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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Major Meth Bust in Fresno Leads to Federal Charges

Federal charges
Expired registration tags precipitated a series of arrests in California when authorities found the driver to be in possession of a pound of meth and other drugs, ABC 30 reports. Minor infractions are often a catalyst to remarkable drug busts in the Golden State, the crisscross of highways and interstates being notorious for the transporting local-grown marijuana and other drugs crossing the southern border from Mexico.

Ever since Federal and state officials began cracking down on methamphetamine, culminating with the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005, the vast majority of crystal meth which people use in the United States originates in Mexico. Gone are the days—for the most part—of clandestine meth labs at trailer parks and in the trunk of cars in a state of disrepair, the meth Americans use today is manufactured in cartel super labs. It is much easier for people in Mexico to acquire the necessary precursors for synthesizing the drug.

The cartels, ironically, have a way of capitalizing on American laws to curb substance misuse and abuse. The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 has the unintended effect of opening a new market for the cartels, just as crackdowns on prescription opioid misuse brought about a dramatic surge in Mexican heroin trafficking.

Major Drug Operation Bust in Fresno

The arrest of David Stuard of Fresno, CA, led the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office to the seizure of five weapons and another 45 pounds of meth, and six more arrests, according to the article. The seven people in custody are facing Federal charges; and, local and federal investigators continue to try to pinpoint the source of the drug. In response to the Fresno drug sting, some people are using it as an opportunity to attack California's sanctuary state law, including U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott. However, Scott acknowledges that the sanctuary state law has no bearing on the Fresno meth bust.

"Something is rotten in Denmark, with the California Criminal justice system, said U.S. Attorney Scott. “It has gone too far in decriminalizing crime in this state." 

Although, as Tony Capozzi, a former Federal Prosecutor, correctly points out:

"There is not a lot of difference between the state [California] and federal penalties when it comes to drug offenses.”


Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges, please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. With over 30 years of experience, attorney Brower can give you the best chance of finding a favorable outcome.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

California Supreme Court Sides With Criminal Defendants

criminal defendants
The California Supreme Court is the first state high court to consider and decide on the issue of whether or not social media companies should turn over users' public communications to criminal defendants in response to subpoenas, The Los Angeles Times reports. The Supreme Court was unanimous in their decision, siding with the criminal defense bar overturning a previous appeals court decision that said that criminal defense lawyers could not impel companies like Facebook and Twitter to comply with subpoenas prior to trial.

The decision last Thursday is a huge win for those facing charges that could be vindicated via online communications. What’s interesting is that while social media companies would cite federal privacy laws [Stored Communications Act] as cause for not wanting to cooperate with defense attorneys, police and prosecutors have had little trouble acquiring the same kind of information in the past.

"Whenever criminal defendants subpoena records that we think we need to prove our clients are innocent, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ignore us completely," said Janelle Caywood, a criminal defense lawyer who has attempted to subpoena user information. She adds, "This is the first step in the right direction to full and fair access."


Social Media Companies Must Comply With Subpoenas

The landmark California Supreme Court decision came about from a drive-by shooting case in San Francisco, according to the article. One of the defendants, 14-years of age, said that he’d been "tagged" in an Instagram video featuring guns by one of the victims. Defense lawyers served subpoenas on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the accounts of a witness and the victim. Adducing the Stored Communications Act, the social media companies refused to comply with the subpoenas. The 14-year old admitted to shooting the victim six times, adding that and the victim "would have done the same thing to us."

Companies have to comply with subpoenas from defense attorneys for users' information, public at the time of the request, says California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.

"A provider must disclose any such communication pursuant to a subpoena that is authorized under state law," writes Cantil-Sakauye in the decision.


Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges, please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. With over 30 years of experience, attorney Brower can give you the best chance of finding a favorable outcome.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

First Judicial Recall in More Than 80 Years

judicial recall
In 2015, Emily Doe became a victim of sexual assault after blacking out from drinking too much alcohol. In March of the following year a jury found, then Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner (20), guilty of three felonies:
  • Sexual penetration with a foreign object of an intoxicated person;
  • sexual penetration with a foreign object of an unconscious person;
  • and, intent to commit rape.
Sexual assault and rape occur on college campuses across the country at an unbelievable rate. Research varies somewhat, but it’s possible that 25% of undergraduate women experience sexual assault while in college, according to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). It is worth keeping in mind that campus sexual assault and rape often goes unreported, so it’s possible that such crimes are even more pervasive than studies show.

At the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower, we have been following the Brock Turner case with some interest for two essential reasons: the guilty verdict led to a shockingly light punishment from Judge Aaron Persky and the fact that the sentence led to a successful judicial recall last week. The latter being the first such instance of recalling a judge in California in more than eight decades, The New York Times reports. While ending the judge’s career may have in fact been warranted given the circumstances, the implications of such a move could have a lasting effect on the criminal justice system.

A 6-Month Sentence for Sexual Assault

Brock Turner served three months of a six-month jail sentence for his crimes. The former collegiate swimmer’s name is on the list of registered sex offenders, and he is on probation for three years. It’s worth pointing out that the crimes Turner was found guilty of were punishable by 14 years in prison. Judge Persky argues that such a lengthy sentence would have done irreparable damage to the life of the young athlete, but he said little of the lasting damage that sexual assault would likely have on Emily Doe for the rest of her life.

Even though Judge Persky was cleared of any official misconduct, Michele Dauber, a law professor at Stanford took measure to recall the judge—acquiring the necessary number of signatures to allow Californians to vote on the matter, according to the article. Ms. Dauber’s daughter is a friend of Emily Doe, so there is arguably a personal element to the professor's successful recall campaign.

“The voters of Santa Clara County are the winners of this election,” Michele Dauber, a law professor at Stanford who led the recall campaign, said in a statement. “We voted that sexual violence, including campus sexual violence, must be taken seriously by our elected officials, and by the justice system.” 

Many legal experts thought Turner’s sentence was too lenient but opposed the recall, the article reports. It’s probable that judges will be less likely to consider leniency even when the circumstances of a particular case warrant lighter sentences.

“Most of the judges in California would have done the same thing as Judge Persky,” said Jeffrey Rosen, the Santa Clara County district attorney, “which told me the problem was not the judge but the law, and that the law needed to be changed.”

As we have highlighted in the past, Turner’s sentencing did lead state lawmakers to change the law; sexual assaults now carry mandatory minimum sentences.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges, please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. With over 30 years of experience, attorney Brower can give you the best chance of finding a favorable outcome.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

AB 931: Reasonable Use of Force in California

Ab 931
The swath of killings involving unarmed black men in the United States has led many people to ask the question, ‘What is a reasonable use of force?’ Naturally, there isn’t an easy way to answer such a query, and depending on who you ask (i.e., police officer or average citizen) you might get totally different answers; however, it is hard to ignore an essential question, ‘Is the perception of fear—warranted or not—just cause to take another's life?’

There is a long list of people who are no longer alive because a police officer exercised what he or she believed was reasonable force, just in the last five years alone. In the case of Trayvon Martin, his life came to an end when a member of the neighborhood watch felt it necessary to protect the streets. In either type of scenario, police or “upright citizen,” there are severe concerns in every state about justified use of force.

National worry about 'reasonable' use of force by police extends far beyond cases involving firearms; there are numerous instances when academy-taught forms of restraint result in loss of life. But, and by and large, most people want answers as to why police officers are using their service weapon to stop unarmed people? Some will say that it is poor police training, others will adduce race and racism as the cause for “un-reasonable” use of force; while it may be impossible to get to the root cause in every case, most would agree that something needs to give.


California Assembly Bill 931

Bringing about changes in police practices isn’t an easy task, and there isn’t a guarantee that the Federal government will step in to ensure public safety. Whenever police departments are sued for wrongdoing, things rarely go the way that the pursuant hopes; what’s more, police officers suspected of wrongdoing, by and large, don’t serve any significant length of time. Without making examples out of individual officers, it is unlikely others will change their ways.

In the wake of several cases of excessive force, legislators in California put forward Assembly Bill 931, The Los Angeles Times reports. AB 931 would allow police to use deadly force only when it's "necessary" to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death; lethal force would be justified if, given the totality of the circumstances, there were no reasonable alternative, i.e., warnings, verbal persuasion, and other nonlethal methods of resolution or de-escalation. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean and Jesse H. Choper distinguished professor of law at the UC Berkeley School of Law, states:

“Being a police officer is unquestionably a dangerous job that often requires split-second life-and-death decisions. But too many have died and been seriously injured from unnecessary police use of deadly force. Reforming the laws that set the standards is essential and California can lead the way.” 

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges, please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. With over 30 years of experience, attorney Brower can give you the best chance of finding a favorable outcome.

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