Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A look back: 2014 stories of the year...

One in particular:

Maggie Fleming handily won the June 2014 primary election for Humboldt County district attorney, and will be sworn in Jan. 5, becoming the first woman in county history to hold the job. TIMES-STANDARD FILE PHOTO

New era in the DA’s Office

After a tumultuous three terms in office, Paul Gallegos’ time as Humboldt County district attorney is coming to an end.

Stepping into the role will be Maggie Fleming, who handily won the June primary election against three other candidates. She will be sworn in Jan. 5, becoming the county’s first female district attorney.

When Gallegos announced in November that he would not be running for re-election, he said he was proud of his tenure as district attorney, but wanted to spend more time with his family. Gallegos surprised many when he was first elected to the post in 2002, beating longtime District Attorney Terry Farmer — who held the office for 20 years. Over the years, Gallegos made a series of controversial decisions and garnered many critics.

“It’s a wonderful job. It’s a wonderful honor. It’s just, at some point, you have to say, ‘I’ve done that, and I’ve served,’ ” Gallegos said after announcing he would not run. “It’s time for me to serve my family.”

Fleming comes to the job with 25 years of experience, having worked for 17 years in the office as a deputy district attorney and most recently as a deputy county counsel.

“You work in a DA’s office because you hope to make a difference,” she said in a recent interview. “I think helping mentor the attorneys is a critical task — currently the office is young, career-wise, as prosecutors. Another part is rebuilding the office; we are down a number of attorneys.”

Tumultuous? BS. His term was a slow degradation of the office. The only 'tumult' was in the early year when he was filing a lawsuit at his backers behest. And allowing them to plot ways to get themselves paid (and how to let their buddies pay for a public prosecution) via a "trust fund.' After that 'tumult' he slowly allowed the office to fall into ruin. Lost talent, lost grants - and he never rose to the occasion, never made an attempt to solve the problem, like any normal person would have done.

Oh well.

At long last you will have a competent DA. Humboldt County will be well served.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How can we turn around the Humboldt County crime rate? Attorney Allan Dollison looks at strategies.

DOLLISON’S DOCKET: What is Wrong in Humboldt, and Can We Right It? - Allan L. Dollison/Lost Coast Outpost via LoCo's Facebook page

...There are many reasons why we got here. We must begin to address the multiple-approach solution to fix it. If we continue along with business as usual, then we are left with that saying often attributed to Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

District Attorney Maggie Fleming swearing-in-ceremony on January 5 at noon: January 2015 key month for several high profile homicide cases

The courtroom won't have two defense attorneys anymore" - John Chiv/Words Worth
I know the Board of Chambers will be packed at noon when Maggie will officially be sworn in as Humboldt's District Attorney on January 5, 2015.
◼ AND: Judge Hinrichs presiding judge for 2014; Judge Wilson asst presiding judge and a few other changes in Humboldt Superior Court
Judge Joyce Hinrichs will be the presiding judge starting next year, Judge Christopher Wilson will be the assistant presiding judge. He has been hearing family law cases and will now be back as a Judge for the courts overseeing criminal cases.

Judge Timothy Cissna will be hearing criminal cases. Judge Dale Reinholtsen, one of my favorite judges is going to be moving to the civil courts....
January 2015 key month for several high profile homicide cases; others like Ferrer and Warren will they actually make it to trial? - John Chiv/Words Worth

If you look through the dates of these high profile trials, you will see that on January 12 and January 26, it will be a busy day for the Humboldt County courts.

These are not even all the cases in 2014 and others that are going through the process starting in 2014 into 2015. They are some of the cases that made headlines.

Vincent Sanchez
Gary Lee Bullock
Matthew Brown
Jason Arreaga
Juan Ferrer
Jason Warren
Limmie Curry

Details at the link.

The challenge here is the lack of prosecutors. These people need time to devote to the cases, time to immerse themselves in the details and in the relevant law, time to prepare for trial, meet the witnesses and experts who will testify... it is everyone's hope that there will be immediate improvements made to help in this regard.

BUT - don't expect miracles. You are going to have to give the new DA time. This thing will not be fixed overnight. But it will start to get better, and will get progressively better as the year, and her term, moves forward.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

In an understaffed office...

What should happen?


Addressing the observation below that there's some question regarding retaining any Gallegos hires.

Here's what should happen.

Rather than get rid of them... sit down with them. Acknowledge they have been living through hell, not given time to do their jobs well. not given any mentoring, not given the support they need, and struggling to do the work of two dozen when their numbers are under a dozen.

Let them know, things are going to change. They will be held to higher standards, but every effort will be made to make sure they have the tools, and the mentoring needed to rise to the occasion, and they will not be walking in to court unprepared anymore.

They may not all make it, but they will have the chance, and the respect they are due as professionals. And when it is done, you will have a strong team.

And when it is all done, you will ensure that they get civil service protections, so they cannot be arbitrarily fired by any future DA.

A promise which was made to get a man elected, which was never kept, not even attempted.

All this - and HIRE new people, fill those unfilled positions. But give the existing people their due, they're trying, they have pride, and they'd like to have more.

Just my opinion. They deserve a chance.

A good move for Élan Firpo


Attorney General files opening brief in Timothy Littlefield child molestation case

This means the appeal will not be dismissed because of a default. - John Chiv/Words Worth

◼ Earlier: Attorney General to default on Littlefield molestation case? Will Paul do his job? - John Chiv/Words Worth Nov 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gary Lee Bullock updates

Judge Feeney has been the judge overseeing the hearings; formner DDA Elan Firpo was assigned to the case; today we find out who takes over. Bullock is being represented by Conflict Counsel's Kaleb Cockrum. - John Chiv/Words Worth

Bullock whispers "I love you" to supporters in audience; Fr. Freed's family retains Kathleen Bryson - John Chiv/Words Worth

The case is being prosecuted now by DDA Stacey Eads. In court DA Investigator John Burke was present.

Bullock Appears in Court, Kathleen Bryson Retained by Family of Father Freed - Ryan Burns/Lost Coast Outpost

Bullock’s trial for the torture and murder of Father Freed is scheduled to begin on Jan. 26.

Jason Arreaga waives prelim, case to go to trial

Jury in Fieldbrook double homicide case second trial finds Arreaga not guilty on both counts - John Chiv/Words Worth 2/25/2016

His attorney Heidi Holmquist said that while the preliminary hearing was waived, it was with the condition the only charges against her client would be the one in original complaint. - watch John Chiv/Words Worth for updates and ongoing coverage
In a preliminary hearing, which is held after the defendant has been arraigned, the Judge decides whether there is enough evidence provided by the prosecution to hold the defendant accountable on charges to to stand trial. My guess is that by waiving trial, the defense did not want prosecution to be able to amend and add more charges after the preliminary hearing.

Arreaga is charged with murder in Count 1 of Harley Wayne Hammers and Count 2 murder of Angel Tully , both felonies. Two special allegations for both counts: personally and intentionally discharging a firearm and personally and intentionally discharging a firearm resulting in great bodily injury or death.

Ferrer scheduled for April 6

Some witnesses avoiding subpoena. - Chiv will update

Exploding crime, increasing problems

HOMICIDE: Man Found Stabbed, Unconscious on McFarlan Street; EPD Investigating - LoCo
UPDATE, 10:03 a.m.: The victim in the case has died, according to the Eureka Police Department. A homicide investigation is underway.
◼ OH GOD. FOURTEEN. 2nd UPDATE: Eureka homicide victim identified as a 14-year-old Arcata resident - Times-Standard
Fourteen-Year-Old Victim of Today’s Homicide - LoCo
According to Deputy Coroner Trevor Enright of the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office, the victim of today’s homicide on 15th Street in Eureka is a fourteen-year-old boy from Arcata.

Sheriff’s Office: Last Night’s Swain’s Flat Shootings Followed Home Invasion
On 12/16/2014, at about 8:45 p.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call of shots being fired near the 19700 block of State Hwy 36. It was reported there were two subjects whom had sustained injuries from the gun shots.

Breaking News: Two Shot Out Hwy 36 - LoCo

Mugshot of Suspect Arrested in McKinleyville Shooting Incident and More Details - LoCo
Sheriff’s Deputy Fires on Suspects Attempting to Flee; One Injured, One Arrested - LoCo
[UPDATE With Eyewitness Accounts] Shots Fired in McKinleyville, Woman With Gunshot Wound

Two AR-15s, Weed, Meth Discovered During Traffic Stop in Eureka - LoCo

Just the last couple days...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tom Sebourn: Trinidad Prepares For 100 Year Anniversary Of 200 Foot Wave

Great story, at the link.

Five Six Seven major murder cases pending

Jury in Fieldbrook double homicide case second trial finds Arreaga not guilty on both counts - John Chiv/Words Worth 2/25/2016

And who are the prosecutors...?

  1. Bullock - pending
  2. Warren
  3. Limmie-Curry
  4. Ferrar (set for April 6, has had various prosecutors)
  5. Carter
  6. Arreaga
  7. Brown

Who is handling these cases. This isn't the kind of thing you pick up the file and walk into court...

Then there's the Littlefield case, a very complicated case, the default appeal expires Thursday.

Dec 17 will be a busy day with several high profile homicide cases and status overlapping - John Chiv/Words Worth
Tomorrow morning, there is the preliminary examination scheduled for Jason Arreaga, the suspect in the Fieldbrook homicide and at the same time there is a preliminary hearing for Jason Armstrong, the suspect in the Redway murder.

In the afternoon, there is a pre trial hearing Gary Lee Bullock who is charged with the murder of Fr. Eric Freed and trial confirmation for murder suspect Matthew Brown in one courtroom and at the same time a motion hearing and disposition reset hearing for Arcata murder suspect Juan Ferrer in Courtroom Four....
...I don't know who will prosecute the Bullock case but I hope that the DA's office thinks carefully about that decision.... - John Chiv/Words Worth

(Three Jason's: Jason Anthony Warren, Jason Armstrong, Jason Arreaga)

◼ And then there's the Matthew Brown case Matthew Brown murder case jury trial delayed a week - John Chiv/Words Worth

Friday, December 12, 2014

Busy day in Shelter Cove case

Jury instructions finalized, closing arguments to start shortly in Shelter Cove case - John Chiv/Words Worth
Thad Greenson is the only one here from local media. However, he could not stay and left. Judge Miles just started instructions. First set of jury instructions concluded.
Nelson interuppts ADA Neel's closing in court; almost causes mistrial - John Chiv/Words Worth
In the middle of ADA Kelly Neel's second closing argument, William Nelson, the man charged with shooting Deputy Bang Cao, jumped up in court and started yelling. He would not shut up despite the Judge's initial admonishment and even verbally attacked his own lawyer.
"I am asking you to find William Nelson guilty of willful, deliberate, premeditated murder" - John Chiv/Words Worth
"I am going to ask you to come back with a single vote. I am asking you to find William Nelson guilty of willful, deliberate, premeditated murder." This is how ADA Kelly Neel opened her closing yesterday.

With exhibits of pictures, detailed timeline and testimony, Ms. Neel in two days, with a very powerful presentation explained why William Nelson should be found guilty of the charges against him....

"That fucking Chink" is what Nelson said when he locked eyes with Deputy Bang Cao.

From that moment, "he walked through the house, thinking about it, thinking about it before", Ms. Neel referred to Nelson's threats against law enforcement.

"The officer was doing his job and for that Willy Nelson shot him. For that he should be held accountable."
Yesterday's jury instructions seem prophetic in light of Nelson' s outburst today - John Chiv/Words Worth

"You don't get to blame officers for escalating a situation that Mr. Nelson escalated"; ADA Neel counters defense assertions - John Chiv/Words Worth

"I believe the evidence that was presented to you in the last week was mistakes by HCSO and Mr. Nelson; the difference is Mr. Nelson made a justified mistake" - John Chiv/Words Worth

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pot is legal in all 50 states now

Indian Tribes Can Now Grow and Sell Marijuana, Department of Justice Says - Bloomberg - Times Standard

For now.

People and defense rest in Shelter Cove case where HCSO deputy was shot

Closing arguments, jury instructions will take place this afternoon and the jury can start deliberations as early as today. - John Chiv/Words Worth
Local "media" does not think HCSO deputies being shot at is worth covering - John Chiv/Words Worth
So, maybe the media will show up later after my post? Or the TS could always just call and have the DA's office fill them in and basically write their article. Maybe NCJ could pull some probation reports and string an article about William Nelson's past?

Why bother doing actual reporting? This is news, this is local. Reprinting press rleases and national associated press stories on issues that don't affect people should take a backseat to live coverage.
Jury trial for Shelter Cove man who shot HCSO deputy on hold while 402 hearing is being conducted; deputy is moving to Marin - John Chiv/Words Worth
William Nelson shot HCSO Deputy Bang Cao in the chest. His jury trial is currently on hold while a 402 hearing is being conducted. (Chiv does) not have any more information because the 402 hearing is being heard in a closed courtroom.

John's right.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Disposition/reset hearing postponed again for Sohum murder suspect Benjamin Carter; defense wants "further examination of victim's body"

So Hum suspect Benjamin Carter, who called LOCO, instead of his defense attorney Michael Acosta when he was on the lam will have to wait for his jury trial to be scheduled. - John Chiv/Words Worth

A disposition/reset hearing has been set for January 5 at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 1. DDA Roger Rees represented the People today.

Judge Feeney, DDA Roger Rees and Probation take a stand for public safety; Weitchpec suspects laugh in court as if they are on vacation

All four suspects tried to be released on their own recognizance. - John Chiv/Words Worth

Their lawyers, public defenders and one appointed private counsel tried but Probation recommended against their relase and DDA Roger Rees was great in stating reasons opposing their release stating specific reasons such as several failures to appear, nature of crimes, previous criminal history....

When you are accused of a serious crime, laughing like you are at Club Med doesn't exactly elicit sympathy. If you cannot be serious in court and even fake being responsible like most repeat offenders, why should you be allowed out of custody and given a second chance or third or fourth? KEEP READING

Derek Bowman back in Humboldt County jail....

On a writ... you wouldn't...

Monday, December 08, 2014

Swear-in Ceremony

"We are in an unique position to rebuild this agency" - John Chiv/Words Worth

A swear in ceremony was held this morning for the HCSO employees recently promoted. Family members, HCSO staff, Pastor Andy Van Browse, Sheriff Downey, Undersheriff Billy Honsal, Supervisors Rex Bohn and Virginia Bass, Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills, District Attorney elect Maggie Fleming were among those who attended the event.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Watchdogs, representatives, oversight and videotape

Lots of questions posed - who's right and who's wrong? If anyone. Maybe Mark (Lovelace) is in the right here, Supervisors are elected to represent their Districts within the County, as well as to look out for the County as a whole....

Public meeting enthusiast Kent Sawatzky asked 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace to resign from the Oversight Board for stiffing the County and taxpayers and voting to benefit Arcata - John Chiv/Words Worth

Here's a link to City Of Arcata's WATCH MEETINGS LIVE & ON DEMAND info page

(If I've clipped this right, Here's Kent Sawatzky addressing the Arcata City Council.

Mark's not gonna resign, so that's moot -

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Who celebrates incompetence and the destruction of an office?

Letter: Saluting Pal Gallegos’ service to community - "R. Trent Williams" (Richard Salzman himself)

Lying, conniving and slavishly loyal to the end.

If you go - shame on you.

If you go, you're celebrating taking a working office from almost 20 to under 10, the horrific working conditions resulting from being severely understaffed, you're celebrating the horrible reputation the Humboldt DAs Office has earned under Gallegos' tenure (No one wants to work here), inexplicable schizophrenic prosecutions (letting bad guys go, and going after people like the toddler-wanderer Dad). These things are not in dispute.

It's a sorry state of affairs, and it is in very poor taste to advertise it like it is some kind of achievement. But, that's "R. Trent." He doesn't say whether they'll be passing the hat.

(Fitting that there's a typo...)

Monday, December 01, 2014

To all the Cops, everyone in law enforcement and their families.

Thank you for what you do.

Every. Day.

Thank you.

Harris Street suspect Vincent Sanchez sentencing continued until January 9

Mostly due to his attorney Ms. Dixon was not present... - John Chiv/Words Worth

Harris street double murder suspect Vincent Sanchez to be sentenced this afternoon - John Chiv/Words Worth

The TS could learn from LOCO's Kym Kemp on giving due credit and Tuluwat and other blogs for original reporting - John Chiv/Words Worth

John makes a good point. For those that used to care about the sport of such things, John often scoops all other news sources. Acknowledge it. And in the spirit of what it means to BE a reporter - on-the-ground wearing out the shoe-leather information gathering, and developing sources and understanding the people involved in the stories, John is a reporter. His specialty is the courts and the trials alongside a true appreciation of the many businesses that sprout and bloom in Old Town.

It's a good thing.