2 Jurors Replaced at LASD Fed Trial…SCOTUS Clears Way for Conversion Therapy Ban….Booker & Smith Introduce Better Options for Kids ActJuly 1st, 2014 by Celeste Fremon
Jurors began deliberations last Tuesday on the obstruction of justice trial in which six members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department are accused of deliberately getting in the way of a federal grand jury investigation into widespread brutality and corruption in the LA County jail system.
By Friday afternoon, attorneys and trial watchers speculated optimistically that the jury might have the end of its deliberations at least in sight, and thus could possibly produce a verdict some time Monday.
Then Monday rolled around and all optimism vanished when two jurors were replaced alternates.
The first juror, a woman, was replaced Monday morning after she sent the judge a note resulting in a series of lengthy sidebars between Judge Percy Anderson and the two groups of attorneys involved, the prosecution and the defense.
Although Anderson sealed the content of the note, the reason that the juror needed or wanted to be replaced appeared to be something singular enough that it required animated discussion on the part of judge and lawyers prior Anderson making a final decision on the matter. Hence the sidebars.
Finally at 9:45 a.m., Anderson called the remaining eleven jurors back in and announced to them that an alternate was to replace one of their number. This meant, he explained, that they were now a brand new jury and must begin deliberating all over again as if their previous deliberations had never occurred.
The eleven who’d been at this for more than four days did not look thrilled at this “start your deliberations anew” set of instructions, but they filed out dutifully.
After about a half hour of deliberations the “new” jury sent a note to Anderson wanting to know if they could change their lunch location, which seemed to suggest that they had not yet gotten into any kind of deliberative stride.
Then at 12:30 or so, yet another note. This time from a second juror (also a woman) who, because of some kind of emergent personal situation, needed to be excused permanently right away. The juror appeared to be controlling distress and Judge Anderson excused her without much fuss after thanking her formally but warmly, for her time and service.
In came the rest of the jury members who were, again, told that one of their group was being replaced. This time the alternate juror was a man, disrupting the previous six-six split of males to females on the panel.
The jury was informed that it was now a new new jury, and thus must again “start your deliberations anew…” and so on.
If the panel members looked uncheery before, at this second set of instructions to totally reboot they looked visibly grim. Yet, they also still looked, for the most part, reasonably willing and determined.
With the exception of one last jury note that had something to do with a juror whose boss was getting irritated that he or she had been out so long, the rest of the afternoon was uneventful….
….and without a verdict.
U.S. SUPREME COURT SAYS NO TO HEARING APPEAL OF CALIFORNIA LAW BANNING GAY CONVERSION THERAPY
California’s first-of-its-kind law banning “reparative therapies,” which are designed to turn gay kids straight, was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by governor Jerry Brown in fall 2012, but it has yet to take effect because of court challenges by those opposed to the statute.
In August 2013, the 9th Circuit ruled that the practice, which is not supported by the scientific mainstream and has been shown to be damaging to youth, often producing depression and suicidality, was not protected by the First Amendment nor could it be challenged on religious grounds.
The law’s opponents then tried the Supreme Court, which on Monday refused to hear the challenge, thus opening the path for the important ban to finally take effect.
Lisa Leff of the Associated Press has the story Here’s a clip:
The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for enforcement of a first-of-its-kind California law that bars psychological counseling aimed at turning gay minors straight.
The justices turned aside a legal challenge brought by supporters of so-called conversion or reparative therapy. Without comment, they let stand an August 2013 appeals court ruling that said the ban covered professional activities that are within the state’s authority to regulate and doesn’t violate the free speech rights of licensed counselors and patients seeking treatment.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that California lawmakers properly showed that therapies designed to change sexual orientation for those under the age of 18 were outside the scientific mainstream and have been disavowed by most major medical groups as unproven and potentially dangerous.
“The Supreme Court has cement shut any possible opening to allow further psychological child abuse in California,” state Sen. Ted Lieu, the law’s sponsor, said Monday. “The Court’s refusal to accept the appeal of extreme ideological therapists who practice the quackery of gay conversion therapy is a victory for child welfare, science and basic humane principles.”
SENATORS COREY BOOKER & CHRIS MURPHY INTRODUCE BILL TO INCENTIVIZE STATES TOWARD BETTER YOUTH JUSTICE POLICIES USING EXISTING FEDERAL $$$
Last week, U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced something called the Better Options for Kids Act, a bill designed to “incentivize states to replace overly harsh school disciplinary actions and juvenile court punishment with bipartisan, evidence-based solutions that save money, enhance public safety, and improve youth outcomes.”
Interestingly, the bill uses existing funding streams to reward states that adopt policies that replace a purely punitive approach with those that improve youth outcomes. As examples, the bill lists:
Limiting court referrals for school-based non-criminal status offenses (truancy, curfew violations, et al)
Incentivizing school district to have clear guidelines regarding the arrest powers of school resource officers on school grounds
Providing training or funds training for school districts to use non-exclusionary discipline. (NOTE: “Exclusionary discipline” means suspensions, expulsions, and other disciplinary practices that keep students out of the classroom.)
Shifting funding formerly dedicated to secure detention for minors into community-based alternatives for incarceration
Adopting a reentry policy for youth leaving correctional facilities that ensures educational continuity and success.
“This bill represents a serious leap forward in the fight to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, and to build a smarter, more effective, and more compassionate juvenile justice system” said Cory Booker in a statement announcing the bill’s introduction.
Murphy also stated strong sentiments. “When we lock up a child, not only are we wasting millions of taxpayer dollars, we’re setting him or her up for failure in the long run,” he said. “We need to quit being so irresponsible and facilitate better outcomes for youth.”
After he was elected U.S. Senator, former Newark New Jersey mayor Booker promised to make juvenile justice reform one of his top priorities. The Better Options for Kids Act looks like a promising step in that direction.
We’ll keep an eye on the bill’s progress.