Apr 2, 2016

Kurtis Small arrested for alleged assault and battery

On 04-02-2016 Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were contacted at the Fort Bragg Substation by a 64 year-old male adult who wanted to report that he was assaulted by a subject with a knife during a residential burglary over night.

Deputies were advised that at about 12:35 AM the male adult noticed someone inside of his car that was parked in his garage in the 34000 block of Pelican Way in Fort Bragg, California.

The male adult confronted the subject and attempted to remove him from his car, at which time the subject attempted to stab the male adult with a knife before fleeing on foot. The male adult was not injured during the incident.

At about 9:26 AM Deputies were dispatched to a suspicious person in the area of 18101 North Highway 1 in Fort Bragg, which was approximately 1 mile away from Pelican Way.

Deputies with assistance from an officer with the California Highway Patrol and California State Parks arrived on scene, resulting in the contact of Kurtis Small who appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance.

During the course of the contact it was determined that Small was the subject involved in the assault and residential burglary in the 34000 block of Pelican Way.

Small was subsequently arrested for the listed charges and was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $50,000.00 bail.

Kyle Pinckney arrested for alleged domestic violence battery

On 04-02-2016 at about 8:32 AM Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a reported domestic violence incident in the 32000 block of Simpson Lane in Fort Bragg, California.

Upon arrival Deputies learned that a 27 year-old female adult who was in a dating relationship with Kyle Pinckney for the past several years got into a verbal argument.

The argument escalated where the female suffered a minor abrasion and redness to the right side of her face and forearm as the result of Pinckney's actions.

Pinckney was arrested for felony domestic violence battery and booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $25,000.00 bail.

EPD conducting a welfare check on a man take him to the hospital, he dies, investigation being conducted

 On April 2nd at approximately 1:27 p.m., Officers from the Eureka Police Department responded to the area of Spring and Vance Street on a report of a suspicious male subject rolling around on the ground.  Upon arrival officers contacted the male who was exhibiting signs of being under the influence of a controlled substance.  The male subject who was alert and responsive to the officer's questions, told them he had ingested a substantial amount of methamphetamine.  Officer's arrested the male for public intoxication and transported him to the St. Joseph Hospital for medical clearance prior to booking him at the Humboldt County Jail.

The male was responsive when he arrived at the hospital, placed on wheelchair and taken into the emergency room.  The male subject then suffered a medical emergency and CPR was started.  Medical personnel performed life savings efforts on the subject for over an hour.  Their efforts were unsuccessful and the subject was pronounced deceased.

Since the male subject died while in police custody the Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team was called out to investigate the incident.

The subject's name will not be released at this time pending notification of next of kin.

Attempted homicide suspect arrested in Petrolia

On 04-01-16, at approximately 2143 hrs, deputies responded to the area of Petrolia for a report of a gunshot victim. When deputies arrived on scene, personnel from Petrolia Fire &Rescue were performing life- saving efforts for the victim. The victim was flown to an area hospital for further treatment.

While on scene, deputies contacted 26 year old Brian Christiansen. Based on that investigation, Christiansen was arrested for PC 664/187- Attempted Murder, and PC 273.5(a) Willful infliction of Corporal Injury. Christiansen was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility and his bail has been set at $500,000.

Laura's Law presentation at the next BOS meeting should be supported by the community

DISCUSSION: Connie Beck, Director of
Health and Human Services will provide the Board with a presentation related to "Laura's Law" (also known as Assisted Outpatient Treatmenl/AOT), a process that
allows the courts to compel individuals with severe mental illness and a past history of arrest or violence stay in treatment as a condition for living in the community, and equally commits the county mental health system to providing the treatment.

The above agenda item, in my opinion, is the most crucial one next Tuesday at the Board of Supervisor meeting.

I hope the Board of Supervisors adopt this and they are supported by the City of Eureka and Arcata and other cities and unincorporated area of the county.

NAPA has to be compelled by court order to come get people from Humboldt and then they release them as soon as they can. If the person ends up in the criminal system again, they get incarcerated.

Governor Jerry Brown should make funding for mental health services a priority, if he wants to reduce prison population. At a national level, legislators should do the same.

Anyone who opposes it does not care about individuals struggling with mental illness or public safety.

Apr 1, 2016

Heard funnier, true stuff in Humboldt courtrooms compared to this

This was posted as things said in courtroom. Have not heard these in Humboldt, heard funnier stuff.

You will have to click on the image to read.

Jury selection complete, opening arguments Monday in Kailan Meserve case

Bullock jury trial is not starting until 10:30 and Kailan Meserve trial is only half days. I will cover the opening arguments in the Meserve case on Monday. Bullock jury should start deliberations Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning so I will cover the Meserve jury trial.

Meserve case had two alleged victims and
several charges including sexual battery, rape by force and forcible oral copulation. I 

I have done detailed coverage of the Meserve case and the preliminary so whatever is covered Tuesday morning will include previous coverage.

Redwood Prep students get to see Humboldt Justice in action

This morning, Redwood Prep students got a tour of the Humboldt Superior Court and got to sit in and hear arguments on the motion hearing for a new trial in the Timothy Littlefield and preliminary hearing for the suspects in the Jesus Garcia homicide and then a tour of the Humboldt County jail.

Judge Feeney denies Timothy Littlefield Jr's motion for a new trial; once again defense delays sentencing

This morning at 8:30 a.m. after reading both the People's response to the defense's supplemental motion for a new trial and the defense's response to the People, and hearing oral arguments from both Littlefield's attorney, Mr. Russ Clanton and Deputy District Attorney Andrew Isaac, Judge Feeney said his final decision was the same as his tentative decision. The motion for a new trial (this would have been the third trial) was denied.

"It appears to me that remand by Court of Appeal was intended to address the initial motion for a new trial which was based on alleged juror misconduct. The People assert that the defense is procedurally barred from filing a  supplemental motion for a new trial based on this new evidence. However, the court did consider the new evidence and basis for a new trial " said Judge Feeney.

Judge Feeney continued to say that the "new evidence" was based on a 1996 forensic science journal article, which "could have been discovered and presented" at the last trial. "Jurors concluded Jane Doe was credible" and that their decision was not based on biological evidence and therefore "a different result would not be probable in a new trial."

Mr. Clanton spent a lot of time addressing the same arguments from last time except for a defensive remark to the tentative decision, saying "diligence does not mean omnipotent." Mr. Clanton also claimed that the defense expert witness Dr. Julie Hanig did not know of this study.

Mr. Isaac in his arguments read an affadavit from Dr. Hanig that she had sent the study to Mr. Clanton, a study Mr. Clanton claimed she did not know about. Mr. Isaac said that Dr. Hanig "analyzes evidence, she is not an expert in collection of evidence."

My favorite quote from this morning came next, from Mr. Isaac. "Dr. Hanig is Amy Rojas, she is not Kay Belschner.

Then those in the courtroom got to hear about sperm, semen and DNA transfer since that is the subject matter of this 1996 article.

"Machine washing does not carry enough DNA to identify type," said Mr. Isaac. "In this case, DNA was enough to type."

 The fact that random DNA was transferred right where semen was deposited..."

This was Mr. Isaac's response to Mr. Clanton's claim of only two to three spermatozoa being found on Jane Doe's pajamas.

 He also said that Dr. Hanig, had testified at least 5 times in court that DNA survives the washing process.

After a couple of rounds of Isaac v Clanton, Mr. Clanton was given the final argument since Judge Feeney said it was the defense motion. If this was WWF, Mr. Isaac was the clear victor with law and evidence.

When Judge Feeney asked Mr. Clanton, "Are we ready to proceed with sentencing?",  Mr. Clanton said, "No, we are not. I want to appeal and discuss this with Mr. Littlefield and his family."

Mr. Isaac said, "People would like to proceed with sentencing."

Mr. Clanton said he was requesting a short time, a week. Sentencing is now set for April 6 at 4 p.m.

Mr. Allan Dollison, is a local attorney, who has commented and predicted outcomes several times on this particular case, accurately. Mr. Dollison spoke with me after court, and said  this a complex answer, "it is technical."

"The defense can only appeal once Littlefield is sentenced. What Mr. Clanton can do is file a writ of mandate. The Court of Appeals would deny that very quickly," said Mr. Dollison.

Mr. Clanton "technically" incorrectly tried to appeal a 995 ruling in the Kailan Meserve case, when he should have filed a writ of mandate. He never corrected that error. That case is currently in the process of jury selection for a jury trial.

Littlefield Jr, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, with his hair pulled back, sat in court stone-faced shaking a leg. His father was in court as well as two young women and a young man who were there at the last hearing. No other media was in court.

Mar 11, 2016

"I am not leaning on any case law that Mr. Clanton is unfamiliar with"; Timothy Littlefield's lawyer says he is not obligated to follow Court of Appeals suggestion for a new trial

The defense filed a supplemental document to their 2014 original motion for a new trial in the Timothy Littlefield, Jr. alleged molestation case on March 9, 2016. A hearing on the motion for the new trial was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 1 which was then rescheduled for 3:30 this afternoon.

The People did not file an opposition but Deputy District Attorney Andrew Isaac, who was present for the People, was prepared to present oral arguments.

Mr. Russ Clanton, who represents Littlefield, Jr. objected and asked for a continuance and written response from the People and then for him to have time to file a response to that document. He said he needed time to prepare on any case law that the People may cite.

Mr. Issac said that the "Court is aware of the People's position and the victim's position on a continuance." He added, that he was going to use the California Evidence Benchbook and cited Section 34.9.; "I am not leaning on any case law that Mr. Clanton is unfamiliar with."

Mr. Isaac told Judge John Feeney that the "supplemental for motion for new trial was filed" on March 9. Today is March 11, when Littlefield was to be sentenced unless there was a motion for new trial.

That ruling of juror misconduct was overturned by the Court of Appeals unless any new evidence was provided.

At previous court hearings, Littlefield Jr's family has been present, maybe two or three people. Today, Mr. Clanton took great pleasure in pointing out "None of the family or the alleged victim are in court today." Victim Witness Advocate Marybeth Bian and a representative from the North Coast Rape Crisis have been attending the court hearings.

"The Court's recollection is that when the original motion for a new trial was filed on April 30, 2014, there was no opposition filed at that time. I am not faulting Mr. Isaac who was not prosecuting the case at that time."

Former District Attorney Paul Gallegos was handling the case, he was criticized by the Court of Appeals in their ruling as basically, a prosecutor not knowing the law.

"How long has the court been hearing from the defense about a motion for a new trial based on juror misconduct?" asked Mr. Isaac. "Now, the defense says I have no evidence of juror misconduct; I have a new theory."

Mr. Clanton rebutted that he "did not have to follow what the Court of Appeals suuggested."

Mr. Issac told Judge Feeney that Mr. Clanton had cited a 1996 study about DNA and semen transfer and he did not include the date in his documents, "not from 2014, not 2015; it's from the last century. This is not newly discovered evidence. The last time similar studies were quoted in California courts was 2005.  People have (already)  argued all cases from 2005 and 2007 about DNA transfer. "

Littlefield, Jr, with his hair pulled back in a bun, in an orange jumpsuit stood silently, next to Mr. Clanton. His father Timothy Littlefield, Sr. was in court and today there were 6 other family members or friends in court.

End result: the hearing on the motion for new trial will be at 8:30 on April 1. The People have to file their written response to the supplemental document by March 18 and if the defense wants to file a response, that has to be in by March 29.

Feb 17, 2016

Remittitur issued in the Timothy Littlefield case today


This link will give you more details.

Today, a remittitur was issued in the Timothy Littlefield case by the California First District Apellate Court.

From uslegal.com:

Remittitur is a term with different meanings. In the context of a jury verdict, it refers to a judge's order reducing a judgment awarded by a jury when it exceeds the amount asked for by the plaintiff.

In the context of appellate procedure, it refers to an appellate court sending a case back to the trial court so that the case can be retried, or so that trial court can enter an order that conforms to the findings of the appellate court. Remittitur is a process by which jurisdiction is transferred back from the appellate court to the trial court. Remittitur divests the appellate court of the jurisdiction after it has resolved the appeal, and permits full jurisdiction over the judgment to be returned to the trial court.

Feb 3, 2016

"This case involves multiple acts of molestation of a child who was 8 years old at the time, the victim is now a teenager and has been waiting a long time for finality", Cook and Associates to investigate Timothy Littlefield case

Timothy Littlefield dressed in an orange jumpsuit stood silently by his lawyer, Mr. Russ Clanton, and as his hearing today concluded, he shook Mr. Clanton's hand before he was taken back into custody.

The defense filed a motion to continue his sentencing which was set for February 5. That date was vacated after Judge Joyce Hinrich's granted the defense motion to continue.

Mr. Clanton mostly referred to his written pleadings and said since the last court hearing, he has been in trial and there have been issues with investigators and he just got back some material from one investigator last week and he wanted some more time. Chris Cook of Cook and Associates has agreed to take on the case and he had to file a motion for funding.

Deputy District Attorney Stacey Eads said the People opposed the motion. It has been two and a half years since Littlefield had been sentenced so the defense claiming inadequate time is not a good cause.

"This case involves multiple acts of molestation of a child who was 8 years old at the time, the victim is now a teenager and has been waiting a long time for finality," said Ms. Eads.

Jury misconduct is the sole issue before sentencing, the defense has not provided additional relevant evidence, said Ms. Eads.

Judge Joyce Hinrichs said that she was trying to balance the rights of the victim and Littlefield and that it was not any delay caused by Littlefield, so she granted the request for the defense continuance.

Timothy Littlefield will now be sentenced on March 11, 2015 unless the defense provides more evidence regarding jury misconduct and a third trial date will be set.

Timothy Littlefield cuffed and taken unto custody, no bail, says I love you to his father twice

The January 7 date is vacated. Next date Feb 5. Timothy Littlefield cannot post bail. His previous bail bond is exonerated.

Timothy Littlefield Jr dressed in khakis and an olive green sweater came to court with his father, Timothy Littlefield, Sr and two other supporters.

Citing the recent decision by the Apellate Court, the length of prison sentence he faces and "the substansial risk of absconding," Timothy Littlefield was ordered remanded into custody as requested by the Humboldt County District Attorney's office.

I was present for both the morning and afternoon hearings today during which prosecution and defense presented their arguments. In the afternoon, the People presented elaborated on reasons for remand. The victim contacted the DA's office requesting that she would feel safer if Littlefield was in custody. Mr. Clanton repeated his arguments from the morning.

After the guilty verdict in the second trial, Littlefield faces upto 155 plus years to life unless a motion for a third trial is granted or additional evidence is provided by the defense regarding the second trial.

As the bailiff slapped cuffs on him in court, Littlefield bowed his head down. He turned to his father and said, "I love you." As he was being led away out of the courtroom, he also said, "I love you again" to his father and supporters.

The next court date is February 5, 2016 at 8:30 a.m.to decide motion for a new trial and for defense to provide supplemental evidence.

Dec 18, 2015

People request bench warrant for Timothy Littlefield, defense counsel tries unsuccessfully to change Judge Feeney's mind

Bennett vs Clanton, after three rounds of defensive and passionate advocacy by Mr. Russ Clanton, who represents Timothy Littlefield, Jr.; questioning and effort by Judge John Feeney to accomodate rescheduling; the People represented by Deputy District Attorney prevailed.

Littlefield was not in court because he posted bail and signed a 977 form, which is a waiver of personal appearance for certain court hearings.

Addressing the Court of Appeals ruling and custodial status was scheduled this morning at 8:30 a.m. The hearing proceeded and the matter is continued to December 22 at 4 p.m. I just found out at 10:30 a.m. that now the hearing has been changed to 4 p.m. today, which was one of the options given to defense. Initially, Mr. Clanton said that would be impossible to achieve today.

Littlefield has been ordered to personally appear in court for the hearing today by Judge Feeney.

For now, Timothy Littlefield remains a free man. That could change today.

Judge Feeney asked that the issue of custodial status be addressed first.

From a May 2014 article in the North Coast journal:

"Timothy Floyd Littlefield was facing eight life sentences in state prison without the possibility of parole stemming from convictions on 11 child molestation charges when he stood before Humboldt County Superior Court Judge John Feeney last week at a sentencing hearing. Instead of sentencing Littlefield to serve 188 years to life, as he said was his intent, Feeney declared a mistrial in the case, finding juror misconduct"

This morning in court, DDA Bennett said that the Court of Appeals reversed the Court's decision of a mistrial. "The defendant is in the same position he was when he was convicted," she said. "He was convicted without the option for bail."

The People requested that Littlefield be remanded unless a motion was given for a new trial. DDA Bennett said that Littlefield had been convicted of 11 counts of sexual misconduct against a child and facing 150 years to life and that due to public safety concerns and possibility of flight risk, a bench warrant be issued.

Mr. Clanton was very upset and emotional in his responses. snapping at the prosecutor twice this morning. "We are invited to provide more evidence" of juror misconduct. "He's out on bail. He has made every court appearance. He has never failed to appear."

Ms. Bennett said that it has been the People's position that Littlefield be in custody. Mr. Clanton responded, "There is no practical reason, this is predatory."

Judge Feeney asked Mr. Clanton if he intended to present additional evidence. Mr. Clanton told Judge Feeney there is additional evidence. "It exists. I have met with the investigators and Mr. Littlefield. I have 45 days to present that evidence to the Court. We have no intention of dragging this matter. We would like to get this to conclusion."

Ms. Bennett said that most of the time when Littlefield appeared in court, he was in custody. Ms. Bennett cited Penal Code 1166.

From http://www.leginfo.ca.gov:

1166.  If a general verdict is rendered against the defendant, or a
special verdict is given, he or she must be remanded, if in custody,
or if on bail he or she shall be committed to the proper officer of
the county to await the judgment of the court upon the verdict,
unless, upon considering the protection of the public, the
seriousness of the offense charged and proven, the previous criminal
record of the defendant, the probability of the defendant failing to
appear for the judgment of the court upon the verdict, and public
safety, the court concludes the evidence supports its decision to
allow the defendant to remain out on bail. When committed, his or her
bail is exonerated, or if money is deposited instead of bail it must
be refunded to the defendant or to the person or persons found by
the court to have deposited said money on behalf of said defendant.

Mr. Clanton disagreed and said that Littlefield had made other court appearances when he was out of custody. He added that there had been no additional offenses committed by Littlefield while he has been out of custody. He also told the Court that Timothy Littlefield is living in Redding.

No other media was in court. There is a disposition and reset hearing currently set for January 7, 2016 if there will be a third trial.

Dec 18, 2015

Dec 17, 2015

Review of appellate hearing and custody status scheduled in Timothy Littlefield's case for tomorrow

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 1, the Humboldt County District Attorney's office has a hearing scheduled to review the appellate hearing and custody status in the Timothy Littlefield case.
The parties will appear before Judge John Feeney.

A disposition and reset hearing, if there is a third trial is currently set for January 7, 2016 at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 5.

Dec 15, 2015

Appellate court reverses Littlefield mistrial decision by Judge Feeney

I have been following this regularly.

DA's Press Release (as of 4:53 p.m.]

Today the First Appellate District of the State of California, Division One, reversed the Humboldt County Superior Court ruling in People v Timothy Littlefield which granted the defendant a new trial. In 2013 a jury found the defendant guilty of all charges related to his sexual misconduct with a child under 10 years of age.
The defense filed a motion for a new trial based on a declaration by a juror that addressed his mental processes during jury deliberations. The trial court conducted a hearing during which the juror recanted the declaration, stating he had not personally written it nor read it carefully before signing it. Nevertheless, the trial court granted the motion for a new trial.
The appellate court reversed the trial court and found the juror’s declaration irrelevant in assessing the validity of the verdict. The appellate court further stated: “…we think the appropriate remedy is not to affirm the order setting aside the verdict based solely on irrelevant evidence and speculation about what defendant could have proved, but to remand for further proceedings to determine whether relevant and admissible evidence of jury misconduct actually exists.”

Clarifying errors in mainstream media coverage on the Bullock jury trial, especially a major one in NCJ's latest article

I have more than once, publicly and personally, thanked all the media that have covered the Gary Lee Bullock trial because the coverage has been outstanding. During the preliminary hearing, locally, Times-Standard managing editor Kimberly Wear, Lost Coast Outpost's Ryan Burns, and KIEM covered the case. All did an excellent job in reporting.

None of the media has covered the Bullock trial every day. Due to staffing and other news, that is understandable.

The point of this post is not to embarrass anyone but not everyone reads every media source, some people only read the newspaper and watch the news. No one either comments or pays attention to the comment section (except in LOCO) and when a mistake is made in media coverage that is so inaccurate that it can have legal impacts; pointing out in the comment section or in a letter to the editor is pointless.

Regarding the Times-Standard, there have been two different reporters covering the trial. I would have preferred that either Will Houston or Hunter Cresswell  would have covered this trial  because they have experience covering the local courts, their coverage would not have blatant errors and they are humble enough to ask for help from their colleagues. There was an article covered by Steven Moore that had major inaccuracies on two important motions in limine. I saw the article online, it had not been in print. I emailed Ms. Wear and TS assistant managing editor Marc Valles to take care of this privately. They corrected the errors online and the print version was different.  TS is a daily newspaper and I had time to contact the editors, who are responsive to emails and phone calls.

I have covered the Bullock trial and a lot of court news for North Coast News. They also have other reporters that have covered court cases and done a great job. They have a lot of correct and background information from my coverage in the Bullock case. I would have preferred Cymphanie Sherman or Evan Schreiber have covered this trial because they are meticulous reporters. Jeremy Chen who is covering this trial, when he can, has done a  decent job. The live coverage on TV is inaccurate when it is stated repeatedly that  "Bullock has entered a plea of not guilty by insanity." From previous coverage, they have information that there has  been a dual plea of not guilty and not guilty by insanity. That is not a small typo or omission, it is a significant fact in this case.

The biggest error in Bullock trial coverage has been made by Thad Greenson in the North Coast Journal, which could have been avoided, simply by a small addition stating, "to my knowledge". Thad has covered courts before. The M'Naghten rule and it applying to this case has been covered more than once on my blog in the last year, Times-Standard did an article a couple months ago. The information in the NCJ article is not new. The recent article by Thad  it highlights some valid points and challenges about the insanity defense, however it incorrectly states that the Bullock jury is unaware that the trial is bifurcated. Thad only covered Mr. Isaac's opening statement. He has not been in court on any other day for this case. Therefore, he is unaware that from the beginning of jury selection, the jurors were made aware that there would be two phases to this trial. They are very aware that if a guilty verdict is reached in the first phase, then there will phase two to determine whether not guilty by insanity can be proved by the defense. Due to the gag order, no one from the courts can correct or talk about this error.

California court ruless do not allow recorders, laptops and special permission is given, sometimes, for TV cameras to take photographs or briefly record court proceedings. Reporting on court cases requires good note taking, old fashioned skill. It helps to have a knowledge on the law but basic reporting skills are a must. Some reporters are better at covering courts just because they are excellent journalists, in general.

The local mainstream media has awakened to providing more court coverage recently, seeing the success of my blog. I would urge the people in charge to consider who they send to cover court cases.

I waited a couple of days to do this post and finally chose to put it on the blog because several readers contacted me about these errors. They wanted timely correction and this issue raised.

The error in NCJ is urgent because the case is at the stage where closing arguments are expected to start in Phase 1 of the Bullock trial on Monday.

It is not the first time significant errors have been made in the mainstream media and it happens in other news, not just court cases, on a frequent basis. This is not about perfection, it is about accurately representing if you have covered something in its entirety and being cognizant that especially in legal cases, misinformation has consequences.

People have choices today where they get their news, advertisers also have choices today, chose carefully.

Locally, people talk a lot about supporting local businesses. They need to put their money where their mouth is and support smaller, independent media like Mad River Union, KHSU, and myself.  With a smaller staff, in some cases, unpaid, we provide better local news coverage and develop our own articles and story leads.

"Mainstream media" has changed, it can no longer be considered the standard for where you should rely on information or accurate, complete information.

Thank you to Elizabeth Alves and Mad River Union for an unexpected surprise

I would like to thank Ms. Elizabeth Alves for this column published in the Mad River Union two weeks ago and to MRU for publishing it. Editor Jack Durham told me he would try and put it online, I requested a copy from Ms. Alves.

I do not know Ms. Alves. Someone handed me a copy of the paper. It meant lot to me, especially since that was on one of the more difficult days of the Bullock jury trial. It was totally unexpected.

This is the kind of feedback I get in person, on the phone, via email and from the families and parties involved in cases, many who have become friends. Those opinions are the ones that matter because they come from the heart, with no agenda.

The headline: Indie blogger John Chiv provides a vital window into the courtroom

As paper newspapers continue to consolidate and transition to Internet-only formats, content continues to change as well. There is less direct observation of events by reporters and more presentation of press releases from official sources. Locally, that means that even the county's almost daily newspaper doesn't base a reporter at the courthouse.
In fact, the much smaller Union covers cases of interest to the north county more effectively. But we are all fortunate to have the benefit of an experienced reporter who spends most of his time moving between the courts. John Chiv writes a blog--Words Worth--which keeps readers updated on what is happening in our local courts.
Chiv has been a reporter and also does marketing and promotion for businesses. His acute interest in the courts apparently began with the case of Gary Lee Bullock, who is accused of the murder of Father Eric Freed on New Years Day 2014. Chiv was an active parishioner and close friend of Freed; he saw him late the night of the murder and was waiting at the church the next morning to serve mass.
Recently he has been forthcoming with some of the details of his experience of the events. Bullock’s trial began last week with physical and photographic evidence being submitted and potential jurors being screened. Despite his personal connection, Chiv has been doing a remarkably objective job describing the progress of the case.
He has several times mentioned that he was the only spectator in court. Surely he feels in some degree that he is standing for his friend and priest. Doing so, and sharing the results with others, may be a little help in resolving his own trauma.
In the more than two years since the death, there have been relatively few court proceedings to report. Chiv has roamed the corridors of the courthouse, checking in on all kinds of other cases. He typically updates his blog several times each weekday.
He appears to be respected by the attorneys. He sometimes asks for comments and shares the responses he receives. In short, he is an unpaid courthouse reporter, an insider with access to both public moments and the inevitable gossip which makes the place work.
The public gets the benefit of his hours of volunteer time representing us in the practice of what we hope is justice. We would know a lot less about what is going on in the courts without his hard work. He shines light on what might otherwise be overlooked.
Few of us have the time or interest to show up at a court proceeding unless we are directly involved. Despite efforts to improve the experience of jurors or prospective jurors, it can still be disruptive. In the Freed case, the evidence will be deeply disturbing.
Many jurors can't afford to miss work for a long trial; most employers don't pay for jury duty, or pay only a few days. Jurors who have vacations planned are expected to give them up unless they have pre-paid. And the new court administrator says a lot of people just don't show up at all for jury service.
Retired people tend to be over-represented on juries because they don't to worry about missing work. In this case, religious beliefs may figure into jury selection, and older people are more likely to be religiously observant. There are plenty of reasons for prospective jurors to hope they won't be selected for this trial.
There aren't a lot of people who genuinely want to supplant law enforcement and the justice system and do the work themselves. But that doesn't prevent them from criticizing the way it is done. Opinions which are based on fact are more useful than those formed on rickety frames of half-truth and rumor.
Local news outlets are swamped with reports of criminal activity and residents are anxious to hear that suspects are in custody. But all too often, they are swiftly released, and in some cases, rapidly arrested again on the same or similar charges. People want to feel that the system works, but it is all too obvious that it often doesn't.
The Bullock case generates little sympathy for the defendant, who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Freed was the epitome of an innocent victim, devoted to service. Many will believe Bullock was completely sane and is only using the insanity plea in an effort to avoid the consequences of his actions.
Others think he must have been crazy in order to even contemplate such a hideous crime. I'm not sure it matters, as long as he is unable to hurt anyone in the future. Whether that's in prison or a mental hospital is not crucial; either would provide punishment, but the main thing is to protect others.
To read John Chiv’s posts, visit http://johnchiv.blogspot.com.
Elizabeth Alves thanks Chiv for his reports, and hopes the resolution of the Bullock case brings him some measure of peace. Comments and suggestions are welcome care of the Union or to mysidestreet@gmail.com. 

$175,000 bail set for Shane Ulrich, one of Hoopa's most wanted persons just arrested

On Thursday, March 31, 2016, at about 8:15 p.m. Humboldt County Deputy Sheriffs were investigating the whereabouts of one of Hoopa’s most wanted persons, Shane Connally Ulrich. During the search they located 31 year old Ulrich in the yard area of a residence on Pine Creek Rd in Hoopa. Ulrich was placed under arrest without incident. Deputies searched Ulrich and located .4 grams of suspected methamphetamine and a glass pipe.

Ulrich was taken to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was booked for his outstanding warrants and fresh charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance paraphernalia. His bail was set at $175,000.

Mar 31, 2016

City of Eureka to have pre proposal meeting on April 5 regarding RFP for homeless services

The City of Eureka issued an RFP for Homeless Services on Friday, March 25, 2016.
The pre-proposal meeting to address questions and provide information will be held in
Room 207 at Eureka City Hall on April 5, 2016 at 2 p.m.
If you are interested in submitting the RFP for Homeless Services but can’t attend the
pre-proposal meeting, please e-mail City Manager gsparks@ci.eureka.ca.gov and any
additional information will be provided to you.

The deadline for
submitting the RFP is April 22, 2016.

Key witness in Jesus Garcia alleged gang related homicide has a memory loss on stand regarding three suspects she previously identified

On Wednesday, the preliminary hearing continued for the four suspects in the Jesus Garcia homicide. It is expected to continue all week, today is a court holiday.

On Monday and Tuesday, EPD Detective Ron Harpham finished testifying. The People's first witness, Caroline Snow, had a memory loss on the stand on Tuesday and could not identify the three suspects she previously said were at her apartment, the night Jesus Garcia-Romero was stabbed. Nicholas Leigl is the only suspect placed at the crime of scene by her.

On Wednesday, Detective Harpham was recalled by the People and cross examined by defense attorneys. He was on the stand the entire day. He testified to the testimony of civilian witnesses, including Snow.

On Friday, People's expert witness, Paul Sprague will testify.

All defendants are being represented by private attorneys. Mario Nunez is being represented by Mr. David Celli, Joe Olivio III by Mr. Manny Daskal, Joe Olivio Jr by Ms. Christina Allbright and Nicholas Leigl by Mr. Michael Acosta.

Deputy District Attorney David Christensen started his questioning of  Det. Harpham by stating, "you heard Caroline Snow testify yesterday about her not remembering/identifying the three other males."

Detective Harpham indicated yes regarding Snow's testimony in court. He then reiterated that Snow had previously identified Nunez, Olivio Jr, and Olivio III.

"Did she see one of them with a knife?" asked Mr. Christensen.

"She saw one of them with a knife," said Det. Harpham.

 February 11, 2015,  was the first time Det. Harpham met Snow. "I was working at my desk and a POP detective was at 1819 A street with a probationer name named Timmy C." Det. Harpham said that the C was short for a Laotian last name. "They called me or I heard her name on the radio and I responded to that location because I needed to talk to her. I parked at Del Norte and A, a full block away from the target house and asked her to come to my car." Det. Harpham said he thinks she was escorted to his car by a POP detective.

Det. Harpham said his objective was to "try and convince her to come down and tell her side of the story." Det. Harpham did not arrest Snow, she went in the car with him to EPD, where he interviewed her.

DDA Christensen asked Det. Harpham, "What were you asking her about? Did she know you were asking about the Jesus Garcia homicide."

Det. Harpham said yes.

Det. Harpham gave Snow's address, where she was living, the night Garcia-Romero was allegedly stabbed. "She knew the victim," said Det. Harpham. "He was a person who frequently stayed at her house. She referred to him as son. She called him Smiley because he did not like being called Jesus for some reason."

"Michael Grant aka Tank was the apartment," said Det. Harpham. "She said Jesus was trippin out that day. Both (Tank and Jesus) were acting wierd and trippin out. She didn't say scared. I relaized that later in the conversation. She opened the back door to let Nick in and saw the other three men come in; she realized why Jesus and Michael Grant were trippin out"

"She didn't say what Jesus was doing. Michael Grant was helping her take down a bunk bed to help her move. Nicholas Leigl had called. He came over that night shortly afterwards; sometime around/after 10 p.m. When Nicholas Leigl got to the apartment, he knocked on the back door. She opened the door and let him in. He came in and looked concerned. Seconds later, three guys came in."

"She ided the three men. Earlier, she said she knew of Nunez and Olivio, Jr. The packet of photos I was going to use for ID was laying on my desk." Det. Harpham told her he had photos for her to look at, "She looked down and said that's them." Det. Harpham said "she was very scared to make IDS."

"She was very demure and emotional," said Det. Harpham.

"How did she appear?" Mr. Christensen asked Det. Harpham.

"She was crying," said Det. Harpham.

She told Det. Harpham, "Little Joe had the knife."

Mr. Christensen asked, "What happened next?"

"She had a fear response, so she tried to stall. The person she knew as Oso, he said he was Miguel."

At this point, Mr. Christensen went over the nicknames that were being used and who they referred to:

Oso=Joe Olivio, Jr
Little Oso or Lil Joe =Joe Olivio III
(adult) Smiley=Mario Nunez
Lil Smiley/Smiley=Jesus Garcia
Drama-Nicholas Leigl
Tank=Michael Grant

"She headed back to the back bedroom with Tank and Leigl followed her. It was seconds later she heard a scufffle outside. She was the first one out the door. She didn't see the other three men. She saw Jesus Garcia bent over like he was stomach sick," said Det. Harpham.

At this point Joe Olivio III smiled at his dad, Joe Olivio, Jr. He did this a few times during the testimony. Nunez just glared at me or started blankly. Leigl sat quietly.

"Tank too over and was going to make him go to the hospital," said Det. Harpham. Leigl was still there. "Jesus left with Tank and Nicholas Leigl." Snow did not see anyone put in the car, said Det. Harpham.

Mr. Christensen then questioned Det. Harpham about his interview with Grant.

"I was contacted by Sgt. Travis Braud. He had arrested Michael Grant for felon in possession and he was in jail," said Det. Harpham.

"Was any consideration given to Michael Grant," asked Mr. Christensen.

"Yes. Michael Grant said he knew the story but would not talk unless he got something," responded Det. Harpham.

Det. Harpham spoke with Ms. Kelly Neel, who was the assistant DA at that time, Sgt. Braud and Sgt. Bill Nova. The deal made with Grant was that "no report would be filed by the time he was to be arraigned Monday, that he would spend the weekend in jail and be cut loose." Det. Harpham said that Grant was never promised that charges would never be filed against him.

"Tank said he was at the apartment. He got there at 5 p.m. He was helping her break down some bunk beds. Jesus Garcia told him someone wants to kill both if us. Tank said he did not know why for sure but he had some assumption. Tank said to Jesus Garcia we will be safe if we don't let anyone in the house. Caroline got a phone call from Nick sometime after 10 p.m. Shortly, after Nick arrived at the back door."

"Tank told Caroline Snow, make sure Nicholas Leigl is alone. He was in the back room. He heard Carolinr and Nick come in. He heard scuffling sounds. He came out of the bedroom and said WTF is going on? He heard Jesus say "over here" by the bathroom. Then he saw three men he recognized in the hallway leaving. he knew the three men as Smiley, Oso and Oso' son."

Grant said he chased after them. He saw them get into a small, black car, different than the black Volvo Leigl was driving. He went back to "Jesus and Jesus either said, 'they got me' or 'he got me'."
Grant asked Garcia who and "Jesus said Oso." Grant said that he saw the stab wound and blood and that Garcia argued about going to the hospital but eventually Garcia left with Leigl, he was sitting in the back seat of the Volvo. This was sometime after 11 p.m.

Next. DDA Christensen asked Det. Harpham about his interview with Marissa Lawson. Det. Harpham located Lawson from phone records and text messages with Snow.  She was at Snow's apartment the evening of the incident. She has a friend named "Leonard or Lonely or Lone Rodriguez".

During cross examination, Mr. Daskal asked if Grant saw Garcia being stabbed and Det. Harpham said Grant initially gave him a summary and that later in his conversation with Garnt, he learned that Grant did not witness the stabbing.

Dr. Super told Det. Harpham that "all wounds occurred in a horizontal or vertical position, not fetal or sitting position.

Mr. Acosta said that both accounts by Lawson and Snow were based on what Grant told them. Det. Harpham responded that Lawson knew from other sources, including Rodriguez. Mr. Acosta also asked how in an eight bedroom house, did the scuffle occur seconds later. He hinted that the assailants knew exactly where Garcia was in the house. Mr. Acosta also brought up Grant's prior conviction for embezzlement and stabbing, these records were something  Det. Harpham was not unaware of until Mr. Acosta mentioned them.

Previous post (with all previous coverage);


Lookout for Andrew Barnes wanted in connection with Myrtle and West incident last night

On 03/30/16 at about 10:51 p.m., an officer with the Eureka Police Department began following a red Ford Explorer known to be connected to a wanted felon.  The officer activated his emergency lights near Myrtle and West streets and the driver stopped and immediately fled from the vehicle on foot.  

The officer stayed with the vehicle and detained the passenger, Shad Sovereign, 34 of Eureka.  Officers set up a perimeter and searched the area with police K9, Vex, but were unable to locate the driver.  Officers found a loaded firearm with the serial number removed inside the vehicle.  

Sovereign was arrested and transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility.  His charges include felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a concealed firearm, possession of a loaded firearm, possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, and parole hold.

The driver, Andrew Barnes, 27 of Eureka, remains at large.  Barnes has been identified as a suspect in the recent armed robberies.  Fortuna Police has an active arrest warrant for his involvement.  Barnes also has a felony parole warrant and multiple fresh charges are pending from last night's incident.  

If you have information on the whereabouts of Barnes, please call the Eureka Police Department at (707) 441-4044.

Shad Sovereign

Andrew Barnes

Mar 30, 2016

New religious freedom bill could give small business owners the right to anull any gay marriage


Early April Fools! Gotcha.

Sacramento threatens to fine Caltrans up to 5.23 million a day for drilling in violation of state law



Sacramento County is threatening to fine Caltrans millions in taxpayer dollars for drilling hundreds of wells over a period of decades in violation of laws aimed at protecting groundwater, records show.

The county set the possible fine at as much as $5.23 million per day to locate and follow proper procedures for a fraction of the wells — the most extreme measure thus far in a long-running jurisdictional spitting contest. The county says the state should have obtained permits, licenses and inspections for 523 narrow wells drilled from January 1990 to May 2014, according to a notice of violation obtained by CalWatchdog.

First law student steals laptop, then forges and alters guilty verdict slip; he has not received the law degree


Mad River Union's cartoon on Arcata activism could apply anywhere

This cartoon from Mad River Union can apply anywhere in Humboldt; actually anywhere in the nation.


Easter Miracle on Easter Sunday when Supervisor Sundberg helps a family who recently became homeless

A facebook post from a Mckinleyville citizen illustrates the difference it makes when you have Supervisors invested and living in their communities. I have similar information about Virginia, Rex and Estelle but they don't publicize it, I don't usually, unless a citizen does.

Supervisors don't stop working at 5 p.m. Something the public forgets, sometimes.

"Just wanted to brag a little bit about our Supervisor Ryan Sundberg...he is a guy with a big heart and someone who was willing to go the extra mile...even on Easter Sunday.  Last Friday I met this nice local couple with two kids who became homeless when the house they were renting was condemned.  One of our local Churches had a Senior couple who offered them a recent year RV in excellent condition for a very low price.  The couple had a stable income...but if they paid for the RV they would need help making space rent for a month or two.  My husband and I own an RV park in Trinidad and that's how I met this family.  Our Park is full with a waiting list.  This family was the kind of sweet people who need a hand up...no drugs...no criminal record...and are members of this Church.  I  wondered could these people qualify for this Housing First program's funding or some other resource?  I ended up private messaging Ryan on Easter Sunday...he responded immediately...and even got ahold of his DHHS staff on Easter Sunday!  I contacted this family and they were in tears they were so grateful.  Ryan just emailed me confirming that this family qualified for DHHS's Cal Works funding....which turned out to be an Easter miracle...And please join me in thanking our Supervisor Ryan Sundberg who once again went over and beyond the call of duty!"

Federal government seeks death penalty in Rodney and Vincent Ortiz case

I will have more on this  in an update.

Three suspects arrested for alleged theft of mail, credit cards and meth

On 03-26-2016 at approximately 9:15 AM, Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a reported theft of mail in the area of the 16100 block of Ridgeview Road in Willits, California.

The caller reported that the occupants of a burgundy mini-van had stolen mail from their mailbox. The caller provided the Deputies with a direction of travel for the suspect vehicle.

As the Deputies responded to the area they observed two large piles of mail alongside the roadway which had already been discarded by the suspects.

The suspect vehicle was stopped by another responding Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy in the 2000 block of Muir Mill Road.  It was occupied by Kiera Shed (driver), Justin Maxfield and Bradley Maxfield.

Inside the van were items of mail, credit cards, stolen checks with forged signatures, two methamphetamine smoking pipes and a prescription bottle containing a schedule IV controlled substance known as TRAMADOL.

Shed, Justin Maxfield and Bradley Maxfield were arrested for possession of stolen property, forgery, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance, grand theft and petty theft.

They were transported to the Mendocino County Jail where each was to be held in lieu of $15,000.00 bail.

The investigation is ongoing as discarded as items of mail continue to be processed and additional victims are identified and contacted.

Huge decision from U.S. Supreme Court that can have impact on Humboldt defendants

Defendant argued that she was deprived of her right to hire her own counsel because government seized her assets, pre-trial.

Held:That violated her 6th Amendment right to Counsel. It was a 5-3 decision.

(Slip Opinion) OCTOBER TERM, 2015

 1 Syllabus NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES Syllabus LUIS v. UNITED STATES CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT No. 14–419. Argued November 10, 2015—Decided March 30, 2016 A federal statute provides that a court may freeze before trial certain assets belonging to a defendant accused of violations of federal health care or banking laws. Those assets include (1) property “obtained as a result of ” the crime, (2) property “traceable” to the crime, and (3), as relevant here, other “property of equivalent value.” 18 U. S. C. §1345(a)(2). The Government has charged petitioner Luis with fraudulently obtaining nearly $45 million through crimes related to health care. In order to preserve the $2 million remaining in Luis’ possession for payment of restitution and other criminal penalties, the Government secured a pretrial order prohibiting Luis from dissipating her assets, including assets unrelated to her alleged crimes. Though the District Court recognized that the order might prevent Luis from obtaining counsel of her choice, it held that the Sixth Amendment did not give her the right to use her own untainted funds for that purpose. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

Held: The judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded.

564 Fed. Appx. 493, vacated and remanded.

JUSTICE BREYER, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE GINSBURG, and JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, concluded that the pretrial restraint of legitimate, untainted assets needed to retain counsel of choice violates the Sixth Amendment. The nature and importance of the constitutional right taken together with the nature of the assets lead to this conclusion. Pp. 3–16. (a) The Sixth Amendment right to counsel grants a defendant “a fair opportunity to secure counsel of his own choice,” Powell v. Alabama, 287 U. S. 45, 53, that he “can afford to hire,” Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered v. United States, 491 U. S. 617, 624. This Court has 2 LUIS v. UNITED STATES Syllabus consistently referred to the right to counsel of choice as “fundamental.” Pp. 3–5. (b) While the Government does not deny Luis’ fundamental right to be represented by a qualified attorney whom she chooses and can afford to hire, it would nonetheless undermine the value of that right by taking from Luis the ability to use funds she needs to pay for her chosen attorney. The Government attempts to justify this consequence by pointing out that there are important interests on the other side of the legal equation. It wishes to guarantee that funds will be available later to help pay for statutory penalties and restitution, for example. The Government further argues that two previous cases from this Court, Caplin & Drysdale, supra, at 619, and United States v. Monsanto, 491 U. S. 600, 615, support the issuance of a restraining order in this case. However, the nature of the assets at issue here differs from the assets at issue in those earlier cases. And that distinction makes a difference. Pp. 5–16. (1) Here, the property is untainted, i.e., it belongs to Luis. As described in Caplin & Drysdale and Monsanto, the Government may well be able to freeze before trial “tainted” assets—e.g., loot, contraband, or property otherwise associated with the planning, implementing, or concealing of a crime. As a matter of property law, the defendant’s ownership interest in such property is imperfect. For example, a different federal statute provides that title to property used to commit a crime (or otherwise “traceable” to a crime) passes to the Government at the instant the crime is planned or committed. See 21 U. S. C. §853(c). But here, the Government seeks to impose restrictions upon Luis’ untainted property without any showing of any equivalent governmental interest in that property. Pp. 5–10. (2) This distinction does not by itself answer the constitutional question because the law of property may allow a person without a present interest in a piece of property to impose restrictions upon a current owner, say, to prevent waste. However, insofar as innocent funds are needed to obtain counsel of choice, the Sixth Amendment prohibits the court order sought here. Three basic considerations lead to this conclusion. First, the nature of the competing interests argues against this kind of court order. On the one side is a fundamental Sixth Amendment right to assistance of counsel. On the other side is the Government’s interest in securing its punishment of choice, as well as the victim’s interest in securing restitution. These latter interests are important, but— compared to the right to counsel—they seem to lie somewhat further from the heart of a fair, effective criminal justice system. Second, relevant, common-law legal tradition offers virtually no significant support for the Government’s position and in fact argues to the con- Cite as: 578 U. S. ____ (2016) 3 Syllabus trary. Indeed, there appears to be no decision of this Court authorizing unfettered, pretrial forfeiture of the defendant’s own “innocent” property. Third, as a practical matter, accepting the Government’s position could erode the right to counsel considerably. It would, in fact, unleash a principle of constitutional law with no obvious stopping place, as Congress could write more statutes authorizing restraints in other cases involving illegal behavior that come with steep financial consequences. These defendants, often rendered indigent, would fall back upon publicly paid counsel, including overworked and underpaid public defenders. The upshot is a substantial risk that accepting the Government’s views would render less effective the basic right the Sixth Amendment seeks to protect. Pp. 11–15. (3) The constitutional line between a criminal defendant’s tainted funds and innocent funds needed to pay for counsel should prove workable. Money may be fungible, but courts, which use tracing rules in cases of, e.g., fraud and pension rights, have experience separating tainted assets from untainted assets, just as they have experience determining how much money is needed to cover the costs of a lawyer. Pp. 15–16. JUSTICE THOMAS concluded that the rule that a pretrial freeze of untainted assets violates a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel of choice rests strictly on the Sixth Amendment’s text and common-law backdrop. Pp. 1–12. (a) The Sixth Amendment abolished the common-law rule that generally prohibited representation in felony cases. “The right to select counsel of one’s choice” is thus “the root meaning” of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. United States v. Gonzalez-Lopez, 548 U. S. 140, 147–148. Constitutional rights protect the necessary prerequisites for their exercise. As a result, the Sixth Amendment denies the Government unchecked power to freeze a defendant’s assets before trial simply to secure potential forfeiture upon conviction. Unless the right to counsel protects the right to use lawfully owned property to pay for an attorney, the right to counsel—originally understood to protect only the right to hire counsel of choice—would be meaningless. Without pretrial protection for at least some of a defendant’s assets, the Government could nullify the right to counsel of choice, eviscerating the Sixth Amendment’s original meaning and purpose. The modern, judicially created right to governmentappointed counsel does not obviate these concerns. Pp. 1–5. (b) History confirms this textual understanding. The common-law forfeiture tradition provides an administrable rule for the Sixth Amendment’s protection: A criminal defendant’s untainted assets are protected from government interference before trial and judgment, but his tainted assets may be seized before trial as contraband or 4 LUIS v. UNITED STATES Syllabus through a separate in rem proceeding. Reading the Sixth Amendment to track the historical line between tainted and untainted assets avoids case-by-case adjudication and ensures that the original meaning of the right to counsel does real work. Here, the incursion of the pretrial asset freeze into untainted assets, for which there is no historical tradition, violates the Sixth Amendment. Pp. 5–9. (c) This conclusion leaves no room for an atextual balancing analysis. Pp. 9–12

. BREYER, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and GINSBURG and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

KENNEDY, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined. KAGAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion

Want your roads fixed? Tell Board of Equalization what you think of their recent decision

Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg is at CACOG conference. Supervisor Sundberg is the chair for HCOAG and he is attending the conference with Marcella Clem, HCOAG's executive director. Expenses are being paid by the State of California for the conference.

Bill Higgins, Executive Director, California Association of Councils of Governments sent this out :

Fix Our Road Coalition:

As you may have seen, yesterday the Board of Equalization voted to reduce the excise tax on gasoline by 2.2 cents, bringing the total reduction in the excise tax per gallon to over 11 cents over the past three years.  This action further underscores the need to stabilize this revenue source and to pass new revenues to fund transportation.  Following is the statement we put out in response.

Press Release:

– The Fix Our Roads coalition including, cities, counties, labor, business, and transportation advocates, issued the following statement in response to the Board of Equalization’s (BOE) vote today to reduce the excise tax on gasoline by another 2.2 cents. This brings the total reduction in the excise tax per gallon to over 11 cents over the past three years:

“The BOE’s action will reduce transportation funding by another $328.2 million and will mean continued cuts to our chronically underfunded transportation infrastructure at both the state and local level.  Declining gas tax revenues have left us with tens of billions of dollars of backlogged maintenance and little funding for new congestion relief projects. 

“In fact, the anticipated reduction in transportation funding is a key reason the California Transportation Commission just last month cut $754 million in project funding. This means that a total of 225 shovel-ready projects may lose funding, hitting every region of the state. Taken together, the impact of losing these projects could mean a $3.1 billion reduction in economic activity and over 16,000 jobs that would not be created statewide.  

“The annual BOE action to “true up” the excise tax fluctuates wildly year to year and underscores how difficult it is to deliver transportation projects without a stable, long term funding source. 

“Today’s action further underlies the urgent need for the legislature to act, now, to stabilize this revenue stream and support new, stable, long-term transportation revenues.”

Background on the BOE’s Decision Today

The BOE’s action today affects the state’s “gallonage tax” or portion of the gas tax which is intended to replace the state’s sales tax on gasoline shifted to transportation by the voters in 2002. In 2010 as the result of a series of gas tax state budget maneuvers this portion of the gas tax must equal what the sales tax on fuels would have generated and thus is adjusted by the BOE every year.

In 2014, the BOE reduced the excise tax by 3 cents; in 2015, it was reduced by an additional 6 cents; today’s action means that the reduction for this year will be an additional 2.2 cents. 

Last August the Fix Our Roads Coalition laid out a set of policy principles it believes should guide the negotiations to not only stabilize this revenue stream, but also generate new revenue to maintain our existing transportation systems. First and foremost, California needs a long term funding package to address the billions of dollars of backlogged transportation needs on both the state and local systems. The Coalition’s policy principles also couple any new revenues with needed accountability provisions to ensure new transportation dollars go to transportation projects only.

The deferred maintenance on the state highway system is pegged at $59 billion. The funding shortfall to maintain the existing local streets and roads system is $78 billion. And California motorists are today spending an average of $762 annually just to fix repairs caused by poor road conditions.

No media to cover Measure Z meeting today?

Supervisor Rex Bohn is there, Police and Fire staff, community members including Joel Canzoneri, County staff including Emily Jacobs.

No media in the Board of Supervisor Chambers. Channel 3's Sierra Jenkins was in the building so she may have covered the meeting.

When I walked in, Sheriff Mike Downey was being questioned by Measure Z Committee members about Trinidad and Blue Lake being covered by additional deputies. That got put in need, not a must.