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Shocker: the death penalty in California is a joke.

Okay, we all knew that. It's a ridiculously expensive, wasteful, inefficient, broken, delayed, and completely and utterly dysfunctional system that, quite frankly, isn't doing its job: killing killers. Out of more than 900 sentenced to death, the state has only executed 13 since 1978 -- less than two percent. And any deterrent effect, after waiting decades for sentences to maybe, just maybe, be carried out is minimal at this point.

Whatever adjective you choose to describe our system in the Golden State, U.S. District Court Judge Carmac Carney has two more to add to that list: arbitrary and unconstitutional.

We have this game in the office: "Fresno or Florida." It's inspired by Loveline's "Germany or Florida" game. The rules are simple: whenever asinine human conduct happens in America, we ask: Fresno or Florida?

  1. Guy arrested for Super Soaker shotgun? 
  2. Guy arrested for attacking a teenager with a burrito?
  3. Guy blames DUI on a squirrel?
  4. Guy killed by rooster at cockfight?
  5. Lady intentionally sets a brush fire after locking keys in car?

And today's entry: Jury makes mistake on a verdict form, setting a man free. Tragically, he is murdered for apparently unrelated reasons less than an hour later. Was it all thanks to a "June Jury"?

What do you think when a defendant claims that the cops planted evidence, that he or she was framed.

Bull crap, right? We know, like Shawshank, everyone's innocent. And seriously, why would cops risk their careers and livelihood to put some low-level junkie in jail on an "under the influence" charge. Except they did, according to Allison Ross in her civil suit. And they were caught on tape.

The worst part is, even with the transcripts from the tape, her story still seems incredible.

The Orca Welfare and Safety Act was just effectively put in hibernation, a/k/a, interim hearings where it won't be the subject of hearings, or put to a vote until 2015.

In 2013, the film "Blackfish" came out exposing the nature of animal captivity and the effects on Orcas. As a result, earlier this week Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) introduced AB 2140 -- the Orca Welfare and Safety Act -- that would prohibit orca shows, and the import, export, and breeding and holding of orcas in captivity for "performance or entertainment purposes," reports the Independent Voter Network.

Almost four years after an explosion in San Bruno, California, devastated a community, destroying homes and taking lives, the U.S. Government filed a criminal indictment against Pacific Gas and Electric Company ("PG&E") on April 1.

The Criminal Indictment

The indictment lists 12 counts of violations of the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act, for knowingly and willfully violating minimum safety standards including not maintaining the proper records, failing to identify threats, and failing to fix parts of the pipeline. According to the indictment, PG&E was missing pipeline records, and existing records had errors and omissions. The company received notice about the record deficiencies from employees, agencies, and third-party consultants and auditors.

The indictment further alleges that although PG&E knew about areas of threatened pipe, the utility failed to label the pipes as high risk.

Lots of California law updates this week with the 2014 State of the Judiciary, a retiring judge, and a review of laws, pending, passed, and interpreted. Let's jump in:

2014 State of the Judiciary

On March 17, 2014 Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye gave her 2014 State of the Judiciary Address before California judges, legislators and attorneys. The foundation of her statements rested on "fairness and collaboration" -- values that both the judiciary and legislature embody. She went on to honor the anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and discussed issues important to her including collaborative courts, self-help centers at the trial courts, JusticeCorps and juvenile justice. To read her remarks in full (or watch a video), click here for the 2014 State of the Judiciary Address.

Flash. That'll be $980.

Who caught you? A camera, one that can't face you in court. And the person who prepared the picture that is attached to your ticket? She's also not available to cross-examine.

Good luck with your defense.

See why red light cameras and other "Automated Traffic Enforcement Systems" (ATES) are problematic? Hearsay issues and Confrontation Clause rights are at the center of the war on ATES -- one that is set to hit the California Supreme Court next week, and which has inspired a pro se plaintiff's U.S. Supreme Court petition for certiorari, as well as protective legislation that backs the camera operators.

"Defendant Nicholas John Smit was charged with a number of drug offenses that exposed him to a maximum of 11 years in state prison. How did defendant attempt to avoid those 11 years? By trying to kill the detective whose testimony was required to convict him, of course.  None of the usual suspects such as Wile E. Coyote, Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam, not even Boris or Natasha, ever eclipsed what defendant did here."

How does one attempt to murder a detective, and in the process, turn an 11-year sentence into four consecutive life sentences with a 40-year garnish? You know, the usual: boobytraps, panji boards, zip guns, and military rockets.

This week California is making headlines with laws -- enacted and proposed -- that affect gun rights, and the rights of juveniles. A Sunnyvale municipal law banning large-capacity magazines reaches the highest court of the land, while another proposed law would require juveniles to be tried as adults.

Sunnyvale's Controversial Gun Law

Last November, the voters of the City of Sunnyvale passed Measure C, a law that among other things, bans large-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. A group of Sunnyvale gun owners affected by the new law challenged Sunnyvale, California Municipal Code § 9.44.050, in federal district court, seeking an order for a preliminary injunction blocking its enforcement.

It's been a busy few weeks in California with so much legal news to write about that we couldn't just pick one issue. Today, we take a brief look at the teacher tenure case, Propositions 9 and 89, and a new suit filed against U.C. Berkeley.

Vergara v. California

A group of students is challenging five statutes that regulate the dismissal, tenure and layoff of teachers in Vergara v. California, reports LA School Report. The plaintiffs' attorney, Theodore Boutrous argued in court that the challenged laws "put and keep grossly ineffective teachers in the classroom in front of students," reports Reuters. After the plaintiffs presented their case, defendants -- two largest teachers unions and the state of California -- moved to dismiss.