Draft document leak offers unprecedented look into Supreme Court deliberative process

A draft document of an upcoming Supreme Court decision is offering an unprecedented look into the deliberative process of America’s highest judicial court.

The draft, obtained and published by POLITICO late Monday evening, shows the majority of the Supreme Court voting to overturn the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade.

Justice Samuel Alito is said to have authored the Supreme Court’s majority opinion, with Justices Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch joining.

The draft, from February, is subject to change, according to legal and political experts. But POLITICO reported there was little change in the perspective of the five Justices, with three opposing and one remaining undecided.

No draft opinion has ever leaked from the Supreme Court before. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Supreme Court affirmed the draft was authentic, but cautioned that no decision had been finalized.

Sacramento attorney Mark Reichel, who argued before the Supreme Court in 2006, said it amounted to a “legal earthquake,” the ramifications will be felt within the legal industry for years to come.

The decision, if it remains largely unchanged from the draft published on Monday, would also force state governments to take a position on abortion.

“What they’re saying is this: There’s no constitutional right to it,” Reichel told CBS13 News in Sacramento. “So if your state bans it, you can’t scream [that] your constitutional rights are being violated.”

Reichel said it was unlikely that California would move to ban abortion. Late Monday evening, Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted his opposition to the draft document, later proposing an amendment to the state’s constitution that would preserve abortion rights in California.

“California will not sit back,” the governor tweeted. “We are going to fight like hell.”

Click or tap here to read the full story from CBS13 News

Suspect in Sacramento gang-related shootout sued county over jail assault

One of the three suspects arrested in connection with a shootout in Sacramento’s downtown district earlier this month settled with Sacramento County over an alleged jailhouse assault, according to court records.

In 2018, Smiley Martin claimed a correctional officer at the Sacramento County Jail encouraged rival gang members to attack him by allowing them to interact with him. That interaction allowed gang members to surround and attack him, Martin claimed.

“I had hot water thrown on me, and [experienced] second-degree burns,” Martin, now 27, wrote in a complaint, according to a copy that was obtained by CBS13 Sacramento.

Martin, who represented himself in the lawsuit, claimed jail officials did not provide him adequate medical attention immediately after he was attacked and that the guard in question threatened him if he filed a grievance.

“No matter how reprehensible that the public may feel of someone, we as a society in America don’t therefore torture, we don’t violate their rights,” Sacramento criminal defense attorney Mark Reichel said in an interview with CBS13 on Wednesday.

While common, lawsuits against jail officials are tough to win, though in this case, Smiley settled with the county for $7,500.

“This is a real problem, and if you take one-tenth of that amount of money that we pay out to rectify the problem, to prevent it from happening again, we’d be much better off,” Reichel said.

Click or tap here to read the full story at CBS13 Sacramento

Plea deal reached in Sherri Paipini kidnapping hoax

A Redding woman who was charged by federal prosecutors for orchestrating a hoax kidnapping in 2016 reached a plea deal this week.

A defense attorney representing Sherri Papini told reporters on Tuesday that his client had agreed to plead guilt to criminal charges of lying to a federal officer and mail fraud.

Those charges carry a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years, though any actual sentence would be based on a number of factors that a judge must take into account, including any prior criminal history.

The case made international headlines when Papini disappeared from her Redding home in 2016. Her husband gave a number of media interviews that thrust the case into the international spotlight.

A three-week search for the woman ended when she was discovered hundreds of miles away in Yolo County at the home of a former boyfriend. She reportedly told police that several marks on her body were caused by two Hispanic woman who kidnapped her at gunpoint.

In August 2020, she was charged with making false statements to a federal agent after police uncovered evidence that she had not been abducted.  She was also charged with wire fraud after accepting thousands of dollars from a state victim’s compensation fund as well as a GoFundMe fundraiser.

In an interview with KCRA-TV on Tuesday, Sacramento criminal defense attorney Mark Reichel said the plea agreement reached with prosecutors was a good one that could lessen any prison sentence handed down in the case.

“It is a great move by a really great lawyer that she has,” Reichel said. “In federal court, the mental health defenses are so difficult to prevail on.”

A federal judge has not yet scheduled a sentencing date for Papini. In a statement, the woman said she regretted her actions.

“I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behavior and so very sorry for the pain I’ve caused my family, my friends, all the good people who needlessly suffered because of my story and those who worked so hard to try to help me,” Papini said. “I will work the rest of my life to make amends for what I have done.”

Click or tap here to read the full story at KCRA-TV

Sacramento K Street Mass Shooting: Is prison making gang violence worse?

A shooting spree that left six people dead and 18 other individuals wounded is being treated as a gang-related incident, the Sacramento Police Department confirmed.

A YouTube video posted shortly after the shooting is shedding new light on what happened Sunday evening and what led up to the shooting.

The video, posted under the account name “Sacramento Gang Archive” and fact-checked by KXTV ABC10 this week claimed the incident’s gang-related ties go “deeper than you think.”

The YouTuber, whose identity is not known, says the shooting happened outside a nightclub along K Street after rival gang members went to the same business. Their nighttime plan to visit the same nightclub was merely a coincidence, the YouTuber says, but the shooting that took place afterward was not.

Sacramento police sources who spoke with KXTV were able to validate about 90 percent of the claims made in the YouTube video, the TV station reported.

Investigators are still gathering photos, videos and eyewitness accounts, including media posted to websites like Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat.

Several people have already been arrested in connection with the shooting, including 27-year-old Smiley Allen Martin, who previously served prison time in connection with a domestic violence case.

Martin was released from prison just two months ago after serving a fraction of his 10-year sentence in the case. He was re-arrested at a local hospital on a weapons violation; police say he was one of the 12 individuals who sustained injuries in the shooting. It is not currently known if Martin fired any shots or if he has any gang ties.

In an interview with the Associated Press, a former Southern California district attorney said Martin would have stayed behind bars until at least May had it not been for Proposition 57, a law enacted in 2016 after broad voter approval that gives prison officials broad leeway in determining jail credits for recidivism-based programming and other incentives.

Officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation declined to provide specific facts on Martin’s rehabilitation credits, saying state law prohibits them from disclosing that information.

Martin was eligible for parole in May 2021 because his domestic violence conviction was considered to be non-violent. At his parole hearing, prosecutors said the man had “little regard for human life and the law.”

Now, progressive politicians are joining their counterparts in suggesting “good time” credits and rehabilitation program incentives need to change for those whose offenses include violent acts.

“If people have a history of committing violent acts, and they have not shown a propensity or willingness to change, I don’t think they should be out on the streets,” Darrell Steinberg, the Mayor of Sacramento, said at a recent event.

On Monday, the Los Angeles Times editorial board noted that Martin was not released from prison early and had actually satisfied his sentence in full based on pre-trial custody credits that were awarded to him by the sentencing judge as well as good time credits earned after his sentence was imposed.

The Los Angeles Times said reporting by the Sacramento Bee and others painted a picture of Martin’s “early release” that was far from reality.

“The half-truths about credits and the falsehoods about parole boards shouldn’t be surprising,” the Los Angeles Times wrote. “But they can cause serious harm by undermining tested policies that improve lives. And they make a mockery of our democratic process by lifting up rumor and anecdote, and making them, rather than facts, central to our collective decision-making.”

Sacramento criminal defense attorney Mark Reichel said incarcerating gang members for minor offenses could create more problems than it solves because individuals tend to be segregated and housed in a way that makes them more susceptible to gang initiation.

“They force you to segregate into that gang from that neighborhood you came from, or you’re affiliated with, and now you’re spending 10 years in the state prison,'” Reichel told ABC10 in an interview.

Reichel said local and state police collect information on suspected gang members in their communities dating back to at least the 1990s. The Sacramento Police Department estimates around 3,000 gang members are in the city, but Reichel said the number could be higher.

Click or tap here to read the full story at ABC10.com

Homeowner hit with $500,000 fine due to little-known Sacramento pot growth ordinance

A Sacramento property owner was hit with a $500,000 fine after his tenants purportedly violated a little-known local ordinance related to marijuana cultivation.

For more than a decade, Rodney Rose has rented out his North Sacramento home to a nice elderly couple with no problems — that is, until the couple decided to let their nephew move in.

The nephew began growing marijuana at the home without first getting a license from the City of Sacramento, and that’s when Rose ran into trouble.

SMUD, the utility company that serves the neighborhood where Rose’s tenants live, noticed a spike in electrical usage at the home in question. They tipped off local authorities, and the Sacramento Police Department raided the property.

What happened next came as a surprise to everyone involved.

“I was not made aware of this, until I received a bill in the mail, from the city of Sacramento, which I thought was a joke,” Rose told local TV station FOX40.

That bill was for $500,000, a fine the City of Sacramento said Rose owed for allowing an unlicensed marijuana cultivation operation to occur on his property.

Rose called city officials, but was told his window of opportunity to appeal the fine had closed. Eventually, he secured an extension of his time to appeal, but then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and city government all but shut down.

When things started to open back up, he was given a hearing via Zoom. An administrative judge ruled against him, saying homeowners could violate the ordinance as it was written at that time, even if they didn’t know about it.

That’s since changed, according to legal expert Mark Reichel, who told FOX40 News that city officials changed the law in late 2019 so that homeowners could invoke an affirmative defense that they didn’t know about marijuana growth on their property.

“Now, innocent owners can give proof that they were an innocent owner, that they didn’t know anything about this,” Reichel said, adding that the City of Sacramento’s ordinance is still one of the toughest in the state and that it generates a significant amount of revenue for the local government.

Rose is now taking his case to state court, where he hopes to dispose of the fine once and for all. He says the tenants he rented to are helping him in the process, and even told police that Rose had no knowledge of the growth operation.

“I knew nothing of this ordinance that the city has — I’m just shocked that’s how they wish to conduct their business,” he said.

Click or tap here to read more of this story on FOX40.com

The truth behind California’s new early-release policy for inmates

A new policy that could help some California inmates score an early release from prison is raising a lot of concerns, but legal experts say it’s not a wholesale get-out-of-jail-early card for them.

The policy, unveiled by state officials late last month, allows inmates housed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to earn more so-called “good time” credits that would make them eligible for early parole or release.

Under the old policy, inmates housed at CDCR prisons received one credit for every four days in custody, provided they do not experience any disciplinary issues while incarcerated.

Starting this month, inmates will receive one credit for every two days served, which has the potential to reduce their sentence by one-third.

The move impacts more than 70,000 inmates who are currently serving time for a variety of crimes, and would also apply to around 63,000 inmates who are in custody for so-called violent crimes.

The change in policy raised concerns among public safety officials who said it could lead to the state releasing thousands of inmates early.

But that’s not exactly what happens.

Being eligible for early release is not the same as getting early release, and inmates could still be denied release or parole based on factors unrelated to their good time credits.

“The people who have committed the most dangerous crimes, still don’t get out of prison, it just brings them to the [parole] board earlier,” Michael Romano, a Stanford law professor, told CBS13 News in an interview.

Individuals who do receive early release tend to be those who have demonstrated significant rehabilitation while in custody.

“You have a different person being released than the person that went in,” Sacramento legal expert Mark Reichel told CBS13.

Click or tap here to read more from CBS13 News Sacramento

Judge will face some pressure in crafting prison sentence for Derek Chauvin

A former Minneapolis police officer will be sentenced on his murder and manslaughter conviction in June, a Minnesota court affirmed last week.

The former officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted earlier this month on two counts of murder and a separate manslaughter charge in connection with the 2020 death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man whom he arrested.

Chauvin was convicted by a Minnesota jury on April 20 following a two-week trial.

In an interview with CBS News on Sunday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said he felt it was appropriate for the judge “to not go light or heavy” when sentencing Chauvin to a possible prison term.

“I don’t know if it’s right for a judge to send a message through a sentence because the sentence should be tailored to the offense, tailored to the circumstances of the case,” Ellison told the news magazine program 60 Minutes.

Chauvin faces a maximum prison sentence of 40 years on the more-serious charge of second-degree murder. He was also convicted on third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Earlier in the week, Sacramento criminal defense attorney and legal expert Mark Reichel said the judge will have to consult Minnesota’s version of the sentencing guidelines, which help the judge determine an appropriate prison sentence in criminal cases.

“The judge takes the book out, and it actually has a presumption in cases like this of 12 and a half years,” Mark told FOX40 News. “The prosecution will ask the judge to go above the 12 and a half years, citing aggravated circumstances; the defense, of course, will ask the judge to go below the 12 and a half years.”

The worldwide attention the Chauvin trial received meant the judge will face significant pressure to sentence the former officer to a lengthier prison term than someone who would be in a similar set of circumstances without a high profile.

“He knows the whole world is watching,” Mark said. “Unlike the jurors, he’s not sequestered; unlike the jurors, he’s not prevented from watching…he’s obviously going to do his job to do justice.”

Mark said factors that could weigh on the judge’s determination include the presence of children at the scene where Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, which the prosecution strongly argued was a factor in the man’s death.

“[The prosecution] is probably going to ask the judge to go up to the [full sentence of] 40 years,” Mark said. “The defense doesn’t have a lot to say because they didn’t put much on.”

Chauvin’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 16 at 1:30 p.m. Central Time (11:30 a.m. Pacific Time).

Click or tap here to read more from FOX40 News in Sacramento