John Balazs is an attorney in Sacramento, California, specializing in criminal defense, including appeals, habeas corpus, pardons, expungements, and civil forfeiture actions. After graduating from UCLA Law School in 1989, he clerked for Judge Harry Pregerson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. John was an Assistant Federal Defender in Fresno and Sacramento from 1992-2001. He currently serves as an adjunct professor in clinical trial advocacy at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Please email EDCA items of interest to Balazslaw@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @balazslaw.
This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. The law can change rapidly and information in this blog can become outdated. Do your own research or consult with an attorney.
Here is the Ninth Circuit en banc opinion in Nettles v. Grounds, No. 12-16935, which will be up on the Court's website later today. It's a wonky, habeas jurisdiction case with broad implications. A tough 6-5 loss for me. Cert petition to follow.
High-profile attorney Richard Berman has settled his federal civil-rights lawsuit against the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office for $250,000 in a case that he says solidifies a person’s right to question authority.
“They push people around all the time,” Berman said Tuesday. “Finally, someone stood up to them.”
In his lawsuit, Berman contended that a female sheriff’s deputy roughed him up in the lobby of the downtown Fresno criminal courthouse in March 2012, arrested him and publicly humiliated him in a dispute over a child’s plastic toy.
Cellphone video showing Fresno police officers shooting an unarmed 19-year-old man lying on the ground at a gas station has sparked protests and prompted the FBI to launch an investigation.
The shooting, which occurred last month but generated debate this week after the video was made public, is the latest in a series of police use-of-force incidents caught on tape.
The video shows Dylan Noble lying on the ground on June 25 as two officers with their guns drawn stand feet away from him. As officers yell “Keep your hands up” and other commands, one shot is fired. Seconds later, a third officer approaches the pair, and another shot rings out. At one point during the video, Noble can be seen raising his arm and saying, “I’ve been shot.”
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The witness video does not show the moments just before the fatal shooting. Two shots already had been fired at Noble before the recording began.
Police Chief Jerry Dyer told The Times on Thursday that Noble twice raised his shirt with his left hand and used his right hand to reach under his shirt into his waistband. The officers, he said, feared for their lives.
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The FBI and the U.S. attorney general’s office have agreed to investigate the shooting and will have access to all evidence, Dyer said. The chief said he didn’t want the public to think the police department isn’t “fair and objective” in its handling of the investigation and that FBI oversight would provide more transparency.
At the scheduled sentencing hearing this morning before Judge Mendez, defendant Lawrence "Lee" Loomis requested to proceed pro se and withdraw his guilty plea. After an in-camera hearing, the Court granted Loomis pro se status and set a schedule for briefing his motion to withdraw his plea. A hearing on the motion was set for October 4, 2016. Sentencing has been stayed. My prior case posts here. [Added 7/13/16: Sacramento Bee].
A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit challenging a multimillion-dollar farm labor deal struck by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature last year, rejecting a claim by two Fresno County growers that they were illegally carved out of the accord.
The order, filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, marked a victory for legislation offering California farmers protection from lawsuits in exchange for back payments to thousands of employees for rest periods and other work.
In a failed effort to protect endangered fish, the federal government decided without proper study to default to restricting the giant pumps at the bottom of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
So argues a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento by a powerful consortium of water agencies. They’re hoping for a larger share of Delta water. It’s the latest salvo in a political and legal dispute over how to manage the competing demands on the fragile estuary.
Friday’s suit, filed by the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, alleges that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation failed to seek alternatives other than cutting water supplies to people when it adopted its operations plans for the massive Central Valley Project in 2008 and 2009.
The case against a former Stanislaus County official accused of sending death threats to herself has been delayed again, partly because 67-year-old defendant Karen Mathews Davis is having “significant and continuing health issues,” a court paper says.
The problems “have made it more difficult for defendant to participate in and assist defense counsel,” says a paper prompting a delay from Friday to Sept. 2 in Sacramento’s federal court.
This AP story focuses on the Department of Justice's policy of using indentured servants, aka volunteers, as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys to prosecute misdemeanor cases and otherwise assist local U.S. Attorney Offices. The piece notes that some have criticized its lawfulness and the program may hinder diversity by appealing to only those who can afford to work a year for free. Though as the story points out, it worked out well for Sacramento AUSA Justin Lee, who was awarded a paid AUSA slot after his volunteer stint ended.
A Sacramento company that prepares and distributes tofu will cease operations following a federal court injunction.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Wa Heng Dou-Fu & Soy Sauce Corp. and the firm’s owners, Peng Xiang “Martin” Lin and Yuexiao “Opal” Lin to prevent the distribution of adulterated and misbranded soy products, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.
The department filed a complaint June 17 at the request of the Food and Drug Administration. The defendants were accused of violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by “causing food that is held for sale after shipment of one or more of its components in interstate commerce to become adulterated and misbranded,” according to a news release. The complaint alleged that the defendants have an extensive history of operating their food manufacturing facilities under unsanitary conditions, failing to follow current good manufacturing practice requirements and misbranding their food products.
A former Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in prison for illegally selling firearms, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
The deputy, Ryan McGowan, 34, of Elk Grove was also fined $7,000 for conspiring to make a false statement on a firearms record, Talbert said in a news release.
McGowan used his position to buy “off-roster” firearms, which are weapons not on the approved list for sale to the public. Off-roster firearms have not been certified by the Department of Justice or passed firing, safety and drop tests. Peace officers can buy off-roster firearms if they are brokered by a federal firearms licensee, but cannot use the private sales for profit.
The former deputy purchased 41 handguns and sold 25 between 2008 and 2011. Mcgowan purchased 33 of the guns from Snellings Firearms, according to the Department of Justice. He returned some of the weapons to Robert Snellings, the company’s owner, allowing Snellings to keep or sell unapproved weapons to the public, the DOJ news release said.