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Law Office of Ronald G. Brower Blog


Thursday, February 28, 2019

DNA Leads To Arrest In Newport Beach Cold Case

We have written about DNA as it pertains to the law on numerous occasions. A person’s genetic fingerprint being left at the scene of a crime can make a prosecutor’s case; but, it can also prove someone’s innocence, even decades later.

Last year, we covered the remarkable story of the apprehension of the “Golden State Killer.” DNA brought former law enforcement officer Joseph James DeAngelo to the attention of authorities. As we pointed out, law enforcement officials attribute 12 murders and around 50 rapes to DeAngelo throughout many years.

The ability to use genetic material to solve crimes has been around for decades. However, new advancements allow scientists to find out the identity of criminals through their family tree. Experts no longer require the suspects DNA; they only need one of their family members to get curious about their heritage. Millions of Americans now use ancestry websites to find out more about their origins, much to the annoyance of those who would harm other people.

1973 Newport Beach Slaying Solved

Last year, the Newport Beach police took a fresh look at the 1973 slaying of 11-year old Linda O'Keefe, NBC News reports. O'Keefe had resided in the surf-side neighborhood of Corona del Mar when last seen alive on July 6, 1973. She was found the next day with strangulation marks around her neck.

“For 45 years, the Newport Beach Police Department continued to search for Linda’s killer," said Newport Beach Police Chief Jon Lewis. "Generations of investigators worked on her case. We never gave up." 

The revitalized investigation led to the arrest of a Colorado man named James Alan Neal, 72, according to the article. Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said that interest in Neal stemmed from genealogical DNA. Using genetic material voluntarily given to ancestry research companies, DNA investigator CeCe Moore was able to point authorities in the right direction.

Orange County Criminal Defense

If you are facing criminal charges in Southern California, The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower can help you secure a favorable outcome to your case. With decades of legal experience, Attorney Brower can advocate for you in several practice areas. Please contact our office for a consultation.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

The First Step Act

First Step Act
Reducing recidivism rates in California is vital to lowering California state prison populations. One way to keep men and women from returning to incarceration is to provide support following release, without it the risk is high.

The Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program (CCTRP) allows eligible offenders with serious and violent crimes committed to State prison to serve their sentence in the community at a CCTRP instead of confinement in State prison. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation CCTRP provides rehabilitative services that assist with alcohol and drug recovery, employment, education, housing, family reunification, and social support.

Another program available to state prisoners meant to reduce recidivism rates is the Male Community Reentry Program (MCRP). The program permits eligible offenders to serve the end of their sentences (up to one year) in the community. MCRP provides a range of community-based, rehabilitative services that assist with substance use disorders, mental health care, medical care, employment, education, housing, family reunification, and social support.

Naturally, the above initiatives are only for prisoners in California. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of similar options for men and women serving time in Federal prisons in California and beyond.

The First Step Act

Programs like the Custody to Community Transitional Reentry Program and the Male Community Reentry Program have helped thousands of people make a smoother transition back into society. There is ample evidence to suggest that working with inmates before their release can better ensure successful outcomes following parole. By assisting prisoners long before they are paroled, it can have a significant impact on both convicted felons and the communities they return to down the road.

In December, The First Step Act was signed into law to support federal inmates through the utilization of in-prison programs. The New York Times says the legislation will deliver "the most significant changes to the criminal justice system in a generation."

The First Step Act authorizes $75 million per year for five years for in-custody programming that prepares inmates for life after release, The Mercury News reports. The funding will expand the number of inmates who can participate and support them better along the way.

Orange County Attorney At Law

The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower invites Californians who are facing legal trouble to contact our team for support. With decades of criminal justice experience, Attorney Brower is the best candidate to advocate for your freedom. 714-997-4400

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Reducing Police Shootings In California

AB 931
Some California lawmakers would like to change the rules of engagement regarding the use of deadly force involving peace or police officers. Last summer, The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower shed some light on California Assembly Bill 931. The legislation would have made changes as to when law enforcement could resort to lethal force. After severe push-back from police groups, AB 931 was shelved for a later date.

While most Americans can agree that utilizing deadly force should only occur when necessary, there will probably always be a debate about when it is warranted. Because, at the end of the day citizens, and those who keep the peace, should both be afforded the right to safety.

Even though AB 931 was set aside, civil rights advocates and law enforcement lobbyists, along with legislative aides, are working on what new “use of deadly force” legislation should entail, CALMatters reports. It is likely that a new version of the bill will be forthcoming in the very near future.


Reducing Police Shootings In California

Assemblymembers Shirley Weber and Kevin McCarty are the architects behind legislation to reduce police shootings in California. Civil rights activists are looking out for the interests of the mostly black and brown communities, that are most often affected by police officers exercising the use of deadly force. On the other side of the debate are the law enforcement associations, which feel that changing deadly force rules will put peace officers' lives in jeopardy.

“Our law is way too permissive. It gives very broad discretion to use force to kill people regardless of what other options (an officer) had,” said Lizzie Buchen, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “There’s a pretty overwhelming perception by the public that police operate with impunity and that they can kill people without being held accountable.”

“Ninety-nine percent of the time officers are reacting to the way someone is approaching them. To sit here and say if I roll up on a scene that I have to use a Taser, a night stick, and go hands-on before I can use deadly force, you’re jeopardizing public safety,” said Brian Marvel, president of the Peace Officers Research Association of California. “We have all these tools on our belt and depending on what we’re facing and how violent the person is toward us will determine what force we use.”

Please take a moment to watch a short video on the subject:

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.


Orange County Criminal Defense

Having the right legal representation can make all the difference, if you are facing criminal charges. Please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower to learn how we can help you achieve a favorable outcome with your case. Attorney Brower has decades of experience making him the ideal candidate to advocate for your family.

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Friday, February 1, 2019

'Gay Panic Defense' Bans

gay panic defense
California Assembly Bill No. 2501 was approved by Governor Jerry Brown on September 27, 2014. The legislation amended Section 192 of the Penal Code, relating to manslaughter. AB 2501 banned a controversial manslaughter defense known as 'gay panic defense.' Before we get into what such a defense entails, it is prudent to discuss what constitutes manslaughter.

In California, the definition of voluntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a person “without malice upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.” Those found guilty of the crime face incarceration for 3, 6, or 11 years in state prison. While the definition appears to be fairly straightforward, what is an appropriate justification for manslaughter is not so cut and dry.

While more and more people in the United States are tolerant of equal rights for the LGBTQ community, there still exists individuals who take issue with the sexual preference and the preferred gender identity of others.

It is not unheard of for an individual, upon learning that they were flirting or intimate with a transgender or homosexual, to commit deadly acts of violence. With such knowledge in hand, they commit manslaughter in the “heat of passion.”

‘Gay Panic Defense In California and Beyond

The passing of AB 2501 means that:  

...for purposes of determining sudden quarrel or heat of passion, the provocation was not objectively reasonable if it resulted from the discovery of, knowledge about, or potential disclosure of the victim’s actual or perceived gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, including under circumstances in which the victim made an unwanted nonforcible romantic or sexual advance towards the defendant, or if the defendant and victim dated or had a romantic or sexual relationship.

In fact, the American Bar Association is calling upon state legislatures to put an end to gay and trans panic defenses, according to NBC News. The organization insists that this type of argument is neither medically nor psychologically sound. Such strategies imply the victim is to blame for his or her death owing to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, only California and Illinois have passed legislation banning gay and trans panic defenses, according to the article. In the wake of these types of killings in the State of New York, lawmakers are pushing for similar legislation.

“Transgender and gender-nonconforming people already face astronomical rates of violence, [but] they are doubly victimized by courts that allow these unconscionable excuses for assault,” explains Andy Marra, of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. 

On the Federal level, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., is sponsoring the Gay and Trans Panic Defense Prohibition Act of 2018.

California Criminal Defense Attorney

If you, or a family member, face criminal charges in California, then we invite you to contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. Bringing decades of experience to the table, and having worked on several high-profile cases, Attorney Brower is equipped to advocate for your family.

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