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News Scan

Jury Render's Verdict in Sacramento Homeless Camping Trial: Cynthia Hubert of the AP reports a federal jury in Sacramento issued a mixed verdict yesterday in a class action suit on behalf of homeless people whose possessions were seized and destroyed in city police sweeps. The jury found the city failed to properly notify homeless people of how they could retrieve property removed from the illegal camp sites and implement policies for handling and storing those possessions. At this time it is unclear to what extent this verdict will have on future city policies for responding to homeless campsite complaints, or to what extent the homeless will be compensated for their lost property.   

California Denies First Medical Parole: Don Thompson of the AP reports California parole officials yesterday rejected early release for 42 year-old Corcoran State prison inmate Steven Martinez, a convicted kidnapper and rapist who became quadriplegic after a prison fight. Martinez hoped to be the first prison inmate released under a new law that took affect this year aimed at cutting the number of inmates and cost of care in the nation's largest prison system. However, after a four-hour hearing parole board Commissioner John Peck said, "the 42 year-old inmate would pose an unreasonable threat to public safety, because he has said others could carry out his repeated threats against prison nurses and guards." 

Murder Case Juror's Dismissal Improper: Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle reports the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday overturned the conviction of Tara Williams, convicted of the 1993 murder of a convenience store clerk in Long Beach. The court found that trial Judge Richard Romero had gone too far in trying to end a jury deadlock after two days of deliberation by subjecting the lone holdout juror to an improper and broad ranging judicial inquisition. In a 3-0 ruling the court stated, "the constitutional right to a jury trial includes jurors freedom to deliberation without coercion." This ruling will entitle Williams to a new trial.   

Former Street Preacher Convicted of Kidnapping Elizabeth Smart Set for Sentencing: The AP reports today's sentencing of 57 year-old Brian David Mitchell will end the heartbreaking ordeal that stalled for years after Mitchell was declared mentally ill and unfit to stand trial in state court. Mitchell was convicted of the 2002 kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for the purpose of having illegal sex with then 14 year-old Elizabeth Smart. Smart, now 23, will speak at the sentencing hearing and publicly confront her kidnapper for the first time. Mitchell faces the possibility of a life sentence for each charge. Update:  Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison.   

Jared Loughner Incompetent to Stand Trial:  U.S. District Judge Larry Burns today found suspected mass shooter Jared Loughner incompetent to stand trial, citing two recent court-ordered mental evaluations that claim Loughner cannot assist in his defense due to mental illness. Judge Burns said Loughner has an irrational distrust of his attorneys and delusions that prevent him from considering his legal defenses. Loughner had an outburst during the hearing, reportedly saying "thank you for the freak show," and was forcibly removed by court officers.  Michael Martinez of CNN has this story.

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