Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Monday, November 10, 2008

To seal or unseal an arrest warrant


A candidate for next year's city council races in Riverside steps forward. More information to come in the next posting.

"We had nothing to do with this order. I just wanted to get that on the record."

---Riverside County District Attorney's office prosecutor Zekster, about the motion to seal the arrest warrant in the People of the State of California vs Robert Forman which was granted on Oct. 14.

"I personally believe it denies my right to a fair trial."

---Riverside Police Department Officer Robert Forman

At 8:30 a.m., the Riverside County Superior Court's Hall of Justice was supposed to be hearing a motion filed by the Press Enterprise to unseal the arrest warrant of Riverside Police Department Officer Robert Forman but due to the incredibly broken assembly line that the courts have become, the hearing didn't take place until nearly three hours later.

Presiding Judge Thomas H. Cahraman was left to hear the case for an absent Jean Leonard while balancing criminal caseloads in two separate courtrooms, another sign of how broken down the Riverside County Superior Court system remains mere months after the strike force of judges departed the building. Cahraman would sit and hear cases in Dept. 42 for several minutes then walk next door to Dept. 41 and hear the majority of the case calendar there. Not bad for a judge who some say is next on the list behind Gary Tranbarger to be papered by the District Attorney's office.

Forman was present with his supporter early in the morning but no attorney. People waited on the benches outside or were walking back and forth as Dept. 42 remained quiet with about 15 or so incustody inmates dressed in bright orange suits who were also waiting to have their cases called. Public defenders would periodically come out in the hallway and call people's names for brief conferences but given that there was no judge on the bench, nothing could move forward.

Some individuals recognized Forman whose mug shot taken after his arrest at the Robert Presley Detention Center was in the newspaper or "on the news" and said that they figured being a police officer, he would likely get away with it. One guy said he recognized him as an officer in the La Sierra area of the city. But most people didn't seem aware that he was there even as he was one of the few White individuals not wearing a juror's badge.

At one point, the prosecutor who in the court's records was identified as Zekster came out to try to move the hearing to Dept. 41 to be heard before Cahraman left that bench to return to Dept. 42 to begin that case calendar. Several officers in suits had come by to give support to Forman while he waited.

At any rate, the hearing finally did start in a fairly empty Dept. 41 as Forman sat in the front row and listened as an attorney for the Press Enterprise presented his argument to Cahraman, who didn't seem that prepared to hear the case. After Cahraman quickly reviewed some unspecified documents, the hearing moved forward.

The PE attorney said that he had filed the motion on Oct. 31 and included a copy of the court order sealing the arrest warrant that was signed by Leonard the day that the arrest warrant was issued.

At that time, Zekster spoke for the District Attorney's office and said that there was no objection from that office on the motion. He felt that it was important to mention this because after reading the court order and the rationale for sealing the record, it made it seem that his office had participated in the action of requesting that the arrest warrant be sealed by a judge. He added that somehow this was filed on behalf of "The People" when that office had nothing to do with it.

"If this was ever done, it was completely a mistake," Zekster said.

He said that all defendants should be treated equally and none should be given special treatment which implied that the sealing of this arrest warrant wasn't something that was seen every day by this office either.

Below was the rationale used to ask for the sealing of the arrest warrant in the order that was signed by Leonard.

"Because this is an ongoing investigation and disclosure of the information on the affidavit could hinder the investigation and [illegible] outstanding suspects to the investigation, your affidavit is requesting that this affidavit be sealed pending further order of this court."

So if the District Attorney's office didn't ask for it to be sealed, who or what agency did? Was it the Riverside Police Department? That would be the only other possibility. The attorney for the Press Enterprise said afterward that he was mystified by the decision to seal the entire warrant rather than just redact the names of the listed victims. That would be like what happened with the complaint issued by the District Attorney's office which referred to them as "Jane Does". But he hoped the mystery would be solved on Wednesday and that the records would be unsealed.

Forman who wasn't represented by an attorney said that he wanted to make some comments. Cahmaran admonished him to be careful, because anything he said could be used against him in his prosecution given that a court reporter was in the room putting everything on the record.

"I'm not entirely comfortable quizzing you," Cahraman said, "I'm not comfortable letting you speak."

But Forman did speak and he said that he only found out the evening before that his attorney had chosen not to appear until another retainer was put down to the law firm to hire him. He asked for a continuance for at least two days until he could bring in his attorney.

Cahraman said that on the surface, he couldn't find any reason to deny the motion by the PE to unseal the arrest warrant but he said that he saw no harm in granting the continuance to Forman so that his attorney could appear on his behalf. The PE attorney first argued that the delay would put a financial burden on his clients who had to pay for the motion to be filed and his current appearance to get a record sealed that shouldn't have ever sealed.

The PE's attorney then said that he was leaving the country on Wednesday afternoon so there will be a telephonic appearance by him Wednesday morning when the motion will be heard. Forman is due to be arraigned later in the day on three felony counts including oral copulation under the color of authority and sexual battery in connection with alleged incidents involving three different women in February and April, according to the complaint filed by the District Attorney's office.

The prosecutor chimed in again to say that sealing the arrest warrant wasn't his or his office's idea in case anyone hadn't heard him the first time. After the hearing, he did shake hands with Forman and wish him good luck. Something prosecutors don't usually do with criminal defendants. At least not in Riverside County.

The news broke today that DHL will be closing down its hubs including that at March Air Reserve Base. This comes in the face of over $1 billion in losses suffered by the air freight company and about two years after many Riversiders protested its relocation to March Air Reserve Base and the zoning changes which allowed it to schedule flight departures during the early morning hours.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

The company will close its 262,000-square-foot hub at the March Air Reserve Base by the end of January, said Lori Stone, executive director of the March Joint Powers Authority which oversees redevelopment of the former air force base.

The sole international flight into and out of March Air Reserve Base was moved to LAX last month. The remaining four daily flights connected cities inside the United States.

About 300 employees work in the shipper's rented facility off Interstate 215 in Riverside where packages are sorted and loaded onto trucks and planes from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. nightly.

DHL had been paying rent to March Global Port, the group of private investors charged with developing 350 acres around the base's airfield which subleases the space from the March Joint Powers Authority. Global Port will still pay rent to the authority even after DHL leaves, Stone said.

"At this point we'll get together with Global Port within the next day or two and start strategizing," Stone said by phone.

So it looks like those who have been wearing ear plugs for the past few years can finally cast them aside beginning Jan. 30, 2009. Residents of Mission Grove, Orangecrest, Canyon Crest and later, Alessandro Heights fought to eliminate the night flights and were subjected to being labeled as crazy gadflies getting hysterical about nothing until serious problems emerged regarding the dealings of Globalport which manages the reserve base and the March Joint Powers Commission.

The city of Riverside belatedly threatened to sue DHL and passed a resolution to do so although in reality, the city didn't have much grounds because the air freight company had honored its contract. In fact, DHL could have sued the city for trying to get it to breach its contract. Hundreds of people crowded the city council chambers watching this chapter in the long saga play out but many realized it would accomplish very little and they noted the timing of the vote which was only a week or so before the District 1 Riverside County supervisor race pitting two members of the MJPC incumbent supervisor Bob Buster and Ward Four City Councilman Frank Schiavone. The two former allies turned adversaries had taken opposite positions on the DHL night and early morning flights during one critical vote. Schiavone supported them and Buster cast the sole vote against them.

Not that the last minute push to sue DHL did any good in that regard. Buster beat Schiavone soundly including carrying every precinct in Ward Four.

Here's some comments on the latest development in the DHL story.

(excerpts, Belo Blog)

paul skoog on November 10, 2008 9:34 AM said:

Sorry for those who will lose their job in a difficult economic time. But good ridance to a terrible Riverside business. Not only did local goverments get an economic shafting, because of incentives offered to attract this irresponsible foreign company. Local residents were awakened every night their planes flew over neighborhoods. Hope our leaders have learned something from this failed experiment and will not repeat it.
Chris Bardeen on November 10, 2008 10:18 AM said:

As someone who has suffered through years of loud DHL planes flying over my house and waking up my kids at 3 am, I am glad to hear that this chapter is finally closing. I am sorry for the loss of jobs, however, and I sympathize with workers who thought DHL had made a stronger committment to its US operations.

But this just makes it even more important to figure out a way to have sustainable economic development at March. A large amount of taxpayer money was spent to improve runways, etc. to make March attractive to DHL. Now it appears that that money might have been wasted. It also appears that no one ever did a thorough study to determine whether an air cargo port could be economically competitive, given the presence of Ontario, San Bernandino, and now Victorville airports within the same vicinity. The fact that March is now surrounded by thousands of new residents whose health and property values would be adversely affected by airport development makes it even more problematic. Now there is an opportunity to reassess development at March, taking the viewpoints of all concerned (developers like March Globalport, local residents, the cities of Riverside, Moreno Valley and Perris, and experts like UCR economists) into account. I hope the members of the March Joint Powers Authority will take advantage of this opportunity.
Homeowner on November 10, 2008 10:37 AM said:

I have lived in Mission Grove/Orangecrest area for a few years and have heard all the complaints from the new homeowners about the noises at all hours of the night from the planes leaving/arriving from March Air Reserve Base . Perhaps before you moved to this area, you should have done better research to what was around here. I am so tired of hearing of all your complaints when March's air strip has been here way before all of you. I really feel for the people who will be losing their jobs at this time, right before the holidays and with the economy the way it is. It's a shame!

And also here.

Also scheduled to depart at the end of January is the Greyhound Bus Lines which historically was stationed in the heart of downtown Riverside but will be evicted by a city that doesn't want to be reminded that 85,000 people, the majority of which are seniors, poorer families, military veterans and/or disabled individuals actually pass through downtown. It doesn't fit with the city's vision of the downtown as being a playground for the wealthier populations, intermixed with court systems and city offices. So the city government painted all these riders as criminals and thugs and then cracked jokes about personally driving them to the Greyhound bus terminal in San Bernardino.

Some council members are working with Omnitrans to provide bus transportation from Riverside's downtown to San Bernardino's Greyhound station. So unfortunately for the city, that means that there will be thousands of individuals who are seniors, military veterans, families and/or disabled congregating downtown anyway. Only probably from a different corner.

One city resident speaks out on the departure of Greyhound. He did some research that the city apparently hasn't done on how long it would take to get to San Bernardino's Greyhound Station from Tyler Mall and calculated a 2 1/2 hour trip compared to an hour trip downtown.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Why don't we require that our city leaders take the Greyhound to and from out-of-town functions? Let them spend that extra time wondering why we don't have a Greyhound station in Riverside.

To those who are in support of keeping the Riverside Greyhound station, thank you. For those of you who are sitting on the fence on this issue, please help our efforts.

For those of you who are not in support of keeping the bus station in Riverside because of its tendency to attract a "bad element," then maybe it is time to ask the City Council to close the downtown public library because it attracts a bad element, too.

Let's ask the City Council to close down the Galleria mall. It attracts a bad element, too.

Let's ask the City Council to close down Fairmount Park. It, too, attracts a bad element.

Let's ask the City Council to close down UC Riverside and Riverside Community College, for they must attract bad elements.

Let's ask the City Council to place an income-level restriction on who can enter the Fox Performing Arts Center because that would stop the bad element from hanging out there and asking for handouts.

Why stop there? Let's ask the City Council to institute a curfew. Get everyone in Riverside off the streets by 6 p.m. That would solve the problem, wouldn't it? Greyhound should not to be blamed for whatever element it attracts because this is a citywide problem.

The gasp of shock that you heard will likely be from Mayor Ron Loveridge (and political science professor) when he sees the mention of UCR in such a light while reading this opinion piece.

The corruption trial of a Murrieta Councilman has begun.

Building permits being filed in the Inland Empire
have greatly decreased in the wake of difficult economic times and a collapsed housing market.

(excerpt, Press Enterprise)

Riverside County already has let workers go, and has reassigned staff to reduce the effect from the economic slump, according to a first-quarter county budget report before supervisors last week.

San Bernardino County's building and planning departments simply aren't hiring, officials said.

"We are being very conservative about hiring. We have a lot of vacant positions that I am not looking to fill," said Julie Rynerson Rock, the county's land use services director. "We are in the process of doing a workload analysis. We are just mostly being very conservative."

San Bernardino County so far this year has issued 509 residential permits. In 2005, the county issued more than 2,300 and last year just 1,301, Rynerson Rock said.

George Johnson, director of the Riverside County Transportation and Land Management Department, said the department already has seen significant cutbacks.

In February, the county laid off more than three dozen engineers, building inspectors and supervisors because of a lack of work. Layoffs also hit the county's planning staff in July, Johnson said.

Builders want to change the process during the economic hard times.

The relationship between labor union strategy and the composition of school boards is being discussed here.

Votes are still being counted in several local elections.

More fallout from a plea bargain given by the San Bernardino County District Attorney's office.

One opinion expressed here.

(excerpt, San Bernardino Sun)

The county's top prosecutor wants to dispel any public perception that more than $12,000 in contributions to his campaign in the last two years from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and an attorney had anything to do with a plea bargain that allowed two wealthy tribal members to receive probation and electronic monitoring for plotting to kill a man in 2006.

"This office will not, and cannot, and never will be bought. It doesn't matter who you are," Ramos said. "And that's the most important part of the DA's office - our integrity."

Others here.


Epps' attorney, Frank Peterson, said he cannot fathom how the Barajases averted prison time.

"To me, it goes beyond reason," Peterson said.

But he doesn't believe campaign contributions had anything to do with it.

"I don't think that Mike has any corruption problems," Peterson said.

Still, the plea agreements left some questioning the disposition of the case and how it was reached.

California Secretary of State records show that Ramos received a $7,000 contribution from the tribe exactly one week after the plea bargains were struck in April. But that date isn't consistent with Ramos' campaign statements filed with the county, which show he received the contribution on May 27, the same day Ramos received a $600 contribution from Nunez-Barajas' attorney, Albert Perez Jr.

Perez couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

In July 2007, Ramos received a $5,000 contribution from the tribe.

Despite the coincidences, Ramos said the donations from the tribe were for his annual golf tournament fundraiser held every June.

"The tribe has supported me since 2001, when I first ran in office against my former boss," Ramos said.

A Florida sheriff on his way out fired two deputies within hours of losing his election.

(excerpt, Florida Times-Union)

Darien Police Chief Donnie Howard said Jones called him Wednesday morning.

"At 9 a.m., my phone rang," Howard said. "The sheriff asked me if I had any prisoners at the detention center and I said, 'one.' "

" 'Come and get him and don't bring any back ever, and tell your mayor she's not welcome out here either,' " Howard said Jones told him.

The city pays the Sheriff's Department to house inmates arrested on misdemeanor violations of city ordinances such as traffic stops and DUIs, Howard said. The Sheriff's Department is required to house inmates arrested on state felony charges and magistrate's warrants.

The city prisoner was being held on charges of DUI and driving with a suspended license. He had been released Tuesday night, but Howard said he wasn't aware of that when Jones called.

Howard said he would "shop around" to other county jails to house city prisoners until Jan. 1, when Jessup takes office.

Howard did not speculate on Jones' motives, and Jones did not respond to messages left at his office seeking comment.

"I don't know what he's up to," Howard said. "I worked for him for 12 1/2 years and he's never acted like this toward me."

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