Archive for the ‘CA Attorney General & DOJ’ Category

Short of signatures for fall, organizers target California’s 2026 ballot for initiative on students’ transgender issues

Thursday, May 30th, 2024
Conservative groups and LGBTQ+ rights supporters protest outside the Glendale Unified School District offices in Glendale, Calif., Tuesday, June 6, 2023. Several hundred people gathered in the parking lot of the district headquarters, split between those who support or oppose teaching about exposing youngsters to LGBTQ+ issues in schools. (Keith Birmingham/The Orange County Register via AP)

Protect Kids California’s effort would require schools to tell parents if their child signals gender changes, prevent biological males in girls’ sports and ban sterilization of children

Claim Attorney General’s ballot title and language change hurt signature gathering effort, lawsuit filed

“Our message is simple. Schools shouldn’t keep secrets from parents” – Protect Kids CA

By Allen D. Payton

California activists seeking to empower parents over their children’s decisions to identify as transgender failed to place a trifecta of restrictions on the November ballot known by the organizers as the Protect Kids of California Act of 2024. Attorney General Rob Bonta changed the ballot title to Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth. Initiative Statute and he changed the ballot language, as well which hampered the signature gathering efforts organizers claim.

According to Students First: Protect Kids California, the initiative will: (1) repeal the California law that permits students to compete in female’s sports and students to be in females’ locker rooms and bathrooms; (2) prohibit schools from deceiving parents about their student’s gender identity crisis and stop them from secretly transitioning a child; and (3) stop sex change operations and chemical castrations on minors.

The organization started late last fall to consolidate their three separate initiatives into one, and its signature-gathering efforts supported by 400,000 voters fell short of the 546,651 verifiable signatures that had to be collected within six months to make the presidential election ballot. The goal was to collect 800,000 signatures to be safe.

Organizers posted their complaint about Bonta’s ballot language changes on the group’s Facebook page on April 2. Initiative committee Executive Team member Nicole C Pearson wrote, “Every Californian, regardless of whether they agree with the initiative, should be concerned about an attorney general who ignores the law and uses his power to sabotage ballot initiatives. We plan to hold Bonta accountable for allowing his political agenda to get in the way of doing his job.”

The post included a link to an opinion on the Orange County Register website  decrying the changes which reads, “As required by California law, proponents submitted the measure to Bonta to receive a neutral official title and summary to use in petitions. Bonta then returned the measure with a new title with a negative and misleading slant: the “Restricts Rights of Transgender Youth Initiative.” And he gave it a summary that was not only completely prejudicial and designed to mislead the electorate — it also contained lies.”

Then on Tuesday, May 28 the group issued a press release announcing the setback in a post on their Facebook page which reads, “We want to thank our tens of thousands of supporters and volunteers for this truly historic effort!Together, we collected over 400,000 signatures – an unprecedented achievement for a 100% grassroots effort. You really are amazing! While it is unfortunate we did not have enough signatures to make the 2024 ballot, we will build off this momentum to continue to fight for the principles set forth in the Protect Kids of California Act.”

The press release reads, “Protect Kids California announced on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, they collected an impressive 400,000 signatures for their proposed ballot measure but fell short of the 546,651 required to be collected within a 180-day timeframe to appear on the ballot.

Tens of thousands of volunteers gathered signatures from every county in California. The largest collection areas were Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Clara and Alameda Counties.

A completely grassroots effort, Protect Kids California raised close to $200,000 from over 1,200 donors. This equates to less than 50 cents per signature, a fraction of the amount standard ballot measure committees spend.

“While we are disappointed we didn’t meet the threshold to qualify for the ballot, we are encouraged by the amount of support from every sector of the state. We gathered more signatures for a statewide initiative than any all-volunteer effort in the history of California.” “We had severe headwinds from the beginning. California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a false and misleading Title & Summary for our initiative. That made our fundraising efforts more difficult. While we sued the Attorney General, a Superior Court Judge denied our motion in April. We plan to appeal the Superior Court Judge’s decision, at which time we will decide how to proceed in the future. If we had a little more time or a little more money, we would have easily qualified for the ballot.”

But battles over transgender issues will continue to burn bright in courts, school districts and the Legislature. Despite a setback, initiative organizers were buoyed by the 400,000 signatures that thousands of volunteers collected. They are confident that they will attract more donations and enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot two years from now — and find more support than leaders in heavily Democratic California assume exists.  

“We’re very confident that voters would pass this if it gets to the ballot box,” said Jonathan Zachreson, a Roseville City school board member, co-founder of Protect Kids California and an official proponent of the initiative. “We gathered more signatures for a statewide initiative than any all-volunteer effort in the history of California.”

“We started around the holidays which didn’t help,” he added. “It was an all-volunteer effort. It usually takes about $7 million to get something on the ballot. We raised just under $200,000 which covered our costs. But we didn’t have money to pay signature-gatherers. We had around 25,000 to 30,000 volunteers. Our efforts really took off in the past two months. In the past few weeks, we were collecting so many signatures it was hard to keep up.”

The organizers proposed language for the three-pronged initiative read:

  • REQUIRES schools to notify parents regarding children’s mental health concerns identified in school settings, including gender identification issues.
  • PROTECTS girls’ competitive sports and school spaces to be for biological girls only.
  • PREVENTS the sterilization of children by prohibiting the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, mastectomies and genital surgeries for minors

But Bonta’s ballot language for the initiative was changed to read instead:

  • Requires public and private schools and colleges to: restrict gender-segregated facilities like bathrooms to persons assigned that gender at birth; prohibit transgender female students (grades 7+) from participating in female sports. Repeals law allowing students to participate in activities and use facilities consistent with their gender identity.
  • Requires schools to notify parents whenever a student under 18 asks to be treated as a gender differing from school records without exception for student safety.
  • Prohibits gender-affirming health care for transgender patients under 18, even if parents consent or treatment is medically recommended.

The second issue has sparked a firestorm within the past year.

Last week, a Democratic legislator introduced a late-session bill that would preempt mandatory parental notification. Assembly Bill 1915, by Assemblymember Chris Ward, D-San Diego, would prohibit school districts from adopting a mandatory parental notification policy and bar them from punishing teachers who defy outing policies of LGBTQ+ students.

Last year, Assemblymember Bill Essayli, R-Corona, introduced a bill that would require parental notification, but AB 1314 died in the Assembly Education Committee without getting a hearing. Committee Chair Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, reasoned the bill would “potentially provide a forum for increasingly hateful rhetoric targeting LGBTQ youth.”

Ward cited surveys of transgender and gender nonconforming youths that found most felt unsafe or unsupported at home. In one national survey, 10% reported someone at home had been violent toward them because they were transgender, and 15% had run away or were kicked out of home because they were transgender.

The California Department of Education has issued guidance that warns that parental notification policies would violate students’ privacy rights and cites a California School Boards Association model policy that urges districts to protect students’ gender preferences.

But Zachreson argues that even if children have a right to gender privacy that excludes their parents, which he denies exists, students waive it through their actions.  “At school, their teachers know about it, their peers and volunteers know about it, other kids’ parents know about it —  and yet the child’s own parent doesn’t know that the school is actively participating in the social transition,” he said.

In some instances, he said, schools are actively taking steps to keep name changes and other forms of gender expression secret from the parents.

“What we’re saying is, no, you can’t do that. You have to involve the parents in those decisions,” he said.

Ward responds that many teachers don’t want to be coerced to interfere with students’ privacy and gender preferences. “Teachers have a job to do,” he said. “They are not the gender police.”

A half-dozen school districts with conservative boards, including Rocklin, Temecula Valley and Chino Valley, have adopted mandatory parental notification policies. Last fall, California Attorney General Rob Bonta sued Chino Valley, arguing its policy is discriminatory. A state Superior Court judge in San Bernardino agreed that it violated the federal equal protection clause and granted a preliminary injunction. The case is on appeal.

Last July, U.S. District Court judge for Eastern California threw out a parent’s lawsuit against Chico Unified for its policy prohibiting disclosure of a student’s transgender status to their parent without the student’s explicit consent. The court ruled that it was appropriate for the district to allow students to disclose their gender identity to their parents “on their own terms.” Bonta and attorney generals from 15 states filed briefs supporting Chico Unified; the case, too, is on appeal.

While some teachers vow to sue if required to out transgender students to their parents, a federal judge in Southern California sided with two teachers who sued Escondido Union School District for violating their religious beliefs by requiring them to withhold information to parents about the gender transition of children. The judge issued a preliminary injunction against the district and then ordered the return of the suspended teachers to the classroom.

No California appellate court has issued a ruling on parent notification, and it will probably take the U.S. Supreme Court for a definitive decision. Essayli pledged to take a case there.

The National Picture

Seven states, all in the deeply red Midwest and South, have laws requiring identification of transgender students to their parents, while five, including Florida and Arizona, don’t require it but encourage districts to adopt ther own version., according to the Movement Advancement Project or MAP, an independent nonprofit.

Two dozen states, including Florida, Texas, and many Southern and Midwest states ban best-practice health care, medication and surgical care for transgender youth, and six states, including Florida, make it a felony to provide surgical care for transgender care. Proponents cite the decision in March by the English public health system to prohibit youths under 16 from beginning a medical gender transition to bolster the case for tighter restrictions in the United States.  

California has taken the opposite position; it is one of 15 like-minded states and the District of Columbia with shield laws to protect access to transgender health care. They include New York, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Massachusetts.

Twenty-five states have laws or regulations banning the participation of 13- to 17-year-old transgender youth in participating in sports consistent with their gender identification.

Not one solidly blue state is among those that have adopted the restrictions that Protect Kids California is calling for. But Zachreson and co-founder Erin Friday insist that contrary to the strong opposition in the Legislature, California voters would be open to their proposals. They point to favorable results in a survey of 1,000 California likely voters by the Republican-leaning, conservative pollster Spry Strategies last November.

  • 59% said they would support and 29% would oppose legislation that “restricts people who are biologically male, but who now identify as women, from playing on girl’s sports teams and from sharing facilities that have traditionally been reserved for women.”
  • 72% said they agreed, and 21% disagreed that “parents should be notified if their child identifies as transgender in school.”
  • 21% said they agreed, and 64% disagreed that “children who say they identify as transgender should be allowed to undergo surgeries to try to change them to the opposite sex or take off-label medications and hormones.”

The voters surveyed were geographically representative and reflective of party affiliation, but not demographically, The respondents were mostly white and over 60, and, in a progressive state, were divided roughly evenly among conservatives, moderates and liberals.

Two Versions of Protecting Children

Both sides in this divisive cultural issue say they’re motivated to protect children. One side says it’s protecting transgender children to live as they are, without bias and prejudice that contribute to despair and suicidal thoughts. The other side says it’s protecting kids from coercion to explore who they aren’t, from gender confusion, and exposure to values at odds with their family’s.

Zachreson and Friday wanted to title their initiative “Protect Kids of California Act of 2024.” But Bonta, whose office reviews initiatives’ titles and summaries, chose instead “Restrict Rights of Transgender Youth. Initiative Statute.” Zachreson and Friday, an attorney, appealed the decision, but a Superior Court Judge in Sacramento upheld Bonta’s wording, which he said was accurate, not misleading or prejudicial.

“The ballot title was obviously biased and the summary was intentionally meant to deceive voters and hampered our efforts to get this on the ballot this year,” Zachreson continued. “The statutory requirement is to be impartial and factual. He did the opposite. He was biased and he had descriptions that were false. Bonta claimed there were no exceptions for student safety when notifying parents. But that’s not correct. It’s already in the law.”

Zachreson is appealing again. A more objective title and summary would make a huge difference, he said, by attracting financial backing to hire signature collectors and the support and resources of the California Republican Party, which declined to endorse the initiative. That was a strategic mistake in an election year when turnout will be critical.

“The people who support the initiative are passionate about it,” he said.

The organizers may have to start over but a lawsuit about the biased title and summary was filed asking for a change in the language, to use the signatures already gathered and to grant an extension.

“The appeal won’t be heard until after the November election,” Zachreson shared.

Effort for November 2026 Ballot Continues

If a judge rules in their favor it will make it easier for the group to complete the signature gathering to qualify for the next General Election ballot which will be in November 2026.

Political observer Dan Schnur, who teaches political communications at USC, UC Berkeley and Pepperdine University, agreed that the gender debate could have motivated Republicans and swing voters to go to the polls. 

“There’s no question that the Attorney General’s ballot language had a devastating effect on the initiative’s supporters and it could have almost as much of an impact on Republican congressional candidates this fall,” he said.

“Our message is simple. Schools shouldn’t keep secrets from parents; we should protect girls’ sports and private spaces at school; and we should protect kids from unproven, life-altering and often sterilizing medical procedures. We vow to continue fighting for these principles,” the group’s May 28th press release concluded.

To learn more about Protect Kids California, visit

John Fensterwald who writes about education policy and its impact in California for contributed to this report.

CA Department of Justice clears Antioch Police of criminal charges in 2021 officer-involved shooting death

Friday, May 24th, 2024
Cover of CA DOJ Policy and Practice Recommendations for APD and Figure 1. photograph from Brentwood Police Department drone footage showing Guadalupe Zavala taking aim and shooting at a police drone. Source: CA DOJ

Guadalupe Zavala caused 6-hour stand-off ending in his death while unarmed

CA DOJ “commends APD” for manner in which they handled situation

Son later sued City of Antioch

CA Attorney General issues “policy and practices recommendations”

By California Department of Justice

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, pursuant to Assembly Bill 1506 (AB 1506), today, Friday, May 24, 2024, released a report on Guadalupe Zavala’s death from an officer-involved shooting involving the Antioch Police Department in Antioch, California on December 10, 2021. The report is part of the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) ongoing efforts to provide transparency and accountability in law enforcement practices. The report provides a detailed analysis of the incident and outlines DOJ’s findings. After a thorough investigation, DOJ concluded that criminal charges were not appropriate in this case. However, DOJ recognizes the important lessons to be learned from this incident. As required by AB 1506, the Attorney General has issued specific policy and practice recommendations related to the incident. 

Figure 2: Distance between Mr. Zavala’s house and the location where Officer Duggar and Sergeant Chang were when they fired their shots. Figure 6: This image shows that the distance between Officer Rombough and Detective McDonald (both positioned on the Antioch armored vehicle) and were about 103 feet from Mr. Zavala when they fired. Source: CA DOJ

“Loss of life is always a tragedy,” said Attorney General Bonta. “AB 1506 is a critical transparency and accountability tool, and our hope for this report is to provide some understanding and aid in advancing towards a safer California for all. The California Department of Justice remains steadfast in our commitment to working together with all law enforcement partners to ensure an unbiased, transparent, and accountable legal system for every resident of California.”

Figure 11: Bullet holes photographed in residence neighboring Mr. Zavala’s home where neighbors reported shots fired by Mr. Zavala. Figures 11A&B: Bullets holes in neighbor’s vehicles outside Mr. Zavala’s residence. Source: CA DOJ

On December 10, 2021, Antioch Police Department responded to multiple calls regarding a man who was barricaded in his home with a rifle after shooting at neighboring homes and vehicles. A standoff lasting more than six hours ensued, during which Mr. Zavala fired multiple rounds from various locations towards law enforcement personnel, vehicles, and nearby residences. De-escalation measures, communications from the crisis negotiations team, and attempts to coerce Mr. Zavala from his residence were unsuccessful. At one point, Mr. Zavala exited his front door carrying what appeared to be a “full AR-15 style rifle.” Two snipers with the Antioch Police Department each fired one round hitting Mr. Zavala, causing him to fall back. However, because Mr. Zavala was wearing body armor, he was able to regain his footing and moved back inside the residence. Later, a fire started in Mr. Zavala’s home, and he ran out and took cover in his backyard. When law enforcement knocked down the fence of Mr. Zavala’s yard with an armored vehicle, Mr. Zavala ran towards the armored vehicle and was fatally shot.

Zavala’s son, Diego Zavala, joined in a 2023 federal lawsuit against the City of Antioch and six Antioch Police officers. (See related articles here, here and here)

Figure 25: Still frame from armored vehicle video of Mr. Zavala getting up halfway after the first round of shots were fired by officers. Figure 4: Mr. Zavala lying prone outside the North side of his home, under a barbecue, with what the helicopter reported to possibly be a handgun in his hands (circled). Figure 9: Cellphone image from Mr. Zavala’s phone from the day of the incident. Source: CA DOJ

Under AB 1506, which requires DOJ to investigate all incidents of officer-involved shootings resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian in the state. DOJ conducted a thorough investigation into this incident and concluded that the evidence does not show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officers involved did not act in lawful self-defense or defense of others. Therefore, there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution of the officers. As such, no further action will be taken in this case.

Figure 19. Assault rifle found in the hallway of a bedroom in Mr. Zavala’s residence. Figure 21. Ballistic vest recovered from the backyard. Figure 23: A box of unfired .40 caliber S&W ammunition found in the safe of the master bedroom of Mr. Zavala’s residence. Source: DOJ

CA DOJ “Commends APD” for How They Handled Situation

In addition, the report shows the California DOJ Police Practices Section conducted a supplemental review of the information and “PPS commends APD for the manner in which they handled this volatile, dangerous situation, coordinating with neighboring agencies, exploring less-lethal options, and rapidly deploying the SWAT and CNT teams to the incident to attempt to achieve a peaceful surrender.”

Source: CA DOJ

CA DOJ Recommendations

As part of its investigation, DOJ has identified several policy recommendations that it believes will help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. These recommendations include:


Antioch Police Department should ensure that officers are equipped with effective communications devices that can operate in the hilly areas covered by their department. Antioch Police Department can seek additional coverage or upgrades through their department-issued cell phone or radio carriers or, if that is impracticable or not feasible, examine whether there are other cell phone carriers or radio channels that would work in all areas they serve. 


Antioch Police Department should ensure that their officers can effectively and efficiently communicate with officers from other agencies in future incidents by setting up regional radio channel systems for interagency communication.

See CA DOJ Antioch Police Policy and Practice Recommendations.

Emails were sent early Friday afternoon to Acting Antioch Police Chief Brian Addington, Antioch Police Officers Association leaders and their attorney, Mike Rains for comment on the report, as well as City Attorney Thomas L. Smith, Addington and Rains with questions regarding the 2023 lawsuit that included Zavala’s son. The efforts were unsuccessful prior to publication time.

UPDATE: Rains responded early Friday evening saying, “That was good news from the DOJ. I think the findings were appropriate. The DOJ does a very good job, in my opinion, in these 1506 cases analyzing the facts and clearing the officers of any wrongdoing. I also see the PPS commends the department for de-escalation.”

About the lawsuit he said, “I don’t know on the civil side if the lawsuit is settled or not,” as Rains’ firm does not represent former officer Eric Rombough.

“We represented the officers in the 1506 case, including Duggar and Chang, who were the two primary officers who fired their weapons and were part of the DOJ investigation,” Rains added.

A copy of the complete CA Attorney General’s report can be found here.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

CA Attorney General issues Race-Blind Charging Guidelines for prosecutors

Thursday, January 4th, 2024

Two-step process redacts identifying information as required by new state law

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta released Race-Blind Charging Guidelines that address the specific statutory requirements listed in Assembly Bill 2778 (D-McCarty) and Penal Code Section 741, as well as provide prosecutors practical guidance as to how to implement the requirements. The guidelines outline a new two-step process for evaluating charging, including how to redact identifying information, how to document charging decisions, when a crime is excluded from this process, and the requirements to collect and make available for research anonymous data. The guidelines are intended to help reduce the potential for unconscious bias to influence the initial charging decision in legal cases, in accordance with the spirit, law, and goals of PC 741.

“Unconscious bias has no place in the criminal justice system and should not play a role in charging,” Bonta said. “Unfortunately, we know the criminal justice system is not infallible and charging decisions are vulnerable to unconscious bias. This is a reality we cannot ignore and must work to correct. These guidelines will help prosecutors perform their duties in accordance with California law and most importantly, help promote a more fair and equitable charging process for all individuals.”

Studies have shown that unconscious bias may infect decisions within the criminal justice system, despite the best intentions of the parties involved. The guidelines will assist all California prosecution agencies in implementing this new process by January 1, 2025. It includes nine critical components to reduce unconscious bias:

  1. Redaction of Cases Received from Law Enforcement Agencies and Suspects Criminal History Documentation: Prosecution agencies are required to review initial charging decisions based on information, including police reports and suspect criminal history documentation, from which all direct means of identifying the race of suspect(s), victim(s), and witness(es) race is removed.
  2. Race-Blind Initial Charging: Prosecution agencies are required to follow a two-step process for charging cases: a “race-blind initial charging evaluation” based on redacted reports and then an “ordinary charging evaluation” based on the unredacted reports and all available evidence. The initial charge evaluation is intended to perform a gate-keeping and recording function prior to the actual charging process. It contemplates an initial evaluation on whether to file any charges, without specifying what charges might be filed. The more thorough second review will be used to determine individual charges or decide charges with certainty. 
  3. Redaction Process for Initial Charging Evaluation: Each prosecution agency must create a redaction process for the materials used in the initial charging evaluation. It must be performed by personnel not association with evaluating or charging the case and may either be done manually or through automation as long as the process ensures correct redaction.
  4. Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Tools for Redaction: If an AI system is used, it must be validated before implementation that appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information.
  5. Second Review for Charging: After completion of the race-blind initial charging evaluations, the case shall proceed to a second, complete review for charging. This would include a review of unredacted reports and all available evidence, which may include additional materials, such as video footage, photographs, and complete witness statements, that reveals race but must be reviewed to assess whether the requisite elements have been met to warrant the filing of criminal charges. This is the “ordinary charging evaluation” and must be performed by the same prosecutors who performed the initial charging review.
  6. Documentation of Charging Decision: Prosecution agencies are required to follow a two-step process for charging cases: a “race-blind initial charging evaluation” based on redacted reports and then an “ordinary charging evaluation” based on the unredacted reports and all available evidence. The initial charge evaluation is intended to perform a gate-keeping and recording function prior to the actual charging process. It contemplates an initial evaluation on whether to file any charges, without specifying what charges might be filled. The more thorough second review will be used to determine individual charges or decide charges with certainty. 
  7. Inability to Conduct Race-Blind Initial Charging Evaluation: If a prosecution agency was unable to put a case through a race-blind initial charging evaluation, the reason for that inability must be documented and retained by the agency.
  8. Collection of Data and Availability for Research Purposes: Each county in which a prosecution agency resides must, on a usual basis, collect the data resulting from the race-blind initial charging evaluation process, except as such information is protected by privilege including, but not limited to, that found in Penal Code section 1054.6. Each county must ensure that the data is collected, stored, and transmitted in a way appropriate to protect sensitive information.
  9. Exception to the Race-Blind Process: The prosecution agency may exclude the crimes listed at the Penal Code section 741, subdivision (c) from the race-blind charging process. Each prosecution agency may further remove or exclude certain classes of crimes or factual circumstances from a race-blind initial charging evaluation and shall keep a list of the exclusion and their reason for review.

Attorney General Bonta, is committed to fighting for racial justice. In May of 2021 he established the Racial Justice Bureau which, among other things, supports the California Department of Justice’s broader mandate to advance the civil rights of all Californians by assisting with new and ongoing efforts to combat hate and bias. This year, the Attorney General has also engaged with local leaders through roundtables through hate crime roundtables in BakersfieldFresnoAnaheim and Irvine.  

More broadly, the Attorney General is deeply committed to responding to the needs of historically marginalized and underrepresented communities and, last year, also launched the Office of Community Awareness, Response, and Engagement to work directly with community organizations and members of the public as part of the effort to advance justice for all Californians.

A copy of the Guidelines can be found here.

CA Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board releases report on 2022 Police Stop Data

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2024
Photo: Policing Project

560 law enforcement agencies made 4,575,725 stops

Black individuals were searched at a rate 1.66 times the rate of White individuals

By California Attorney General’s Office

The California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board (Board) today, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, announced the release of its annual report on police stops across California. The report analyzes millions of vehicle and pedestrian stops conducted in 2022 by 560 law enforcement agencies in California — a major expansion from the 58 participating agencies in the previous report — under the Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA). In addition to providing an in-depth look into policing in 2022, the Board’s report contains a wide array of best practice recommendations related to policing, with a particular focus on the impact of pretext stops, law enforcement interactions with youth, civilian complaint processes, police union effects on law enforcement accountability, and trainings on racial and identity profiling. Overall, the findings from the latest RIPA report are consistent with the disparities observed in prior years’ data with respect to perceived race, age, and disability status.

Acting Police Chief Joe Vigil said the Antioch Police Department participated in providing data for the report.

“California is leading the nation in identifying and addressing racial and identity profiling,” said Andrea Guerrero, Co-Chair of the RIPA Board and Executive Director of Alliance San Diego. “This report marks a major milestone as the first to include stop data from law enforcement agencies across the entire state. The scale of data that California is collecting allows us to say definitively that profiling exists — it is a pervasive pattern across the state. We must now turn to the hard work of ending profiling by bringing all the stakeholders to the table to ascertain and change the policies and the practices that enable it. I’m proud to work alongside community and law enforcement leaders on the RIPA Board who are having the tough conversations needed to bring about change. Public safety depends on all of us, and we invite all stakeholders to join the RIPA Board on our path to progress.”

“The annual collection of the RIPA stop data is making California communities safer by directing thoughtful and reflective reform,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Over the last several years, we’ve collected and analyzed information on more than 16 million police encounters in our state. In turn, with the support of our staff at the California Department of Justice, the RIPA Board has continued to issue key recommendations for our law enforcement agencies to promote transparency and take critical steps to enhance, and in some cases, repair the public trust.”

The information collected under RIPA includes data on peace officers’ perceptions of the demographics of stopped individuals, such as race or ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and disability. The Board collects this information to determine whether disparities can be found across demographic groups. The Board uses several well-established methodologies to analyze stop data to determine if bias may exist. 

Some of the key findings from the Board’s report include:

  • Number of Stops: A total of 4,575,725 stops were conducted by 560 agencies from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022.
  • Population Comparison: Overall, the disparity between the proportion of stops and the proportion of residential population was greatest for Black individuals, who were stopped 131.5 % more frequently than expected.
  • Search Rates: Black individuals were searched at a rate 1.66 times the rate of White individuals. Although stopped individuals perceived to be Black or Hispanic/Latino were searched at a higher rate relative to individuals perceived to be White, officers discovered contraband or evidence during stops in which they conducted searches at a lower rate for individuals perceived to be Black or Hispanic/Latino.
  • Actions Taken: Officers reported not taking any reportable action during 75% of stops and taking actions during 25% of stops. Of all the racial or ethnic groups, stopped individuals whom officers perceived to be Native American had the highest rate of being searched (22.4%) and handcuffed (17.8%). Stopped individuals whom officers perceived to be Black had the highest rate of being detained curbside or in a patrol car (20.2%) and ordered to exit a vehicle (7.1%). Individuals perceived to be transgender men/boys also had actions taken towards them during half of their stops (50.0%).

In addition to the data analysis, the Board issues best practice recommendations that law enforcement agencies, the Legislature, local policymakers, the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), community members, and advocates should consider when implementing evidence-based and data-driven policy reforms geared to eliminate racial and identity profiling and improve law enforcement and community relations. Examples of the Board’s recommendations from the report include:

  • Ending all pretextual stops and searches by taking actions such as ending consent or supervision searches as well as limiting law enforcement roll in the enforcement of traffic laws; 
  • Prohibiting the collection of field interview cards and entries into CalGang or any agency database in absence of an arrest;
  • Adopting internal policies that prohibit law enforcement agencies and district attorneys from pursuing criminal charges for standalone resisting arrest without other citable offenses;
  • Prioritizing a care-first model, reducing unnecessary criminal justice intervention or law enforcement response in favor of a community-based response for youth with disabilities and youth experiencing mental health crises;
  • Considerations related to the efficacy of school police and law enforcement contacts, such as identifying specific student conduct or statutory violations that require disciplinary action that should be handled by school staff, and for which law enforcement officers should not be involved;
  • Calling for further research on how Police Officer Bills of Rights and provisions or agreements with unions affect police accountability; 
  • Amending Penal Code section 832.5 to include a standardized definition of “civilian complaint”;
  • Reviewing all available video footage and incorporating root cause analysis into complaint investigations; and
  • Seeking community and Board input early in POST’s course development process and integrating feedback into the course curriculum before finalizing the course. 

For more on RIPA and other criminal justice data, members of the public are encouraged to visit OpenJustice, a data-driven initiative that works to increase access to criminal justice data and support the development of public policy.

A copy of the report announced today is available here. More information about the Board is available here.

Coalition calls CA AG’s ballot initiative title, summary false, misleading

Saturday, September 30th, 2023
Source: Our Neighborhood Voices

Effort “to bring back a local voice in community planning” co-sponsored by Brentwood Councilwoman

By Daniel Payne, Our Neighborhood Voices

This past week the Our Neighborhood Voices initiative received a title and summary from the office of Attorney General Rob Bonta that is false, misleading and likely to create prejudice against the initiative.

The title and summary provided by Bonta’s office falsely claims that the measure “automatically” overrides the state’s affordable housing laws. It does no such thing. It gives communities the power to shape local growth in a way that better meets affordable housing requirements – and it restores the ability of local communities to negotiate even higher affordable housing rates, which one-size-fits-all laws passed in Sacramento have taken away.

Brentwood District 1 Councilmember Jovita Mendoza is one of the three co-sponsors of the initiative which has been endorsed by the Contra Costa County city councils of Brentwood and Clayton, as well as Oakley Vice Mayor Randy Pope.

In 2021, Bonta’s own office issued a title and summary for the first draft of this initiative that did not include this misleading language. It correctly stated that the Our Neighborhood Voices initiative would return land-use and zoning decisions back to local communities – instead of forcing top-down mandates on cities that damage neighborhoods and only benefit for-profit developers.

In fact, the Our Neighborhood Voices initiative will increase the chances of more affordable housing being built according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. In their report, the LAO states that the initiative “May enable additional flexibility for affordable housing development.” This is exactly the intent of the initiative – to help local cities choose which state housing laws work best for them and modify them in ways that will make them more successful.

The only substantial changes in the new version of the initiative submitted to Bonta’s office this year was the addition of a provision that exempts 100% affordable housing projects at 80% of AMI, and a repeal of Article 34 of the California Constitution that makes it more difficult to create affordable housing.

Yet Bonta’s office still added the argumentative and prejudicial language that the initiative would “automatically override” affordable housing laws.

“Bonta’s claim that our initiative would ‘automatically override’ affordable housing laws is clearly and provably false,” Brentwood City Councilmember and initiative proponent Jovita Mendoza said. “Our initiative would allow cities to choose where and how new housing projects get built, instead of forcing them to comply with blanket mandates from Sacramento that give for-profit developers a blank check to gentrify and destroy our communities.”

The laws that the Attorney General’s office is apparently referring to are not even correctly called “affordable housing” laws. Sacramento politicians have given developers the ability to override local communities and governments to build luxury housing with affordable requirements so low that these new projects contribute to displacement and gentrification.

A law like SB9, which eliminated single family zoning in California, is being challenged in court because it was passed on the premise that it WILL create affordable housing, but clearly will not. “There is nothing in laws like SB9 that would get us anywhere close to the number of new affordable units that the state says we need,” said Kalimah Priforce, an Emeryville City Councilmember and advocate for BIPOC homeownership. “Instead, we will continue to see projects that are largely unaffordable to most working families, communities of color, or other Californians who need housing most. ‘Trickle down housing’ doesn’t work – and we certainly shouldn’t be relying on debunked theories to guide important housing decisions in our state.”

“Without a fair and accurate title and summary, our initiative cannot go forward on the 2024 ballot,” explained Susan Candell, Lafayette City Councilmember and proponent of the Our Neighborhood Voices initiative. “We are weighing our options to sue, although such a delay will run out the clock for an initiative like ours – which relies on volunteer efforts to qualify. But our fight for local democracy will go forward – and we won’t stop until we restore our right to have a say in the future of our own communities.”

“In fact this politicized attack against our initiative is just further evidence that Sacramento will continue to put developer profits over the needs of our communities – unless we stand up and fight back. And while we focus our efforts on seeing that this misleading language is changed, we will continue to grow our grassroots coalition and fight back for our neighborhood voice,” said Redondo Beach City Councilmember and supporter of the initiative Nils Nehrenheim.

Learn more about the Our Neighborhood Voices coalition and how you can get involved at

CA attorney general announces four multi-billion dollar nationwide opioid settlements

Friday, June 9th, 2023

Today’s commitment by CVS, Walgreens, Teva, and Allergan is an important milestone in California’s efforts to address the opioid epidemic

OAKLAND – June 9, 2023 — California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced four multi-billion opioid settlements with pharmacies CVS and Walgreens and manufacturers Allergan and Teva are moving forward. The settlements are together worth up to $17.3 billion and address the companies’ role in the opioid crisis. The Walgreens and CVS deals are the first multistate settlements to hold chain retail pharmacies to answer for their role in the crisis. Today’s announcement is an important milestone in California’s efforts to address an epidemic that has destroyed communities and ripped apart families.

“We’ve made historic strides forward in our fight for justice and relief for Californians hurt by the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Nothing can bring back the lives lost or erase the suffering caused by this crisis, but we are making sure those who caused it and profited from it are held to account for their greed and willful misconduct. These hard-fought and hard-won settlement funds will be critical in supporting victims and getting them the help they need to recover. I am proud of the work put in by my team and by our partners across the nation in making these wins possible.”

Opioid manufacturers Allergan and Teva have committed to move forward with settlements for up to $2.37 billion and $4.25 billion, respectively, to resolve allegations that, among other things, the companies deceptively marketed opioids by downplaying the risks of addiction and overstating their benefits. If the settlements are approved by the court, California may receive up to approximately $375 million from the Teva settlement and up to approximately $205 million from the Allergan settlement. The settlements with the opioid manufacturers also include strong injunctive relief that prohibits opioid-related marketing by Teva while Allergan is prohibited from selling opioids for the next 10 years.

Chain pharmacies CVS and Walgreens also committed to moving forward with national settlements worth up to $5 billion and $5.7 billion, respectively, to resolve claims that the companies ignored signs of prescription abuse and failed to prevent drug diversion. If approved by the court, California may receive up to approximately $470 million from the CVS settlement and up to $510 million from the Walgreens settlement. CVS and Walgreens have also agreed to injunctive relief that requires the pharmacies to monitor, report, and share data about suspicious activity related to opioid prescriptions. A final agreement with Walmart, worth up to $3.1 billion, is not being announced today; however, that settlement is expected to move forward in the coming weeks.

Since the first wave of the opioid epidemic hit the United States in 2000, it has taken hundreds of thousands of lives, torn families apart, and eroded the social fabric of communities. Its toll has continued to grow year after year. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that in 2021, more than 80,000 people may have died of overdose deaths involving opioids in the U.S., and over 11,200 of those deaths took place in California.

The opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies who helped fuel the crisis through their unlawful practices and profited from it are at the center of Attorney General Bonta’s fight for justice and relief.  To date, the California Department of Justice has secured approximately $50 billion in nationwide settlements and expected settlements, including with opioid manufacturers Johnson & Johnson, Mallinckrodt, and Purdue Pharma L.P. and the Sackler family; distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen; and consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

  • In March of 2022, Attorney General Bonta announced a $6 billion conditional settlement with Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family over their alleged deceptive and illegal marketing and sales practices, in an agreement that would also allow the family’s name to be removed from buildings, scholarships, and fellowships.
  • In February 2022, a bankruptcy court confirmed a plan that would allow an agreement between certain states, including California, and Mallinckrodt, the largest generic opioid manufacturer in the United States, to move forward. That settlement includes an expected $1.6 billion payment by the company to a trust that would benefit public and private opioid-related claimants.
  • In July 2021, Attorney General Bonta announced a $26 billion settlement, which was finalized in Spring 2022, with Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids, and Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors. It was the second largest multistate agreement in U.S. history, and its terms bar Johnson & Johnson from being involved in selling or promoting opioids for a decade and require the distributors to monitor, report, and share data about suspicious activity related to opioid sales.
  • In February of 2021, the Attorney General announced a $573 million settlement with one of the world’s largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Company. The settlement resolves California’s investigation into the company’s role in advising opioid companies (including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma) in the promotion and sale of their drugs.

These settlements are expected to bring in billions in funding for California communities, which will, among other things, be used to:

  • Increase support for substance-use disorder facilities and improve infrastructure for treatment.
  • Address the needs of communities of color and vulnerable populations, including those who are unhoused.
  • Strengthen availability of Naloxone (also known as NARCAN) or other FDA-approved overdose reversal drugs.
  • Double down on interventions for drug addiction in vulnerable youth and supporting those in the juvenile justice system with treatment options.
  • Improve training and resources for law enforcement and first responders regarding appropriate practices and precautions when dealing with fentanyl or other drugs, including with regard to addressing the needs of criminal justice-involved persons with opioid-use disorder and mental health issues.
  • Implement best practices for outreach, diversion, and deflection.
  • Support job creation programs to help connect those recovering from substance use disorders with gainful employment and pathways to financial stability.
  • Improve data-sharing and management systems to detect suspicious activity, including with regard to the prescription of controlled substances.

49 state attorneys general file lawsuit against telecom company over billions of illegal robocalls

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2023

An estimated 577 million robocalls sent to California phone numbers on National Do Not Call Registry 

Including Social Security, Medicare and employment scams

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today, as part of a bipartisan coalition of 49 attorneys general, announced a lawsuit against Arizona-based Avid Telecom for allegedly initiating and facilitating billions of unlawful robocalls in California and around the country. Those robocalls included Social Security Administration scams, Medicare scams, and employment scams; two robocall examples can be found here and here. Today’s complaint is the result of efforts by the nationwide Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force, which Attorney General Bonta helped launch last year and is charged with taking legal action against telecommunications companies that perpetuate robocall traffic.

“As the People’s Attorney, I’ve been laser focused on protecting consumers since taking office, and stopping unwanted robocalls is an important bipartisan and nationwide effort,” said Attorney General Bonta. “In addition to being a daily annoyance, robocalls can and do cause real financial damage. I’m taking Avid Telecom to court for delivering not hundreds, or thousands, or millions of robocalls — but billions of robocalls. Our coalition alleges that Avid Telecom has violated federal and state laws, and we are confident that we will prevail.” 

From December 2018 to January 2023, Avid Telecom sent or attempted to transmit over 24.5 billion calls to consumers. More than 90% of those calls lasted under 15 seconds, strongly indicating that they were likely robocalls. Further, Avid Telecom sent or transmitted over 7.5 billion calls to telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, an estimated 577,879,156 of those calls were to telephone numbers in California. Registering for the National Do Not Call Registry allows consumers to legally opt out from receiving telemarketing calls, but robocallers regularly fail to respect such legal prohibitions.

In the multistate coalition’s complaint, among other misconduct, Attorney General Bonta alleges that Avid Telecom:

  • Violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits any person from making a call using an automatic telephone-dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice to any cellular telephone;
  • Violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule, which prohibits abusive and deceptive acts or practices by “sellers” or “telemarketers”; 
  • Violated the Truth in Caller ID Act, which prohibits the transmission of misleading or inaccurate caller-ID information;
  • Violated California’s Unfair Competition Law, which prohibits unlawful, unfair, or fraudulent business acts and practices, by transmitting a colossal number of illegal robocalls into California. 

In filing today’s complaint, Attorney General Bonta joined the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

Mortgage company president guilty on 100 felony counts in $7 million statewide fraud scheme

Tuesday, May 16th, 2023

Robert Sedlar of Grand View Financial LLC which operated in the counties of Contra Costa, San Diego, San Mateo, Alameda, San Joaquin, Placer, Solano, Mendocino, San Francisco, El Dorado, and Sacramento. 

OAKLAND —  California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Friday, May 12 the former president of a purported mortgage “investment” company, Robert Sedlar, has been convicted of 100 felony counts for operating a mortgage fraud scheme throughout California. The scheme resulted in a combined loss of over $7 million. The victims, including people who were elderly and in financial distress, sought mortgage relief services from Grand View Financial LLC in the counties of Contra Costa, San Diego, San Mateo, Alameda, San Joaquin, Placer, Solano, Mendocino, San Francisco, El Dorado, and Sacramento. The operators of Grand View Financial—Steven Rogers, Robert Sedlar, and Audrey Gan—were previously indicted by a grand jury in the Sacramento Superior Court for conspiracy, grand theft, elder abuse, filing false or forged documents in a public office, and engaging in a prohibited act as a foreclosure consultant. Steve Rogers and Audrey Gan entered guilty pleas before trial, and Robert Sedlar, president of the company, proceeded to trial in March 2023 on all counts. Today, Robert Sedlar was found guilty of Conspiracy as well as multiple counts of Filing a False Document, Grand Theft, Elder Abuse, and Prohibited Acts by a Foreclosure Consultant. He will be sentenced on July 21, 2023.

“Let this be a strong warning to anyone seeking to steal people’s hard-earned money: We will find you, and we will hold you accountable,” said AG Bonta. “Individuals who prey on vulnerable communities to enrich themselves will be held accountable by the California Department of Justice. My office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute those who disregard the rule of law.”

Between 2015 and 2019, the defendants conspired to steal money and homes from distressed homeowners using a company called Grand View Financial LLC. The company advertised assistance to desperate homeowners facing foreclosure. The defendants promised consumers that if they transferred title of their house to Grandview Financial and paid money, the company would eliminate the mortgage lien and deed the home back to the homeowner, clear of any liens. During this time, the defendants filed false court documents, false documents with the county recorders offices, and false bankruptcies that stalled the foreclosures but did nothing to eliminate the liens, all while collecting funds from the victims. Every single victim lost their home as a result.  

The indictment and arrests are the result of a joint investigation by the California Department of Justice, Fraud and Special Prosecutions Section and White Collar Investigation Team; the United States Office of Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; the United States Office of Inspector General, Federal Housing Finance Agency; the United States Trustee Program; the United States Marshals Service; the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office; and the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office. 

A copy of the charges can be found here.