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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

AB 1215: The Body Camera Accountability Act

AB 1215
Privacy is vital to every American. In the Internet Age, it is difficult to maintain a small digital footprint. Each time we search the internet, our personal information is being logged and then used to target us via advertisements.

Cameras have come a long way in recent years too. Street corners in major cities are home to cameras that follow both traffic and pedestrian movement. What’s more, many police officers across the country are required to wear body cameras. The mandate is meant to ensure accountability; video footage provides the ability to determine if events happen the way an officer claims.

As technology becomes more advanced, some have raised concerns that police body cameras could soon incorporate facial recognition features. Police could identify suspects they did not even know they were looking for, which brings us closer to living in a police state.

Such technologies could result in profiling, and inaccurate facial matching could result in innocent people getting hurt. Facial recognition technology could compromise Californians’ safety and civil liberties.

AB 1215: The Body Camera Accountability Act

Earlier this year, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced Assembly Bill 1215: The Body Camera Accountability Act. The legislation came about over concerns that invasive surveillance technology could be used against the public with body cams, ACLU Northern California reports. Supporters of the bill believe that body cams should be used for police transparency and accountability, and nothing more.

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law after it received bipartisan support in both chambers of the California Legislature, according to the article. The bill’s passage makes California the most significant state to ban the use of facial recognition and biometric tracking technology with police body cams. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2020.

“Without my bill, facial recognition technology essentially turns body cameras into a 24-hour surveillance tool, giving law enforcement the ability to track our every movement. Let’s not become a police state and keep body cameras as they were originally intended – to provide police accountability and transparency,” said Assemblymember Ting. 

Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Please reach out to the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower is you are facing legal difficulties. Attorney Brower brings decades of experience to the table and can help you or a loved one achieve a favorable outcome.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Former OCDA Misappropriated Funds

Orange County Snitch Scandal
In 2017, Scott Evan Dekraai was sentenced to eight life sentences following a protracted legal battle. Many Californians and those living across the country likely remember the 2011 Salon Meritage massacre that left eight people dead in Seal Beach, California.

The mass murder and subsequent trial were remarkable for several reasons, perhaps a salvo of allegations of misconduct toward the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD). Dekraai and his legal counsel alleged that the OCSD improperly used jailhouse informants to garner evidence against him. While the claims only served to prolong sentencing for Dekraai, they played a pivotal role in the Orange County Sheriff's "snitch scandal."

A special investigation was launched into the OCSD and the Orange County District Attorney's office misuse of jailhouse informants and their keeping exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys for years.

County DA Misappropriated Secret Slush Funds

The snitch scandal investigation went on for years. While former OCDA Tony Rackauckas claimed he had nothing to hide, newly revealed information indicates something altogether different.

A notice from first-year District Attorney Todd Spitzer reveals that Rackauckas secretly spent $80,358 to hire an outside criminal defense lawyer to represent prosecutors under investigation, The Orange County Register reports. The former DA violated county policy by using money from a confidential revolving fund to pay attorney fees. He did not have county approval to appropriate the funds.

"This is a clear violation of state law and an effort to cover up more embarrassment of the District Attorney's Office, already under strict scrutiny by the courts and the state bar," Spitzer said.

The notice states that the private lawyer was hired to prep several prosecutors who were put on the witness stand for the Dekraai case and the snitch scandal, according to the article. Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders, who first discovered the misuse of informants, said:

"If Mr. Rackauckas was paying outside counsel to prepare prosecutors to testify during the informant litigation, and then paying for it through a secret fund, it would appear that the department had significant concerns about aspects of the testimony that they didn't want understood by court and counsel." 

We will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

Please contact The Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if your family member is facing criminal charges. Attorney Brower has the experience to provide quality representation and help bring about a favorable outcome.

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