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Felony Burglars Could Be Mere Shoplifters, Thanks to Prop 47

A man who was convicted for second degree burglary in California successfully convinced a California Court of Appeal that stealing by false pretenses was a form of shoplifting, thus falling under the umbrella of reduced sentences under Prop 47.

It could be one of the first cases in a very long time in which a defendant wanted to be branded a thief.

California Pot: Golden State Will Vote on Recreational Marijuana

Yesterday, California's Secretary of State announced that the recreational marijuana measure had obtained more than enough signatures to be included on this November's ballot. The amount of money supporters have raised is $3.53 million according to the Sacramento Bee -- 31 times more than opponents have raised to block the measure.

The development is consistent with increased acceptability by various jurisdictions within the union of the recreational use of a drug that still enjoys controlled substance status under Schedule I.

Just a few weeks ago, Judge Aaron Persky was a little known public servant in Santa Clara Superior Court. Then he sentenced Stanford University student Brock Turner to a six-month sentence for three felony counts stemming from Turner's rape of an unconscious woman, far below the maximum 14 years Turner was facing. The case gained international attention when the victim shared her courtroom statement with the press, detailing how the rape and sentencing affected her.

Now, Judge Persky is facing calls that he should be removed from the bench. A Change.org petition has gained over 900,000 signatures in under a week, even as Persky won a new term on Tuesday, having run for his seat unchallenged. Those signatures are unlikely to have much of an effect on Persky's tenure, but a serious attempt to unseat him, led by Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, might.

Governor Jerry Brown's plan to reduce the state's prison population will almost certainly make it onto the ballot in November, after surviving a Supreme Court challenge on Monday. The ballot imitative had originally been put forward with a major focus on reforming the juvenile justice system. Amendments by the governor's supporters shifted that focus to the entire prison population.

The California District Attorneys Association sued, arguing that the changes were too extensive to allow the imitative to go forward without new public comment. In a six to one decision, the California Supreme Court rejected that argument on Monday.

Court Must Allow Psych Testimony in Tragic Gay Homicide Case

Facing an extraordinarily troubling set of facts, a California appeals court decided to err on the side of an emotionally damaged killer whose life came spiraling down, culminating in a frenzied murder.

In the view of the court, the statutory prohibitions that preclude expert testimony on the subject of mens rea were improperly applied to the criminal defendant's disadvantage. And in a case such as this, such prejudice cannot be left undisturbed.

Gov. Brown Raises Smoking Age to 21 in California

Despite predictable resistance and noise from the tobacco industry, the California legislature overwhelmingly passed a pair of bills that raised the smoking age from 18 to 21 throughout the state and broadened regulation of vaping, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco-related products. Governor Brown signed the legislation without comment and without delay.

Public health advocates have generally voiced approval for the move. Cynical lawyers also approve as droves of late teens stand to violate the new law post-haste.

CA's Orange County Jailhouse Snitching Program Continues

Law enforcement continues to get battered in the court of public opinion. In general, law enforcement could really use a boost of good press.

Well, don't look to California. As if the state didn't have enough of its plate already, the now infamous Orange County jailhouse informant scandal threatens to shake law enforcement even more. So much for good press.

Carrying a Concealed Gun in a Car Is a CA Crime of Moral Turpitude

It turns out that one of the best ways to aggravate and intensify a penal sentence against you in California is to be carrying a concealed weapon while you commit a crime. This is demonstrated in the crime of People v. Aguilar.

The legal issue at bar is whether "crimes of moral turpitude" include not just the more traditional crimes of dishonesty, but also other criminal acts that don't quite so neatly fall into a clean category.

Fail to Appear and Forfeit Your Bail, Court Rules. Imagine That!

In what is quite possibly the year's most seemingly obvious procedural issue, the California Supreme Court opined that a felony defendant's failure to execute a written waiver of his required presence constitutes a justified forfeit of bail under Penal Code sec. 1305(a).

The moral of the story? Show up to court.

Raymond 'Shrimp Boy' Chow Guilty on All 162 Criminal Counts

Raymond Chow is guilty of all 162 criminal counts brought against him in monumentally large indictment that alleged the former Chinese-mafia leader engaged in murder-for-hire, money laundering, conspiracy to traffic in stolen goods, as well as a slew of other hefty crimes. It's been almost ten years since Allen Leung was shot dead in the streets of San Francisco's Chinatown. Soon, it seems, his story will come to a close.

"Shrimp Boy" will be sentenced on March 23rd this year, and faces a life-long prison term.