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RECENT AURAL PLEASURE:
I'm back on a regular schedule today, as the verdict was read in the jury trial I was serving on just at closing time yesterday. Before I get to a serious note, when I talk about the bathrooms in the courthouse being awful, it's not because they aren't well maintained. They were clean and operational. It's more that they aren't big enough and adaptions for ADA have made them cramped. In particular, second, lower urinals were added for ADA. Obviously, that's important and wasn't a factor in 1965 when the current building was built. Literally on the floor I was on, two large guys are bumping shoulders while peeing.
Sorry, but it was a point of laughter and awkward moments during my several days there. However, justice was served as men had to wait to pee outside the door as women are too often forced to do. There were several moments of pee-pee dancing after sitting through witness testimony.
I am free to talk about the case now, but I'm not going to go into details in this space. It was a criminal trial of attempted murder with three additional counts and lesser charges were available. There were plenty of fascinating twists which were somewhat made-for-TV, but it was probably just a fact pattern that plays out everyday on our streets, although the defendant and victim had been close friends.
I had no interest in being the jury foreperson and was happy to defer to a couple of my fellow jurors who hadn't served on a jury before. They, however, turned to me. After all was said and done, the other jurors thanked me for the way I managed deliberations--usually speaking last and always voting last in the several rounds on the various counts.
In the end, we were unanimous of guilty on three of the primary counts and on one lesser charge. Of the primary counts, we returned a guilty verdict of attempted murder and it came down to specific intent to kill and self-defense. It brought me right back to John Poulos's first-year class in 1997 at King Hall. I could hear the way he would say murder with a specific tone in his voice and the gravity of the decision we were making. It was not cut-and-dry and actually came down to video evidence that was in the record but not specifically argued that demonstrated clear intent to kill and also refuted self defense (imminency of the threat). Many of us who were looking at attempted voluntary manslaughter switched to attempted murder over three hours of deliberation after reviewing surveilance video from a home across the street, which we must have watched over five times in the jury room, many times frame-by-frame.
It's sad. The defendant broke down as the victim tearfully testified. The victim has a long record and testified in an orange jumpsuit because he is currently doing time.
In the jury room, we at times laughed about the differing stories and the argument by the defendant (who testified) that he was trying only to shoot a gun out of the victim's hand. The victim was driving at a fairly high rate of speed and the defendant shot from the top of the driveway from behind a parked car and would have had to do it through the passenger window across to the driver's side. Rather, the video showed that the shooting began and the windshield was shattered before the car was parallel to the defendant's house.
As stories conflicted among several participants and witnesses, the phrase "everybody lies" from great Hugh Laurie series House, M.D. was recurrently in my head.
It sucks. The defendant has an estranged wife and two young kids. In the end, we rendered a verdict that will likely send him to prison for many years. For those of you who think I'm a total liberal on criminal justice, I'll take it. But without a reasonable doubt, I handed that verdict to the bailiff for the clerk to read.
It still was hard not to tear up watching out of the corner of my eye as the defendant broke down upon hearing the verdict, something my fellow jurors said they felt too when we returned our badges and left the courthouse.
BACK TO WORK with lots of content after the jump...
GAME ON, BOYFRIEND: Today, Assembly will vote to not concur in the Senate amendments to AB 74. That sets the stage for final deliberations by the two-house conference committee. They really aren't that far apart to iron out the differences and capture the majority vote and governor's agreement by the June 15 deadline for the Legislature's passage.
Conference Committee make-up and schedule will formally be decided after the above procedural motion.
BUDGET: PRISON ADDICTION: While I didn't want to be thinking about prisons today, there is a good article by KQED's Ken Goldberg of pushback by the Legislative Analyst's Office and the Assembly to Governor Newsom's ambitious proposal to combat addiction and drug-related deaths in the state's prisons and after prisoner release. The Senate's budget subcommittee accepted the $398 million three-year proposal for all state prisons, while the LAO recommended a three-prison pilot. The Assembly's budget subcommittee landed in between with $64 million for a pilot at seven prisons.
Clark Kelso, the McGeorge Law professor who has been brought in to troubleshoot many state programs in trouble and is currently the federal receiver overseeing the problem's of medical care in California's prison system, supports the governor's proposal. Goldberg writes:
"'We have the highest death rate from overdoses in the country in our prisons,' Kelso told lawmakers. 'It's a problem of sufficient dimension that calls for an immediate response of the size and scope that's being proposed.'"
Newson's proposal is also supported by prison right's activists.
BUDGET: SAFETY NET: Angela Hart writes for Politico that with the state's budgetary coffers and reserves in healthy condition, Democratic lawmakers are looking to push the governor to accept more funding for social safety net programs as negotiations enter the final three weeks. Hart writes:
"Taking advantage of a rosy budget outlook and hefty reserves, Senate lawmakers have advanced budget proposals that include expanding Medi-Cal to undocumented young adults and seniors and restoration of most Medi-Cal benefits that were cut during the recession, including audiology, speech therapy, podiatry and incontinent supplies.
They are also requesting an additional $300 million per year in state subsidies to help people pay for health coverage — on top of the penalty revenue the governor has proposed spending."
DRINKING WATER: For the New York Times, Jose A. Del Real reports on how many people who produce the nation's food in the Central Valley don't have access to clean drinking water. "Today, more than 300 public water systems in California serve unsafe drinking water, according to public compliance data compiled by the California State Water Resources Control Board. It is a slow-motion public health crisis that leaves more than one million Californians exposed to unsafe water each year, according to public health officials."
Meanwhile, Speaker Anthony Rendon has added his name on to the controversial water fee for clean drinking water bill (AB 217) as a principal coauthor, which has been amended. The Speaker generally doesn't put his name on bills.
LOW-SPEED CHOO-CHOO: For CALmatters, Dan Walters writes that President Trump is doing California a favor by pulling further federal support for the high-speed rail project, writing "The bullet train utterly lacks a rational purpose, has been ill-managed from the onset and is a black financial hole. If the Trumpies strangle it, they would be doing California a big favor."
Meanwhile, in the Fresno Bee, Tim Sheehan reports that work on the project continues despite a the project's uncertain ultimate destination.
TAXING MATTERS: Judy Lin for CALmatters looks at a new report backed by the California Chamber of Commerce to support the organization's opposition SB 522 (Hertzberg), which would state the Legislature's intent to enact a sales tax on services. The bill states that the goal is to distribute the state's tax revenue more evenly and that it would partially offset business received from the federal tax cuts.
The bill is a two-year bill that was not sent to committee, as Hertzberg builds support.
VAXX: Senator Dr. Richard Pan's (D-Sacramento) SB 276, which tracks medical exemptions for vaccinations just passed the Senate Floor on a 24-10 vote. I'll recap the vote tomorrow. Senators Allen, Galgiani, Hueso, and Roth did not vote, and all Republicans voted no.
MUNI MATTERS, HEARD ON TEEVEE and #CAKEDAY after the jump...
SACTOWN: The Bee's Tony Bizjack and Theresa Clift write on the wrestling among the Sacramento City Council over where to direct $52 million in revenue from a 1/2-cent sales tax hike approved by the voters last November. Of course everybody wants it. They write:
"The council on Tuesday did respond to pleas from arts groups, preliminarily agreeing to increase funding for the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission from $1.3 million to $2.2 million.
But Mayor Darrell Steinberg and several council members are at odds over a proposal by Steinberg to leverage the funds so that the city can spend more money faster on programs and services rather than wait years for the revenue to flow in.
Steinberg wants to issue bonds in increments annually during the next three to five years, essentially taking out 30-year loans in each of those years, each backed by a chunk of future Measure U revenues. That, he said, could give the city several hundred million dollars in the short-term to invest in social and economic programs beyond basic city services.
'My goal is $40 million per year for economic equity; jobs, housing, and neighborhoods,' Steinberg said Tuesday. 'We should empower the community through our Measure U Community Advisory Committee and investment committees to identify key opportunity priorities for our people and our neighborhoods.'
'Ultimately, the decisions reside with the City Council. This year, there is room for (council) members to prioritize key one-time district priorities on top of the $40 million. This is a good time to give real hope to all our communities.'"
For those interested in the topic, check out the article. There is a debate over the borrowing plan suggested by Steinberg and whether some of the funds will be used for existing employee compensation and pension liabilities--something voters were told would not happen. It would be unfair to the Bee if I quoted more than I already have.
BAGHDAD BY THE BAY: In the Chron, Evan Sernoffsky reports on a press conference by the San Francisco police chief at which he explained why they sought a search warrant for journalist Bryan Carmody's office and home who received a leaked police report into the death of SF public defender Jeff Adachi. Sernoffsky writes:
"Chief Bill Scott 'explained why police believe Carmody participated in a conspiracy: 'We believe that ... an SFPD employee was a part of this. We believe that in order for this to be successfully pulled off, there had to be some contact between the employee and Mr. Carmody ... we believe he was part of the effort to illegally obtain this report.'"
SF district attorney George Gascón had a series of tweets yesterday his disappointment of the SFPD's action, including that they used a single judge instead of going through a special master.
LA-LA LAND: The LAT's Howard Blume reports on former Assembly woman Jackie Goldberg's swearing in following a special election to the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Goldberg jumped right in challenging the district's financial aid to charter schools.
HEARD ON TEEVEE: On Colbert last night referring to the size of Kamala Harris's penis, Howard Stern said "I'm certainly she has a bigger one than me." I think that's a compliment of bravado.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Jessica Duong, Abel Guillén, Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, and Ed Manning!
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