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2019 News Stories and Case Updates

My News LA - Coroner: Man, 55, Who Died in Ed Buck's WeHo Home Overdosed on Methamphetamine

A  man who died at the West Hollywood home of prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck overdosed on methamphetamine and his death was ruled accidental. Timothy Dean was found dead early Jan. 7 at Buck's apartment on Laurel Avenue. This was the second death from an accidental methamphetamine overdose at the same apartment in less than 18 months.

It has prompted calles for a criminal prosecution of Buck. Sheriff's Deputies from West Hollywood Station responded to a call on the day of his death about a person who was not  breathing. Paramedics pronounced Dean dead at the scene. Another person, Gemmel Moore, was found at the same apartment in July 2017. The coroner's office also ruled his death an accidental methamphetamine overdose.

Dmitry Gorin, a Los Angeles defense attorney and former deputy district attorney, told the Los Angeles Times there is a high bar to prove someone is culpable in a death involving drugs and that typically, there needs to be a witness who saw the accused administer or furnish the substance that caused death. Read Story Here.

Variety - Felicity Huffman's Bond Set at $250,000 for Alleged College Admissions Bribe

Felicity Huffman appeared in a Los Angeles federal courtroom facing charges of paying a bribe to boost her daughter's SAT score. The judge set her bond at $250,000. Her husband William H. Macy, who was not indicted, was in the courtroom. “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin was not in courtroom, but her husband Mossimo Giannulli's bond was set at $1 million.

They both posted bond and were released. The next court date is set for March 29 in Boston. Both were prohibited from traveling outside the United States. She answered “yes” when asked if she understood the charges. Federal prosecutor argued that a $250,000 bond was warranted, due to the value of their real estate assets. Federal prosecutors filed charges against 33 parents, some who allegedly paid millions of dollars to get their kids into elite universities. 

Criminal defense attorneys say the admissions scandal has few precedents and there haven't been many cases like this. “In a high-profile case like this, it can be hard to convince prosecutors to treat clients like anyone else,” said Dmitry Gorin, a partner at Eisner Gorin LLP. “Just because someone is a celebrity, doesn't mean they should get punished more.” Read Story Here.

Los Angeles Times - The National Enquirer pushed the envelope with Bezos, but was it a crime?

Legal experts claim the National Enquirer undoubtedly pushed the envelope when it comes to its dealings with Jeff Bezos, but proving an actual crime of  extortion could prove difficult. The chief executive who also owns the Washington Post, took the extra step of publishing emails between lawyers on his security consultant and the Enquirer on the website Medium.

Afterwards, he used his twitter to post a link to it. He wrote that the Enquirer's parent company wanted him to make a false public statement saying that he and the consultant had no knowledge for suggesting that AMI's coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces. He refused, saying that rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, he decided to publish exactly what they sent in spite of cost of and embarrassment they threaten. 

Is this extortion?  Former Los Angeles prosecutor Dmitry Gorin said that, while blackmail seems sexy as a crime, it is one of the hardest kinds of cases to prosecute and, when it comes to extortion and lawyers, the legal landscape gives a lot of protections. "A civil lawsuit, in the end, is probably going to be Mr. Bezos' best redress against the Enquirer.” Read Story Here.

Los Angeles Times - Nipsey Hussle shooting: O.J. Simpson prosecutor's new legal drama defending suspect

Attorney Christopher Darden, who helped prosecute O.J. Simpson over two decades ago on murder charges in the "trial of the century" is now invloved in another high-profile celebrity homicide case. He is now the criminal defense lawyer representing the man charged with killing rapper Nipsey Hussle.

Eric Holder was charged in Los Angeles County Superior Court with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a felon in the shooting death. Police say Holden was involved in a dispute with Hussle at the rapper's store and returned with a gun and starting shooting. Mr. Hussle was killed and two others injured. Surveillance video of the attack shows a gunman approaching Hussle and two other men in front of the store where he opened fire. Hussle immediately falls to the ground while the other men flee the scene. 

Dmitry Gorin, a former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, who is now a criminal defense lawyer, said “the defense will have a challenge in rebutting both the video and eyewitness testimony showing the suspect returned with a weapon after his dispute with Hussle.”

One possible argument is that the shooting resulted from the “heat of passion” or a “provocation,” which might open the door to a reduced charge of manslaughter, and allow Holder to avoid a life sentence. “The video evidence appears devastating to the defense,” explaining that the video of the shooting indicates intention and callousness. ”Arguing for manslaughter to a jury because Holder felt disrespected will be tough.” Read Story Here.

Los Angeles Times - Harvey Weinstein's $44-million settlement with his accusers is in jeopardy

After an attorney stood up in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court to announce a tentative $44-million deal had been reached between Harvey Weinstein, his former film studio's board and many women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, the arguments started all over again. 

The settlement agreement was denounced as inadequate compensation to the victims and it was argued it would enable the Hollywood producer to evade liability and accountability. Weistein was terminated from his company in October 2017 after many women accused him of sexual misconduct.

Lawyers representings two of the alleged victims rejected the proposal, while another raised questions whether this proposed agreement was an attempt minimize their clients' position and receive a large portion of compensation. Victims have expressed disgust over the process and one claimed they were being re-traumatized. The arguments have exposed months of behind-the-scenes infighting and reveals issues that could prevent a final agreement to achieve a settlement for the victims. 

Dmitry Gorin, a former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who is a partner at the Los Angeles-based law firm Eisner Gorin LLP said in the article: “It's very difficult, in a very high-profile case involving a very large company with significant assets and liabilities, to have everyone come to an agreement, but that is what bankruptcy court is designed to do. Not everyone is going to be satisfied, but you're limited by what the assets are.” Read Story Here.

KPCC Radio - Guess Which State First Passed a Chemical Castration Law That Alabama Is Copying? California

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed into law legislation that would require certain sex offenders to be chemically castrated before their parole.Her press office said she signed the bill to take effect later in 2019. This measure will apply to sex offenders who were convicted of certain crimes that involved children under 13 years old.

The chemical castration would involve an injection of medication that blocks their testosterone production. Under this new measure, some offenders would be legally required to receive this medication before they receive parole from prison. Afterwards, only a judge could make the decision on when exactly the medication would stop.

Way before this Alabama law, the state of California passed similar legislation in the 1990s that required repeat sex offenders to be chemically castrated. Since then, a few other states have also authorized chemical castration. However, in most states, it's an option for the sexual offender, typically allowing them to expedite their parole.

In response to this new Alabama law, there have been some legal groups voicing concerns over the use of forced medication.

Dmitry Gorin, a former sex crime prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, and now a criminal defense attorney at the Eisner Gorin Law Firm, provided expect legal commentary in this interview. Listen to Interview Here.

Los Angeles Times - Prosecutors face challenges as they move to prove Tyndall allegations, experts say

Police detectives have gathered a lot of evidence against former USC gynecologist George Tyndall during the past year. They have conducted interviews from hundreds of women who told them about disturbing behavior, including inappropriate comments and touching, along with photos he kept of nude women that were taken during a medical examination.

Now that prosecutors are preparing to prove allegations of abuse in court, many legal experts claim their criminal case against him may not be easy to prove.  

Tyndall was recently arrested and charged with committing multiple felony counts against 16 women at the USC clinic where he has worked for almost 30 years. The criminal charges were filed about one year after the LA Times ran a story that he had received numerous complaints during his tenure from female students and staff.

Tyndall pleaded not guilty during his court appearance. The charges that have been filed include alleged incidents between 2009 and 2016, but these only represent a small percentage of the criminal accusations reported to police by almost 400 women. 

Legal experts say that the large number of complaints means the prosecutors have decided to focus on their strongest cases that have a chance to be proven with most corroborating evidence. Even with 16 victims, he still is facing up to 53 years in a California state prison if convicted.

Dmitry Gorin, a former Los Angeles County prosecutor and now a criminal defense lawyer at , was quoted in the article: “The guy's in his 70s so chances are he's not going to be getting out. It's essentially a life sentence if they can prove the case.” Read Story Here.

KPCC Radio - Impact of A Controversial Child Porn Law and How It's Affecting Therapists and Their Patients

The California Supreme Court is considering challenging a controversial state law requiring therapists to report patients who admit to watching child pornography. Two California appeals courts have dismissed challenges to the law.

According to the Los Angeles Times, if a therapist fails to report, it could lead to a criminal fine or other severe punishments. There have been many therapists who have argued the law will discourage people who are seeking treatment for a porn conviction and it forces them into the role of a law enforcement officer.

Other experts have argued there are many misconceptions around pedophilia and the state has played into them. However, some have made the argument the risks override privacy concerns because protecting minors is a higher priority.

For years, California law has required therapists to report patients admitting to developing, duplicating, printing or exchanging material that depicts an obscene act involving a child. They accepted the law and regarded it as an obligation to report anyone who distributes child pornography.

However, when the law was amended the to reflect new technology, many therapists complained that the new language required them to turn in patients who were no threat to others.

The amendment now mandates that therapists inform law enforcement of patients who admitted to streaming or downloading sexually explicit material involving minors.

Dmitry Gorin, a former sex crime prosecutor with the Los Angeles District Attorney's and now a criminal defense attorney with the Los Angeles-based firm Eisner Gorin LLP, provides legal commentary in the interview.  Listen to Interview Here.

KPCC Radio - The Legal And Ethical Questions Raised By CA Rep Katie Hill's Resignation

California Rep. Katie Hill (D-25th District) announced that she had decided to resign from office after a House Ethics Committee investigation about allegations of misconduct and leaked explicit photos.  

In her video explanation, there was an explanation she has been going through a bitter divorce and called her husband “abusive,” and cliamed she is the victim of revenge porn

There were many websites that published intimate photos of her without consent, and allegations she became romantically involved with a female campaign staffer, and her Legislative Director while serving in the House. 

She did confirm she was in a consensual relationship with a campaign staffer, which is not banned by House rules, but was previously investigated. She deined a romantic relationship with her Legislative Director, which was forbidden by House rules that were instated in the wake of #MeToo Movement.  

This story has now raised many complex questions about what exactly is revenge porn, the level of transparency that we should reasonably expect from a politician, the romantic relationships between politicians and their staff, among other issues. 

Dmitry Gorin, criminal defense attorney with the Los Angeles-based firm Eisner Gorin, LLP and a former trial prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office, provides legal commentary in the interview. Listen to Interview Here.

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