October 01, 2020
By City News Service
The largest operator of indoor malls in the region is suing Los Angeles County, challenging what the company calls the ``unjustifiable'' COVID-19-related closure of its shopping centers, according to court papers obtained this morning.
Westfield – which operates indoor malls in Topanga, Culver City, Sherman Oaks, Valencia and Santa Anita – alleges that such malls are safer than other retailers and that there is “absolutely no public health justification” for their forced closure, according to the complaint filed late Monday in Los Angeles federal court.
The lawsuit comes weeks after the county was hit with a proposed federal class-action suit brought by a group of business owners fighting the closure of the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance.
The county's Department of Public Health previously declined to comment on the pending Del Amo litigation, but stated that it continues to apply science and state health guidelines as signposts to reopenings.
“From the onset of the pandemic, Los Angeles County has been intensely committed to protecting the health and safety of its residents through an unprecedented crisis using science and data and responding in real time to a deadly and previously unknown virus that has tragically claimed thousands of lives and upended life for millions of people – not just in Los Angeles County but across the nation and around the world,” according to the county's statement.
The Westfield lawsuit also names the county Board of Supervisors, Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis and Sheriff Alex Villanueva as plaintiffs.
“The county's arbitrary closure of indoor malls and their interior retailers has caused, and will continue to cause, substantial harms to plaintiffs, their employees, the community, and the retailers, operators, and employees of indoor malls and shopping centers throughout the county,” the suit states. “These harms include monetary losses due to reduced income, sales, and rent payments, and non-monetary and existential losses in the form of the loss of customer goodwill.”
October 01, 2020
LAWT News Service
This week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 203, authored by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), which prevents youth, up to age 17, from being interrogated prior to being held in custody and before waiving their Miranda rights without consulting with legal counsel.
“Most adults have no legal background,” said Senator Steven Bradford. “And on top of that many of us don’t even fully understand our legal rights when interacting with members of law enforcement. This law will protect all of California’s youth and build trust in our criminal justice system. Young people must know their rights and they should not be alone when being interrogated.”
When law enforcement conducts a custodial interrogation, they are required to recite basic constitutional rights to the individual, known as Miranda rights, and secure a waiver of those rights before proceeding. A waiver of these rights must be “knowing, voluntary, and intelligent,” meaning that the person waiving their rights understands them and the effect of giving them up.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that youth often do not fully comprehend the consequences of waiving their rights. They are also much more likely than adults to waive their rights and confess to crimes they did not commit. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, since 1989, 36% of people who falsely confessed to a crime and were later exonerated were under the age of 18. Previous law only required youth up to 15 years old to consult with legal counsel before interrogation. That protection was set to end in January of 2025.
“We are all familiar with instances of innocent youth who become pressured into giving false confessions and have had their lives devastated as a consequence,” continued Bradford. “Youth such as the Central Park Five in New York, who did not have legal counsel during questioning, spent years of their lives in prison for a crime they did not commit and could have cost them their lives due to the current occupant of the White House calling for their execution. I want to thank Governor Newsom for signing this bill and his commitment to making our system fairer for young Californians.”
This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of supporters, including Human Rights Watch, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, the National Center for Youth Law, Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, and the Los Angeles Lakers.
More information about Senator Bradford and his legislation can be found at www.senate.ca.gov/ Bradford.
October 01, 2020
LAWT News Service
“The apprehension of the alleged shooter and gang member, who nearly took the lives of two Sheriff Deputies, gives our community a sigh of relief knowing another criminal element and threat to the safety of our families and law enforcement is removed from our streets.
The immediate outpouring of support for the two Deputies is a sign that we will not, and must not, tolerate violence of any kind against another human being.
We must rise above political differences and remain above the fray and call out abuses of the law and criminality of every sort. I continue to pray for and wish the two deputy’s a speedy and full recovery.”
October 01, 2020
LAWT News Service
Governor Gavin Newsom today vetoed a bill to establish a pilot program to have community-based organizations serve as first responders instead of the police.
The legislation, AB 2054 – the CRISES Act – authored by Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), passed both houses of the California legislature with nearly unanimous and bipartisan support. The bill was co-sponsored by 13 organizations and included family members of individuals killed by police, advocates and experts in non-police responses to crises.
According to the Governor’s veto message, the Office of Emergency Services is not the appropriate location for the pilot program proposed in the legislation.
“We’re disappointed in the Governor’s action,” said Kamlager. “This bill was an easy, noncontroversial opportunity to advance racial equity and save lives in California. We will continue to pursue community alternatives to police response that are not controlled by law enforcement and we will work with the Governor to create such a program. Justice demands it.”
“Governor Newsom's decision to veto the CRISES Act is in sharp contrast to his promises to address systemic racism and violence in policing,” said Cat Brooks, Co-founder of Anti Police-Terror Project and Executive Director of Justice Teams Network. “Black and Brown people in mental health crises, plus police with badges and guns, prove time and time again to be a violent at best, and deadly at worst, cocktail. This veto is a missed opportunity for California to be a vanguard of responding to human conditions with humanity. Shame on you, Governor Newsom. While I appreciate that the Governor has stated he will work on this through the State Budget in the next legislative session, how many lives will we lose between now and then?”
Despite the positive impact and cost savings of community-oriented responses to emergencies, California has done little to offer and support these efforts.
Instead, law enforcement officers respond to emergencies better suited to peer support experts, or crisis counselors trained to deescalate and resolve crises. Community-based services need to be part of the web of emergency response networks.
“Not having the CRISES Act puts families in jeopardy because don’t’ have alternatives to police as a response to mental health crises. If we don’t have a CRISIS Act, more lives can be lost like my son Miles Hall’s. Our family deserved to have alternatives to ensure his safety, ” said Taun Hall, mother of Miles Hall who was killed by Walnut Creek police on June 2, 2019.
In cities across the state, community organizations successfully respond to situations involving unhoused people, people exposed to violence, people experiencing substance abuse and other issues.
Law enforcement officials have expressed frustration and a desire to focus on public safety emergencies and a preference for trained health professionals to respond to the type of crises targeted by this legislation.
A wide range of organizations, cities and government officials supported the CRISES Act. The bill received no opposition.