that even after the union said it fired its law firm, after word of the DUI setup got out, the union continued to pay its elevated retainer rate of $4,500 per quarter to the firm as late as January 2013. Lanzillo and Impola were paid by the law firm through January, as well.

Another thing I’m curious about: why does the Costa Mesa Police Department continue to exist? At this point, given that the department is clearly out of control to the point where they’re threatening politicians, wouldn’t it be better to disband them, fire everyone, and let the county sheriff’s department patrol Costa Mesa until they can build a new department from the ground up?

(Of course, this being California, many of the crooked cops from Costa Mesa will probably end up with jobs in the sheriff’s department or other cities in the area.)

Bad boys and losers: December 12, 2014.

Friday, December 12th, 2014


Two private investigators accused of tailing an Orange County councilman with a GPS device and setting up another by calling in a false drunk driving report were charged Thursday with false imprisonment and conspiracy to commit a crime, the district attorney’s office said.

The PIs were working for a law firm that represented “more than 120 public safety unions”, including the Costa Mesa Police Association. I’m hoping that they roll, and that this ends with jail sentences and disbarment.

Philadelphia is currently 2-19. However, that might not be bad enough:

In two games on Friday, the four bottom-feeders of the [Atlantic] division will face off. The 4-20 Knicks will face the 7-13 Celtics, and the 2-19 76ers will face the 8-12 Nets. The good news is that the four teams, which enter with a combined record of 21-64, will by default improve their combined winning percentage. The bad news is that fans will be asked to watch games in which one could argue that no one is trying to win.

Has the NYPD been fabricating gun cases?

Each gun was found in a plastic bag or a handkerchief, with no traces of the suspect’s fingerprints. Prosecutors and the police did not mention a confidential informer until months after the arrests. None of the informers have come forward, even when defense lawyers and judges have requested they appear in court.

But what would be their motivation?

… a group of officers invents criminal informers, and may be motivated to make false arrests to help satisfy department goals or quotas. They also question whether the police are collecting the $1,000 rewards offered to informers from Operation Gun Stop, especially in cases where the informers never materialize.

NYPD officers faking information to collect money from Operation Gun Stop? That’s unheard of!

Random notes: December 3, 2014.

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

It is official: University of Alabama-Birmingham is shutting down the football program.

On the one hand, I feel a little sorry for the players and staff who are getting jammed up, especially since there’s a lot of speculation that the regents (including Bear Bryant’s son) have been out to screw UAB and the football program. On the other hand, I really want to see more schools shut down their football programs. If the NFL wants a minor league, let them start their own, instead of riding on the backs of universities. On the gripping hand:

UAB is also cutting its bowling and rifle programs.

They cut the rifle program?! Philistines! (“Don’t shoot my sacred cow!”)

This could turn into something interesting:

Criminal investigators with the U.S. Coast Guard are probing an elite group of Los Angeles firefighters at the city’s port to determine whether federal licensing records were falsified for crew members assigned to large fireboats, The Times has learned.

Well. Well well well. Well.

Monday, December 1st, 2014

As the threat of federal charges looms over eight former Fort Worth police officers accused in a traffic ticket scandal, a Tarrant County prosecutor revealed that state charges were dropped this year because evidence shows the city was using an illegal quota system.


The quota accusation was first raised in 2010 by an attorney for some of the fired officers when they appealed their terminations.
Lt. Paul Henderson, then [Police Chief Jeff] Halstead’s chief of staff, dismissed that accusation, saying, “The Fort Worth Police Department does not have ticket quotas.”
Henderson was later fired after his arrest on suspicion of DWI.

“There was never even an effort, however, to explain the supposed difference between ‘you write four tickets an hour or you don’t work STEP’ and a ‘quota,’ ” the attorneys wrote in their motion. “The illegal activity was, therefore, not only illegal and ongoing, there was a concerted, albeit sophomoric, effort on the part of the police department to disguise the illegal activity and to cover it up.”

In El Paso, 18 police officers were indicted in recent years after an investigation into similar reports that officers falsified documents to gain overtime pay through a state Transportation Department grant program.

Houston also had their own overtime scandal
, but I’m unclear if it also involved state grant money.

Hattip: Grits for Breakfast.

Here’s another one from over the weekend that also made my jaw drop:

In a shocking action, Judge Morrison C. England Jr. ordered the recusal of every federal judge in the Eastern District of California. (Emphasis added – DB)

What happened? Briefly, Sierra Pacific Industries and some other companies have been fighting the Justice Department for several years. Justice accused the defendants of causing a forest fire, and managed to get 22,500 acres of land transferred to the government, along with $55 million in payments over five years. Sierra Pacific and the other defendants argued that they didn’t start the fire, and that Justice…

“…presented false evidence to the Defendants and the Court; advanced arguments to the Court premised on that false evidence; or, for which material evidence had been withheld, and obtaining court rulings based thereon; prepared key Moonlight Fire investigators for depositions, and allowed them to repeatedly give false testimony about the most important aspects of their investigation; and failed to disclose the facts and circumstances associated with the Moonlight Fire lead investigator’s direct financial interest in the outcome of the investigation arising from an illegal bank account that has since been exposed and terminated.”

Hattip: Overlawyered.