Do Laws Prevent Sex Offenders From Living Near Schools?

Mark spoke with CBS13 after an Olivehurst grandmother complained about a registered sex offender living near an area elementary school.

Robyn Gorham said she was stunned to learn that several registered sex offenders were living just feet away from Cedar Lane Elementary School where her grandson is set to start classes.

She used the Megan’s Law website, a database maintained by the state, to track nearly a dozen registered sex offenders within three-quarters of a mile of the school. Gorham said she was particularly concerned about one person who had been convicted of lewd acts with a minor.

Gorham said she was surprised because she figured there was a law that prevented sex offenders from living near a school. But Mark explained there was no blanket law, adding whether a person can live near a school after being convicted of a sex crime is largely decided on a case-by-case basis.

“A sex offender can’t live by a school if the parole officer determines they cannot,” Mark said. “Those officers can impose all kinds of restrictions, whether they can have contact with children, stay away from children, and how far away [they have to be].”

Mark said the offender at question is no longer on parole. Though they have to register on the database, they’re not breaking any law by living so close to the school.

Read the full story on CBS13’s website here.

Split Jury Verdict in Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire Trial

A jury acquitted the master tenant and leaseholder of  a warehouse that became the epicenter of one of California’s most-deadliest structure fires.

Derick Almena, 49, was found not guilty on 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the December 2016 blaze at the Ghost Ship Warehouse in Oakland.

The jury hung on similar charges against his co-defendant, 29-year-old warehouse leaseholder Max Harris, who faces the possibility of a re-trial. The judge overseeing the case declared a mistrial for Harris.

Mark wasn’t involved in the case, but spoke with FOX40 News following the jury’s verdict to offer his legal expertise.

“I was surprised by the outcome,” Mark said, noting that images presented at trial may have weighed heavier on their deliberations.

At the end of a trial, jurors are given a set of instructions by the judge before they enter into deliberations, the outcome of which usually results in a verdict.

“They generally try to do what they consider to be the right thing, regardless of what instructions they get, regardless of how the attorneys argued…” Mark said.

Jurors will be heavily questioned by both sides if Harris is to be re-tried.

Watch the full video from FOX40 News below: