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Court: Competency Hearing a Due Process Right

Derek Antonio Johnson was waiting in his cell for trial when he was beaten -- by himself.

A guard said he was "head-butting" the ground, and slapping and punching himself at the same time. Bleeding from his eyebrow, his eye socket swollen and lacerated, Johnson did not make it to trial that day.

Johnson's attorney said the man had a history of psychiatric problems, but the trial judge didn't buy it. Johnson was just trying to work the system, the judge said.

California's Supreme Court has ruled that juvenile's who don't intentionally kill people should not be sentenced to more than 50 years behind bars. The court explained that a 50 plus year sentence for a juvenile that hasn't murdered anyone is cruel and unusual.

The ruling came in the cases of two teens sentenced to 50 and 58 years, respectively, for the rape and kidnapping of two teenage girls. Neither conviction was overturned, but both convicts will be resentenced by the trial court in accordance with the state's highest court's guidance. Notably, the chief justice dissented, agreeing with the prosecutors that 50 and 58 years were not excessively long sentences given the severity of the crimes.

Man Pleads Guilty to Making Islamic Center Death Threats on Social Media

Mark Lucian Feigin heaped anti-Muslim comments on an Islamic organization's Facebook page.

"The more Muslims we allow into America the more terror we will see," he posted. A few days later, he added: "Practicing Islam can slow or even reverse the process of human evolution."

When he was charged with a felony hate crime, he said he was just doing the same thing Donald Trump did during the election. The difference was, Feigin also made death threats.

Suicide Attempt Opens Door for Police Search

For Willie Ovieda, the good news was that police kept him from committing suicide. The bad news was they arrested him for possessing an assault weapon.

In People v. Ovieda, his defense attorney tried to exclude the evidence but the trial judge allowed it. He then pleaded guilty on conditions of probation, 180 days in jail, and mental health treatment.

On appeal, Ovieda said the police found the evidence during an unreasonable search. California's Second District Court of Appeal said the search was lawful under the "community caretaker" exception.

Anonymous Tip and Snapchat Were Reasonable Suspicion for School Search

Who is more stupid -- the student who takes a gun to school, or the one who posts a video of it on social media?

In this case, that would be the same kid. Fortunately for him, police confiscated the weapon and he became a ward of the court and not a statistic in People v. K.J.

Meanwhile, his attorney argued that the police searched the boy without reasonable suspicion. So, who is more stupid...?

The California Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a Black Lives Matter protester who was arrested for getting between arresting officers and an arrestee. Jasmine Nicole Richardson was arrested for pulling an arrestee away from the officers during a Black Lives Matter demonstration. Richardson was ultimately convicted of attempting to take a person from lawful police custody by means of riot, a felony.

Richardson appealed the conviction on a few grounds, but was only successful on one. Unfortunately for Richardson, the one claim the appellate court went for only involved the trial court's failure to include a jury instruction for a lesser included charge, which trial courts are required to do when the lesser charge is wholly within the larger charge. In reversing the conviction, the appellate court remanded the matter for either retrial, or simply resentencing based on the lesser charge Richardson alleged should have been submitted to the jury.

Photo, Close Enough to Identify CVS Clerk Selling Alcohol to Minor

Yesterday, you smiled for "Candid Camera." Today, you smile for a selfie.

In any generation, however, you really don't smile for a police officer who is taking your picture. That was the case for a CVS clerk caught selling alcohol to a minor in Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control v. Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board.

Police had sent the teenager into the store as a decoy, then asked the clerk and the boy -- beer in hand -- to pose for a photo. That was good enough for identification, said California's Third District Court of Appeal.

'Booster Bag' Not a Burglary Tool, Court Rules

When a shoplifter stoops to stealing clothes, you gotta feel a little sorry for him or her.

And when he falls to the ground convulsing, it's almost a tragedy. But when it turns out he used a special bag to get the merchandise through electronic sensors, that's a different story.

And so a jury convicted the California man of burglary, grand theft, and possessing burglary tools. The Second District Court of Appeal reversed the "tools" conviction, but compassion had nothing to do with it.

Court: Ankle Monitor Data Is Not Hearsay

Little did we know that robots found a way around hearsay decades ago.

Judge Thomas Hastings knew it then. He was pondering a hearsay objection to computer records being offered into evidence.

"This is a very hypertechnical objection," he said in People v. Hawkins. "[T]he problem in this analysis is simply this: There is no declarant. The declarant is the computer. It's not a person."

Records admitted, and that's how computers first got around the hearsay rule. Now they have taken another step in People v. Rodriguez.

New California Laws Ease Fines, Punishment for Juveniles

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed 11 crime bills aimed at lowering fines and punishments for juveniles and other offenders.

Most of the legislation helps young people charged with crimes, including one bill that limits counties and cities from collecting fees from families with children in juvenile detention. Parents and guardians will no longer be charged for juvenile hall expenses, such as housing, food, drugs, tests and transportation.

Lawmakers said juvenile penalties and fines have mostly affected low-income and minority families. The legislation follows a recent pattern in the Golden State to help people who are "paying more for being poor."