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. 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 The law can change rapidly and information in this blog can become outdated.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.
The Fresno Bee reports that "a federal judge on Monday upheld Keith Foster’s convictions for conspiring to peddle heroin and marijuana, ending chances that the former deputy chief of the Fresno Police Department will avoid prison."
The tale of how Col. Christopher De Los Santos came to kill himself on Oct. 11, 2015, has largely remained untold until now, with the filing of a lawsuit in federal court in Sacramento this month and UC Davis’ subsequent agreement to release internal documents about the matter to The Sacramento Bee. The internal documents largely confirm details contained in the lawsuit, but redact the names of the participants.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of De Los Santos’ widow and children, blames the university for driving him to suicide. It claims he was notified by email on a Sunday morning – as he drove to church with his family – that he was being suspended after co-workers accused him of sexual harassment. The suit claims UC Davis discriminated against De Los Santos because he was a veteran, alleging that he was suspended and told to stay away from campus because officials were concerned he would “show up with a gun.”
UC Davis issued a statement expressing sympathy for the De Los Santos family but adding that it did nothing wrong in handling the sexual harassment claims that were filed against him in the wake of the retreat.
More than eight years ago, homeless men and women set up tents and bedrolls in an empty lot near downtown Sacramento to challenge the city’s ordinance against camping outdoors for more than a day at a time.
On Monday, their legal saga finally began to play out in court. Homeless people are plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit against the city of Sacramento, arguing that the camping ordinance is selectively enforced against men and women who have nowhere but the outdoors to sleep. The city’s behavior toward homeless people, they argue, violates the constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.
Civil rights attorney Mark Merin said his long-gestating legal challenge, Allen v. City of Sacramento, is tentatively scheduled to go before a jury on October 23.
The civil lawsuit originated in late 2009, after Merin allowed nearly two dozen homeless people to take up residence on a vacant piece of property he owned in a light-industrial area of the city, according to appellate court documents and a phone interview with Merin. Merin gave them his written permission, brought in portable latrines and two service providers to offer care within the confines of the fenced lot. The deal was that Merin’s 22 guests could stay until they qualified for shelter.
Police officers enforcing the city’s ban on urban camping rousted the camp’s occupants with citations and the confiscation of their gear, which included tents and bed rolls. The campers returned, only to be cited again. The third time they came back, they were arrested.
Merin filed the lawsuit on behalf of his homeless guests, one of whom the suit was named for—Matthew Raymond Allen. Allen v. City of Sacramento alleged the city violated the homeless plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to sleep and due process.
A dog embroiled in a federal civil rights lawsuit got a kind of stay of execution this week when the city of Visalia – which views Armani the pit bull as dangerous – promised not to put him to death until a hearing next month before a federal judge in Fresno.
Kimberly Renee Stokes of Visalia filed her civil rights lawsuit Monday and asked federal Judge Dale Drozd on Tuesday to save Armani’s life by issuing a temporary restraining order against the city of Visalia. At the last minute, the city agreed to keep Armani alive for now.
Stokes’ lawyer, Marla Tauscher, breathed a sign of relief because city officials had planned to kill Armani on Tuesday. Now, the dog has a reprieve until Nov. 21 when Taucher will try to convince Drozd that Armani is worth saving.
The California Medical Board has accused a doctor who provided care at the Fresno County Jail with repeated negligent acts, including denying a wheelchair to an inmate who could not walk.
The medical board investigation found Dr. Michelle A. Thomas negligent in the care of five patients she saw at the jail in 2014 and 2015. If the accusations are upheld, the board could reprimand Thomas, place her on probation or revoke her medical license.