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Law Office of Ronald G. Brower Blog

 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Seal Beach Massacre - Eight Life Sentences

Derkaai
Some of our readers may remember when a custody dispute escalated to mass murder nearly six years ago. On October 12, 2011, Scott Evan Dekraai walked into Salon Meritage beauty salon in Seal Beach to kill his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier. If that weren’t bad enough, he opened fire thus killing a total of eight people before the incident ended in Dekraai’s arrest. The salon shooting was the worst mass shooting event in Orange County's history.

Then in 2014, Dekraai's attorney announced that a guilty plea would be submitted before a jury-trial would commence. This case, as tragic as can be imagined, became complicated by allegations made Dekraai after his arrest, claiming that the Orange County Sheriff's Department improperly used jailhouse informants to collect evidence against him. The allegation played an important role in the Orange County Sheriff's “snitch scandal.”

 

Mass Shooter Finally Sentenced


The salon massacre case has finally come to a close. Last week, Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals handed Dekraai, 47, a life sentence for each victim, The Los Angeles Times reports. Eight consecutive life sentences. The numerous relatives and friends of the eight (8) victims were reassured that Dekraai would live the rest of his days “in some forgotten corner of California.”

“The gates of hell flew open,” Judge Thomas Goethals told Dekraai at the sentencing, “and you emerged as the face of evil.” 

At the sentencing, some of the victims' friends and family members were given a chance to address the court, according to the article. Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas found themselves in the crosshairs of Paul Wilson, the husband of one victim. Wilson pointed out the use of an informant only complicated matters, causing prolonged pain and suffering.

“I wish they had the integrity not to cheat,” Wilson said.

 

Orange County Criminal Attorney


Obviously, being charged with any form of homicide presents a serious situation and every accused is entitled to legal counsel. The Dekraai case has been a learning experience for our entire county.  Attorney Ronald G. Brower has extensive experience in homicide defense and is prepared to provide the quality representation you or a loved one will require.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Policing for Profit in California

Civil asset forfeiture is a product of the American “war on drugs.” We have covered this subject in recent months due to the passing of Senate Bill 443. The bill went into effect in California at the beginning of the year, prohibiting law enforcement from seizing assets valued at less than $40,000 without a criminal conviction. Just one of many steps being taken across the country in recent years to protect Americans from unlawful seizure of property.

As we have mentioned in the past, civil asset forfeiture laws and rules were written with drug dealers in mind, specifically gangs and drug cartels. However, there is significant evidence of law enforcement agencies, both federal and local, using the practice to turn a profit. It has been shown that most of the money and property being seized is coming from average Americans—not drug dealers.

In fact, a video has gone viral showing at the University of California Berkeley police officer taking cash out of the wallet of a hot dog vendor recently, ABC 10 reports. The crime: operating without a license. The police officer confiscated the vendors $60 as "suspected proceeds of the violation."

 

Did the Police Officer Break the Law?


A number of people have been chiming in, responding to what they saw in the video. Many asking: under SB 443, did the UC police officer break the law? Due to the fact that the vendor had not been convicted of a crime, only cited. And the proceeds in the bacon hot dog makers wallet only added up to $60 (far shy of the required $40,000), it would seem that the police officer had no right to confiscate the vendor’s proceeds.

Please take a moment to watch a video below:

 
If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

As an aside, California was ranked second worst regarding civil asset forfeiture laws, according to the Institute for Justice (IJ). Something that the state hopes SB 443 will fix in the coming years.

 

Was Your Property Unlawfully Seized?


As you can see, SB 443 has not stopped some police officers from unlawfully seizing property. It is likely that the “hot dog” case is not an isolated event. If you feel that your property was seized illegally, please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

District Judge Anderson Rejects Bail

lee baca
Over the last year and beyond, we have been closely following the developments of former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. Recently we wrote about a Federal Judge sentencing Baca to three-years in Federal prison for obstructing an FBI investigation into abuse of county jail inmates. Of course, Baca’s attorney is challenging the guilty verdict by way of appeals and his attorney had hoped to keep the former Sheriff out of prison during the process. One of the argument being that Baca, now 74-years old, is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Unfortunately for Baca, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson rejected Baca’s attorney’s arguments for bail, and has ordered that Lee Baca should spend “his best remaining days” in prison, The Los Angeles Times reports. This does not mean that Baca will be sent to jail immediately, because his attorney will ask the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overrule Anderson regarding bail during the appeal process. It could take several weeks or months for the court of appeals to decide, and Baca can remain free until such time.

 

A Cruel Rejection?


It appears that the former Sheriff abused his power and broke the law. Therefore, he, like anyone else, should be held accountable and serve his time. Alzheimer’s disease is a serious and deadly illness, some readers may feel that Judge Anderson’s bail rejection is cruel, considering that Baca may not be long for this world. However, the decision appears to be grounded in reason. Anderson pointed out that if the disease worsens while Baca appeals his verdict, Baca’s worsened mental state could “complicate or prevent resentencing or further proceedings,” according to the article. Anderson wrote:

“Moreover, given the progressive nature of Alzheimer’s disease, the delays in this action, and any additional delay before defendant begins serving his sentence should defendant be granted bail pending appeal, would continue to allow defendant to spend his best remaining days on bail rather than incarcerated. In the face of these concerns, defendant has offered no evidence and precious little argument of a non-dilatory purpose for his appeal despite repeated opportunities to do so.”

Baca's best hope now is the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. We will continue to keep you up to date regarding this case.

 

Southern California Criminal Attorney


If you live in the Orange County area and are in need of solid legal representation, please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. Attorney Brower is a well-respected, seasoned attorney who has be practicing criminal law for over three decades.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Judge Persky Judicial Recall Continues

The story continues regarding the recall of Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, following his controversial sentencing of former Stanford University Swimmer, Brock Turner. If you were one of the millions of Americans who felt that a six-month sentence for raping a fellow student was far too lenient, then it’s likely that you wanted to see Judge Persky face repercussions.

The Brock Turner case led to redefining the criteria for rape and sexual assault in California. As well as imposing mandatory prison sentences for those convicted of some sexual assaults, including those involving victims who were unconscious or incapable of giving consent due to intoxication. It also led to a pouring in of support for a judicial review and recall of Judge Persky for what many have dubbed a slap on the wrist for a heinous crime. But, naturally Judge Persky was not going to go down without a fight.

 

Judicial Recalls


After Turner was sentenced, a campaign to gather signatures for a judicial recall was launched. With the aim of getting the recall on the June 2018 ballot. However, Persky’s attorneys fought for a temporary halt on gathering signatures, which a California judge granted. Judge Persky probably considered the temporary stay as a victory, albeit one that would be short lived.

Retired Judge Ksenia Tsenin went ahead and lifted the temporary restraining order on collecting signatures, allowing the process to move forward, CBS SF Bay Area reports. Tsenin’s ruling was cheered on by supporters of recalling Judge Persky. The same supporters have some 159 days to collect 58,634 signatures for making the June 2018 ballot.

“We’re very thankful that the judge ruled in favor of Santa Clara County voters and their constitutional right to petition to recall Judge Persky,” said Recall Persky Campaign chair and Stanford Law professor Michele Dauber after today’s ruling. “This ruling validates our belief that Judge Persky filed a frivolous lawsuit that was intended to stall, delay and obstruct the democratic process, and also to waste taxpayer money.” 

Please take a moment to watch a short video below:


If you are having trouble watching please click here.

We will continue to follow the recall case as it moves forward.

 

Legal Trouble


If you or a loved one has been charged with an offense, please contact Attorney Ronald G. Brower. For over thirty years, he has provided excellent representation for defendants in Southern California.

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