Today’s News: Key ruling due on high-speed rail; Ex-Sheriff Corona wants early release; LA mulls solar deal

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Rail reckoning. California’s high-speed rail line is expected to face a crucial test today when a Sacramento judge rules on an environmental lawsuit filed by Central Valley farmers. The farmers claim California’s High Speed Rail Authority failed to conduct thorough environmental reviews on a 65-mile stretch of track between Merced and Fresno. The anticipated ruling comes one day after rail officials pushed back the completion date of the first segment of the bullet train by a year. AP

Free me. Former Orange County Sheriff Michael Corona is asking for his prison sentence to be cut in half. Corona is serving 66 months in a federal lockup. He was convicted in 2009 of witness tampering and began serving his sentence last year. Corona’s attorneys say the court used the wrong sentencing guidelines when he was ordered to spend more than five years behind bars. Orange County Register

Tough justice. L.A. County’s top judge says court closures announced this week will have a profound effect on the administration of justice. Ten regional courthouses from Beverly Hills to Pomona will be shuttered to help close a budget shortfall that could reach $80 million this year. Presiding Judge Lee Smalley Edmon joined KCRW’s Warren Olney on “Which Way, L.A.?” She said the moves represent a major shift in the way county courts conduct their business. Which Way, L.A.?

Power play. State officials are accusing J.P. Morgan Chase of blocking repairs at two shuttered power plants – a move they say could affect electricity supplies next summer. The Huntington Beach plants are outdated and no longer supply power, but state officials say they can be converted to help speed transmission of electricity around the state. The charges come two days after federal regulators suspended the company’s electricity trading privileges. Regulators say JP Morgan submitted false information in connection with an investigation into improper trading methods in California. Sacramento Bee

Sun spots. The L.A. City Council could decide today whether to approve a massive purchase of solar energy by the Department of Water and Power. The proposal could go a long way toward helping the city meet renewable energy targets set by the state. But it could also lead to future rate hikes.  The $1.5 billion deal involves a solar facility near Las Vegas.

Not so great. It’s been a decade since Orange County voters approved plans for a sprawling park on the former El Toro Marine Base. More than $200 million has been spent, but so far only about 200 acres of the 1,300-acre Great Park has been developed. And the cash is expected to run out next year. Now Irvine city officials want a detailed accounting of how the money has been used. L.A. Times