The Kelly Thomas wrongful death civil trial ended this morning before it ever began with a nearly $5 million settlement reached. Ron Thomas, Kelly's father, sought legal redress from the city and its police department following his sons' death five days after being bludgeoned by Fullerton cops on July 5, 2011.
Ron Thomas' son, Kelly
KFI AM 640 reported last Friday that an agreement had been reached but without noting any terms. Fullerton city council called an emergency closed session meeting this morning on the case at the time the trial had been slated to begin. The settlement amount was disclosed shortly thereafter in court.More »
Photo by Gabriel San Roman Redkey and Beers
Citizen journalists AJ Redkey and PM Beers had much to celebrate at Max Bloom's Cafe Noir in Fullerton on Friday. Earlier that morning, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Knox dismissed the case against them claiming they failed to disperse from a Kelly Thomas verdict protest last year. Police called an unlawful assembly that day but the two used live-streaming technology to film skirmish lines upfront and personal. A jury deadlocked on the misdemeanor charges in March with the OCDA vowing to retry the case.
But that didn't happen, allowing for the festive mood at Max Bloom's. "We're feeling good and lovely," Redkey told the Weekly. "The ball is rolling in justice's direction."More »
A drunken, hit-and-run driver--who was convicted in September of murdering a grandmother walking with her blind grandson to a Fourth of July celebration in San Clemente--was sentenced today to 18 years to life behind bars. Kelly Michele Wolfe, 47, of Capistrano Beach, had been found guilty by a jury of one felony count each of second-degree murder, driving under the influence causing bodily injury, driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more and causing bodily injury, one misdemeanor count of driving a motor vehicle without a valid license, and a sentencing enhancement for driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 percent or more. Wolfe, who was convicted in 1995 of DUI in Nevada, acknowledged when she renewed her California driver's license in 2008 that she could be charged with murder if she killed a person while driving under the influence.
Orange County Sheriff's Department Buh-bye, Kelly Michelle Wolfe.
UPDATE, NOV. 20, 9:11 A.M.: Saying he cannot yet comment on the specifics of the lawsuit, an Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman provided the fees charged for jail phone calls.
Warner Bros. Bosses like him find jail phone charges horrible.
On the same day that national legal scholars urged a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Orange County's law enforcement corruption and a tone-deaf district attorney's office spokeswoman reacted contemptuously, a superior court judge yesterday erased a murder conviction after determining sheriff's deputies conspired to violate the defendant's constitutional rights.
R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly DA Rackauckas with aides Susan Kang Schroeder and Scott Simmons
Judge Richard King's ruling in People v. Eric Ortiz is the latest proof that, despite District Attorney Tony Rackauckas' insistence otherwise, the county's corruption crisis isn't imaginary, but rather one with obvious embarrassing consequences.
It's the 13th example in less than a year of blatantly unethical prosecution team moves wrecking a felony case while not a single involved person with a badge has been held accountable.More »
Given the mounting merde piling up at the Orange County District Attorney's office, it's funny what preoccupies prosecutors. They threw the book at former county Assessor Webster James Guillory--who faced up to four years and four months behind bars, based on the felony charges originally filed against him by the OCDA for filing false election paperwork. On Wednesday, the legal equivalent of a thin pamphlet was thrown back at prosecutors.
County of Orange Webster James Guillory: guilty but not as originally charged
During 23 months of the ongoing Orange County snitch scandal that today won a national call for a U.S. Department of Justice probe, we've learned how certain courthouse prosecution teams cheat, how law-enforcement officials concoct clever explanations about how they accidentally rigged cases against dozens of defendants, and how judges--the people obligated to ensure honestly won convictions--are tolerating, if not outright encouraging, a pro-government warping of the criminal-justice system.
Bob Aul/OC Weekly
Our reporting has focused on a myriad of state court abuses that have captured national attention. But there's also cause for concern inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana. One sensational, pending appellate case underscores how defendants can be robbed of key evidence while FBI agents, assistant United States attorneys and judges shrug their shoulders.
Vo Duong Tran of Louisiana and Yu Sung Park of Illinois are serving 30-year sentences for 2009 convictions stemming from a bizarre home-invasion robbery plot in Orange County. Bizarre not just because the conspiracy involved a machine gun, silencers, bulletproof vests, the threat of wiping out any early arriving cops, and the expected plundering of cash and cocaine from inside a Fountain Valley residence near Mile Square Park--but also because Tran and Park are former lawmen.
Citing "grave concern" for the pending "crisis," more than three dozen prominent legal community members today asked Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch to launch a formal investigation into "compelling evidence of pervasive police and prosecutorial misconduct" in Orange County.
OC District Attorney Tony Rackauckas
"We write to urge the Department of Justice to initiate an investigation into the actions of the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) and the District Attorney's Office (OCDA) in connection with the use of jailhouse informants and the concealment of informant-related evidence," wrote signatories Erwin Chemerinksy, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law; and former California Attorney General and Los Angeles District Attorney John Van de Kamp.
Others joining in the sentiment of the communication include Harvard legal theorist Charles Ogletree, criminal justice professor Angela Davis, former Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti, former Chief Assistant United States Attorney Richard Drooyan and Alex Whiting, a Harvard professor and former prosecutor of international crimes at the Hague as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Constitution Project.
The 16-page letter uses court records, judicial rulings and news reporting--including exclusive articles published by OC Weekly--to argue that a previously chosen reform group handed picked by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas can't be trusted given the DA's continual controversial insistence that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by law enforcement officials.More »
A panel of Fourth District Court of Appeal justices reversed first-degree murder convictions of two men involved in a 2010 gang-related shooting at one of the Taqueria De Anda shops in Santa Ana.
Google Maps Jose Miguel Quiroz was murdered at the Taqueria De Anda at Bristol and Washington in Santa Ana.