Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tuesday’s Briefing: Ghost Ship Defendants Taking Plea Deals; Protesters Stage “Occupy ICE” in San Francisco

By Kathleen Richards
Tue, Jul 3, 2018 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge Derick Almena has reportedly agreed to a nine-year prison term.
  • Derick Almena has reportedly agreed to a nine-year prison term.

The two defendants in the deadly Ghost Ship fire are expected to plead no contest
today to involuntary manslaughter charges and accept county jail terms of six and nine years. The pleas by Derick Almena, 48, and Max Harris, 28, would thus avoid a jury trial scheduled to begin July 16. An email sent Saturday by Alameda County Deputy District Attorney David Lim to victims’ families says Almena has agreed to a nine-year prison term and Harris to a six-year sentence. Both would serve their time in an Alameda County jail instead of state prison. (East Bay Times)

Taking a cue from the Occupy movement, about three dozen people set up a makeshift camp outside San Francisco’s U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services office last night — the latest in a string of “Occupy ICE” protests throughout the country. (SFGate)

The County Fire in Yolo and Napa counties grew to 70,000 acres by last night and was only 5 percent contained. According to Cal Fire officials, the fast-moving fire is burning an average of 1,000 acres per hour. (San Francisco Chronicle)

San Leandro City Manager Chris Zapata is stepping down a month after an independent investigator cleared him of sexual misconduct allegations by Rose Padilla Johnson, the CEO of the Davis Street Family Resource Center. Zapata’s last day will be July 10. (East Bay Times)

[Read related: “A Melting Reputation”]

Berkeley will evict several dozen homeless families and individuals who reside in RVs and cars in a Berkeley marina parking lot next week. The homeless community was hoping to stay another month but the city council denied the extension, citing fears of breaking state law. (The State Lands Commission, which owns the parking lot, doesn’t allow any residential uses at the location.) (East Bay Express)

Two inmates died in separate incidents at Santa Rita Jail last week. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, along with the sheriff’s office, is investigating the two in-custody deaths. (East Bay Express)

A developer has submitted an application for a 12-story development in downtown Berkeley. The proposed $150 million, 120-foot-tall building at 1951 Shattuck Ave., a block north of University Ave., would include 156 apartment units and retail on the ground floor. (Berkeleyside)

UC Berkeley will make it easier for campus clubs to operate on campus under a legal settlement with conservative students announced yesterday. The settlement amends campus rules to explicitly state that UC “will not deny or delay” recognition to a student group based on its purpose “or other viewpoint expressed in its application.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that online review site Yelp.com cannot be ordered to remove posts against a San Francisco law firm that a judge determined were defamatory. In a 4-3 opinion, justices said removal orders such as the one attorney Dawn Hassell obtained against Yelp “could interfere with and undermine the viability of an online platform.” (AP)

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