Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Page 11



Daily News Won’t Endorse in Judicial Races


The Daily News of Los Angeles has abstained from making endorsements in judicial races this year. An editorial on Sunday explains:

“The editorial page staff has neither the resources nor the expertise to weigh candidates and make endorsements in judicial races.”

To guide readers, it recites the ratings of candidates by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League yesterday lambasted a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision ordering the suppression of cocaine found in an impounded car.

The motorist, Jesus Antonio Ramos Cervantes, was suspected of narcotics trafficking. While under surveillance, police pulled him over based on his failure to bring his vehicle to a complete stop at an intersection. Inasmuch as he was unlicensed, the vehicle was impounded.

Writing for himself and Judge Dorothy Nelson, Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson said in Wednesday’s decision that neither the fact that Cervantes was coming from a known narcotics stash house nor his taking a circuitous route justified a warrantless search of the vehicle.

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Under the “community caretaking exception” to the search warrant requirement, Pregerson said, police may “impound vehicles that jeopardize public safety and the efficient movement of vehicular traffic,” and may inventory the contents. But, he added, quoting from a U.S. Supreme Court decision, “an inventory search must not be a ruse for a general rummaging in order to discover incriminating evidence.”

Siding with the dissenter, Judge Sandra Ikuta, the PPL’s statement says:

“As we’ve written on many occasions, the 9th Circuit Court has a knack for arriving at result-oriented decisions that must later be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s easy to see why that reputation is deserved when you consider this particular case. This case should be yet another decision that the Supreme Court, and an en banc panel of the 9th Circuit, reverses.”

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It goes on to say:

“The twists and turns the majority took to ignore established and straightforward law are admirably laid out in the dissent by Judge Ikuta. She rightfully argued that the majority had unnecessarily complicated a simple issue and had ‘silently overruled our long line of precedents establishing the community caretaking doctrine.’ ”

The statement quotes Ikuta as saying:

“No complex legal analysis is required. The police merely have to determine whether it’s necessary to remove the vehicle from a public location in order to ‘prevent it from (1) creating a hazard to other drivers or (2) being a target for vandalism or theft.’ If the officers determine that either prong of this simple test is met, they may impound the vehicle in furtherance of their community caretaking function.”

The PPL comments:

“A result-oriented decision by two liberal 9th Circuit judges should not be allowed to complicate what are established and straightforward rules. This is not rocket science. It is common sense. We look forward to another court reviewing this decision and upholding the right of the LAPD officers to legally impound and search vehicles under the community caretaking exception to the Fourth Amendment.”

The Senior Lawyers Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Assn. tonight presents a program titled, “Frozen in Time: The McMartin Trial and Its Implications for the Use of Children’s Testimony in Criminal, Civil, and Family Law Trials.”

There will be a look back at the prosecution of owners of, and personnel at, the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, accused of sexual child abuse in the 1980s. No convictions were obtained.

Panelists will include retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Pounders, who presided, and Deputy Los Angeles District Attorney Lael Rubin, a prosecutor in the case.

Others participating in the program will include Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Margaret S. Henry, assistant supervising judge of the Juvenile Court, and Thomas Trent Lewis. Former LACBA President Patricia Phillips will moderate.

The program, which will start at 5:45 p.m., will take place at LACBA’s headquarters, 1055 West 7th Street, 27th Floor. There will be 3.25 units of MCLE credit.

The American Bar Assn. yesterday drew attention to the economic plight of California’s courts, reporting in a press release on remarks in Costa Mesa by the group’s immediate past president.

The press release tells of utterances by Stephen N. Zack of Miami in a commencement address May 12 at Whittier Law School. It says:

“Zack began his speech by encouraging the new generation of lawyers to stand up for justice and advocate for ‘equal justice under law,’ noting that “equal justice does not mean justice for the rich, for the powerful, for the privileged,… it means justice for everyone that lives in this country.”

“During his remarks, Zack discussed the current state court funding crisis—which plagues 42 states across the country —including California. ‘Most states dedicate less than 1 percent of their budget to the entire judicial system…in California you have one of the most difficult situations,’ he said.

“Since 2008, California’s judicial branch has had its budget cut $653 million while caseloads increased. Superior court filings amounted to 10 million for the second consecutive year—a 20 percent increase over the last decade.

“Budget cuts will also force the Los Angeles County court system to close 56, or nearly a tenth, of its courtrooms. What’s more, the budget announced by California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.— unveiled just days after Zack’s remarks to Whittier Law School— proposes another $544 million in cuts to the state’s judicial budget

“‘The courts in the United States are closing down, and as important as our legal profession is, it cannot operate without a functioning court system,’ Zack continued.”


Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company