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

Charges could be brought for deliberately coughing on people during COVID pandemic

Deliberately coughing on other individuals could lead to criminal charges if the victim becomes infected with a deadly disease like the novel coronavirus COVID-19, according to legal expert Mark Reichel.

Late last month, police in Nevada County said they were trying to track down two individuals who are accused of doing just that.

In at least one case, a woman said two unknown individuals were upset after she encouraged them to wear face masks while shopping at a local grocery store. The two people eventually did put on masks, but one of the two chased the woman into the parking lot of the store, started shouting at her and made coughing noises.

The woman reported the incident to the Grass Valley Police Department. An investigation is now under way into what happened. Officers said if the woman is able to identify the man and it can be proven he acted the way she described, the man could face misdemeanor assault charges.

In an interview with FOX40 News, Mark said that might not be the worst of it for people who deliberately cough on or otherwise try to infect people.

“If it’s an offensive conduct that puts you in reasonable fear of harm, that’s an assault,” Mark said. “If it can be proven somehow that they got it from that person, that they got it from that exposure and they die, the question is do we have a murder case on our hands?”

In California, state law requires individuals to wear face masks, take social distancing measures and engage in other safety practices to curb the spread of COVID-19. More than 10,000 people in California have died from the disease since state officials began tracking it in early March.

Click or tap here to read the full story from FOX40.com

Sacramento police reform measures don’t go far enough, legal experts say

A series of police reform measures approved by the Sacramento City Council last week are small steps in the right direction, but the city still has a lot of work that needs to be done and shouldn’t be lauded for such minor changes, legal experts argued on Wednesday.

The reforms were prompted by calls from local activists as part of a national movement following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed during a police encounter by a white Minneapolis police officer.

Since then, officials in towns small and large throughout the country have looked internally at what can be done to fix the fractured system of policing.

n Sacramento, city leaders passed a series of measures that, among other things, reallocated funds away from the Sacramento Police Department toward other community initiatives; banned the use of choke holds during most police encounters; and paved the way for the creation of an independent inspector general who would be tasked with the responsibility of reviewing allegations of police misconduct and abuse of force.

Legal experts in Sacramento said the measures were a long time coming — and should have come a lot sooner.

“The policy proposals from [Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg] and city officials are much delayed and hardly reform,” Elizabeth Kim, the head of the National Lawyers Guild in Sacramento, told the Davis Vanguard in an interview.

Other steps need to be taken by the city, Kim said, including an acknowledgement that so-called “non-lethal” force approved in most cases is, in fact, extremely dangerous and can be lethal for the subjects of police encounters.

Criminal defense attorney Mark Reichel agreed, pointing out the inequities between ordinary citizens and law enforcement officials.

“Lawfully, [citizens] cannot resort to force if someone steals their car, their identity, or assaults their family,” Mark said. “But the police have that lawful right — the right to use force if needed.”

Mark said it was clear that Sacramento officers had been enabled to use that force because of the city’s inaction for a long time.

Click or tap here to read the full story at the Davis Vanguard