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New Ethics Rules: What's Changing, What's Interesting?

Somewhere in the Bible or the movies, there are Seven Deadly Sins -- not 70.

But that's how many new ethics rules will be imposed on California lawyers this year. Technically, it's only 69 but that would make the first sentence really wrong.

Actually, it would have been 70 but the state Supreme Court rejected one. It means attorneys can get away with at least one thing.

There's no doubt that a good criminal defense attorney is worth their weight in cold hard cash, payable in large lump sums, up front of course. Keeping calm in the face of a criminal prosecution is no simple task.

However, some criminal defense attorneys may need a little help when it comes to turning down the bravado. Confidence is an important part of an attorney's presentation, but in court, you need more than just words and swagger, you need evidence. Sadly, one California attorney just learned that his swagger didn't make a lasting impression on the appellate court that removed him from his client's case. Not too surprisingly, what he actually said in court will probably make you chuckle too.

News has been breaking nationwide that, thanks to DNA evidence and the persistence of investigators, law enforcement has made an arrest in the Golden State Killer cold case. The case was made infamous by a couple different true crime genre series and a book written by Michelle McNamara.

Apparently, more than 40 years after the first rape, Joseph James DeAngelo, currently 72 years old, and a former law enforcement officer, was just arrested. Investigators believe DeAngelo fits the profile for the rapists and murderers that have been dubbed the East Area Rapist, the Original Night Stalker, the Diamond Knot Killer, and as well as others, during the last four decades, throughout the state of California.

When a person is arrested for a serious crime in California, the law now definitely allows for officers to not only fingerprint and photograph the arrestee as part of the booking process, it also allows for a DNA cheek swab to be taken as well.

Even though there are clearly privacy concerns with taking a DNA sample from an arrestee, in 2004, the California electorate approved a proposition that required felony arrestees, and convicts, to provide law enforcement a DNA sample. Refusal to comply is a misdemeanor.

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.