Santa Ana Police Commander Says Anti-Lesbian Witch Hunt Destroyed Her Career

Though one of the first openly lesbian cops at the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD), Tammy Franks' sexuality didn't block her impressive rise through the ranks to the position of commander or prevent her from collecting numerous commendations for her public service.

But the commander's 28-year career didn't end well on Jan. 29 when she reluctantly retired.

In a lawsuit she filed this week, Franks claims a misogynistic and anti-gay subordinate officer targeted her for gender and sexual orientation discrimination by falsely claiming she'd created a hostile work environment, and chief Carlos Rojas improperly used that complaint in February 2014 as a pretext to rob her of earned authority.

The lawsuit starts with a minor mystery: She identified her subordinate antagonist only as "Informant" but also described him as the author of And God Made Eve and Why Your Husband Hates You, books written by SAPD officer Pete Bollinger.

According to the lawsuit, Bollinger earned an official reprimand for misconduct before his December 2013 retirement, acted as if he'd been targeted by SAPD lesbians who hate males and filed a complaint against Franks, who was at the time in charge of the Internal Affairs unit, as well as two other officers perceived as gay.

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Judge James Stotler Recuses Himself In Daniel Wozniak Death-Penalty Case For Cheering DA

Bob Aul/OC Weekly

Six minutes into a Jan. 27 pretrial hearing in the sensational death-penalty case of People v. Daniel Wozniak, Superior Court Judge James A. Stotler announced he'd "done some soul searching over the weekend," recused himself to a hushed courtroom and, though he promised not to, broke from a carefully prepared, written explanation to admit he'd recently found himself cheering for the prosecution.

"That kind of thinking is inappropriate," said a visibly distraught Stotler, his voice cracking. "The bottom line is I have to do what I think is right."

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Brutal Killer Daniel Wozniak Calmly Watches Lawyer Slugfest Over PreTrial Disputes

Wozniak: Temporarily playing a non-speaking role
It's difficult to imagine a more heated Orange County courtroom today than the one in which Superior Court Judge James A. Stotler presided over contentious, pretrial disputes in the case of People v. Daniel Wozniak, the local actor turned gory, decapitation murderer.

Wozniak--merely a smiling, upbeat observer at today's hearing--long ago admitted his guilt in a bizarre, May 2010 double murder, but the battle over whether he's suitable for California's death row at San Quentin State Prison is crawling like a race between two heavily sedated, senile turtles.

That's not to suggest the fight between prosecutor Matt Murphy and public defender Scott Sanders hasn't been intense and colorful as we approach a scheduled February trial date to determine punishment. It has. As a result, the mild-mannered Stotler found himself repeatedly playing boxing referee and not satisfying either lawyer, each of whom insists he has been the victim of his opponent's crass plotting, theatrics and paranoia.

For example, Murphy blasted Sanders for planning to file an upcoming 20,000-page motion by pointing out that the combined texts of War and Peace, Moby Dick, The U.S. Constitution, Gettysburg Address, The Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, the IIiad, the Odyssey, Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail, Koran, New King James Bible and a Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking total 14,000 fewer words.

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Man Sues California Highway Patrol For Failing To Arrest Him

Southern California citizens most commonly complain that cops overzealously exercise their law enforcement powers.

But an Orange County man is suing the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for failing to arrest him after he partied with booze in Sept. 2013 at Anaheim's Bottoms Up Tavern.

No, you correctly read that sentence.

Daniel Ray Fernandez has filed a complaint for damages because he claims a CHP officer stopped him for driving in excess of 100 mph on Interstate 5 near Disneyland, impounded his motorcycle, gave him a traffic ticket, and left him on the side of the highway heavily intoxicated, moneyless and without a cell phone.

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Defense Lawyer On Two Death Penalty Cases Seeks Recusal Of All OC Prosecutors, Judges

Matt Murphy
Last year may have been the most contentious ever between Orange County's prosecutors and public defenders over jailhouse informant program cheating, perjury by law enforcement officials and the hiding of exculpatory evidence in major felony trials, including the one involving Scott Dekraai, the shooter in the Seal Beach salon massacre.

It's now clear that the changing of the annual calendar to 2015 hasn't caused the battle between veteran, hard-charging lawyers to simmer.

At a Dec. 16 hearing, a clearly angry Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy lambasted Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders for employing Joe McCarthy-style tactics in the defense of two accused killers, Daniel Patrick Wozniak and Dekraai.

Sanders replied on Jan. 9 by filing a multi-pronged motion, alerting Superior Court Judge James Stotler, who presides in the Wozniak case, that he now will formally seek the recusal of Murphy, the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) and the entire local judiciary because of concerns his two, high-profile clients can't receive fair trials.

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Anaheim Cops Accused Of 2012 Excessive Force Win Jury Trial, Expense Reimbursement

Gabriel San Roman
Jurors side with the boys in blue
Hoping to collect at least $300,000 in damages as alleged victims of unlawful police actions in August 2012, an Anaheim man, who vomited on a cop's shoes, and his mother entered federal court in December and are emerging this month officially on the hook to pay the bills of two triumphant officers.

Plaintiff Steve Perez claimed Anaheim officers Stephen Craig and Stephen Salicos committed excessive force when they dragged him from his family's house during a 1:30 a.m. domestic dispute and beat his face bloody, a scene Perez's mother and co-plaintiff, Petra Feria, said caused her emotional distress.

But U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna issued Jan. 5 orders that finalized December jury verdicts in favor of Anaheim police officers Stephen Craig and Stephen Salicos, who insisted they'd used lawful force to subdue a heavily-intoxicated, combative Perez.

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Ex-Orange County Republican Won't Leave Texas For Run At Barbara Boxer's Senate Seat

Photo courtesy
DeVore: Texas, not California, gets public policy right
Former Orange County Republican politician Chuck DeVore--who mounted an energetic if unsuccessful, 2010 bid to topple U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer in California--said today from his out-of-state home that he will not return and run for her seat following the Democrat's recent decision not to seek re-election in 2016.

"I'm a Texan now," DeVore, 52, told OC Weekly.

An accomplished conservative known for ideological consistency, intellectual depth and notable speaking skills even among political foes, the former Irvine resident moved to the Austin area--Dripping Springs, to be exact--in 2011.

After raising nearly $3 million but finishing third in a GOP primary field of five against Boxer, DeVore joined the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a private think tank that touts "liberty, personal responsibility and free enterprise," originally as a visiting scholar and within about a year became vice president of the organization.

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Federal Judge Rejects Anaheim's Claim That Fired City Attorney's Lawsuit Is Frivolous

Despite repeated efforts to derail an anti-Latina discrimination lawsuit filed by fired City Attorney Cristina Talley, lawyers for the Anaheim City Council must continue to prepare for an April 12, 2016, jury trial inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.

This week, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter did agree with city lawyers' contentions that several prongs of Talley's lawsuit should be dismissed without prejudice for being vague, but he refused to dismiss the entire action, firmly rejecting Anaheim's assertion that the case is "frivolous."

Pending a late January debate over whether the dispute should be sent back to state court, Carter is letting the heart of the case proceed: Certain elected officials discriminated against Talley, created a hostile work environment before firing her and then hired a much younger, less experienced white male lawyer with a starting salary higher than the one she earned after a 16-year career in Anaheim.

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How To Screw Up A Drug Smuggling Run From LA To Tokyo

Bob Aul/OC Weekly

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Los Angeles International Airport know there are basic signs that can help expose an international narcotics operation: A traveler with no known employment or criminal record who makes frequent trips abroad using tickets purchased within a few days or hours of a flight and schedules a relatively quick return.

Suspicion is heightened when the prospective passenger can't provide consistent answers to such simple questions as "What is the purpose of your trip?" or "Where are you staying?"

Such was the case for outbound LAX passenger Fatymas Math on the morning of March 9, 2013. Math didn't make her 11-hour, Korean Airlines flight to Tokyo from Gate 121 inside the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The unemployed, Southern California card dealer who'd once worked at the Hustler Casino and Crystal Park Casino had triggered the aforementioned warning signs.

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Lawsuit Involving Citizen Filming Anaheim Police Settles Before Trial

What can happen when a citizen films police or parking control officers?

For Stephen Jermaine Barnes on July 4, 2012, at Anaheim's Peralta Park for a Fourth of July fireworks show, the answer was pain, punishment and loss of liberty.

Barnes temporarily parked his Ford Taurus, emerged on foot to ask an officer where he could park and took out his cell phone to visually record the traffic congestion.

But the perfectly legal filming apparently didn't delight the city's public servants and backup units, including officer Brian Snowden, arrived.

Snowden officially decided Barnes' conduct had been "belligerent," according to a police report.

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