Doug Maner Criminal Law in Brief

news and updates

PREVIOUS POSTS

September 14, 2016

Bite-Mark Analysis "Junk Science"

 

July 22, 2016

Gov, Brown signs AB-2655 Protecting Defendants from Unjust Practice of Having to Post Bail Twice

 

March 30, 2016

Bail, the Next Frontier of Criminal Justice Reform

 

February 14, 2016

More People Exonerated in 2015 Than Any Other Year

 

January 16, 2016

Death Penalty Endgame

 

December 14, 2015

Stanislaus County Announces Veteran's Court Beginning in 2016

 

Oklahoma Governor Halts Glossip Execution

 

September 3, 2015

Death Penalty Controversy a Hot News Topic in Recent Weeks.

 

June 29, 2015

Oklahoma Controversy over Lethal Injection

 

May 28, 2015

Nebraska Follows California in Death Penalty Moratorium

 

July 31, 2014

Doug Maner, National Trial Lawyers Top 100

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking News

FEBRUARY 17-20, 2017

 

2017 CAPITAL CASE DEFENSE SEMINAR

 

California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) and the California Public Defenders' Association (CPDA) are pleased to invite you to participate in the 2017 Capital Case Defense Seminar (CCDS). The CCDS is an intensive educational opportunity for anyone involved in, or considering taking on, the defense of a capital case. It is designed not only for lawyers, but also for mitigation specialists, paralegals, investigators, and experts working in capital defense. The CCDS will also include sessions addressing murder and felony charges other than capital cases.

THIS WEEK, DOUG MANER IS Attending 2017 Capital Case Defense Seminar, . Seminar is focused on effective defense of Capital Cases. The ACLU will be consulting with Southern California Trial Teams. The ACLU consulting team stated, "Due to aggressive prosecutors and insufficient defense resources, Southern California counties continue to buck national trends and lead the country in new death sentences each year. This trend is even more concerning in light of the passage of Proposition 66

For further information about this seminar, follow this link:http://www.cacj.org/Events/CACJ-CPDA-CCDS-Registration.aspx

DECEMBER 6, 2016

Plea Deal for Defendant in Turlock Sikh Temple Fight

My client and his wife are devoted members  of their temple and leaders of their religious community.  .  Unfortunately, they  were arrested after a rival faction who unsuccessfully tried to take over their temple staged a riot during services. They were charged with several serious felonies and were facing significant jail time and ominous immigration consequences.  The law office of Douglas Maner was able to keep them out of jail while they fought their case, and ultimately got the court to dismiss all of the charges against one spouse, and most of the charges against the other spouse, whose case will ultimately be dismissed as part of a negotiated disposition.

In it's report on the passage of Prop 57, Pacific Juvenile Defense Center noted, "In enacting Proposition 57, the voters clearly expressed a desire for increased rehabilitation of juvenile and adults involved in the criminal justice system.  The transfer provisions assure that any decision to transfer a young person to adult court will be made with a full understanding of the young person’s background and an assessment of his or her capacity for change."

They were also an organization that was actively involved in crafting this proposition, drafting the initial initiative and putting it before the Governor's office and fighting the DA's office when it sued to stop the initiative, and working to get out the vote.

For more information see http://www.pjdc.org

California Lawmakers Want to Reform a Bail System they say 'Punishes the Poor for Being Poor'

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy prepares to unlock a security door to a cell block at L.A. County Men's Central Jail in 2011. Some legal experts say certain municipality policies have turned jails into modern-day debtors prisons. (Los Angeles Times)

The state of California is overdue for a major reform of its bail system, which improperly incarcerated almost half of those accused of a crime.

Until that reform occurs, be sure to work with a lawyer with extensive expertise in navigating the bail system to make sure that you're loved one can fight his or her case from home instead of a jail cell.

The Law office of Douglas Maner has an excellent track record of reducing or eliminating bail for his clients, saving thousands of dollars in bail fees and returning them to their homes and jobs.

Read the full article here:

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-bail-reform-california-20161204-story.html

November 14, 2016

 

PROP 57 PASSES ENDING DIRECT FILING OF JUVENILE CASES

In the November 8 Election, California voters voted nearly 2 to 1 for the passage of Prop 57, The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act.

PROP 57 OPENS THE DOOR TO INCREASED REHABILITATION OF JUVENILES AND ADULTS INVOLVED IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

Because of this Act, Direct Filing by prosecutors of cases involving Juveniles in Adult Court will be eliminated. Only a Judge will be able to decide whether a juvenile will be transfered to adult court . This decision will be based on five criteria and will include consideration of factors such as the youngster‘s maturity, ability to assess risks and consequences, influence of family or peer pressure, the impact of community environment, trauma, and the youth‘s capacity to grow and mature.

Nonviolent Offenders also stand to benefit by Prop 57 which provides for the possibility of earlier parole for those serving sentences for nonviolent crimes, and allows the prison system to offer time credits to those who have improved themselves through education and rehabilitation programs.

In it's report on the passage of Prop 57, Pacific Juvenile Defense Center noted, "In enacting Proposition 57, the voters clearly expressed a desire for increased rehabilitation of juvenile and adults involved in the criminal justice system.  The transfer provisions assure that any decision to transfer a young person to adult court will be made with a full understanding of the young person’s background and an assessment of his or her capacity for change."

They were also an organization that was actively involved in crafting this proposition, drafting the initial initiative and putting it before the Governor's office and fighting the DA's office when it sued to stop the initiative, and working to get out the vote.

For more information see http://www.pjdc.org

September 14, 2016

 

DNA BOOTCAMP 2016. CUTTING EDGE SCIENTISTS ON THE FOREFRONT OF DNA TECHNOLOGY FOR THE COURTROOM.

”Even when the odds are a trillion to one there are still ways to mount an effective defense in a DNA Match Case.“  This was one of Doug Maner’s takeaways from the recent DNA BOOTCAMP 2016 he attended last week.

On Nov 3 and 4, the Office of the Federal Public Defender, Northern District of California, and the Contra Costa County Public Defender sponsored an intensive workshop on DNA Analysis and Interpretation for Defense Attorneys.

The Bootcamp was designed for attorneys who have or will work with DNA cases.

Topics covered over two days were fundamentals of DNA testing (including how to read a case file, laboratory procedures, and discovery) and basic statistics (focusing on the various methods used to estimate the significance of a DNA "match"). The second day focused on current issues in DNA analysis (mixtures, transfer, probabilistic genotyping software) and litigating DNA cases (including admissibility challenges and trial strategies).

At the end of each day, participants were given the opportunity to put their learning into practice by applying what they learned that day to a real-life case.

Over the two days, experts in DNA research presented the following topics:

  • DNA Basics. Presented by Chris McKee
  • Deconstructing a Case File & Looking for Errors. Presented by   Laura Schile
  • DNA Discovery: Simon Ford
  • Statistics: Andrea Roth
  • Probabilistic Genotyping Software: Dan Krane
  • Cognitive Bias: Erin Morris
  • Transfer & Contamination: Simon Ford
  • Serology: Laura Schile
  • Database Cases: Bicka Barlow/Jennifer Friedman
  • Admissibility Challenges: Jennifer Friedman
  • Trial Strategies: Chris McKee

 

 

November 7, 2016

 

NEW WHITE HOUSE REPORT CALLS BITE-MARK ANALYSIS 'JUNK SCIENCE'

from The Interecept, Sept 7, 2016

by Jordan Smith

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has concluded that forensic bite-mark evidence is not scientifically valid and is unlikely ever to be validated, according to a draft report obtained by The Intercept. The report, titled “Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature-Comparison Methods,” is marked as a “predecisional” draft created August 26 that is not to be quoted or distributed, though the title page suggests the report will be made public sometime this month.

The report reviews a handful of common forensic practices, so called feature-comparison disciplines, or pattern-matching practices — bite-mark analysis, fingerprint and firearm analysis, shoe tread analysis, and DNA mixture analysis — each of which involves an “expert” looking at a piece of evidence and eyeballing whether it matches a particular image, person, or object. The report discusses whether each practice has been scientifically validated, what it would take to do so, and how each practice should be used in the courtroom — if at all..

 

CONTINUE READING HERE

CALIFORNIA GANG DATABASE RIFE WITH ERRORS AND INCONSISTENCIES.

By Richard Winton, LA Times, August 11, 2016

 

A California gang database maintained by law enforcement agencies is rife with unsubstantiated entries, names that should have been purged long ago and glaring errors, a state audit released Thursday found.

 

As a result of poor oversight, the CalGang database, which includes the names of more than 150,000 suspected gang members and affiliates, contains questionable information that may violate the privacy rights of many individuals, according to the audit.

 

In one of the most telling examples, auditors found the names of 42 people whose birth dates indicated they were one year of age or younger at the time they were entered into the database. Of those, 28 were entered for “admitting to being gang members,” according to State Auditor Elaine M. Howle.

 

Although state-funded, the CalGang database is overseen by an executive board and advisory committee made up of local law enforcement officials with no statutory authority. Howle noted that model means there is almost no public transparency or scrutiny of its work.

 

"Our review uncovered numerous examples demonstrating weaknesses in the user agencies' approaches for entering information into CalGang," auditors wrote.

 

For decades the database has been a way for police officers to check on suspected gang ties and affiliations.

 

A sample of data from four user agencies — Los Angeles and Santa Ana police and Santa Clara County and Sonoma County sheriffs — found they “could not substantiate numerous CalGang entries they had made, demonstrating weaknesses in the processes for entering, evaluating and auditing the data in CalGang,” the audit said.

 

A review of 100 individuals placed in the database by the four agencies found 13 were “inappropriately included.”

 

Auditors found more than 600 individuals who were still listed even though their files should have been purged because they hadn’t been updated within five years. Many of those records were not scheduled to be purged for more than 100 years.

 

In 2015, nearly 15,000 gang members or affiliates were added to the system while a little over 33,000 were removed. The database is overwhelmingly male — some 93.1% — and disproportionately minority — 64.9% Latino and 20.5% black.

 

Los Angeles and Santa Ana, the auditors noted, failed to fully implement a 2014 state law that requires juveniles and their parents to be notified before their names are added to the gang database so they could contest the decision. Of 129 juvenile records examined from the two agencies, 70% had been added without proper notification.

 

The LAPD did not explain the reasons why some minors were being added to the database and in some cases did not notify the juveniles at all or only after they were added.

 

Howle recommended that CalGang be overhauled with a new oversight structure, administered by the state Department of Justice.

 

Other recommendations include conducting public hearings and adopting new entry, review and information-sharing requirements. The audit called for police agencies across the state to do a comprehensive review of their entries.

 

Representatives of civil rights organizations said the audit confirmed what many have long suspected.

 

”CalGang is an ineffective tool full of inaccuracies that result in violations of people's rights,” said Peter Bibring, director of police practices at the ACLU of California.

 

Many of the police agencies cited in the audit agreed with its recommendations.

 

In a response to the draft report, LAPD Deputy Chief Matt Blake said the department is revising its standards and expects to complete reviews in the next couple of years of all its 40,000 entries.

 

Blake, however, questioned the report’s suggestion that the database entries had violated privacy rights, saying the accusation might harm public trust in law enforcement.  He also praised his gang detail officers for their ability to identify gang members.

 

Similarly, Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas in a letter questioned how the report could praise his department’s work in notifying juvenile’s families but still be dinged for its overall performance on that issue.

 

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department disputed the audit findings, saying the department met state guidelines for entries.

 

richard.winton@latimes.com

 

 

July 22, 2016

Breaking News: GOV. BROWN SIGNS AB-2655 PROTECTING DEFENDANTS FROM UNJUST PRACTICE OF HAVING TO POST BAIL TWICE.

Back in March, we wrote about the unfair cost of bail to poor defendants accused of crimes in California. Today, Govenor Brown signed AB-2655 protecting defendants from having to post bail twice and giving them the opportunity to extend bail for up to 90 days if the District Attorney's office fails to file charges.

CACJ -July 22, 2016 -  CACJ's sponsored "bail exoneration bill", AB 2655, authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), was signed today by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill amends Penal Code 1305 to prevent the unjust practice of alleged defendants having to post bail twice due to no fault of their own, giving them the option of extending their bail for up to 90 days if the DA fails to file charges. Before People v. Lumberman's Insurance, (2010) 190 Cal. App. 4th, 823, the general court practice was to continue an arraignment and allow a court to retain jurisdiction over a defendant's bond. However, following the Lumberman's case, if a prosecutor does not file a criminal complaint within the statutory 15 days, the court loses jurisdiction over the bond. If the DA files charges after the statutory 15-day limit, the defendant, in some counties, have been forced to post a second bond and pay additional premiums.

May 24, 2016

A WIN-WIN DAY FOR CLIENTS AT THE LAW OFFICE OF DOUGLAS D. MANER: TWO DISMISSALS IN ONE DAY

 

TUES, MAY 24, was a great day for two clients of our law firm. WE were able to obtain dismissals from the District Attys office on behalf of two of our clients.

First client is a travelling nurse who was working temporarily in Modesto and was the victim of identity fraud. Unfortunately, the police saw it differently and arrested her. The DA had charged her with two felonies and viewed her as the perpetrator of the fraud, not the victim.

She retained us the day of a court hearing where the judge had indicated that he would revoke her bail, and put her in jail. We were able to convince the court that it would be improper to put our client in jail and that justice would be served by enabling her to fight her case while free from jail custody.

After extensive preparation and work on this case, we were able to convince the DA that our client was innocent and that this case should be dismissed. The dismissal of charges against our client was doubly important to her as any conviction would have resulted in a loss of her license to practice nursing and ended her career that she had taken decades to perfect.

Our other client that had a tremendous result was a purported marijuana cultivator. He and his co- defendants had an extensive and very sophisticated marijuana grow out in the country on the outskirts of Stanislaus County. The police seized 850 fully mature marijuana plants and 250 pounds of product. Our client and his associates were charged with several felonies relating to allegedly illegal cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale.

Initially the DA wanted felony convictions and extensive jail time. This case involved extensive legal motion work and behind the scenes persuasion with the DA office. Ultimately, rather than fight the motions we had pending, the DA decided to dismiss all charges against our client, and several other alleged marijuana growers who were arrested and prosecuted with him.

March 30, 2016

Bail, the next frontier of criminal justice reform

  • New task force looking at alternatives to relying on bail bonds companies
  • Practice often punishes poor defendants, who end up in debt or stuck in jail
  • Many other ways exist to ensure people show up for court appearances

 

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article68311437.html#storylink=cpy

 

 

At the law office of Doug Maner, one of our goals is to get our clients out of jail as quickly as possible. One very effective technique is a own recognizance /bail reduction motion. Just recently we were able to secure an OR release for one of our clients accused of two separate first degree burglaries, normally a $100,000 bail, over the district attorney 's heated objections. If you or a loved one are in jail and charged with a crime, come see us before paying thousands of dollars to a Bail bondsman.

FEB 22, 2016

VETERAN'S TREATMENT COURT - WHAT IS IT AND WHY SHOULD WE HAVE IT?

 

Over 1.8 million Veterans currently reside in California. Of those, 1.5 million live within a county that has diversion procedures in place for current or former members of the military.  California Department of Veterans' Affairs (CalVet) works to provide support to veterans who are justice involved through coordinated efforts with County Veteran Service Offices (CVSO) and California’s criminal justice system.  Much of the growth surrounding veteran specific diversion can be attributed to the various statutes that have been added to the California Penal Code (PC), and the notable efforts of public defenders, prosecutors, and presiding judges that have selflessly devoted themselves to serving those who served.

 

Veterans' Treatment Courts have been designed as a response to the growing trend of veterans appearing before the courts to face charges stemming from substance abuse or mental illness. Veteran populations are frequently served by drug and mental health courts. Research has shown that traditional services do not always adequately meet the needs of veterans. Veterans treatment courts helpt present and former members of the military connect with treatment programs and benefits through the Veteran's Administration to which they are entitled.

 

“According to government reports, there are 23,440,000 veterans in the United States and approximately 1.7 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that as many as one third of the adult homeless population has served in the military and that at any given time there are as many as 130,000 homeless veterans. This population mirrors the general homeless population in that 45% suffer mental illness and 75% suffer from substance abuse problems. Veterans are not more likely to be arrested than the general population. But there are significant numbers of veterans involved with the criminal justice system, many of whom struggle with mental health and/or substance abuse illnesses. A 2000 Bureau of Justice Statistics Report found that 81% of all justice involved veterans had a substance abuse problem prior to incarceration, 35% were identified as suffering from alcohol dependency, 23% were homeless at some point in the prior year, and 25% were identified as mentally ill.”*

 

* Source: http://www.courts.ca.gov/11181.htm#acc11380

FEB 14, 2016

MORE PEOPLE EXONERATED IN 2015 THAN IN ANY OTHER YEAR

 

More people were exonerated in 2015 in the U.S. than any other year. 149 exonerations: 50 for murder. 5 death penalty cases. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, an exoneration in the past were a rare occurrence. They are now seeing about 3 per week. Impressive numbers that speak to the fact that that the police and DA have a mission to convict someone of a crime and NOT to prove your or your family member‘s innocence. You need aggressive representation from someone who's seen the criminal "justice " system from both sides to provide you with a defense that can stand up in court.

 

More statistics we are quoting from the National Registry of Exonerations report:

 

THE CRIMES

 

Homicides: A record 58 defendants were exonerated in homicide cases in 2015, 54 for murder and 4 for manslaughter. They came from 25 states and the District of Columbia. More than two-thirds were minorities, including half who were African American.

Drug Cases: 47 defendants were exonerated of drug possession in 2015—also a record; 42 of them had pled guilty in Harris County, Texas (Houston).

 

• CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CASES

 

False Confessions: 27 exonerations in 2015 were for convictions based on false confessions, another record. More than 80% of these false confessions were in homicide cases (22/27), mostly by defendants who were under 18 or mentally handicapped or both.

Official Misconduct: We know of official misconduct in 65 exonerations in 2015, a record number. Three-quarters of homicide exonerations in 2015 included known official misconduct (44/58).

 

Guilty Pleas: 65 exonerations in 2015 were for convictions based on guilty pleas, more than any previous year. The great majority were drug cases (46/65), but eight were homicide exonerations—all of which included false confessions.

 

No-Crime Cases: A record 75 exonerations in 2015 were cases in which no crime actually occurred. Almost two-thirds were drug cases (48/75), but six were murder convictions and 14 were convictions for other violent felonies.

 

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE.

 

MORE ON EXONERATIONS:

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/02/03/more-people-were-exonerated-in-2015-in-the-u-s-than-any-other-year/

January 16, 2016

DEATH PENALTY ENDGAME

NY TIMES SUNDAY REVIEW EDITORIAL

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

 

 

How does the death penalty in America end?

 

For decades that has been an abstract question. Now there may be an answer in the case of Shonda Walter, a 36-year-old black woman on Pennsylvania’s death row. On Friday, the Supreme Court met to discuss whether to hear a petition from Ms. Walter, who is asking the justices to rule that in all cases, including hers, the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishments.

 

Ever since 1976, when the court allowed executions to resume after a four-year moratorium, the abolition movement has avoided bringing a broad constitutional challenge against the practice, believing that it would not succeed. In that time, 1,423 people have been put to death.

 

Yet there is no question that the national trend is moving away from capital punishment. Since the late 1990s, almost every year has seen fewer executions, fewer new death sentences and fewer states involved in the repugnant business of killing their citizens.

 

In 2015, there were 28 executions and 49 new death sentences, the lowest numbers in decades. Seven states have abandoned the practice entirely since 2004, for a total of 19 that no longer have the death penalty. Many others have not executed anyone for years. And only three states — Texas, Georgia and Missouri — were responsible for almost all of last year’s executions.

 

A majority of Americans still support capital punishment, but the percentage favoring it has dropped from around 80 percent in the 1990s to about 60 percent now. When polls offer a choice between death and life without parole, people roughly split evenly.

 

In the past 14 years alone, the Supreme Court has barred the execution of several categories of people: minors, the intellectually disabled, and those convicted of a crime other than murder. In that last case, decided in 2008, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court, “When the law punishes by death, it risks its own sudden descent into brutality, transgressing the constitutional commitment to decency and restraint.”

 

Taken together, these signs have led some abolitionists to conclude that the conditions for ending capital punishment entirely are now as favorable as they might ever be. That argument got a major boost last June, when Justice Stephen Breyer, in a long dissent from a 5-to-4 ruling that allowed Oklahoma to proceed with its inhumane lethal-injection drug protocol, suggested he would be open to a case challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty itself.

Continue reading the main story

 

In his dissent, which was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Breyer explained in detail how the death penalty was unreliable, arbitrary and racially discriminatory. He said it was no longer sufficient simply “to patch up the death penalty’s legal wounds one at a time,” because the practice as a whole “most likely” violates the Eighth Amendment.

 

Shonda Walter’s case is the first to take up Justice Breyer’s challenge. Ms. Walter was convicted of murdering an 83-year-old man named James Sementelli. Her appointed lawyers put on no defense and offered no argument that might have spared her from a death sentence. Pennsylvania appeals courts agreed that she had inexcusably bad representation, but they still upheld her conviction and sentence. Since Ms. Walter does not fit the special categories of defendants who are shielded from the death penalty, her appeal is based on the claim that all executions violate the Constitution.

 

The justices may not grant Ms. Walter’s petition (others are also expected to be filed in the coming weeks), but they can no longer ignore the clear movement of history. They already have all the evidence they need to join the rest of the civilized world and end the death penalty once and for all.

 

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