FROM Laurie Levenson
'Cosby' law signed, ending statute of limitations for rape cases Governor Jerry Brown has signed the so-called Cosby Bill into law. The new law will end the statute of limitations for prosecuting certain rape cases in California so that victims can press charges any time. Previously, there was a 10 year limit. Women’s rights advocates pushed for the law, but some legal experts are worried that it could lead to prosecutions based on old and unreliable evidence. What are the pros and cons of the new law?
Politics and Police Shootings Last month, LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey declined to file charges against a CHP officer captured on video pummeling a mentally-ill woman who was on her back alongside the 10 Freeway. Activists have criticized her for that decision. Now, there's new pressure from an unlikely direction. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck wants Lacey to file charges against one of his own. Officer Clifford Proctor shot an unarmed, homeless man in the back — a killing that was also captured on video.
Sexual Assault Statute of Limitations Protesters are demanding that California eliminate the 10-year limit on prosecutions of all sexual assault cases. But why is there a statute of limitations in the first place? And what would it take to change it?
Federal Investigation Reaches Higher into the Sheriff's Department LA's former Under Sheriff Paul Tanaka is scheduled for trial in a federal courtroom on charges of wrongdoing in county jails. Yesterday, his co-defendant, former Captain William "Tom" Carey pleaded guilty to lying on the witness stand in another trial last year. What are the possible consequences for Tanaka — and his former boss, former Sheriff Lee Baca? Laurie Levenson is a former federal prosecutor, now a professor at Loyola Law School.
Ex-Undersheriff Tanaka indicted As Undersheriff of LA County, Paul Tanaka was Number Two to Lee Baca, who stepped down during a corruption scandal two years ago, rather than completing his third term as Sheriff. Today, Tanaka — who's also Mayor of Gardena — was indicted on federal charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. So was former Captain "Tom" Carey, who oversaw criminal investigations during Tanaka's tenure.
Grand Juries and Police Shootings The police have a dangerous job. And when they kill a suspect, we tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s rare that officers are prosecuted for killing or harming a suspect. Just yesterday, Los Angeles’ district attorney refused to indict three officers involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man who lead them on a high speed chase. And of course there’s Ferguson and Staten Island: no indictments in those cases either. In those two, it was a grand jury’s decision not to indict. Now, California state senator Holly Mitchell has proposed a new law that would ban grand juries from hearing cases against officers accused of using excessive force. We hear from Mitchell and others with different takes on the issue.
When Prosecutors Break the Law to Win federal appellate court judges are demanding action against what they call an “epidemic” of misconduct by California district attorneys. Video of a recent hearing of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals went viral in legal circles, showing Judge Alex Kozinski warning a deputy for state Attorney General Kamala Harris. You need some background on the court system to understand just what that means. Maura Dolan is legal affairs writer for the LA Times. Laurie Levenson is professor of Criminal Law at the Loyola School of Law.
The Legal Case in Ferguson: What Happened? How did the Michael Brown case end up before a grand jury investigation? How do grand jury proceedings differ from regular trials? What kind of evidence was presented? We look at these questions and other legal aspects of the shooting.
San Francisco Financier Under Investigation in Lance Armstrong Scandal Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Lance Armstrong is scheduled to air on Winfrey’s troubled TV network on Thursday. He’s the former cycling champion—7-time winner of the Tour de France—who lost all his medals after the US Anti-Doping Agency issued a 1000-page report that documented years of banned drug use. We won’t know just what he said until Thursday but, in the meantime, court documents reveal details about a federal fraud investigation.
Why Do Innocent People Plead Guilty? The Sixth Amendment guarantees a fair trial to every American accused of a crime. But trials are no longer the basis of the criminal justice system. A US Supreme Court majority has said it's not trial by jury that determines "who goes to jail and for how long," it's plea bargaining. More than 90 percent of criminal cases are decided by plea bargains — and many people plead guilty — even when they're innocent. Do they know what they're doing? Are the law and the justice system rigged to favor the prosecution? What would happen if every defendant demanded a jury trial?
It's Kamala vs. Cooley for California Attorney General In California's race for Attorney General , the nominees are Democrat Kamala Harris , District Attorney of San Francisco, and Republican Steve Cooley , District Attorney of LA. Some major differences already are clear – including environmental protection, illegal immigration and the death penalty. Laurie Levenson is a former federal prosecutor who teaches criminal law at Loyola Law School.
Making Sense of a Senseless Murder "If there is anything that people can take away from this horrible tragedy, it's that life is fragile and they should live every minute of it fully." That's from Greg Burk and Deborah Drooz, the parents of Lily Burk , the 17-year old high school senior brutally murdered last Friday. Others are drawing conclusions of a different kind. The suspect, 50-year old Charles Samuel , was arrested for drinking in public and possessing a crack pipe. He was on parole and under a court order to complete a drug program. He's now charged with robbery, kidnap and murder and he could face a death sentence.
O.J. Simpson Sentenced Two months ago, a Nevada jury convicted O.J. Simpson of kidnapping and armed robbery in a botched effort to recover sports memorabilia from peddlers last year. In a Nevada courtroom today, shackled and dressed in a blue jump-suit, he was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in state prison. Judge Jackie Glass insisted she was not punishing him for anything else. Former federal prosecutor Laurie Levenson, now a professor at the Loyola University School of Law, has followed this case and the infamous trial in 1994, when a jury acquitted Simpson of killing his ex-wife, Nicole and her friend, Ron Goldman.
It's OJ, All Over Again Former football star OJ Simpson has been acquitted of murder and convicted of wrongful death. Now he’s charged with ten felony counts, including kidnapping and murder. Reporters who covered the first two trials and lawyers who rode the case to fame on TV showed up in Las Vegas today to see Simpson released on bail for $125,000 dollars. It was a circus atmosphere including Marcia Clark , the prosecutor who failed to convict Simpson of killing his wife and her friend, Ron Goldman . Clark was covering the story today for “ Entertainment Tonight .” Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images News
Is Paris Hilton Getting a Bad Rap? If Governor Schwarzenegger fails to commute her sentence, Paris Hilton is looking at forty-five days in jail. With LA County jails so cruelly overcrowded, she may serve less than the full sentence. We speak with one lawyer who says she’s getting a bigger hit than she deserves.
Will the march for science politicize objective research? Protesters are gathering all over the country for tomorrow's Earth Day March for Science. Since President Trump has proposed massive cuts in basic scientific research, will the movement be perceived as partisan politics — whether scientists themselves like it or not?
White House flip flops: NATO, Syria and China In less than 100 days, President Trump has contradicted himself on a host of foreign policy issues — Syria, NATO, China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Is it a strength — or a weakness — for the United States when the world of power politics never knows what to expect?