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Law Office of Ronald G. Brower Blog

 

Friday, May 29, 2020

New Executive Director Office of Independent Review

criminal justice
Orange County, California, has had no shortage of changes since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic some months ago. Orange County has taken some drastic measures from zero dollar bail to the release of inmates who both posed and didn't pose a threat to society. Not to mention that all the courthouses were closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

It seems like each week brings a new story worth discussing, and the one we are about to cover is one to pay attention to moving forward. If you read our blog on a regular basis, you know Orange County has been embroiled in scandal.

Misusing jailhouse and confidential informants and blatant disregard for protocols regarding the handling of evidence. The Orange County Sheriff's Department has even been accused of listening in on confidential conversations between attorneys and their clients. Simply put, the track record in the O.C. of late is less than impressive.

The Office of Independent Review


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? 'Who will guard the guardians' is a question that many Southern Californians have been asking. Well, one Sergio Perez has been tapped to hold Orange County's law enforcement agencies accountable for their actions, according to the Daily Pilot. Mr. Perez has his work cut out for him, heading up the Office of Independent Review (OIR).

It's too soon to tell how effective Sergio Perez will be in his new position. However, Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders believes that if Perez is willing to call out the issues and put it down on paper, it could be a step toward the right direction.

"It's just up to this point, it's been kind of a fancy acronym," said Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders, "It didn't mean anything to criminal defendants. Criminal defense wouldn't think 'Oh, thank God we have the OIR.' It didn't seem like it had much teeth." 

Attorney Sanders was the one who uncovered that the district attorney's office and sheriff's department used jailhouse informants to illegally obtain confessions, according to the article. Sanders adds:

"If you can go in there and are working with courage and commitment to make this a more fair and just criminal justice system, you can play a role even if all of your objectives aren't met. It's an office with some potential but it's very unclear what becomes of it and what value it has for my clients."

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney


Attorney Ronald G. Brower has a long history of achieving successful outcomes for his clients. Please contact our office today to learn more about how he can advocate for a you or a loved one in court.

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Zero Dollar Bail to Reduce Jail Populations

zero dollar bail
Each day, news outlets remind us repeatedly of the importance of maintaining safe distances from other human beings. The novel coronavirus is highly contagious and can be easily transmitted from one individual to the next. So, how is one supposed to social distance while residing in a penal institution?

In recent weeks we have written about a surge of new coronavirus cases in Orange County jails and state prisons. The problem of overpopulation in county jails became so severe that the Orange County commissioner approved the release of about seven "high risk" sex offenders.

While the majority of the seven were quickly rearrested for violating the terms of their release, it does not solve the problem of protecting both inmates and correctional officers from the virus.

In a desperate effort to reduce the number of inmates in California county jails, zero dollar bail was approved for nonviolent offenders. The move hasn't gone particularly smoothly, but it makes sense in a number of ways.

"The inability of the system to guarantee their safety from this virus right now is really troubling and scary," offered a Los Angeles county criminal defense attorney. 

Zero Dollar Bail for Most Misdemeanors and Lower-Level Felonies


In November, Californians will vote on doing away with cash bail for low-level offenders. However, the pandemic has led the California Judicial Council to take the drastic measure of setting zero dollar bail for most misdemeanors, and lower-level felonies, KCRW reports. Those who are arrested for crimes that meet the above classification will be released to await trial.
"We're hearing about all these horror stories of thousands of inmates that are catching it, and obviously they're in very close confines, even if they weren't subject to overcrowding. The jails aren't designed for social distancing, whether it's inside cells or in common areas or even just walking through the hallways. It's a very real concern."
This observation is not exaggerated; eight coronavirus-related deaths have occurred at Terminal Island in San Pedro. California state prisons have over 600 inmates and staff infected with the coronavirus. In total, the United States has 1,687,687 reported cases of COVID-19 and 100,000 have died from health complications due to the virus.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney


During these challenging times our thoughts and prayers are with all the families impacted by COVID-19. Please reach out to the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are facing criminal charges. Attorney Brower has the expertise to help you achieve a successful outcome with your case.

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Friday, May 22, 2020

Sex Offenders Released Then Rearrested

sex offenders
Over the last couple months, we have been writing about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected the criminal justice system in California. From the closing of courthouses to doing away with money bail for low-level, non-violent offenses, we have done our best to keep you apprised of the latest developments.

With more than 1.5 million Americans infected and nearly 100,000 dead, the coronavirus has changed life in America in innumerable ways. Concerns about the virus spreading through California jails and prisons has led to the early release of a significant number of inmates, and not without controversy.

Earlier this month, Orange County jails witnessed and uptick in coronavirus cases. As of May 8th, 251 inmates and five correctional officers had tested positive for the potentially deadly virus. Letting some inmates go early might make sense, but when the Orange County commissioner approved the release of about seven "high risk" sex offenders it caused a severe uproar.

Sex Offenders Rearrested


One man upset with the decision to release sex offenders was Todd Spitzer, Orange County District Attorney, CNN reports. He issued a warning to the community about the "high risk" sex offenders released from jail before serving their full sentences.

Each of the offenders released early were behind bars for violating the terms of their parole by evading electronic law enforcement monitoring. All were supposed to serve at least six months in jail.

"These kinds of high-risk sex offenders are the most dangerous kind of criminal and the most likely to re-offend," wrote Spitzer in his public warning. "They are doing everything they can to avoid detection by the parole officers assigned to monitor them so they can potentially commit additional sex offenses." 

By May 11th, all but one of the sex offenders were back in jail for allegedly braking the terms of their release The Orange County Register reports. Spitzer said in a statement:

β€œIt comes as no surprise that these high-risk sex offenders continue to violate the law and do everything they can to avoid being tracked by law enforcement. There is a concerted effort here in California and across the nation to open up the jailhouse doors and let dangerous criminals back into our streets without regard for the safety of the public which we are sworn to protect.”

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney

 

Please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower if you are facing criminal charges in the State of California. Attorney Brower has a long history of achieving successful outcomes for his clients.

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Monday, May 4, 2020

Zero-Dollar Bail Exploited by Career Criminals

zero-dollar bail
Bail in California is a topic that we cover on a regular basis, owing to the fact that money/cash bail is a controversial topic in the Golden State. Last month, we discussed "zero-dollar bail" after the California Judicial Council – the state's Superior Court system policymaker – voted to do away with bail for all misdemeanors and low-level felonies. The action was directly tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fewer inmates we have housed in state jails, ostensibly those who would not be able to make bail, was believed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. You will remember from previous posts that California voted in favor of Senate Bill 10 last year; the bill did away with cash bail and gave judges the authority to decide who would be released during pretrial instead.

Many people took issue with the measure that was scheduled to take effect in October 2019. Enough petitions were signed to qualify for a referendum, which means that voters will decide the fate of SB 10 in November.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the decision to temporarily suspend cash bail to reduce jail populations may or may not have been the best course of action. Law enforcement in Los Angeles has found that "career criminals" are taking advantage of the new rule.

Repeat Offenders are Taking Advantage of "Zero Bail" Rule


The pandemic has changed the lives of everyone in the United States. One of the unforeseen byproducts of the "stay at home" order in California is a reduction in crimes across the board. However, authorities in Los Angeles report that career criminals or repeat offenders are exploiting the zero-dollar bail mandate, according to The Los Angeles Times. Case in point: in the last three weeks, one individual, Eric Medina, has been arrested four times on suspicion of grand theft auto.

On April 9, Medina was arrested for stealing a Ford van. No bail meant he was released a day later. Five days after being released, authorities caught him with a stolen Toyota truck, the article reports. Naturally, he went to jail only to be let go without bail a short time later. Police officials say he went on to steal another Toyota truck on April 20. Before the month of April came to an end, Medina was arrested in possession of a stolen 2009 Ford Focus.

The zero-dollar bail mandate went into effect on March 27 in Los Angeles County for most misdemeanors and low-level felonies. Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief Michel Moore is calling for a reevaluation of the new practice for repeat offenders because the LAPD has arrested 213 individuals multiple times. A whopping 23 people being arrested three or more times.

"I think repeat offenders need to be off the streets," said Chief Moore.

Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney


If you or someone you care about is in trouble with the law, then please contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower to learn how we can help. Attorney Brower has decades of experience in a myriad of types of crime. He has the expertise to advocate for your family and potentially bring about a successful outcome.

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