Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category

Contra Costa Supervisors defer action on Assessor Kramer’s $325K legal cost claim; sets stage for new court battle

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

Approve temporary Antioch Library closure until May 31 for improvements; $233 million Regional Action Plan for unsheltered homeless; ban retractable dog leashes

Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer.

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors decided in closed session on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 to take “no action” on County Assessor Gus Kramer’s claim to pay him $325,000 in legal fees stemming from a misconduct trial that was declared a mistrial in November in Superior Court.

“This is going to cost the county much more money,” commented Kramer, who was unaware of the supervisors’ executive session decision when contacted by the Contra Costa Herald.

The supervisors’ inaction on his claim means Kramer will appeal the executive session “no decision” to Superior Court.

In his claim, Kramer says former Contra Costa County Administrator David Twa had told him on several occasions that the attorney costs for the misconduct trial would be paid by the county.

“I took him (i.e., Twa) at his word,” the 70-year-old Kramer said. “He said this to me up to 10 different times. Just how a person, who was responsible for managing the county’s money, can make promises like that and then the county does not come through with the money?”

Twa, who retired as Contra Costa County Administrator earlier this year and returned to his native Minnesota, continues to work as a consultant on the county’s redistricting that needs to be completed by the end of this year. Supervisors honored Twa by dedicating the new 3 1/2-story, 72,000 square foot administration building in Martinez in his name.

Supervisors did not comment on their executive session decision on Tuesday, especially District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who when contacted by the Contra Costa Herald, refrained from issuing any remarks other than informing this reporter on the board’s executive board decision on the Kramer claim.

Glover defeated Kramer in last November’s election for the supervisorial District 5 seat,  and is currently serving his sixth four-year term as a county supervisor, the longest tenure of any current member of the board.

Approve Temporary Antioch Library Closure

Supervisors approved the temporary closure of the Antioch Library to the public from April 21 through May 31 so that Public Works workers can paint the interior of the library and install new carpet and new shelving. The library is slated to reopen on Tuesday, June 1.

“Although initially planned to take place the prior fiscal year, the improvements were postponed for several months due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said County Librarian Alison McKee. “Despite the initial delay, shelving has been purchased and scheduled for installation, and work requests have been submitted for Public Works for the paint and carpet work.”

During the closure, Antioch library staff will be temporarily reassigned to other libraries to fill vacant positions.  The book drop will not be open at the Antioch library, and holds will not be available for pickup. Those needing library services during the closure should visit the nearby Prewett or Oakley libraries or any other county library.

Supervisors Approved Regional Action Plan for Unsheltered Homeless

During their regular meeting, on a 5-0 vote, supervisors accepted an ambitious regional action plan, by All Home, that aims to shelter the homeless at a cost of about $223 million, partly covered by Measure X sales tax revenues over the next three years. If funded and properly implemented as planned it will reduce by 75 percent the unsheltered homeless population by 2024.

According to the presentation to the board, “All Home is a Bay Area organization advancing regional solutions that disrupt the cycle of poverty and homelessness, redress the disparities in outcomes as a result of race, and create more economic mobility opportunities for extremely low-income (ELI) individuals and families.”

The action plan is based on a statement by the Regional Impact Council that the Bay Area is a “Region in Crisis.”

Board Chair Burgis, who represents the county on the nonprofit’s board of directors, called the plan a “bold plan” several times in addressing the complex issue of homelessness in the county.

Supervisors Gioia of Richmond and Burgis admitted that any effort to adequately house the homeless will require spending Measure X dollars, a new source of sales tax revenue county officials is expecting to come into county coffers later this year.

“This is a great time of opportunity to get people off the streets by leveraging our tax dollars,” said Gioia. “Contra Costa County is a great leader.”

“I am really excited Contra Costa County is shining the light on this crisis (i.e., homelessness). This will be presented to the Mayors’ Council and the Measure X Committee,” added District II Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville.

$12.99 Million Buchanan Field Terminal Project Approved

Supervisors approved as a consent item the $12.99 million construction of a new Buchanan Field Terminal to replace the existing terminal at 181 John Glenn Dr. in Concord. Supervisors approved a construction contract submitted by W.E. Lyons Construction Co.

The Federal Aviation Administration will cover $6.1 million or 47 percent of the project’s cost.  CalTrans will provide $150,000 or 1 percent of the construction cost and the Airport Enterprise Fund will fund $6.74 million or 52 percent.

The new building will replace the existing terminal structure at the north end of John Glenn Drive.  The new terminal will include space for the Airports Divisions Administrative staff, Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting staff and equipment, public space to support scheduled and unscheduled air service providers, office space for aviation businesses, and general public meeting space.

The W.E. Lyons Construction Co. bid topped six other bids for the Buchanan airport project to be found to be responsive and in good faith.  The other six bids submitted for the project were:

Marcon Builders, $14,489,355; Zovich & Sons Inc., $14,559,000; Thompson Builders, $14,680,000; Patriot Contracting, $14,990,000; Rodam Builders, $15,315,000; and CWS Construction, $15,975,000.

Ordinance Bans Retractable Dog Leashes

With no public comment, supervisors approved a new Ordinance No. 2021-13, allowing community members to care for found dogs and cats and establishing new leash restrictions. Dog and cat leashes cannot be longer than six feet under the newly adopted ordinance.

Ordinance 2021-13 provides that a dog will be deemed to be “at large” if it is on a leash that is longer than six feet or that is extendable or retractable.  A long, retractable, or extendable leash allows a dog to get too far away from its handler, which does not allow for effective control of the dog.

Ensuring that a dog is walked on a leash that is six feet or less could reduce dog bites to children due to helping to ensure more effective control. According to a Consumer Reports and Consumer Union’s analysis of statistics collected in 2007, there were 16,564 hospital treated injuries associated with pet leashes, 10.5 percent of those injuries were to children less than 10 years old.

EHSD Language Line Contract

Supervisors approved a $1.1 million contract with Language Line Services, Inc. to provide interpretation and translation services for the Employment and Human Services Department from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. Language Line Services provides telephone interpretation, on-site interpretation, and document translation services to the Employment and Human Services Department and to the clients serviced by the department.

Over One Million COVID-19 Vaccines Given in County

On the COVID-19 news front, Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth announced the county has administered over one million vaccines, the second highest in the state.  That translates into 90,000 vaccines a week were administered, said Roth.

Persons 16 years old and older can now get the vaccine, said Roth.  “No appointment is necessary.”

“A million doses are amazing!” said board chair Diane Burgis of Brentwood. “I want to acknowledge the hard work.”

“I also want to acknowledge everyone in Public Health on one million vaccinations,” said District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, a frequent critic of the department’s inability to adequately vaccinate minorities in underserved communities like Richmond, El Sobrante, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Antioch, and Oakley.

“County Equity Officer Gilbert Salinas has done a great job in closing the equity gap,” Gioia said.

Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said people will have a choice of vaccines when they report for their shots. Dr. Farnitano said last Friday the CDC and FDA had accepted the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations to lift pausing on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for all adults.  The region’s health officers agreed that the risk of developing the rare clotting disorder in females is extremely low.

“According to the CDC, to date there have been only 15 confirmed cases of the rare clotting event among nearly 8 million total doses administered in the United States, all in females, which translates to a risk less than 2 cases per million doses overall and 7 cases per million doses among women between 18 and 49 years of age,” a joint press release of Bay Area Health Officers states.

 

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Deer Valley High’s Mock Trial team wins three of four rounds in this year’s virtual competition

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

The 40th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials were held virtually, this year from January 26 through the final round on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Antioch’s Deer Valley High team from the Law & Justice Academy won three of the first four rounds but fell to Acalanes High in the Quarter Finals. In the first and third rounds, as well as the Quarter Finals the Deer Valley team played in the role of the Defense. In rounds two and four, Deer Valley fulfilled the role of the Prosecution.

Deer Valley beat the team from Hercules High in Round 1, the team from Dougherty Valley High of San Ramon in Round 2 and the team from El Cerrito High in Round 4. They lost to Miramonte High of Orinda in Round 3.

The team from California High School of San Ramon won their fourth straight championship, beating Acalanes of Lafayette in the final round. The match was judged and scored by former judge and current Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton, along with five Bay Area attorneys, serving as Mock Trial scorers.

Also, noteworthy, the Miramonte team defeated the Hercules High team during the same evening’s consolation match. This trial was judged and scored by Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Steve Austin, along with five attorney scorers.

The 2021 top four teams were ranked in this order: 1) California High, 2) Acalanes High, 3) Miramonte High, 4) Hercules High. California High has now won four consecutive championships.

The Mock Trials Awards Ceremony were also held virtually, on Thursday, Feb. 18. Opening the event, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey gave the welcome and message to the attendees, followed by remarks made by Contra Costa County Superior Court Presiding Judge Rebecca Hardie, and the Mock Trial coaches presented their Coaches Awards to their exceptional-performing students. This was followed by the announcement of individual awards that were recorded by the volunteer Mock Trial judges and attorney scorers during the four opening preliminary rounds. The ceremony concluded with naming of this year’s championship team from Cal High.

“As like numerous other counties in California, this was a challenging year for our High School Mock Trial program,” said Superintendent Mackey. “Due to COVID-19, this was the first time in 40 years that we were not able to hold our trials in one of the Martinez courthouses, but instead held the competitions via Zoom Meetings. This year’s Mock Trial success was because of a group effort between our volunteer judges and attorneys and our staff, as well as the patient and dedicated team coaches and their determined students. Congratulations to all of you!”

Directed by their teaching coach, Brian Barr, California High will now represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial competition, March 18-22. The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held May 13-15.

Art Contest

In the Courtroom Art Contest, students participated as courtroom artists, a companion program to Mock Trials. As courtroom artists, students accompanied their Mock Trial teams and sketched courtroom scenes that were later judged by a team of art judges. The winner was Michelle Nguyen from California High School and will represent Contra Costa County at the state finals.

Journalism Contest

In the Courtroom Journalism Contest, participating students were given an opportunity to report on a Mock Trial from the perspective of a journalist. As courtroom reporters, students accompanied their school’s Mock Trial teams to the preliminary rounds of the competition. Courtroom reporters then wrote and submitted one 500-word news article on the trial they attended. Articles were judged by a panel of specialists. The winner, Nicholas Harvey, also from California High, will represent Contra Costa County at the state finals. Read  his winning article.

The honored guest speaker, Judge Hardie, told the audience, “Congratulations to all of the students, teachers, and coaches for a wonderful competition. I’m so pleased that we didn’t let COVID-19 get in the way of our historic and annual tradition. We are so proud of our longstanding partnership with the Mock Trial program. Here at the county’s Superior Court, Mock Trials is one of our favorite times of the year. And, I heard so many wonderful stories from this year’s volunteering judges. They all agreed about how seamless the trials went this year, especially adapting the competition from our physical courtrooms to virtual courtrooms. The students did not miss a beat!

Coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, Mock Trial is an academic event provided for high school students. The hands-on educational program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society.

This year’s case, People v. Croddy, is the trial of Lee Croddy who hosts a popular YouTube channel called The Right Choice of News (RCN). Croddy has been charged with two counts: (1) aiding and abetting in the commission of first-degree burglary by another, and (2) accessory after the fact. This case will also feature a pre-trial argument on the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and as set forth in Miranda v. Arizona.

Since the beginning of the school year, teams of high school students worked with teacher coaches and volunteer coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, from both the prosecution and defense perspectives. Students assumed the roles of trial attorneys, pre-trial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, artists, and court journalists. During the Zoom Meetings, Mock Trial judges and attorneys scored the students’ presentations and provided immediate feedback.

This year, there were 18 teams from the following 19 Contra Costa County high schools competed: Acalanes High (Lafayette), Alhambra High (Martinez), California High (San Ramon), Campolindo High (Moraga), Carondelet High (Concord), De La Salle (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), De La Salle (Concord), Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), Dougherty Valley High (San Ramon), El Cerrito High (El Cerrito), Hercules High (Hercules), Heritage High (Brentwood), Kennedy High (Richmond), Las Lomas High (Walnut Creek), Miramonte High (Orinda), Monte Vista High (Danville), Richmond High (Richmond). *Richmond High and Kennedy High combine students for one team.

Approximately 60 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys and sworn judges volunteered their time and expertise to serve as Mock Trial attorney scorers and judges. These volunteers represented judges from the Contra Costa County Superior Courts, and attorney scorers included attorneys from Bay Area county District Attorney and Public Defender offices, the State Attorney General’s Office, and the California Department of Justice. Also serving as attorney scorers, were non-profit, public, private, and corporate attorneys. Because this year’s competition was virtual, there were attorneys volunteering from their offices in Los Angeles; San Diego; Truckee; and Olympia, Washington. In addition, senior students from two Bay Area law schools also lent a hand in scoring.

For all the team and individual results, visit the Contra Costa County Office of Education’s Mock Trial results web page. #cocomocktrial

In 1977, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) introduced the concept of mock trials to the Los Angeles schools. In 1980, the program expanded to the state level. The California Mock Trial Program currently involves more than 36 counties and over 8,000 student participants from more than 400 teams. Approximately 1,500 attorney volunteers serve as team coaches and scorers, and 500 Municipal, Superior, and Appellate Court judges preside over the trials.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Did you receive a tax form for unemployment benefits you never applied for? Fraud attorney outlines the steps to take

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

By Newsroom Newswire

Now that it’s tax season, and tax forms are arriving in the mail, many people are beginning to find a nasty surprise in their mailbox: an IRS form 1099-G reporting unemployment benefit income that they did not actually apply for or receive.

If you receive a form 1099-G but did not file for unemployment, someone may have stolen your identity to commit unemployment fraud.

Attorney David Fleck, who has extensive experience in fraud cases, said this is one of the easiest frauds to perpetrate, which is why it has suddenly become common during the pandemic. As unemployment numbers swelled, unemployment departments across the country became overwhelmed with applications and made thorough background checks of applicants fall by the wayside.

“I’ve seen so many different scams in my career, and frankly there is nothing new under the sun,” he said. “Because these are unusual times, con artists are just using this moment as a way to take advantage of the system.”

Learning that your identity has been used to perpetrate a fraud can be a stressful experience, Fleck said, but there are steps you can protect yourself and mitigate the damage:

  1. Report the fraud to the California employment development department, https://www.edd.ca.gov/. California EDD has a form on their website to use for reporting identity theft and unemployment fraud. You can also call the EDD Fraud Hotline at 1-800-229-6297.
  2. File your taxes as normal, and do NOT report the fraudulent income. If you’ve reported the fraud to EDD, that’s all you need to do. You don’t need to also report it to the IRS.
  3. If you suspect you may be a victim of a broader identify theft, you may want to check the website of The Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit in San Diego. Visit idtheftcenter.orgor call 888-400-5530.

“Fraudsters never let a crisis go to waste,” Fleck said. “But hopefully, now that state officials know this fraud is going on in such large numbers, innocent victims won’t be on the hook.”

 

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Limited Contra Costa Superior Court closure beginning Monday, Dec. 7

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

By Matt Malone, Public Information Officer, Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County

COVID-19 cases have spiked, resulting in a new stay-at-home order for the county effective this weekend. To limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission, the Court will enact a LIMITED COURT CLOSURE effective Monday, December 7, 2020, and until further notice.

THE COURT WILL BE CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC. Exceptions are criminal preliminary hearing witnesses, attorneys, and defendants in matters with time not waived. Masks are required for entry.

JURY TRIALS ARE SUSPENDED. Criminal preliminary hearings with time not waived will proceed.

JURY SERVICE. Jurors summonsed to report on or before January 11, 2021: Your service has been completed. You do not need to call or report for jury duty.

THE COURT WILL NOTIFY YOU OF RESET HEARINGS. If your matter is to be reset, the Court will notify you of the new date, with hearings to be by Zoom or CourtCall. Instructions and links for Zoom/CourtCall, public access to audio streaming where available, and court calendars may be found on our Court Calendar webpage.

ALL CLERK’S OFFICES WILL BE CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC. FILINGS WILL BE ACCEPTED BY MAIL OR DROP BOX ONLY. The limited closure is NOT a Court holiday for filing deadlines. Drop boxes will be available from 8 A.M. – 4 P.M at the following locations:

Civil: Main Street entrance of the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse in Martinez. o Criminal: Main Street entrance of the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse in Martinez.

  • Family: Main entrance of Family Law building in Martinez.
  • Juvenile: Main entrance of the Walnut Creek Courthouse.
  • Probate: Main Street entrance of the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse in Martinez.
  • Pittsburg and Richmond courthouses: These drop boxes are available only for filings in case types heard at those locations.

ALL COURT RECORDS OFFICES WILL BE CLOSED. See the Criminal Records and Civil Records webpages for the process for records requests by mail.

This public health situation is urgent and constantly changing. Accordingly, the Court anticipates further press releases providing more details on Court operations over the next 30-60 days. Please visit the Court website for updated information.

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California Judicial Council rescinds ban on eviction hearings after lawsuit

Friday, August 21st, 2020

Following a lawsuit filed by Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of California landlords, the California Judicial Council announced last week that it will end its illegal ban on eviction hearings.

By creating a de facto ban on evictions, the Judicial Council undermined the state’s separation of powers and seized policymaking power from the legislature and governor to block landlords’ access to courts.

“Constitutional limitations on government are never more important than during an emergency,” said PLF senior attorney Damien Schiff. “In this case, we challenged an eviction moratorium enacted not by the politically responsible branches of California’s government, but rather by the judiciary. Because it attempted to codify policy rather than merely regulate the practice of state courts, the rule exceeded the Judicial Council’s authority under the California Constitution. We are pleased not only that the Judicial Council has voted to rescind the rule, but also that the Council recognized, as the Chief Justice put it, that the ‘judicial branch cannot usurp the responsibility of the other two branches on a long-term basis to deal with the myriad impacts of the pandemic.’”

About Pacific Legal Foundation

Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 39 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 12 victories out of 14 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court

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Los Angeles church, pastor win in court Friday, can continue indoor services judge rules

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Temporary order defies L.A. County COVID-19 orders; full hearing on September 4; only applies to that church, for now

On Thursday, August 13, Thomas More Society Special Counsel Jenna Ellis and attorney Charles LiMandri filed suit in the Superior Court of the State of California County of Los Angeles on behalf of Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church against Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and other California and Los Angeles County public health officials. (See complaint)

On Friday, the California Court vindicated Pastor MacArthur and the church’s stance that church is essential by recognizing the constitutionally protected right of churches to remain open and hold indoor services in their sanctuary.

Hours after Grace Community Church filed suit to invalidate Los Angeles County’s unconstitutional restrictions on churches, the County filed for a temporary restraining order to force the church to stop holding indoor services and comply with every unreasonable and over-broad demand. At hearing today (Friday, August 14, 2020) in Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Chalfant denied almost all of the County’s requests, agreeing with Pastor MacArthur and the Church that it is the County’s burden to show why it should be permitted to infringe on the constitutionally protected rights of churches to freely exercise religion. The judge did also express concern for some safety protocols.

To address those concerns and after explaining that the County was being unreasonable in its demands, counsel for Grace Community Church offered to comply with mask wearing and social distancing indoors until the matter could be fully heard, rather than the County simply rushing to shut down the Church. The judge agreed this was reasonable, set the full hearing for September 4, 2020, and ordered the Church to have congregants wear masks and social distance between family groups indoors.

Pastor John MacArthur said of the ruling, “I am very grateful the Court has allowed us to meet inside and we are happy for a few weeks to comply and respect what the judge has asked of us because he is allowing us to meet. This vindicates our desire to stay open and serve our people. This also gives us an opportunity to show that we are not trying to be rebellious or unreasonable, but that we will stand firm to protect our church against unreasonable, unconstitutional restrictions.”

Attorney Ellis said, “This is a huge vindication for Pastor John and the Board of Elders at Grace Community Church, who have simply asked for their right to worship the Lord together in church to be acknowledged and protected. When I spoke with Pastor John after the hearing, he expressed sincere gratitude to the California Court and Judge Chalfant and said his congregation will be happy to comply with the judge’s temporary order. This is why John MacArthur is so deeply loved and respected by his congregation and all over the world. He is a gracious and firm leader, and his biblical stand for church being essential has now been rightly validated. We look forward to continuing to advocate on his behalf in asking the Court to protect the fundamental rights of churches.”

Legal counsel LiMandri said, “This result is indeed a great victory for all citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of religion. Pastor MacArthur’s love of God and country motivated him and all the GCC church elders to resist the unjust government shut-down orders targeting people of faith. Their devotion and patriotism has brought about a result that respects the legitimate interests of both the church and state. This result makes it possible for the thousands of congregants of GCC to continue to gather together in their church to worship, while at the same time honoring the court’s requirement that reasonable and temporary safety measures be observed. This court ruling should stay in effect at least until there can be a full court hearing in this case on September 4, 2020. Please continue to pray that the courts allow this enlightened judge’s decision to stand so that all Californians can soon resume the worship of God in their respective churches.”

“We are simply continuing to do today what we have done for the past 63 years, that Grace Community Church has been open to welcome the Los Angeles community and serve their spiritual needs,” the pastor said in a statement. “We will remain open and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who decide they want to come worship with us.”

The suit seeks to prohibit California from enforcing its unconstitutional and onerous coronavirus pandemic regulations against Grace Community Church and seeks a judgment that the health orders violate the California Constitution.

“Having irreparably damaged the confidence of Americans—and Californians especially—who now realize that the pandemic restrictions are neither necessary nor good, on Sunday, July 26, 2020, Grace Community Church decided to resume worship services—joining millions of Americans in deciding that enough is enough. With deaths from the ‘COVID-19 suicide pandemic’ exceeding those from the actual coronavirus pandemic, Grace Community Church decided that it would no longer sit by and watch its congregants and their children suffer from an absence of religious worship and instruction. Perhaps unsurprisingly—perhaps not—this led the County of Los Angeles to submit a demand letter to Grace Community Church, ordering it to comply with the restrictions that Los Angeles County deems unnecessary to enforce against so many others. Grace Community Church does not intend to comply.”

According to attorneys for the church, it is time for California to recognize that Christians are not second-class citizens, and the court must step in to do its job in applying the protections that the U.S. and California State constitutions provide to every individual equally and to churches in particular.

Pastor MacArthur opened the Sunday morning service on August 9, welcoming worshippers to “the Grace Community Church peaceful protest.” He was met with a standing ovation and extended applause from the congregation. Pastor MacArthur said of the lawsuit, “We are simply continuing to do today what we have done for the past 63 years, that Grace Community Church has been open to welcome the Los Angeles community and serve their spiritual needs. We will remain open and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who decide they want to come worship with us.”

Ellis said, “We hoped that Los Angeles County would see its error on its own, but after attempted negotiations with their counsel, California is still intent on targeting churches—specifically, Grace Community Church. Pastor MacArthur and the Board of Elders will stand firm in their leadership and resolve that church is essential, and California has no legitimate power to enforce such onerous and unconstitutional restrictions against the fundamentally protected right to freely participate in church. After Grace Community Church voluntarily complied with state orders for nearly six months, California’s edicts demanding an indefinite shut down have gone now far past rational or reasonable and are firmly in the territory of tyranny and discrimination. This isn’t about health. It’s about blatantly targeting churches.”

LiMandri stated, “It is unconstitutional for Governor Newsom and the State of California to discriminate against churches by treating them less favorably than other organizations and activities that are not protected by the First Amendment. Pastor MacArthur and his church, as well as all churches, are entitled to practice their religion without government interference. This is especially the case when the government has given free rein to protestors, and is not similarly restricting marijuana dispensaries, large retail outlets and factories, or abortion providers. The government orders are also unconstitutional because there is no compelling need for the onerous restrictions on the churches at this time. The hospitals are not overwhelmed and the percentage death rate from COVID-19 is now extremely small. It is time for Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti to recognize what President Trump has already proclaimed: churches are providing an ‘essential’ service to the people. Therefore, they must be allowed to serve the people in the manner in which God has called them.”

Read the Thomas More Society’s Complaint filed with the Superior Court for the State of California County of Los Angeles – in Grace Community Church and Pastor John MacArthur v. Gavin Newsome et al., on August 12, 2020, here.

Read the Demand Letter sent to Pastor John MacArthur by attorney Jason Tokoro, representing the County of Los Angeles in California, on July 29, 2020, here.

 

 

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Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association sues CA Attorney General for deceptive ballot material

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

“This blatant manipulation of the ballot label as well as the title and summary is in direct contravention of the Attorney General’s fiduciary duty to prepare impartial ballot material,” said Jon Coupal, President of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Today, July 29, 2020, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed a lawsuit against California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for his abject failure to produce impartial ballot material related to Proposition 15, the “split roll” attack that seeks the partial repeal of Proposition 13.

Past criticism of Becerra’s bias has been vocal but has now reached a crescendo. Just this past week, editorial boards and columnists have lambasted Becerra. In fact, the specific deficiencies of Prop 15’s ballot label as well as the title and summary are well identified in the media reports themselves:

  • ​ ​“The ballot title on Prop. 15 begins by stating that it ‘increases funding sources for public schools, community colleges and local government services.’ It would do so, it states, by ‘changing tax assessment – not raisingtaxes-on commercial and industrial property.” (John Diaz, California attorney general loads language on 2 November measures, The S.F. Chronicle, July 26, 2020, https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/diaz/article/California-attorney-general-loads-language-on-2-15434094.php, emphasis in original.)
  • ​ ​“The title and summary of Proposition 15 are not only tilted toward one side,​ ​they are less than fully accurate. Property in California is not taxed on ‘purchase price.’ It’s taxed on fair market value at the time of purchase, adjusted annually, for inflation with increases capped at 2 percent per year… To say property is currently taxed on ‘purchase price’ conveys an impression that property taxes do not rise at all, which is misleading in a way that favors the measure’s proponents who seek to raise taxes. It’s also misleading, if not completely false, to state that​ ​Proposition 15 ‘increases funding sources.’ It doesn’t add new sources, it increases taxes on existing sources: businesses in California.” (The Editorial Board, Editorial: Biased ballot measure titles and summaries distort our democracy, Southern California News Group + Bay Area News Group, July 22, 2020, https://www.ocregister.com/2020/07/22/biased-ballot-measure-titles​-​and-summaries-distort-our-democracy/.)
  • ​  ​“California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has once again written a biased ballot title and summary, which deliberately misleads voters about Prop. 15…” “The attorney general contorts the English language to avoid using the word ‘tax.’ Unfortunately, he can’t call Prop 15 a revenue increase, since, as the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says, some rural governments could lose money if Prop 15 passes.” (Katy Grimes, Prop. 15: Messy Title, Feud With Signer, and Ironic Zuckerberg Contributions, California Globe, July 27, 2020, https://californiaglobe.com/section-2/prop-15-messy-title-feud-with-signer-and-ironic-zuckerberg-contributions/.)
  • ​  ​“Rather than simply describe Proposition 15 for what it does, Becerra’s official title summarizes it this way: ‘Increases funding for public schools, community colleges, and local government services by changing tax assessment of commercial and industrial property.'” (Dan Walters, Becerra slants two ballot measure titles, CALmatters, July 27, 2020, “https://calmatters.org/commentary/dan-walters/2020/07/california-becerra-partisan-ballot-measure-titles/.)

“This blatant manipulation of the ballot label as well as the title and summary is in direct contravention of the Attorney General’s fiduciary duty to prepare impartial ballot material,” said Jon Coupal, President of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

California voters are entitled by law to “a true and impartial statement of the purpose of the measure in such language that the ballot title and summary shall neither be an argument, nor be likely to create prejudice, for or against the proposed measure.” Instead, Attorney General Becerra has bowed to the political power of special interests who seek to hide from the voters that the measure they have put on the ballot is the biggest property tax increase in California history.

 

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Legal Notice: Keya Bradley-Shaw vs. Michael Shaw

Monday, July 27th, 2020

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