June 11, 2013 |
The trial of George Zimmerman, which opened with jury selection Monday, will address the legal charges against the former neighborhood watchman in the death of Trayvon Martin. But long after the jury reaches its verdict, what happened in Sanford, Fla., on the evening of Feb. 26, 2012, will continue to be litigated in living rooms, barrooms and Internet chat rooms. That is partly because the evidence is ambiguous and only one of the two men who clashed that night is still alive, but it also reflects the fact that so many Americans have invested themselves emotionally in one of two competing narratives about what occurred.
June 9, 2013 |
Simple possession of small amounts of methamphetamine - enough for personal use but presumably not for dealing - is a "wobbler" in California, meaning that offenses can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors. It's different with possession of cocaine, opiates such as heroin and many other addictive drugs; they currently can be charged only as felonies. The state Senate has now passed a bill to bring criminal handling of those drugs into line with methamphetamine, and the measure is before the Assembly.
August 29, 2012
Residents of Los Angeles' single-family homes have their trash picked up weekly by the city's Bureau of Sanitation, but the vast majority of L.A.'s garbage is produced by multifamily residences and businesses, and their waste is collected and dumped by private contractors. State and city laws govern recycling, dumping and emissions and help to balance legitimate environmental and labor concerns against the efficiencies of the marketplace. Now the City Council is set to consider two different plans to impose franchise agreements on these private haulers, and there is some merit to a plan for non-exclusive franchise agreements, which would require haulers to meet city rules and get what amounts to city licenses while still competing for customers.
June 6, 2013 |
The 2010 federal healthcare law will make health coverage available to millions of the uninsured, but it won't reach all of them. In California, county health officials and the Brown administration are now tussling over how much to spend on the remaining uninsured, and on county health programs in general. Gov. Jerry Brown wants to reclaim some of the state tax dollars that counties have been spending because there will be fewer uninsured to care for, and that's not unreasonable. But the state should be careful not to undermine the counties' efforts to protect public health, nor should it deny them the ability to care for more people in a more cost-effective way, if they choose.
August 30, 2011
Beginning Oct. 1, inmates from 33 California prisons who are released on parole will begin reporting to county probation officers rather than state parole agents. The new local authority over "post-release community supervision" will apply only to those whose convictions were for non-serious, nonviolent, non-sex-related offenses. On the same date, newly convicted "non-non-non" offenders will be remitted to county custody — to jail, or to community programs or other sentencing alternatives — instead of being sent to state prison.
April 6, 2011
It's the stuff of a television crime drama: Prosecutors withhold blood evidence that would exonerate the defendant in an attempted armed robbery case. The defendant is then convicted of an unrelated murder after a trial at which he dared not testify lest his previous robbery conviction be mentioned. After 14 years on death row, his execution is imminent. At the last minute, evidence clearing the defendant of the robbery attempt is produced. Later he is tried again for the murder and acquitted.
June 6, 2013 |
A bipartisan bill introduced in the House calls for a review of state laws that criminalize behavior by people with HIV, including many laws that seem anachronistic or inappropriate given what has been learned during the last three decades about the transmission and treatment of the virus that causes AIDS. The bill should be passed. The Repeal HIV Discrimination Act of 2013, introduced by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), would not by itself repeal any state laws.
June 7, 2013 |
There's a lot we don't know about the secret court order giving the federal government access on an "ongoing daily basis" to millions of telephone records, and that's a large part of the problem. But we know enough from a report in Britain's Guardian newspaper, which essentially has been confirmed by officials, to conclude both that current law gives the government too much leeway to monitor the communications of its citizens, and that the Obama administration is exploiting that authority as aggressively as the George W. Bush administration did. The result is a brave new world of pervasive surveillance that Americans should find alarming.
June 13, 2013 |
Los Angeles County Supervisors Gloria Molina, Zev Yaroslavsky and Michael D. Antonovich will be termed out of office next year. Don Knabe will follow two years later. They will leave to their successors the twin challenges they have faced during their tenure: How to break a cycle of injustice and dysfunction to meet the human needs of society's castoffs - the poor, the addicted, the imprisoned, the homeless. And how to reshape county government to meet those needs efficiently and wisely, and to be sure they are solving problems and not exacerbating them.
May 15, 2013 |
When Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell was put on trial for murder, activists seized on the case as a symbol of all that is wrong with abortion in America, and used it to call for tighter restrictions and stepped-up oversight. But though Gosnell's behavior was deplorable, macabre and unquestionably illegal, it was aberrational, not symbolic. He has now been convicted, and he will be punished. This does not weaken the case for safe, legal and accessible abortion. Gosnell, a 72-year-old doctor who was neither an obstetrician nor a gynecologist (having failed to complete a residency in those specialties, according to a grand jury report)