- Attorney General
- Attorney General
Exonerate Kenneth Clair: DNA Evidence Points to Someone Else.
On November 15, 1984, 5-year-old Jerrod Hessling witnessed the beating, rape, and stabbing death of his babysitter. When asked to describe the killer, he said, without hesitation, that it was a white male. Another child present during the murder saw a white man’s tattooed arm reach inside the house to open a sliding glass door. Yet somehow, the lawyers in the case determined that Kenneth Clair, a dark-skinned African-American homeless man who had been squatting next door, was the killer. When Jerrod saw him on the witness stand and insisted they had the wrong man, the prosecution chalked it up to youth and trauma and pursued the death penalty for Kenneth Clair. To this day, 31 years later, Mr. Clair sits on San Quentin’s death row, awaiting his execution date. [UPDATE: I was recently made aware that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals secretly overturned Mr. Clair’s death sentence and changed it to life in prison without parole. This is mixed news -- his life is spared, but he no longer has the right to an attorney under habeas corpus laws, and he has not been granted a retrial. That means the exonerating DNA evidence will NOT be seen in court. We now have to focus our energy on asking Governor Jerry Brown and California State Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate the case and exonerate Kenneth Clair for this crime he did not commit. It is Mr. Clair’s only remaining chance for justice. ] But that’s not the biggest bombshell in this case -- in 2008, forensic testing revealed that DNA found on the murder victim did not match Clair’s. DNA taken from a glove found at the scene also did not match. It matches another individual, but the Orange County District Attorney insists that “confidentiality is required” concerning this evidence, and for 7 years now, the identity of the person whose DNA does match the swab has remained a secret. In the interest of justice, we must call on the Orange County DA and California state lawmakers to demand that the DNA evidence be turned over to Kenneth Clair’s defense. Since his conviction, Clair has struggled with ineffective counsel. He wanted his lawyers to work at investigating the crime, rather than simply trying to free him from death row, but they never did. His plea for substitute counsel even made it to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012, and he did eventually receive a switch of counsel. Finally, he is being represented by people who are dedicated to his exoneration. But their hands are tied without this crucial DNA evidence, and more of Clair’s precious life is wasting away in prison as they fight to obtain it. Please sign my petition if you feel that the disclosure of the identity of a possible “person of interest” is something that the prosecution should not be allowed to withhold.
Release Daniel Larsen, Ruled Innocent
In 2010, after spending more than 10 years in prison, a federal court found my fiance Daniel Larsen innocent. His 1999 conviction for possession of a concealed weapon was overturned and he was ordered released. But Attorney General Kamala Harris appealed this ruling and today Daniel is still in prison - stuck in legal limbo - two years after being declared innocent. In 1999, Daniel was convicted of possession of a concealed weapon (a knife) and sentenced to 28-years-to-life under California's Three Strikes Law. Two police officers claimed they had saw him throw a knife under a car in a bar parking lot, something he didn't do. There were nine witnesses to prove his innocence - including a Chief of Police from North Carolina, who happened to be within five feet of Daniel at the time the officers claimed to have seen him toss the knife. But because of ineffective legal representation, these witnesses would not be part of his defense. In July 2008, the California Innocence Project filed a habeas petition in the Federal District Court for the Central District of California. One year later, the court held an evidentiary hearing in which three witnesses testified as to Daniel's innocence. Among the witnesses were the Chief of Police and his wife. After a hearing on the matter, the federal court found not only that Daniel was innocent but also that his trial attorney's representation was constitutionally deficient in failing to call these witnesses at the time of his trial. On June 14, 2010, the District Court judge reversed his conviction and ordered him released. But he remains in prison pending the Attorney General's appeal. Daniel and I have plans to make a life together - he's already spent 13 years in prison for a crime he was found innocent of. Please join me in asking Attorney General Kamala Harris to drop her office's appeal to Daniel Larsen's release.
Bring Lexi Home
There is a 6 year old little girl who has been ripped away from the only family that she has ever known. Her name is Lexi. The first year of her life she moved from foster placement to foster placement. Lexi has been with a loving, stable family for nearly five years and is thriving and a happy, healthy little girl. To Lexi this family is her everything - her mommy, daddy and brother and sisters. Unfortunately, since Lexi is 1.5% Choctaw, the state of California and LA County have allowed the Indian Child Welfare Law to devastate this family and abduct Lexi from her Mommy and Daddy on Monday to move her to Utah to live with a non-blood related family who aren't even members of the tribe, providing heartless and false justification. I'm pleading with you to please sign our petition & pass this around to everyone you know. LA County & California need to know that Lexi's rights, stability and permanence matter! Yes, this happened in America, let's make sure Lexi comes homes & it doesn't happen again! Here is a link to the Court of Appeals decision regarding how the ICWA law should consider best interests of a child: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/archive/B252999.PDF Please sign this petition so we can fight for justice for Lexi, whose only desire is to come HOME to her mommy, daddy, sisters, brother and friends. Here's how you can show love and support to the family: VISIT: www.facebook.com/SaveOurLexi VISIT: www.SaveOurLexi.com to learn the facts & find out how to help
Demand A Strong EPA For Our Bays
Let’s not trash the EPA. Reject Scott Pruitt as its new chief. Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works recently boycotted the vote for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s nomination to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This comes as widespread, bipartisan concerns are being raised about Pruitt's record of challenging the core mission of the agency he’s been asked to lead. Many question Pruitt’s future commitment to protect public health, enforce the law, and hold corporations accountable to maintain healthy water, air, and land in their business practices. Pruitt has sued the EPA on behalf of regulated industries more than a dozen times in an attempt to weaken regulations such as the federal Clean Water Act. These regulations form the bedrock of our work at Heal the Bay and our sister organizations across the nation. They are hard-fought gains that were direct responses to past disasters. We cannot go back. A silenced, weakened EPA is a threat to our Bays. The U.S. Senate will vote on the appointment of Pruitt as EPA chief in the coming hours amid growing concerns about a broad directive from the new administration to censor EPA research, indefinitely. As a trusted ocean and watershed advocate, Heal the Bay is guided by the best science, not emotion. Over the last 30 years, we have seen first-hand how the EPA and its partner organizations can improve public health for Angelenos through environmental policies and regulations. A weakened EPA means turning back the clock on our critical programs in Greater Los Angeles that monitor beach water quality, prevent unsafe consumption of locally caught fish, protect our dwindling wetlands, and keep our streams and watersheds healthy to buffer communities from climate change. Scott Pruitt won’t do it. Our vital work is far from over. Sea level rise poses a real and immediate threat to many U.S. cities that are unprepared to adapt to the impacts of climate change. We need strong EPA leadership and funding now more than ever. These issues affect us all. Sign this petition urging the U.S. Senate to reject Pruitt’s nomination for EPA chief. Tell our elected officials to maintain strong EPA funding for programs that affect our Bays nationwide. Call your local senators directly in the next 24 hours to make sure your voice is heard.
Ban Assault Weapons and Large Ammunition Magazines
My name is Tiffany, and I am a student in California. The shooting in San Bernardino that left 14 people dead really opened my eyes to the seriousness of this gun violence epidemic we’re experiencing in the United States. It also left me confused. Like a lot of people, I thought those assault-style weapons used in the shooting were banned in California. With some research, I discovered there are a lot of loopholes, and I am hoping this petition will help close them. A major loophole in California’s assault weapon ban allows possession of guns with detachable ammunition magazines, as long as they have a button-release mechanism, since their magazines are then considered fixed rather than detachable. Another loophole is that California does not ban kits that allow a person to convert a lawful firearm into an assault weapon. Why? California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, but these loopholes are unnecessary and dangerous. According to the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the San Bernardino shooters used one of these legal conversion kits to turn one of their rifles into an assault weapon, and the other rifle had a detachable magazine with a “button mechanism.” What’s more, they further modified their rifles illegally to enable them to shoot more rounds, more quickly. This is unacceptable. If these guns can be modified to become rapid killing machines, they should not be sold at all. The general public doesn’t need access to weapons designed to take down lots of human targets. I’m calling on California legislators to enact a complete ban on assault-style weapons. Had there been a full assault weapon ban at the time the shooters’ weapons were purchased, it would have been much harder for them to get the types of guns that take so many human lives in such a short time. We need to make it harder for bad people to get their hands on weapons that allow them to inflict so much carnage. I hope you will join me in calling for the loopholes to be closed, so we can get assault weapons fully banned in California. We don’t need any more tragedies like San Bernardino to teach us that these guns inflict too much damage.
Demand an Independent Investigation of the Bay Area-Oakland Police Sex Scandal
The Background Bay Area cities have been rocked by allegations that 30 officers from seven different law enforcement agencies in four counties were having sex with Celeste Guap, a sex worker who was underaged for at least some of those encounters. The agencies are the following: Oakland Police Department, Richmond Police Department, San Francisco Police Department, Livermore Police Department, Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department, Alameda County Sheriff's Department, and Defense Logistics Agency If evidences proves the allegations true, at least some of the law enforcement officers are guilty of exploiting children, supporting human trafficking, and statutory rape. Other officers only had sex with her after she turned 18, but even then prostitution is neither a victimless crime nor legal. But the potential crimes by our law enforcement officers do not end there. Oakland officers repeatedly provided confidential information about sting operations and conducted background checks on people for Ms. Celeste Guap. Even more disturbingly, Ms. Guap also stated that she participated in cocaine parties with Richmond and Oakland police officers. While city officials and the police departments want to hold internal investigations, citizens in the involved cities cannot trust the results of an "in-house" investigation for issue of this magnitude, particularly when so many officers, including high ranking police officials, are involved. In just one outrageous example, Alameda County's investigation of allegations against four deputies cleared the deputies of all charges - without ever interviewing Ms. Guap. See http://abc7news.com/news/i-team-exclusive-raising-questions-about-bay-area-police-sex-scandal/1406109/ Clearly this is a regional issue involving seven law enforcement departments in four counties. The response needs to be regional in nature with one, single independent investigation ongoing, not seven local internal investigations. The Call We demand a thorough, aggressive, and independent investigation by the State of California Attorney General's office. Only an independent investigation will have the integrity of process required to deliver findings that can be trusted by citizens. An independent investigation will ensure that any other issues that may emerge in the course of the investigation will be fully examined in all four counties. We further believe that given the overall size and complexity of this investigation, it must be lead by the California Attorney General's office. *The photo at the top shows texting exchanges between Ms. Celeste Guap and Richmond Police Department Lieutenant Andre Hill. Image captured by the East Bay Express.
Stop SB 249!
SB 249 is a MASSIVE GUN BAN and would make thousands of law-abiding California gun owners into criminals and subject hundreds of thousands of legal firearms to state-sponsored confiscation. We must STOP SB 249! For more information, please visit StopSB249.org.
Mayor Liccardo Resignation
The Mayor of the sanctuary city of San Jose California allowed lawlessness yesterday evening during a Trump rally by ordering police to stand down while law biding citizens were harrassed and beaten. Then he blames Mr. Trump for the actions of illegal THUGS. We need to send a message that the laws of this country need to be enforced and we can not allow lawlessness to try and advance his liberal agenda.
Appeal undemocratic and inhumane foie gras decision
As a California chef concerned with how food is produced, I believe the recent ruling by a U.S. District Judge striking down California’s ban on the sale of force fed duck liver encourages unethical business practices and intrudes on every state’s right to make laws about animal welfare. As you know, this decision struck down a humane law that passed with bi-partisan support and gave businesses eight years to comply. Further, the ruling relies on flawed legal reasoning--as explained recently by the LA Times Editorial Board. If you do not appeal this decision by the Feb. 6 deadline, this single judge’s mistake will have short-circuited the democratic process--leaving the millions of Californians who support humane treatment of animals with no voice, and having a negative impact nationwide on state legislation on behalf of animals, consumer protection, workers, and more. I urge you to appeal this unjust ruling.
Request the FBI Investigate the Disappearance of Ember Skye Graham
Thursday, July 2, 2015, Ember Skye Graham was reported missing from her playpen by her father, Matthew Graham. On July 1, Ember, Matthew, and Ember’s mother, Jamie, spent the day shopping and eagerly preparing for their future together. Jamie was going to be moving into the trailer that Matthew lived in on his cousin’s property and Matthew was beginning junior college in the fall. Although Ember had been diagnosed with a seizure disorder at two months of age, she had been virtually seizure-free since beginning the medication prescribed to her by her doctors at UC Davis. Matthew and Jamie hoped the doctors might even allow them to try to wean Ember off the medication after her next appointment. Everything was falling into place for their little family. Matthew woke sometime after 5:00 a.m. on July 2. His bed and Ember’s playpen were at opposite ends of the trailer. Ember’s playpen was nearest the door. Matthew immediately realized that the trailer door he’d closed the night before was now open and Ember was not there. Frantically, Matthew called 911 and made his way to his cousin’s home also located on the 2-acre property. Sobbing, he explained that Ember was missing. His call to 911 dropped due to poor cell service. He called Jamie and called 911 again. He also called his mother. Jamie and her family arrived within moments of law enforcement from Shasta County Sheriff’s Office. Jamie and Matthew were taken for questioning off-site. Matthew was ultimately held on a violation of his probation due to failing to complete his workdays as required by his sentence. He was also held on drug charges that were all later dropped and never proven. Matthew Graham was never named a suspect in Ember’s disappearance. As the last person to have seen Ember, he was a person of interest. The term “person of interest” has no legal meaning, but refers to someone in whom the police are "interested,” either because the person is cooperating with the investigation, may have information that would assist the investigation, or possesses certain characteristics that merit further attention. (source: Wikipedia) Shasta County Sheriff’s Office released a scathing portrait of Matthew and the property on which he lived. The information from this report has not been explained nor sourced, but it has been demonstrated at times to be untrue. Exaggeration and vocabulary choice compounded the false sense of the situation and incited fury and horror, causing the public to focus on Matthew. Matthew’s life was threatened repeatedly and there were calls made for individuals to hunt him down. Matthew fled. He gave his family no explanation of his actions. We know it is possible he may have been following a lead in Oregon. He also may have been running for his life. In the end, he was trapped in a garage in Dunsmuir, California, surrounded by police from at least three different agencies with AR-15s and K9s while law enforcement helicopters flew overhead. Matthew was killed after being shot multiple times by 13 members of law enforcement. As of now, it seems that Shasta County put in more money and effort and called in more resources to kill Ember’s father than they are willing to put into investigating the possible abduction of Ember Skye Graham herself. Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko gave a news conference shortly afterward in which he stated Matthew’s death “would certainly impede the investigation because we believe that Matthew Graham was the only person that knew the whereabouts of baby Ember Graham.” It is unclear on what he bases this belief. The standard for law enforcement should be much higher than “belief.” It should be proof. To date, law enforcement, citing the “open investigation” has been unwilling to share any such proof with anyone, including Matthew’s wife and Ember’s mother, Jamie Graham. The Graham family and Ember’s maternal family, the Tomlins, are often unable to get calls back from law enforcement regarding this case. We are uncertain if tips are being investigated. In the meantime, Sergeant Pat Kropholler of Shasta County Major Crimes stated in a news release that: “Matthew Graham’s original inconsistent statement coupled with irrefutable evidence places him in a remote area of Ono, California, during the timeframe in which detectives believe Ember went missing. The motive of why he abandoned her or what lead to him disposing of her body died with him.” He also stated that other third-party abduction scenarios were investigated; however, no one is aware of any such investigation. No one knows what the “irrefutable evidence” is either. Thus far, nothing has been found regarding Ember other than a pacifier discovered alongside a road several days after Ember disappeared and after hundreds of searchers had been all over Happy Valley. Many people, friends and strangers, had been given access to Matthew’s property during this time as well, and his trailer was broken into at least twice while he was in jail awaiting his probation hearing. There is and has been no indication Ember was harmed. There is no sign of Ember. Tests on Matthew’s truck were unremarkable. Surveillance footage from Happy Stop shows Ember awake and alert. By all accounts, Matthew was a loving father who adored his daughter. One thing is abundantly clear: There has never been anything to suggest that Ember is deceased. In fact, all signs seem to indicate that someone, quite probably someone one who knew Matthew and/or Jamie Graham, abducted Ember. We have seen no evidence that Ember Skye Graham’s disappearance was ever investigated thoroughly with all possible scenarios given appropriate resources and attention. From the outset, law enforcement did not treat Ember’s case as a possible abduction. There was no AMBER Alert or BOLO issued. Instead, during the first two days after Ember disappeared, Shasta County Sheriff’s investigators issued automated calls to locals requesting that families check “check your property, including barns and trash cans, for suspicious bags or freshly disturbed dirt.” Local law enforcement’s assumptions and the information presented to the media always seemed to insinuate that Ember was deceased despite the complete lack of evidence to support that theory. Information released to the public was often misleading and inaccurate. The media published photos of an area of the property used for items intended for the dump instead of the area the family used for daily life. Speculation fueled a frenzied distribution of misinformation. Neither the media nor the sheriff put a stop to this. Facts include: The dogs on the property are old and arthritic. They are family pets and are kept inside at night. Swamp coolers would have muffled any sounds on the property. The area is rural. There is wildlife and stray animals that enter the property. Even if something had been heard, the family would not have checked it. They would have assumed it was an animal. Matthew’s trailer door was simple to open. It could be opened with any flat, sturdy item – a stick, a screwdriver, a piece of metal, a nail file. The homes are in the country. Doors are left unlocked. This is not unusual. Ember’s playpen was situated in the open space in front of the door of the trailer. Matthew’s bed was at the opposite end of the trailer. If the door was opened, Ember could be lifted out quietly and Matthew, at the other end, would not be disturbed. The fences have gates with simple, unsecured flip latches. The streets are obscured with bushes and trees. A vehicle could park on the street or a side street and would be unseen and unheard by the residents of the home. Matthew’s trailer was visible from the street. When his lights went off, someone could have ascertained that he was asleep. Despite searches with dogs, no hint of Ember has ever been found anywhere. Matthew’s behavior at Happy Stop was calm and normal. The inconsistency the sheriff cites regarding Matthew is that Matthew did not recall or did not say where he went after stopping at Happy Stop. Since Matthew’s cousin saw Ember at home after the trip to Happy Stop, it is unclear why the sheriff feels that Matthew’s drive is the cornerstone of his investigation. Law enforcement stated that Matthew did not cooperate and requested a lawyer. This seems to imply those two statements are tied together. However, Matthew requested a lawyer because he had willingly submitted to being questioned for 8 hours. Then, suddenly, Matthew found himself being accused of doing something to his daughter. Matthew also requested a lawyer because it was his constitutional right. Neither of these behaviors made Matthew uncooperative. We believe Ember was abducted. The tips that have been submitted by the public, the strange inconsistencies, the threats, the worrisome behavior by people who knew the family and Ember have made this clearer every day. We need these tips investigated now. Someone could be moving our baby further out of reach even as you read this. With all due respect to those who have truly worked to find her, Ember needs more than just a local law enforcement team working on this case. We need a highly specialized team trained in investigating child abductions and we need them right away. Since Matthew’s death, it has been a struggle to get a response or call back from Shasta County Sheriff’s Office to discuss this case or to report possible tips. We tried to request that this case be turned over to the FBI for investigation and were told by Sergeant Pat Kropholler “At this time the case will remain with the Sheriff’s Office as the lead investigative agency. As new information is developed, we may ask for the assistance of other local, state, or federal agencies if warranted.” The time is now! Ember Skye Graham has been missing for three long months! We need our baby girl back! Jamie Tomlin Graham needs her daughter! We need our granddaughter, niece, cousin, sister, community member – our beautiful Ember Skye – back! Please join us by signing this petition to inform Sheriff Tom Bosenko that the time to bring in the FBI and any and all other local, state, and federal agencies to find Ember is NOW! Please help us bring our Ember Skye home! She’s out there! Please help us find her!