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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Countdown to Capture Update: Captured

countdown to capture
Just shy of one year ago, we wrote about an alarming case of murder in Newport Beach, California. The death of Quee Choo Lim Chadwick, a mother of three, became the subject of a podcast from the Newport Beach Police Department. Law enforcement officials hoped that the 6-part series would lead to the apprehension of Peter Chadwick, Quee Choo’s husband.

If you have not listened to the true-crime podcast, we encourage you to do so at your earliest convenience. For those who do not have the time, we can share that Peter Chadwick is suspected of killing his wife at their Newport Beach home on Oct. 10, 2012. You will learn from the podcast that Quee Choo’s body was discovered in a dumpster in the San Diego area.

While Peter claimed that the murderer was a painter he hired, NBPD found evidence contradicting his story. They would eventually charge Peter Chadwick, 55, of strangling his wife of 21 years.

Captured in Mexico

In 2015, Chadwick disappeared while he was out on bail. Even though he didn’t have his passport, Peter was able to empty his bank account of $600,000. For more than four years, the fugitive was able to evade capture.

 The decision to create a podcast paid off; the series brought national and international attention to the case. A recent update to the Countdown to Capture podcast reveals that a tip about Chadwick’s whereabouts led to his apprehension in Mexico.

U.S. Marshalls escorted the NBPD’s prime suspect to LAX. Chadwick is being held in the Orange County Jail awaiting trial. He has been denied bail, naturally.

Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Attorney Ronald Brower has the experience to help bring about a favorable outcome in your legal struggle. If you are facing criminal charges in California, then please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower today.    

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Money Bail Law Under Fire

money bail
Equal justice for all is called into question when taking a closer look at money bail in the United States. In previous posts, we have discussed California Senate Bill 10 at length. The law means to do away with cash bail and gives judges the power to decide who should be released during pretrial.

At the heart of the debate is how wealthy people can afford to pay their way out of jail and await trial in the comfort of their home. Whereas, those with fewer financial resources have to bide their time behind bars. Guilty or not, lengthy stays in jail can put a defendant at risk of losing their job, home, and being unable to put food on their children's plates.

While SB 10 was hailed as a victory by criminal justice advocates and many lawmakers across the state, there is a fight underway to obstruct the law and bring things back to the status quo. The bill was on track to go into effect in October 2019, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. However, opponents managed to get enough signatures to qualify a referendum for the November 2020 ballot to determine whether it takes effect.

A Two-Track Plan in San Francisco

There are many components to the debate over money bail in California. One significant facet of this issue is coming out for the Bay Area. A federal judge recently declared the local bail rules in San Francisco unconstitutional, according to the article. US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of Oakland ruled that San Francisco’s cash-bail system violated the rights of indigent defendants without promoting public safety.

At a hearing scheduled for Aug. 23, Judge Gonzalez Rogers will decide on a two-track bail plan that includes a new system of pretrial release for defendants who pose no serious risk but can’t afford bail. It would allow judges to detain the most high-risk individuals and grant a pretrial release for low-income defendants.

Regardless of what happens with the referendum next November, Judge Gonzalez Rogers’ decision would remain intact. Other counties and cities would be able to adopt similar bail rules for low-income individuals.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

At the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower, we can help you or a loved one obtain a favorable outcome in court. Attorney Brower has decades of experience; please contact our office today to learn more.

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Thursday, August 8, 2019

AB 2942 Gives Inmates a Second Chance

AB 2942
Assembly Bill 2942 went into effect in January, and with it an avenue for prosecutors to seek reduced sentences for inmates whose prison sentences are unduly harsh. California's notorious "Three Strikes" law has allowed judges to mete out extremely long punishments to people who commit nonviolent offenses.

The Three Strikes sentencing law was enacted in 1994. It gave judges the power to sentence repeat felons to state prison for twice the term otherwise provided for the crime. The law mandated that defendants, who are convicted of a felony having two or more prior strikes, receive a state prison term of at least 25 years to life.

In 2012, the law was amended through the voters' support of Proposition 36. The bill's passage added a serious or violent felony clause. Meaning a state prison term of at least 25 years to life could only be doled out by judges to people whose third strike meets specific requirements. Moreover, Prop 36 also gave three-strike inmates a chance to petition the courts for a reduced sentence.


Assembly Bill 2942

Last week, a San Diego man was given a second chance at life after serving 16 years of a 50 years to life sentence, The San Diego Tribune reports. The change in fortune for Kent Joy Williams wouldn't have been possible if it were not for Assembly Bill 2942.

Williams was not a violent offender, but he was known as someone who would burgle homes when the victims were in residence, a crime otherwise referred to as a "hot-prowl." He was breaking into homes to support a drug habit, according to the article. Williams is now 15 years drug-free and says he hopes to mentor others.

AB-2942 gives judges and prosecutors new authority to rethink harsh prison sentences. Before the new law, such power was exclusively for the state Parole Board and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan requested a sentence review for Williams and Judge Albert Harutunian re-sentenced him to 16 years — time served and three years of parole. Had it not been for the intervention, Williams' first chance at parole would have been in 2052.

"Our criminal justice system is not working the way it is should be," said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who carried the bill on behalf of San Francisco prosecutor Hillary Blout. "AB 2942 gives people a second chance." 

Southern California Criminal Defense Attorney

If you require legal assistance in the state of California, then please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower. Attorney Brower has the experience to successfully advocate for you and help bring about a favorable outcome.

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Thursday, August 1, 2019

Death Penalty Trials in California

death penalty
The death penalty or capital punishment is a topic that has been hotly debated over the years. In March we discussed death sentences in the state of California, in the wake of Gov. Gavin Newsom's executive moratorium. Even though many Californians still favor the practice, Newsom ordered San Quentin State Prison to close the state's execution chamber.

As we pointed out in the springtime, other states have placed moratoriums on capital punishment. Moreover, many states have passed legislation abolishing the practice.

Gavin Newsom's move put the state's criminal justice system in a unique position. The legality of the death penalty was upheld when voters passed Proposition 66 in 2016. Then Newsom essentially said, 'not on my watch;' which raises the question, how are death penalty trials to move forward?

An attorney is arguing that his client – who is facing capital punishment - can't get a fair trial while the moratorium is in effect, according to the Los Angeles Times. It will fall on the California Supreme Court to decide what comes next.


Death Penalty Trials in California

The California Supreme Court has frozen or slowed the death penalty trial of Jade Douglas Harris after his attorney pointed out that a fair decision from jurors is impossible. Newsom’s moratorium granted a reprieve to the more than 700 prisoners on death row. Harris' public defenders say that jurors must believe that when they opt for the death sentence, it will come to fruition.

"The jury making that order has to really believe it, because if they don't, they could be cavalier about it and just say: 'Well, let's send a message.… We know [the death sentence] is never going to happen, but let's do it anyway,'" said Robert Sanger, a defense attorney who first made this argument but for an unrelated capital case in Los Angeles County. 

The Supreme Court has until August 30, 2019, to decide on taking up the matter, the article reports. It's worth noting that the Governor's decision to halt executions only lasts as long as he is in office. Since there has not been an execution in California since 2006, someone could argue that there is no reason death penalty trials cannot move forward throughout the moratorium. The idea is that nobody sentenced today would likely be executed during Newsom's tenure.

"Newsom's moratorium only lasts for the duration of his term as Governor. Nobody sentenced today would be executed within the next seven years anyway," said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. "And everybody pretty much knows that." 

The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation was one of the backers of Prop. 66. The legislation not only kept the practice of capital punishment in place, but it was also designed to speed up executions in California.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

Please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are in legal trouble. Attorney Brower can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. With more than three decades of experience, he has the skills to advocate for you effectively.

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