- State high court revises parole appeal guidelines (SF Chronicle)
California courts have been too quick to second-guess decisions by the parole board and the governor that deny release to convicted murderers and other life prisoners, the state Supreme Court said Thursday.
- Annual total of death sentences in California falls to 10 (LA Times)
The number of death sentences issued in California dropped this year to 10, one of the lowest levels since the state reinstated capital punishment in 1978. The decline, from 29 in each of the last two years, may signal that the decades-long appeals process for capital convictions and a 6-year-old moratorium on executions have encouraged prosecutors to seek life sentences without the possibility of parole in more murder cases.
- Sears, Kmart stores in Bay Area survive first round of closings (Oakland Tribune)
No Sears or Kmart stores in the Bay Area were affected by Sears Holding's first wave of expected closures, which were announced Thursday. Sears Holding, the parent company of both chain retail stores, announced Tuesday it would close 100 to 120 stores nationwide in order to shore up its bottom line. On Thursday, it announced 79 stores that will close, but the only California stores targeted were in Southern California -- two Sears locations in San Diego and a Sears store in El Monte will close.
- Muni Wants to Eliminate Stops Again (Bay Citizen)
The public transit system in San Francisco, which carries 700,000 riders a day, is among the slowest in the nation, according to data provided by major metropolitan transit agencies. Muni buses and trains average about eight miles an hour. On downtown streets, buses slow to five miles an hour. The AC Transit buses in the East Bay are relatively zippy at an average of 12 miles an hour... In an attempt to speed travel times, the MTA is planning to reduce the number of stops on eight heavily trafficked routes. They include the 5-Fulton; the N-Judah and J-Church rail lines that crawl once they emerge from the downtown tunnel; the 30-Stockton bus line that inches through Chinatown; and the buses that creep along the crowded and bustling Mission Street. Sections of the 22, 28, 45, 8x and 9 bus lines will also be targeted.
A lone gray wolf has crossed the border into California, marking the return of a fabled creature that vanished from the state 88 years ago. The young male, known as OR7, trotted from southern Oregon into the wilds of Siskiyou County on Wednesday night, California Department of Fish and Game officials said, citing satellite tracking data.
The former attorney for convicted triple murderer Yusuf Bey IV will be suspended from practicing law for two years after she admitted she smuggled documents out of jail for her client, including what she claimed was a love letter to a girlfriend but what turned out to be to instructions to destroy evidence, according to information released Thursday. Lorna Patton Brown, 65, of Berkeley, will have to serve at least six months of the suspension before being eligible to reapply for a law license under a settlement reached with the State Bar Court, which adjudicates discipline cases against attorneys. The State Supreme Court still must approve the settlement agreement, reached after a lengthy investigation of the March 2010 incident.
A young Mendocino man whose legal plight has become a cause célèbre for medical marijuana advocates appeared in Mendocino County court Thursday in hopes of halting extradition to Texas. Mendocino County Judge Ann Moorman told Chris Diaz' attorney, Don Lipmanson, he needed to submit that request to Texas authorities.
On the first day she worked for Hewlett-Packard, Jodie Fisher was taken to dinner by then-CEO Mark Hurd, who touched her with his hand in a way that made her uncomfortable and asked her to spend the night in his room, according to a long-secret letter -- obtained Thursday by this newspaper -- that celebrity attorney Gloria Allred wrote on Fisher's behalf.