Tuesday, December 11, 2012

CHP to DA: Jogger’s Death Was Murder

CHP to DA: Jogger’s Death Was Murder - Heidi Walters/The Journal

The California Highway Patrol says Jason Anthony Warren murdered Suzie Seemann, the university professor who died when a Kia allegedly driven by Warren ran into her and two friends on the morning of Sept. 27 as they went for their morning jog on Old Arcata Road. Her friends, Jessica Hunt and Terri Vroman-Little, suffered major injuries, and Hunt’s dog, Maggie, also was killed....

In November, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department asked the DA to file homicide and auto theft charges against Warren for a separate incident — the killing of Hoopa resident Dorothy Ulrich — earlier on the same morning the joggers were hit.

CHP requesting murder, attempted murder, animal cruelty charges in hit-and-run deaths - From the CHP via Times Standard

The following is an update regarding the death of Suzanne Seeman and the serious injuries sustained by Jessica Hunt and Terri Vromen-Little, on September 27, 2012, while the three were jogging on Old Arcata Road, with the Hunt's dog, “Maggie”.

The Humboldt Area CHP has submitted a request to the Humboldt County District Attorney, for charges against Jason Anthony Warren, age 28, of Hoopa, California. Charges sought are, one count of 187 (a) PC (Murder), two counts of 664/187 (a) Attempted Murder, one count of 597 (a) PC Animal Cruelty, three counts of 245 (a) (1) PC, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and one count of 10851 (a) VC, Vehicle Theft.

No further informational releases will be made through this office, pending adjudication of this case.

CHP Recommends Murder Charge In Seeman Death - Arcata Eye

...Based upon their investigation, Sheriff’s detectives believe Ulrich was killed during the early morning hours of September 27, 2012. A silver Kia Spectra was stolen from Hoopa shortly after Ulrich’s death. Subsequently, the Silver Kia Spectra was recovered by the Eureka Police Department in the City of Eureka on Sept. 27, 2012.

Jason Warren is currently in custody at San Quentin State Prison on an unrelated charge.

What will Paul do?

BTW, Comments closed.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Too little, too late

District attorney's office opposing Cruz waivers following hit-and-run, homicide case; Experts: Move could harm ability to get pleas - Grant Scott-Goforth/The Times-Standard

District Attorney Paul Gallegos has asked his prosecutors to oppose all Cruz waivers after a man released on one in August became a person of interest in an Old Arcata Road hit-and-run and a Hoopa homicide in September.

Legal experts said the move could harm the office's ability to secure plea deals and limit the option for people in custody who have legitimate reasons to request one.

A Cruz waiver is part of a plea deal, usually requested by a defendant in custody or a defense attorney, that releases the defendant prior to sentencing. A prosecutor can oppose the waiver, but the decision to release a defendant is ultimately up to a judge.

Jason Anthony Warren, 28, was arrested on a warrant related to his failure to appear for sentencing hours after the Sept. 27 hit-and-run that killed Humboldt State University geography instructor Suzanne Seemann -- the mother of two young children and wife of Humboldt County official Hank Seemann. She died at the scene. Her running partners, Eureka residents Jessica Hunt, 41, and Terri Vroman-Little, 50, were severely injured.

An investigation into the hit-and-run led to the discovery of 47-year-old Dorothy Ulrich's body in her Hoopa home.

Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Timothy Cissna released Warren from custody in late August on a Cruz waiver, part of a plea agreement that had him facing six years in prison with the stipulation that an assault change would be dropped if he showed up for his Sept. 7...

”It was the right decision for that time,” Gallegos told the Times-Standard last month. “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish to God we had opposed it, and I wish the judge hadn't released him.”

Friday, October 19, 2012

More deals: 4 years probation in HSU dorm invasion case

Eureka man gets 4 years probation in HSU dorm invasion case

Jules Aubrey Dawson, 24, appeared in custody in front of Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wilson flanked by his public defender Greg Elvine-Kreis. Dawson addressed the court, apologizing for his actions....

Dawson was arrested Jan. 23 by the Eureka Police Department on a $100,000 warrant. He pleaded guilty Sept. 21 to charges of assault likely to produce great bodily injury and grand theft from a person for his role in an HSU dorm invasion. He was on felony probation at the time the crime was committed, according to court records.

The victim in the Dec. 2, 2011, dorm invasion reported that three men broke into his room, bound his arms and legs and stole property. He reported being physically assaulted by the suspects, but no weapons were observed, according to a university press release following the incident. The victim declined medical attention.

Wilson said he considers Dawson's actions to be an extremely serious offense.
”I have no doubt the victim was terrified in this matter,” Wilson said.

He said instead of placing Dawson in prison for four years -- where he'll likely be out quickly and not supervised for very long -- he'd prefer to see him serve that time on probation.

”By putting you on probation, I can monitor you,” Wilson said.

...Dawson is one of four men law enforcement officials believe participated in the invasion and robbery.

Former HSU student Benjamin Beilin is facing charges of robbery, residential burglary, false imprisonment and assault with a weapon for giving the other three suspects his key card, according to his defense attorney Manny Daskal. Beilin's trial is scheduled for Nov. 5.

Participant Eric Schneekluth pleaded guilty to first degree residential burglary in January, and was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years probation.

Suspect Miles B. Sharp is wanted on a $100,000 felony warrant, and is believed to be in Southern California, according to HSU representatives.

◼ UPDATE: Fourth suspect in dorm invasion arrested; Sharp transported to Humboldt County jail from San Diego - Grant Scott-Goforth/The Times-Standard

The fourth suspect in a December 2011 dorm invasion robbery on the Humboldt State University campus was transferred to the Humboldt County jail Thursday, the same day a Eureka man was sentenced to four years probation for his involvement in the invasion.

Miles B. Sharp was named a suspect in December, and had a $100,000 warrant for his arrest.

A Humboldt County Sheriff's Office transport officer picked Sharp up in Sonoma County on Thursday after arranging for his transfer from San Diego, according to Lt. Steve Knight of the sheriff's office.

University Police Sgt. Joseph Jones said no charges have been filed yet, but that the District Attorney's office is aware of the arrest.

The circumstances and date of his arrest are unclear.

A History of Violence, and a history of plea deals that should sicken you

Who is Jason Anthony Warren? - Two Rivers Tribune

All of you who endorsed Paul Gallegos for District Attorney - read it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Worth noting

"...Warren failed to show up for a Sept. 7 court date after entering into a plea deal to serve six years in prison for assault with a deadly weapon after he was arrested in April for robbery.

He was released on a Cruz waiver, which is part of a plea agreement that has a defendant agree to have a greater sentence imposed for failing to appear at sentencing. Warren faced nine years for failing to appear.

”He was released prior to sentencing on the Cruz waiver, pursuant to the plea agreement,” said Deputy District Attorney Zachary Curtis in an email. “It is fairly common to release a defendant with something over his head to try to encourage good behavior, usually with probation cases...”
Zachary Curtis's lamentable remark is cause to point out that Deputy DA's are not supposed to be talking to the Press. For just that reason.

The DA is the office's liaison with the Press, or should be. Gallegos farms it out all the time. Even used to hand it over to his campaign operative, Richard Salzman

The notion that you take some guy who is going away for 6 years for the crime he committed - leaving aside that it's another plea deal - you let him OUT to clean up his business - and then voila! What do you do when he does just that? What? You thought he was gonna just close his bank account and make sure his mail was held?

This is another one that rests on Gallegos's head.

Remember it come next election.

Because this isn't the first and won't be the last.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Another plea deal, more death

Hit-and-Run/Hoopa Homicide “Person of Interest” in Custody - Andrew Goff/The Journal
Jason Anthony Warren was arrested late afternoon on the day of the accident on earlier assault charges and is being held without the possibility of bail. Downey said no other suspects are currently being sought in the case.
Murder, hit and run 'person of interest' Jason Warren is in custody on warrant - Times-Standard
Warren failed to show up for a Sept. 7 court date after entering into a plea deal to serve six years in prison for assault with a deadly weapon after he was arrested in April for robbery.

He was released on a Cruz waiver under the condition that he obeyed all laws, returned to court for sentencing and stayed away from the complaining witness in the assault.

”He was released prior to sentencing on the Cruz waiver, pursuant to the plea agreement,” said Deputy District Attorney Zachary Curtis in an email. “It is fairly common to release a defendant with something over his head to try to encourage good behavior, usually with probation cases.”

Warren had a previous felony that counted as a strike on his record. He also has a juvenile criminal record.
Suspect Identified In Hit-And-Run & Hoopa Crimes - Humboldt Sentinel
After nearly a week of speculation as to a pair of investigations into the untimely deaths of local residents, Sheriff Mike Downey called a press conference this afternoon to clear the air and identify a “person of interest” in the cases.

“I know there’s been a lot of speculation…you got to understand why we’ve been holding back information,” he said.

Downey proceeded to explain that on the same afternoon as the fatal hit-and-run slaying of 40-year-old Bayside resident Suzanne Seemann on Old Arcata Road in Freshwater and the discovery of the body of 47-year-old Dorothy Ulrich of Hoopa in a residence there, law enforcement had taken 28-year-old Jason Anthony Warren into custody.

Warren was inside a home in Eureka at the time of his arrest; the Kia used in the hit-and-run which killed Seemann and injured 50-year-old Terri Vroman-Little and 41-year-old Jessica Hunt was found in Eureka earlier in the day.

Woman Found Dead In Hoopa - Andrew Goff/The Journal 9/27
Car plows into 3 joggers, kills Bayside woman - Carrie Peyton Dahlberg.The Journal

A morning jog turns tragic; one woman killed, two others hospitalized in hit and run - Kaci Poor/The Times-Standard 09/28/2012
A 40-year-old mother was killed, and two other women suffered major injuries in a hit and run collision while jogging along Myrtle Avenue shortly before 6 a.m. Thursday.

Eureka residents Jessica Hunt, 41, and Terri Vroman-Little, 50, suffered major injuries and were taken to St. Joseph Hospital. Hospital spokeswoman Leslie Broomall said both women were in stable condition Thursday afternoon.

The Humboldt County Coroner's Office has not released the name of the Bayside resident and mother of two young children who died at the scene....
More questions than answers in hit-and-run crash; Source: Person of interest in Hoopa homicide in custody - Grant Scott-Goforth/The Times-Standard 09/29/2012
Officials of the multiple agencies involved in the investigation are releasing few details on the search for the driver of the 2005 Kia Spectra who hit the women. They are also declining to comment on whether the hit-and-run is related to the homicide of Dorothy Ulrich, whose body was discovered in a Hoopa residence Thursday morning.

A source close to the investigations said that a person of interest in the Hoopa homicide is in custody, but it's too early to release the individual's name or further details due to the complexity of the case and to the multiple agencies involved....
Seemann, Hunt and Vroman-Little: Three women shared a love for running - The Times-Standard 09/29/2012
CHP: Person of interest ID'd in hit-and-run death; memorial service for Suzanne Seemann set for Saturday - Grant Scott-Goforth/The Times-Standard 10/02/2012

Three Joggers Down/Coroner Called/Accident in North Eureka - Kym Kemp/Lost Coast Outpost
CHP Investigation Turns Up Dead Body in Hoopa. Connection to This Morning’s Fatal Bayside Hit-and-Run? - Hank Sims/Lost Coast Outpost
Three Joggers Down/Coroner Called/Accident in North Eureka
Arrest Made in Hoopa Suspicious Death — No Word on Connection to Yesterday’s Bayside Tragedy - Hank Sims/Lost Coast Outpost
Sheriff Dept. Releases Name of Suspicious Death in Hoopa—Calls It Homicide - Kym Kemp/Lost Coast Outpost 9/28
Businesses To Support Bayside Hit & Run Victims and Families - Mike Dronkers/Lost Coast Outpost
Sheriff’s Office Names ‘Person of Interest’ in Hoopa/Bayside Cases - Hank Sims/Lost Coast Outpost
Person Of Interest In Custody For Jogger Collision - Arcata Eye 10/12/12
Sheriff Mike Downey said the HCSO is leading the investigation and that the CHP, DA’s Office and Eureka Police Dept. are collaborating. Downey said he expects to file charges by the end of the week.

In a hastily called press conference this afternoon, Downey said that he was disclosing preliminary information in order to tamp down rumors and speculation on various online fora, much of it wildly inaccurate.

“Our sole purpose in holding back information, and coming forward, was to solidify our case and making a strong nexus between the two cases,” Downey said today. “We wanted to ensure that we could bring a strong case before the District Attorney’s Office.”

He made clear that no suspect is in custody, but that Warren is being investigated in connection with the Myrtle Avenue incident as well as the homicide of Dorothy Ulrich in Hoopa that same day. Downey said he knew of no personal relationship between Warren and Ulrich.

Person of Interest Named in Hoopa Homicide and Fatal Hit and Run - Two Rivers Tribune
Woman Found Dead in Hoopa Home - Two Rivers Tribune


Humboldt County public defender to represent man accused of killing jogger, Hoopa woman; Warren could face the death penalty - Kaci Poor/The Times-Standard
Letter regarding Gag Order/Protective Order, from Public Defender's Office - Arcata Eye
Warren pleads not guilty to deaths of Humboldt State University instructor, Hoopa woman; judge grants gag order prohibiting attorneys, law enforcement from discussing case - Kaci Poor/The Times-Standard
The man accused of killing a Hoopa woman and then later purposely running down three joggers on Old Arcata Road -- killing a Humboldt State University instructor and severely injuring two others -- has been charged with two counts of murder - Grant Scott-Goforth and Kaci Poor/The Times-Standard
In the face of death: Special allegations change how a defendant should be represented - Kaci Poor/The Times-Standard
CHP to DA: Jogger’s Death Was Murder - Heidi Walters/The Journal
CHP requesting murder, attempted murder, animal cruelty charges in hit-and-run deaths - From the CHP via Times Standard
CHP Recommends Murder Charge In Seeman Death - Arcata Eye
District attorney's office opposing Cruz waivers following hit-and-run, homicide case; Experts: Move could harm ability to get pleas - Grant Scott-Goforth/The Times-Standard
Who is Jason Anthony Warren? - Two Rivers Tribune

Monday, September 10, 2012

"When he looks across Humboldt County, District Attorney Paul Gallegos can't say he's surprised with the proliferation of marijuana growing operations or with the environmental damage they bring."

Push for pot regulation; amid federal activity, many still support oversight, regulation of pot industry - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard

When he looks across Humboldt County, District Attorney Paul Gallegos can't say he's surprised with the proliferation of marijuana growing operations or with the environmental damage they bring.

”It's the same sort of thing you would get if you suddenly deregulated any other commercial endeavor,” Gallegos said. “If we had fishing without limits, there'd be no fish in the ocean. Imagine what the forests would look like if we had timber harvesting without oversight or regulation.

”With marijuana, we have an illegal industry running parallel with a putatively legal industry -- all totally unregulated,” Gallegos continued. “The natural result of this is you have complete adverse environmental impacts and adverse social impacts. That's what we're dealing with.”

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office is teaming up with federal agencies to target some of the largest grow operations in the county, with Sheriff Mike Downey saying that cracking down on illicit grows is his top priority for the year. But the effort makes for some unlikely bedfellows, as some of those very same federal agencies have worked to block local and state efforts to regulate medical marijuana....

Randy Wagner, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's special agent in charge of Northern California operations, said Downey has been great to work with. Wagner wouldn't specify how targets are being chosen for raids and search warrants, but said his department isn't interested in going after “the sick and the dying.”

Wagner also made clear it that, in his department's eyes, there is no such thing as legal marijuana sales or cultivation.

”We don't target medical marijuana, but we target drug traffickers and drug trafficking organizations. Period,” he said. “Our priorities and mission haven't changed. We're always targeting groups or individuals who are cultivating or producing and distributing large amounts of drugs.”

Targeting the “biggest and the baddest,” as Wagner put it, is a good thing, according to Gallegos. But, he said, it really only addresses part of the issue. No law enforcement agency, individually or collectively, has the resources to go after everyone, he said. Regulation would be a huge step in bringing the grows that are in compliance with Proposition 215 under some type of monitoring, diminishing abuses of the law and ensuring the environment isn't being destroyed.

”The two options I see are the federal government needs to change the stance it's taken with California's government's ability to regulate, or the state has to simply say, 'We accept your challenge, and we will move forward,'” Gallegos said. “At some point, the community needs to be able to step in and say, 'This is an act we have legalized and now, as with every other legal activity of humanity, there need to be rules and regulations associated with it.”

”It's time to bring it out of the hills, into the open and permit it, and let our regulatory agencies go in and inspect it, just like they would with any other type of agricultural product,” he said.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cold comfort

Salas guilty of murder - Grant Scott-Goforth/The Times-Standard

Ryan Anthony Salas showed little emotion, shaking his head softly at times, as a jury Friday found him guilty of the 2010 shotgun slaying of Jack Dale Sovereign.

Salas -- also convicted Friday on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, conspiracy to commit burglary, and conspiracy to commit robbery -- was one of four defendants implicated in Sovereign's death.

Prosecutors alleged that Salas, Nathan Nix, Katrina Inong and Sonia Hunsucker conspired to commit a home invasion robbery targeting a safe at a Santa Clara Street home on the outskirts of Eureka. The robbery attempt was thwarted, according to prosecutors, when the four arrived to find Sovereign sitting in a pickup truck in the home's driveway.

At that point, witness accounts seem to vary, but prosecutors have stated their belief that Nix, Inong and Hunsucker were abandoning the robbery attempt when Salas, armed with a shotgun, approached Sovereign and shot him in the face.

...Inong pleaded guilty to a voluntary manslaughter charge in December 2010.

...Hunsucker had agreed to testify as part of a deal with prosecutors, but after pleading guilty to an unrelated killing -- the second degree murder of Darrell Hanger in Willow Creek in 2011 -- and receiving a sentence of 15 years to life in prison, Hunsucker refused to testify.

...Nix ...reached a plea agreement... faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison for the voluntary manslaughter charge.

And so justice is done.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

In the 'YOU JUST DON'T GET IT' File.

Humboldt's funding of prosecutions doesn't add up - Times-Standard editorial

...We understand that these are tough economic times. Tough times require tough decisions, and the Board of Supervisors will have to make them. If Humboldt County wants murders prosecuted, it's time to pay up. The county should find money to hire more prosecutors over more PIOs.

It isn't the money. It's the chaos, stupid.

There's a reason Gallegos has "lost" all our senior prosecutors, and why he can't attract new talent. You should hear from people who come up here to interview.

Fix the real problem before you throw any money at it. You NEED A NEW DA.

He should be swimming in money anyway, will all the unfilled positions - but then there's the mismanaged grants, no?

Who wrote this thing? Thadeus?

Updated: So, Thadeus, dig a little. How many times has "Doing less for more" Gallegos gone before the Board of Supervisors to discuss this? So, what, he's taking his case to the media, is that it? Do your homework. What's going on with the grants? Most of them all you have to do is fill out the forms properly and get them in on time, so what happened? I know his "we've got to WEAN ourselves off these grants" spiel was before your time, but man you should have heard it. Your editorial matches it almost word-for-word.

Kimberly, make him do his job, and look back at the history of this.

PS: What's he doing with all his Asset Forfeiture winnings? What's the value of all the unfilled positions? 'Cause that's money he has available, no? C'mon guys - ASK THE QUESTIONS! They just roll right off your tongue, there's so many.

Remember the Bridgeville SWAT raid he staged? How much did that little charade cost? A couple hundred thou? What'd he get out of it?

Remember, Channel 3's coverage of the grant fiasco? The Arcata Eye and McKinleyville Press have been covering it - where's the Times-Stamdard? Don't ignore real reporting.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Eureka man who pleaded guilty to helping his son dispose of a murder victim's body was released from jail Friday and given probation.

Father receives probation for helping son cover up murder; Donald Steele released from custody, given suspended sentence - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard

Fifty-two-year-old Donald Steele was given a suspended sentence and three years probation Friday for his role in helping his son, 23-year-old Jacob Steele, dig Jerry George's body up from a shallow grave in Fieldbrook to toss him into the waters at the mouth of the Eel River.

Donald Steele pleaded guilty to a charge of being an accessory to a crime after the fact just days after seeing a jury convict his son of second degree murder for George's killing. He faced up to one year in jail under the deal and was free on his own recognizance pending sentencing.

...While the other people who helped Jacob Steele cover up the murder all reached plea agreements with law enforcement last year -- under which they received probation in exchange for testifying against Jacob Steele -- Donald Steele reportedly refused to cooperate or take a deal.
Ultimately, after his son was convicted of murder, Donald Steele pleaded guilty as charged in his case to avoid trial.

Is there anyone who ISN'T getting plea deals these days?

Friday, August 03, 2012

Hunsucker refusing to testify in Sovereign murder trial; DA's office had agreed to not prosecute if she testified

The Humboldt County District Attorney's Office agreed not to prosecute Hunsucker in the case and to dismiss a possession of stolen property case against her in exchange for her testifying honestly in the prosecutions of Inong, Salas and Nathan Nix, who were all accused of being involved in Sovereign's shooting. - Grant Scott-Goforth/The Times-Standard

Nix and Inong have pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in relation to the case and are awaiting sentencing. Both face up to 11 years in prison.

Hunsucker has since pleaded guilty to an unrelated killing -- the second degree murder of Darrell Hanger in Willow Creek in 2011 -- and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Hunsucker is being held in the county jail on contempt charges for her refusal to testify, and District Attorney Paul Gallegos, who is prosecuting the Salas trial, said that he will call her as a witness every morning until his case rests.

”It's my position that her refusal to testify constitutes a breach,” Gallegos said.
He said that the court ruled Hunsucker “made herself unavailable,” and her prior sworn testimony will be admissible in court.

A 'nightmare in this community'; Sonia Hunsucker was allegedly involved in two homicides and a violent robbery in 12 months. Did prosecutors miss a chance to keep her behind bars? - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard

...Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos called Hunsucker a “nightmare

in this community,” telling jurors that she had helped plan the robbery after noticing a safe in the Santa Clara Street home a couple of days before. Further, Gallegos said, Hunsucker went with one of the defendants and another woman -- Katrina Inong, who has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the case -- to procure the shotgun used to gun down Sovereign.

While prosecutors allege it was Salas who pulled the trigger that morning, Gallegos told jurors that Inong, Nix and Hunsucker were all willing participants in the botched robbery.

”They are all a part of this,” Gallegos said.

But not all of them are on trial. Gallegos' office agreed not to prosecute Hunsucker in the case and to dismiss the possession of stolen property case against her in exchange for her testifying honestly in the prosecutions of Inong, Salas and Nix.

At the time of Sovereign's killing, Hunsucker was no stranger to law enforcement. In fact, she'd just been released from state prison 65 days earlier, on March 28, 2010, according to California Department of Corrections spokeswoman Ashley Caldwell....

The events raise questions about whether Darrell Hanger's death could have possibly been prevented if Hunsucker had been charged with Sovereign's murder. Conceivably, she would still be sitting in jail, just now standing trial with Salas and Nix. Would that have changed anything? She apparently didn't fire the bullets that killed Darrell Hanger, and testimony in the murder trial hasn't claimed she was the instigator or mastermind of the botched burglary that led to the shootout. But, would Surber -- the apparent shooter -- have been at Ryan Hanger's house that night if Hunsucker, his girlfriend, weren't there?

The questions are unanswerable.

Speaking generally, Gallegos said his office takes the decisions associated with handling these types of prosecutions very seriously but doesn't have the luxury of seeing into the future.

”Unfortunately, we don't have a crystal ball when we're making decisions -- we have to make these decisions with the information we currently have,” he said. “We have to make a decision based on the immediate threat -- which is having a murderer on the street and trying to get enough evidence to charge that murderer and get them off the streets. The costs associated with that are what you see.

”... Sometimes we make decisions that go terribly wrong, or tragically wrong, but at the time we are not operating with a crystal ball that allows us to look into the future,” he said.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

"In 2003, Gallegos' office had 17 prosecutors." - You're halfway there.

Unsustainable workload?; DA to continue prosecuting misdemeanors, says employees are overworked - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said his office will continue prosecuting most misdemeanor cases, though he warned his prosecutors' workloads are completely unsustainable with current staffing levels.

Back in May, Gallegos told local law enforcement chiefs that his office might not be able to continue prosecuting nonviolent misdemeanor cases for charges like drunk in public, driving without a license and disturbing the peace due to what he deemed an unmanageable caseload and an ever tightening budget. But Gallegos said recently that he's decided to stay the course and to continue prosecuting the low-level offenses.
”We'll keep doing it as long as we can,” he said. “And that's for two reasons: First, my attorneys are dedicated to this community, and they want to keep doing them. Second, this community expects it of us.”

Attorneys in the district attorney's office are carrying heavy workloads compared to some neighboring counties and national caseload recommendations put forward by the American Bar Association.

In 2009, the last year for which Department of Justice statistics are available, local law enforcement agencies sought criminal complaints from the district attorney's office for 1,980 felony arrests and 5,506 misdemeanor arrests. Those cases were ultimately reviewed and tried by the 11 attorneys in the district attorney's office, a number that includes Gallegos and Assistant District Attorney Kelly Neel, who have a host of duties in addition to prosecuting cases.

Even if the caseload was divided equally among the 11 attorneys, the numbers far outpace the American Bar Associations recommendation that prosecutors handle no more than 150 felony cases or 300 misdemeanor cases in a year, with each Humboldt County prosecutor handling 180 felony cases and 500 misdemeanor cases....

With Gallegos and Neel spending most of their time outside the courtroom -- Gallegos handling administrative duties and Neel handling all the office's charging decisions -- that leaves six prosecutors. Two of those handle all the office's 5,000 or so misdemeanor cases a year. The remaining four handle almost all of the office's felony cases -- almost 2,000 a year.

”Everyone's overworked,” Gallegos said, adding that he and his attorneys don't have the luxury of a 40-hour workweek and that everyone brings cases home to prepare on nights and weekends.

What's missing, Thadeus, is the WHY. What happened to the county's top, experienced prosecutors? WHY are they missing?

Why? Because Gallegos "lost," fired, or drove them away.

And the grants? What happened to the grants?

Question, really, is "Who's left?" w/update

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

DA employee acquitted in DUI case

DA employee acquitted in DUI case - Times-Standard

...Legal Business Manager Jeannie Duncan was arrested April 30, 2011, in Eureka on suspicion of driving under the influence and was ultimately charged and prosecuted by the California Attorney General's Office, which reported Monday that Duncan has been acquitted by a Humboldt County jury.

Duncan was placed on paid administrative leave two days after her arrest and has since filed a claim for damages against the county alleging she was retaliated against for questioning a host of nefarious activities in the DA's Office.

District Attorney Paul Gallegos has generally denied Duncan's allegations but has declined to discuss them in detail. The county has rejected Duncan's claim, but it recently came back before the Board of Supervisors in closed session, agendized as “anticipated or potential litigation.”

Claim alleges malfeasance in DA's Office; Gallegos: Allegations will be proven false - wp
Claim alleges malfeasance in DA's Office; Gallegos: Allegations will be proven false - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Lawsuit against DA Gallegos alleges corruption, discrimination & harrassment - wp
The District Attorney’s Office’s Legal Services Manager has filed a damage claim against the county alleging that District Attorney Paul Gallegos, former Assistant DA Wes Keat, Chief Investigator Mike Hislop and other management-level employees subjected her to “discrimination, harassment and retaliation.” - Daniel Mintz/McKinleyville Press
Lawsuit Against DA Alleges Corruption, Discrimination, Harassment - Daniel Mintz/Arcata Eye
$150K Audit Probes Years Of Grant Bungling By DA’s Office - Daniel Mintz for The Arcata Eye
The attacks on the messenger have begun. - wp

Saturday, June 16, 2012

So, there wasn't really a monster under the bed after all.

WalMart is here and the world didn't end.

The real monsters are those who gnash their teeth and egg you on to wail and rend your garments in fear and loathing. They must feel a tiny bit sheepish right now, but they're not gone. They're the same ones who gnash their teeth and stomp their feet, and try to drum up that same level of angst over Richardson's Grove, filling potholes, and anything else they can think up, and anything else they can get you agitated about.

Aren't you tired of the roller coaster of false fears?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

"R Trent"

Take a deep breath.

"Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Susan Adams has TWO "R. Trent" Salzmans

I, Paul Andersen, am the mastermind behind the “Who Is Stacey Lawson?” website (http://www.staceylawson.info).

I deliberately remained anonymous because I knew the website and my efforts would get more publicity that way. And it worked — the Press Democrat made more of an issue about who was behind the site than what the site actually said. This publicity generated many more hits on the site than I imagine would have happened otherwise, which in turn spread this information further.

He claims Ms. Adams had NO I-D-E-A-R what he was up to: "In the interests of full disclosure, I worked on Susan Adams’ Congressional campaign from August 2011 to the beginning os April 2012. I left for a variety of personal and political reasons. I want to state clearly that the Adams campaign had no knowledge of my activities with the “Who Is Stacey Lawson?” website."

And, being honest and straightforward – and upfront about who you are would have hurt your candidate? How? Exactly?

It appears Susan Adams has a weakness for guys like you, with the dirty tricks department in full operation. You, I can understand. She, however, also has a Richard Salzman problem. (Turns out she’s paying him, though leaving everyone with the impression he too was ‘just a volunteer’) You’re the icing on the cake. Were it not for that, I might perhaps believe that she had “no idea” what you were up to, but nope, not now. She apparently is not too concerned about being honest and straightforward – and upfront. Shame on her.

Are you behind the robo-calls misrepresenting the republican candidate, too?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"We've been understaffed for a long time..."

Misdemeanor prosecutions may fall prey to budget ax; DA warns law enforcement funding may prevent filing of most non-felony cases - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard

”We want to prosecute everything, but what I've let the chiefs know is that if we are not staffed adequately, we may have to reduce our cases,” Gallegos said. “We've been understaffed for a long time, and we've worked 100 ways to make it happen, but what's progressively happened is we've just gotten to the point where there is no more to cut.”

While Gallegos' proposal to drastically cut down on misdemeanor prosecutions if his budget isn't increased has been met with concern in law enforcement circles, he said he simply doesn't see any way around it, explaining that his office's expenses have been growing -- through personnel and supplies costs -- while its funding has shrunk.

The proposed 2012-2013 county budget holds the line of funding for the DA's Office from last year, but Gallegos said his office has seen some of its grants reduced, adding that grant money accounts for 62 percent of his budget.

If things don't change, Gallegos said, his office will be left with 11 attorneys -- including himself and Assistant District Attorney Kelly Neel, who handles charging of all the office's cases and, consequently, rarely sees a courtroom.

Gallegos said he has three attorneys that are tied to grants or funding sources -- one for environmental and consumer protection, one for worker's compensation and auto insurance fraud, and another to handle drug task force cases -- and the remaining six deputy district attorneys man the county's six courtrooms, which must be staffed with a prosecutor five days a week. And, Gallegos said, with attorneys spending hours in preparation for every hour in court, his staff is wearing thin.

”I'm breaking people,” Gallegos said. “We are at a critical staffing level, and we've gotten there not just in one year, but over years and years. A little reduction is now a big reduction because you get to that tipping point, that threshold.”

...Gallegos said he's not asking police not to arrest offenders -- he's just saying he won't prosecute them, meaning law enforcement can still pick people up and book them into the jail, but they'll be released by law after 48 hours without charges being filed against them. That's just what the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office will do if misdemeanor prosecutions do see a large drop off, said Lt. Steve Knight.
”We will still continue to do our job and will continue to submit cases and, obviously, the district attorney has to make his own charging decision,” Knight said. “We would still respond to calls and treat everything the same as we do now.”

MAYBE - MAYBE, Paul, "losing', firing, and driving off our county's top, seasoned prosecutors WASN'T SUCH A GOOD IDEA AFTER ALL. Only 11 DDAs left? Wow. You should be swimming in unallocated personnel dollars. Why have those vacant positions not been filled?

Funding is an excuse. Get real. Ask Law Enforcement. This has been going on already, for a long time. Now the budget provides cover.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Free speech?

#Occupiers have the right to free speech, and they take full advantage of it. The idea that it is being abridged because they can't homestead the Courthouse is ludicrous.

They have the right to petition their government, as do we all. They have the right to write letters to the editor, as do we all. They have the right to design and print all manner of printed materials including flyers, letters to fellow citizens and elected officials, ads in newspapers, magazines and other publications. They can even start their own publication. They can buy ads to get their message out on radio and TV.

They have cellphones, websites, email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and livestreaming, which #Occupy all over the world takes full advantage of.

In short - they have more free speech than anyone in the history of the world. Long gone are the days of having to xerox flyers. No one - no one - has done anything to take away their right to free speech.

The only thing the Board of Supervisors (including Mark Lovelace) has done is ask that they exercise some level of decorum and respect for others, and for public property.

The idea that being asked to go home at night infringes on their free speech - laughable. Get real.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bigleggins pleads in child murder case

Under a plea agreement reached with the district attorney's office and accepted by Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Timothy Cissna this afternoon, Leon Alyious Bigleggins pleaded guilty to manslaughter and felony child abuse charges in a deal that will see him sentenced to 18 years and four months in prison at a hearing next month. - Times-Standard

Arrested after the July 2010 death of 4-year-old Dylan Blount-Chambers, Bigleggins was preparing to stand trial on a murder charge that carried a potential sentence of 25 years to life in prison, if he was convicted. A training mixed-martial arts fighter, Bigleggins was the boyfriend of Dylan's grandmother and one of the boy's primary caregivers. Preliminary hearing testimony indicated he would discipline Dylan by whipping him with a broken clothes hanger, kicking him in the chest and forcing him to do squats and sit ups in the trailer they lived in on a property near Blue Lake.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The attacks on the messenger have begun.

Daniel Mintz, Kevin (Arcata Eye) and Jack (McKinleyville Press) are under fire for reporting on the purpose of the closed session meeting regarding the damage claim against the County.

Mitch - the new "Heraldo" leads the charge: ◼ DA employee files suit claim against Gallegos, other employees
Hey Kevin, The screeching partisans here at Heraldoland are waiting for you to report the facts, buddy. Did you already know what's in the T-S story when you printed the hit, or will you be using the Durham maneuver ("duh, nobody told me, it woudda been a scoop")?
Hey, Mitch. It's called an "evolving" story. The only crime is NOT to report out of fear of your braying hounds.

And "Jack Sherman" (aka squirlnutfisherman@gmail.com (Jack Sherman) IP address: commented on DA employee files suit against Gallegos, other employees.
in response to Mitch:

More at Kevin Hoover’s Arcata Eye. The Daniel Mintz story hit job has everything but a response (or even an indication that a response was solicited) from any of the people against whom the allegations have been filed. http://www.arcataeye.com/2012/05/lawsuit-against-da-alleges-corruption-discrimination-harassment-may-8-2012/

I tried to read the Eye a few times. It's design appears haphazard and chaotic, distracting to read, difficult to follow, with words in colored boxes jumbled so tightly together it's like deciphering a code, you have to be an idiot-savant or M.C. Escher for the layout to make sense. I'd hate to see it shut down, but newspapers have made themselves increasingly irrelevant. Journalists used to hunger and compete in search of the excesses and ironies of injustice and power, now they cower from them. Not much of a story here. There's literally hundreds of employee suits on file downtown against HSU, county, state, and federal officials, and soon, one of the largest employee lawsuit-generators in the world will arrive in Eureka's Bayshore Mall.

Kevin Hoover says:
May 9, 2012 at 9:48 am
Publishing public documents is a “hit job” in Heraldoland, always eager to defend the status quo/powers that be.

Surely you know that the accused have been advised not to speak about the pending litigation. But if they do, great. There will be a more elaborate story next week.

Were a different DA in office, you’d (prematurely) frame it a story about a whistleblower being harassed, as the DA’s opponents surely will prior to any actual fact-finding being done.

We’ll continue to report the facts and let the screeching partisans try and shoehorn it into their respective, funhouse mirror-image narratives.
Mitch says:
May 9, 2012 at 10:06 am
Right, Kevin. No need for a phrase like, “The Eye contacted so-and-so for a response. So-and-so replied that they were unable to comment on pending litigation.”

Everyone knows that, and besides, it might point out that we’re only hearing one side’s story. No need for that. Hey, got a good limerick?
jackdurham says:
May 9, 2012 at 11:10 am
District Attorney Paul Gallegos has been contacted and asked to respond. As soon as he responds, his response will be posted.

Regardless, we will continue to cover the news, without fear or favor. McKinleyville Press Editor Jack Durham has some thoughts on the matter. - Arcata Eye/Facebook
Our straight forward reporting was described as a "hit piece" and "yellow journalism" on the anonymous blogs. (Kevin Hoover and The Eye took most of the heat, even though we shared the same story.) - McKinleyville Press/Facebook

How dare you report on something that actually happened, is a matter of public record, and is serious enough to warrant a closed session discussion by the County Board of Supervisors. The nerve.

Claim alleges malfeasance in DA's Office; Gallegos: Allegations will be proven false

Claim alleges malfeasance in DA's Office; Gallegos: Allegations will be proven false - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard

The claim alleges that Duncan -- who has been with the DA's Office since December 2006 -- was retaliated against for complaining of sexual harassment, questioning the office's “unlawful polygraph practices” and questioning potentially improper uses of office resources, including “the use of county equipment, resources and employee time for Paul Gallegos' re-election campaign.”

Reached Wednesday, (Psul V.) Gallegos said he couldn't discuss Duncan's claim in detail but said he believes her allegations are without merit.

”I think they're false, and I think that will come out. I think that's all I can say,” he said. “At this point, we just have to let things proceed, and I think at the end of the day (the allegations) will be proven false.”

...Duncan's complaint lists 10 bulleted issues that she allegedly questioned or reported, including office officials claiming hours worked while on vacation, failure to report a “known thief” working in the Humboldt County Superior Court, Victim Witness showing “favoritism” in handling checks to crime victims, the possible misappropriation of grant money and “unlawful polygraph practices.” The bulleted points contain few specific allegations and simply list the issues about which Duncan reports to have inquired....

County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith-Hanes said Duncan's claim has been rejected by the county's Department of Risk Management, which typically accepts or rejects claims submitted to the county unless there is a particular reason to bring them before the board. Smith-Hanes said the first time supervisors have discussed the matter was Tuesday, when it came before them as a closed session item agendized as anticipated or potential litigation.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Lawsuit against DA Gallegos alleges corruption, discrimination & harrassment

The District Attorney’s Office’s Legal Services Manager has filed a damage claim against the county alleging that District Attorney Paul Gallegos, former Assistant DA Wes Keat, Chief Investigator Mike Hislop and other management-level employees subjected her to “discrimination, harassment and retaliation.” - Daniel Mintz/McKinleyville Press

...The claim states that Duncan questioned the use of the office’s resources for Gallegos’ re-election campaign, objected to “unlawful polygraph practices,” and questioned various activities of Hislop and Victim-Witness Supervisor Joyce Moser.... The Board of Supervisors went into closed session at its meeting today, May 8, to discuss the claim but took no action...

Lawsuit Against DA Alleges Corruption, Discrimination, Harassment - Daniel Mintz/Arcata Eye

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Gallegos said he respects the jury's decision and understands that the burden of proof for a crime rests with the prosecution.

Defendant acquitted in decade-old murder case; Miller released from Humboldt jail Tuesday - Megan Hansen/The Times-Standard
After spending nearly one year in jail, a man accused of stabbing a Eureka woman to death in 2002 was released Tuesday following his acquittal.

The jury serving on the case of Joseph Eugene Miller, 43, began deliberations Tuesday morning to decide whether Miller was guilty of murder in the death of Beverly Jean Jacob, 46. Miller was arrested May 19, 2011.

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said it took the jury less than three hours Tuesday to acquit Miller.

”They thought there was reasonable doubt,” Gallegos said.

On his own. No slam dunk.

Humboldt jury acquits Miller of murder
DA: DNA key evidence in 10-year-old murder case; defense in Miller trial says investigation haphazard in closing arguments Monday
While prosecutors of a 2002 murder case argued Monday that the man accused of stabbing a woman to death in Eureka is guilty because of DNA evidence, the defense points to a “haphazard investigation.”
Cold case heads to trial; jury selection under way in 2002 murder case - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Deputy District Attorney Ben McLaughlin said the process of selecting a jury to hear Miller's trial began Monday, but he declined to comment further on the case.
Man arrested in connection with 2002 murder; officials say DNA 'cold hit' reopened stabbing death case - Kaci Poor/The Times-Standard 5/20/2011
For five years, the identity of Jacob's murderer remained a mystery. Her file grew cold in the

Eureka Police Department, but in 2007 a DNA “cold hit” warmed the case up. The hit, obtained by a criminalist from the Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services, revealed Miller's DNA on an item of clothing worn by Jacob at the time of her death, officials said.

According to the Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Sciences, or BFS, a “cold hit,” like the one used to implicate Miller, occurs once every day in California. According to the BFS, “A hit occurs when DNA evidence from an unsolved crime sample matches a DNA profile from evidence in another case or an offender's DNA profile in the CAL-DNA Convicted Felons database.”

The DNA evidence prompted a comprehensive investigation by the EPD and BII, which led to Miller's eventual arrest.

“The lab results opened the door for further investigation,” O'Neill said. “Homicide cases are never closed until we find an answer.”

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Check your full email headers, people. Some of you are "FRIENDS" with this guy.

IP address: 166.range

I am especially talking to those of you who are fond of the civility lecture. And those of you parroting the 'Republican War on Women" meme.

I think we all know who it is. Call it out, or you have no ground to stand on.

And if you are a candidate taking help from this guy, you have a problem. Do you really want this kind of guy affiliated with your campaign?

He goes by:
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squirlnutfisherman@gmail.com (Jack Sherman)
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You get the idea. It's time to out your "FRIEND."

He has a serious problem.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

‘Surly Cur’ Salzman

The true insult and betrayal of his pernicious conduct is that all of us are now stuck with what the son of a bitch has done to our county and, as Ms. De Rooy’s letter so well demonstrates, will shamelessly continue to do. - Paul Hagen responds to Sylvia De Rooy's Letter
In response to Sylvia De Rooy’s letter (Mailbox, March 29) beginning “Shame on you Richard Salzman” for doing what he promised her he wouldn’t do on “a question of ethics,” it strikes me, sadly, that Ms. De Rooy’s outrage is unfortunately misplaced. As all the higher attributes of human decency are founded upon being truthful, decent people — like Sylvia — who are lied to rightfully feel a sense of ethical betrayal. The problem with Sylvia’s having “expected better of you, Richard,” is that we are absolutely not dealing with either an ethical or a decent person here....

Bravo, sir.

Web of Lies - Richard Salzman and other e-mail phonies - The Journal

Anoint Adams - Richard Salzman/The Journal

Don't Anoint Susan - Sylvia De Rooy/Letter to Editor/The Journal

‘Surly Cur’ Salzman - Paul Hagen/Letter to Editor/The Journal

McKinleyville man gets 42 years to life for murder in second degree; Jacob Steele apologizes to victim's family

There were tears on both sides of a Humboldt County courtroom Tuesday as a judge sentenced a 24-year-old McKinleyville man to 42 years to life in prison for murdering his friend and threatening a witness. - Donna Tam/The Times-Standard

Prosecutors alleged in the trial that Steele murdered George in January, shooting him after the two engaged in an escalating argument over Mercedes Benzes, with Steele claiming to be the youngest man in McKinleyville driving one and George saying he knew plenty of other people Steele's age and younger driving the luxury cars.

Steele said he shot George in self-defense that night when a drunk and belligerent George rushed at him with fists clenched. Then, Steele said, he panicked before he, his friends and family members worked to destroy evidence of the killing and disposed of George's body, which has never been recovered.

Meth-advocate Ellen Taylor is back

She never met a protest she didn't like

All the kooks support @Occupy. And all they've accomplished is a cyclone fence blocking off what was a nice lawn that everyone could enjoy. They don't bring with them a healthy society.

Ellen Taylor, Meth Advocate: War on Drugs is war on our own people

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Well, thank you Never mind.

Someone must have recognized that IP address. The missives have stopped.
(Ok, they had, but now, they have resumed.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Richard Salzman and other email phonies (UPDATED)

Web of Lies - The Journal

Anoint Adams - Richard Salzman/The Journal

Don't Anoint Susan - Sylvia De Rooy/Letter to Editor/The Journal

Shame on you, Richard Salzman (Mailbox, “Anoint Susan,” March 22). You told me you wouldn’t do that again and then you went and did it. You agreed that there was a question of ethics, and yet you done went and did it again. You wrote that long letter filled with your reasons to vote for Susan Adams but you left one critical piece of information out. You wrote that letter like you were just another John Q. Public voicing his free and honest opinions.

But, is it free and honest when you fail to point out that you are Susan Adams’ paid employee, her campaign manager for Humboldt County? I would like to believe that you know the answer to that, but then why did you do it? ...

Read it all - especially the response from Richard Salzman, admitting he is in fact Susan Adam's "Northcoast Field Organizer."

At least Richard is finally posting under his real name. At least sometimes.

What is he going to do for you exactly, Susan? Does it include scurrilous defamation under anonymous pseudonyms on the many forums throughout Humboldt County? Blogs? Times Standard? (Well, they kinda threw him off his game there by requiring Facebook log in… but you can bet he’s found a way around that by now.) What, exactly is he going to do for you? And are you ok with it? What names is he going to call your opponent? What lies will be offered up as fodder for voters to consider?

As far as I am concerned, any candidate who uses Richard’s services does not deserve to hold any office anywhere.

‘Surly Cur’ Salzman - Paul Hagen responds to Sylvia De Rooy's Letter

The true insult and betrayal of his pernicious conduct is that all of us are now stuck with what the son of a bitch has done to our county and, as Ms. De Rooy’s letter so well demonstrates, will shamelessly continue to do.

A pair to draw to: Peter Martin and Jeffrey 'you go free.com' Schwartz

Arcata woman sues city, police over potless pot search; suit alleges unlawful search, rough treatment hastened husband's death - Times-Standard

The search warrant served on the Sages' home stemmed from an affidavit in support of a search warrant filed by Arcata Police Officer Brian Hoffman -- who is specifically named as a defendant in the suit -- asserting that there was probable cause to believe the Sages were committing a felony.

Acting on a tip from an unnamed “state park employee” who reported that he commonly smelled growing marijuana coming from the Sages' residence, Hoffman stated that he went down to the Sages' Zehndner Avenue home and smelled a “strong odor of growing marijuana emanating from the residence” on May 1.

Hoffman states in the affidavit that he then got a search warrant for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. records, which indicated the household's electrical usage ranged from 2,796 kilowatt hours to 5,362 kilowatt hours in each of the three prior months.

The officer submitted the affidavit -- which was signed off on by Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Max Cardoza -- and received a search warrant signed by Judge Dale Reinholtsen the same day.

When officers served the search warrant about two weeks later, they found no marijuana -- growing or processed -- and Sage claims no marijuana had been in her residence since May 5, 2011.

Sage's complaint argues that Hoffman and his fellow officers took no steps to investigate whether the Sages' grow fell within the guidelines of Arcata's medical marijuana ordinance and had no facts to suggest a felony was being committed.

I don't know about you, but I had some sympathy for these people, until I got to the part that shows who is involved here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Does this mean you can take down the cyclone fence, now? Can regular people actually walk on the lawn?

Or have the #Occupiers lost a battle but are still winning the war?

Humboldt supervisors enact 'urgency ordinance' - Times-Standard
The supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of the ordinance, with 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace dissenting (having his cake and eating it too)...

The urgency ordinance is effective immediately and restricts protest activities between 9:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. In addition, the ordinance prohibits people from erecting structures or securing items to county property. It prohibits camping on the courthouse grounds, storing personal property, obstructing access or interfering with the passage of others, littering on, damaging or defacing county property, letting non-service animals run loose, using or interfering with county water and electrical services, operating a food facility and urinating or defecating on the courthouse grounds.
Put another way - Lovelace voted in favor of urinating or defecating on the courthouse grounds.

Good going.

Way to stand up for law-abiding citizens. Way to push for a better community.

Actually - I'm with Mark. Let 'em stay, as a shining example of your "Progressive" future.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

C'mon. Was she not married to the Bear River Tribe's Attorney? Not just a waif who fell through the cracks.

It's disingenous to bemoan her "slipping though the cracks" and not mention that fact. They weren't "poor" either, we can guess, given his political donations. Poor people don't donate $1,000 to political campaigns. ◼ (In addition to the $10,000 contribution in the name of the Rancheria, Leonard and his wife personally contributed $100, the FPPC documents show. The same documents indicate Bear River attorney Michael Acosta contributed $1,000 (to Paul Gallegos's campaign).)

Where were the protecting and nurturing arms of the loving Bear River Tribe? At one with the universe, peaceful and beautiful, are they not?

The tragic case of Maggie Jean Wortman: A woman who never had a chance gives her son the same fate - Thadeus Greenson/Times Standard
Some would say the deck was stacked against Maggie Jean Wortman from the very beginning, from the day her name was misspelled on her birth certificate.

By extension, those same people would say Wortman's son, Michael Phillip Acosta III, simply never stood a chance.

While many in the public have been quick to direct their ire at Wortman -- who was sentenced Monday to serve six years in prison for voluntary manslaughter stemming from the overdose death of her infant son -- experts feel otherwise. They say the Loleta mother's case underscores the cyclical nature of addiction, dependency and violence, and the need to better protect the nation's drug-endangered children.

After reading through Wortman's probation report, which details her broken upbringing, her addiction and ultimately her crime, experts said that, sadly, there's almost nothing unique about Wortman's story....

But there is.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Gallegos Effect

'Meaner than a pit bull'; victim recounts harrowing home invasion, torture - Thadeus Greenson/Times-Standard
”They had to have been in this house before,” Doe said, adding that she, her husband and their children just moved into the place in August.

Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Detective Steve Quenell said there is some indication in the case that prior tenants of the Drake Hill Road home had a marijuana grow operation and possibly sold marijuana from the house.
Every day you see reports that show you the end result of having pot de facto legal in this community.

Every day innocent people pay the high price.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Good Ship Gallegos

Will the captain go down with the ship? Or "accidentally" fall into a lifeboat?

If he's lucky he'll get outta there before they have to cut it up for scrap...

Paul Gallegos's problem: "a dearth of attorneys with experience prosecuting violent felony cases"

Deputy DA resigns abruptly; unclear why prosecutor walked away on eve of murder trial - Thadeus Greenson/Times Standard

...Well thought of around the courthouse, McLaughlin was the prosecutor assigned to Humboldt County Drug Task Force cases and handled a variety of high-profile violent crimes....

McLaughlin's departure seems to pose a challenge for Gallegos' office, which now appears to have a dearth of attorneys with experience prosecuting violent felony cases. The issue is especially apparent now, with two murder trials currently under way and three more slated to begin in the coming weeks.

Deputy District Attorney Allan Dollison is in the process of selecting a jury in Brian Cole Fiore's murder case. With Gallegos stepping in to handle the Miller case, it is unclear who will handle the murder prosecution of Leon Bigleggins, who stands accused of murdering a 4-year-old boy and whose trial is slated to begin Monday. Gallegos has been prosecuting the case.

Assistant District Attorney Kelly Neel has experience trying violent crimes, but she is currently responsible for making charging decisions. Gallegos was not immediately available to comment on the status of the cases Thursday afternoon.

Paul Gallegos lost another senior prosecutor. Reporter can't imagine why.

Deputy DA resigns abruptly; unclear why prosecutor walked away on eve of murder trial - Thadeus Greenson/Times-Standard

Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Ben McLaughlin abruptly resigned Wednesday on the eve of a murder trial he was slated to prosecute.

The reasons for McLaughlin's resignation remain unclear, but District Attorney Paul Gallegos confirmed that he was informed of McLaughlin's decision Wednesday night.

”He's a good prosecutor -- we'll miss him,” Gallegos said, declining to discuss any details of the resignation but saying he will step in to personally handle the prosecution of Joseph Eugene Miller. McLaughlin began the process of selecting a jury in the case on Monday.

McLaughlin has been trying violent felonies and other cases for the district attorney's office for more than four years and had become one of the office's senior prosecutors. Reached by email Thursday, McLaughlin declined to discuss the specific reasons for his resignation.

”I love the District Attorney's Office and the work it does,” McLaughlin said in the email. “I will truly miss working with law enforcement. They do a thankless job.”

Well thought of around the courthouse, McLaughlin was the prosecutor assigned to Humboldt County Drug Task Force cases and handled a variety of high-profile violent crimes.... Read The Rest.

OK, Thadeus. Unclear. Really?

Add Ben McLaughlin to the list: Brain Drain - wp

The only question people are asking is - what took Ben so long?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wortman gets six years in prison for son's death; leaves plea in place in methamphetamine breast milk case

Mom gets six years in prison for son's death; Wortman leaves plea in place in methamphetamine breast milk case - Times-Standard

A 27-year-old Loleta woman was sentenced to six years in state prison on Monday after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter stemming from the death of her infant son.

The conviction -- which was in doubt up until Maggie Jean Wortman agreed to leave her guilty plea in place on Monday -- is the state's first for voluntary manslaughter in a case where a woman stood accused of passing a lethal dose of methamphetamine to her child through breast milk while nursing.

Wortman's attorney M.C. Bruce pleaded with Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson to be lenient with his client, saying a grant of probation would be appropriate in the case as Wortman is a sober woman who bears little resemblance to the methamphetamine addict taken into custody.

Watson said he felt the matter warranted a prison commitment, saying it could be argued that the maximum 11-year sentence would be more appropriate, primarily because of the vulnerability of the victim in the case....

Wortman pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in February, but did so under the impression she was eligible to receive a grant of probation in the case. Under the California Penal Code, however, Wortman is statutorily ineligible for probation in the case because she committed the manslaughter offense -- which classifies as a violent felony -- while already on felony probation stemming from a May 2010 conviction for maintaining a drug house.

...”I'm asking the court not to punish her because of her addictions,” Bruce said, adding that Wortman has already suffered enough. “This lady has suffered the death of her child -- that's the most horrible thing any of us could ever suffer. No matter what this court does, that is something that is never going to go away for Maggie.”

Bruce went on to argue that a prison sentence would destroy the progress Wortman has made in the more than one year she has been in jail, during which she has been clean, taken classes and undergone psychiatric counseling.

”If this court sends her to prison for six years, we're going to lose her,” Bruce said. “We all know the prisons are full of drugs, and that's a long time to sit with nothing to do. ... If we sentence her to prison for six years, we're throwing her away.”

Prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Ben McLaughlin said no one is disputing that Wortman has suffered in the wake of her son's death. But, McLaughlin said, he doesn't see Wortman's case as being any different than that of the alcoholic who gets behind the wheel of a car and causes a fatal collision.

”We're not punishing the addict,” McLaughlin told the court. “What we're doing here, your honor, is punishing the conduct.”...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Vindication: "Audit of DA's office seeks to untangle years of grant mismanagement"

Get this week's McKinleyville Press and Arcata Eye.

You do realize how far back this goes.

$150K Audit Probes Years Of Grant Bungling By DA’s Office - Daniel Mintz for The Arcata Eye
A consulting firm specializing in grant regulation compliance is reviewing management of grant funds in the District Attorney’s Office and its work has expanded to include what a county staff report describes as “all prior year grants and revenue sources.”...

Ex-BLPD Chief Gundersen Cleared Of All Felonies

Former Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen has been cleared of all major charges first filed against him in 2008. - Arcata Eye

Gundersen was originally charged with eight felonies, including spousal rape, witness tampering, possession of a machine gun and a silencer. He was also charged with three misdemeanors, including violation of a court order, possession of a controlled substance and unauthorized disclosure of information.

The rape charge and two of the misdemeanors were dismissed. After a jury trial in September, 2008, Gundersen was found guilty of the submachine gun and silencer possession felonies, plus a misdemeanor charge of violating a court order....

On Thursday, March 15, a state appeals court overturned the two felony convictions. Gundersen had contended that Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Marilyn Miles failed to adequately instruct the jury about exemptions in state law that allow regular, salaried, full-time police officers to possess machine guns and silencers. He claimed that his possession the Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun and silencer were within the scope of his duties.

Through his attorney, Russell Clanton of Arcata, Gundersen argued that the prosecution was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the exemptions did not apply. He contended that had the trial court told the jury that the prosecution was required to prove unlawful possession of the weapons, it would have understood the applicable exceptions.

The appeals court’s decision cites case law which requires that juries must be properly instructed regarding burden of proof, and that the trial court didn’t indicate which party – prosecution or defense – was required to prove whether the exemptions were applicable or what the standard of proof was.

Gundersen's felonies reversed; appeals court finds court improperly instructed 2008 jury - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
A California appellate court has reversed a pair of 2008 felony firearms convictions against David Gundersen, leaving the possibility that the former Blue Lake Police chief will face another trial.

The California First Appellate District court ruled Thursday that the trial court inadequately instructed Gundersen's jury on the prosecution's burden of proof necessary to convict the defendant on charges that he illegally possessed a submachine gun and a pistol with a silencer.

”This is one of those few cases where justice delayed is not justice denied,” said Gundersen's attorney Russell Clanton. “I always felt he was innocent of those counts.”
On Sept. 24, 2008 -- after a two-month trial in which Gundersen faced more than two dozen criminal counts -- a jury convicted him of 14 charges. Of those, only a misdemeanor conviction of violating a court order stands today.

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said he's still waiting to hear from the state Attorney General's Office as to whether it intends to petition the California Supreme Court to review Thursday's ruling. If the Attorney General's Office declines to file the petition, Gallegos said he would strongly consider re-filing the firearms charges against Gundersen.

”The evidence remains what it was, and I don't believe we will have any problem trying the case again,” Gallegos wrote in an email to the Times-Standard.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Do you get the feeling the Feds are here to do the job Gallegos won't do?

Wilde to make first federal court appearance; records indicate defendant was under financial pressure at time of shooting - TS

For the first time in recent memory, the U.S. government is taking on the prosecution of a Humboldt County murder case.

Mikal Xylon Wilde is scheduled to make his initial federal court appearance today -- three days after charges were officially dismissed against him in Humboldt County Superior Court. Wilde remains held in the Humboldt County jail on a federal detainer, more than a year and a half after he allegedly shot and killed Mario Roberto Juarez-Madrid at the scene of a Kneeland marijuana grow.

When the U.S. Attorney's Office unsealed a six-count indictment against Wilde last week -- charging him with murder, drug and weapons violations -- it represented the first time in decades that the federal government has taken over the prosecution of a local murder case, according to numerous officials in the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office and local law enforcement agencies.

The situation might, however, occur more often under the direction of Northern California U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, who is in her first term after being appointed to the office by President Barack Obama in August 2010, according to Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos.

”We have a new U.S. attorney, and she's being a good partner, and I appreciate that,” Gallegos said. “I think people are going to see more federal intervention here. I'm hoping that this sends a message that the federal government is committed.”

Friday, March 09, 2012

”So with this I am suspending all efforts to do anything with the continued assault on the courthouse, the employees and the general public due to the immunity given to them by your office”

Law enforcement officials frustrated with Occupy signs; difference of opinion creates tension with DA's Office

...Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey said he encountered a situation Wednesday where he told an occupier to take down a sign and they refused, stating they didn't have to.

”I was immediately met with, 'Well, that's not what the DA told us,'” Downey said.

He said he was informed by occupiers that the district attorney had said he wouldn't prosecute people for hanging signs on the fence....

Interim Eureka Police Chief Murl Harpham said his officers have indeed been hands-off on the signage issue because of the general message he's received from the DA's Office during the past few weeks. He said there were some issues surrounding the Penal Code section cited on county signs.

”I got a call from Paul, and he told me that he looked at the section and didn't think it was a good section,” Harpham said....

In a Feb. 13 email obtained Thursday by the Times-Standard, Harpham told county officials -- including Downey -- that EPD officers will no longer be enforcing Penal Code section 602f per the DA's suggestion....

In a March 8 email obtained by the Times-Standard, Downey told Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos what he'd heard from Harpham and occupiers and his subsequent course of action.

”So with this I am suspending all efforts to do anything with the continued assault on the courthouse, the employees and the general public due to the immunity given to them by your office,” Downey wrote...

”I'm not saying it's OK; it's just not a crime,” Gallegos said about the signs. “There's a lot of things out there that aren't OK, but aren't criminal.”

Gallegos said the focus needs to be on the criminal conduct that takes place -- such as smoking marijuana on the courthouse steps and disruptive behavior -- instead of the signs. He said he knows law enforcement officials are frustrated at having to utilize their resources at the courthouse.

”Everyone's over-burdened,” Gallegos said. “What we all would rather do is prosecute bad guys, dangerous people.”

Downey's email to Gallegos states things at the courthouse “will only intensify and get worse” if Gallegos chooses not to prosecute signage cases....

”The public generally is no longer in support of what's going on,” Downey said. “The public needs to give direction to the Board of Supervisors.”


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Sentencing postponed in meth breast milk case; defendant may have been misinformed by her attorney, the court

Sentencing postponed in meth breast milk case; defendant may have been misinformed by her attorney, the court - TS

The sentencing of a Loleta woman for voluntary manslaughter stemming from the death of her infant son was postponed for two weeks in order to give her time to decide whether she wants to vacate her plea.

Maggie Jean Wortman, 27, stands accused of killing her 6-week-old son, Michael Phillip Acosta III, by passing him a lethal dose of methamphetamine through her breast milk while nursing. She pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge last month. However, Wortman entered into the plea agreement under the impression she could be sentenced to probation in the case -- a sentence for which it appears she is statutorily ineligible.

On Monday, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson granted a defense motion seeking to postpone Wortman's sentencing hearing by two weeks, allowing Wortman and her attorney M.C. Bruce to determine whether she is probation eligible and, if not, whether she wants to retract her guilty plea.

Bruce said that in its pre-sentencing report in the case, the Humboldt County Probation Department advised that Wortman faces a mandatory prison sentence. Bruce disagrees, but he doesn't dispute the issue is in question under the California Penal Code Section 1203(k), which states that defendants are ineligible for probation in a case where they are convicted of committing a violent felony while already on felony probation.

When she was accused of inadvertently killing her son by nursing him after smoking methamphetamine in November 2010,

Wortman was on felony probation from a May 2010 conviction for maintaining a drug house. Voluntary manslaughter is considered a “violent felony” under section 667.5 of the penal code, which would seem to indicate Wortman is ineligible for probation and leaves her facing a mandatory term ranging from three years and eight months to 11 years and eight months in prison.

Bruce doesn't dispute that reading of the law but maintains his client is eligible for probation.