Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Must Read

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 10:42 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The trial of Johannes Mehserle could hinge on whether the ex-BART cop takes the stand to explain why he fatally shot Oscar Grant in the back as he laid face-down on the ground, the Chron reports, citing criminal trial experts. Defendants often don’t testify in their own trials for fear that they may get tripped up during cross-examination by prosecutors. But Mehserle may need to explain his actions, particularly in light of video footage of the shooting.

2. Mehserle’s defense team, however, has won a series of key pretrial motions that could lessen the need for his testimony as opening statements get underway later this week, the Trib reports. Among the more pivotal rulings by the Los Angeles judge overseeing the trial was to allow an expert hired by Mehserle’s lawyers to explain his “interpretation” of the video footage to the jury. The judge also will let the defense introduce parts of Grant’s criminal history — even though Mehserle could not have known about that background before he shot Grant to death at close range seventeen months ago.

3. Proponents of Proposition 14, the so-called open primary initiative, have out-raised and out-spent opponents of the ballot measure by a 20-1 margin, California Watch reports. Prop. 14 would allow voters to vote for any candidate they want to in primaries. It’s opposed strongly by all of the political parties.

4. The number and percentage of whites in California declined substantially in the past decade, reports, citing state Department of Finance data. More whites either died or left the state than were born or moved to California from 2000 to 2008, and so the percentage of them declined from 47.2 percent to 40.8 percent. By contrast, the percentage of Hispanics in the state increased to 37.2 percent.

5. With one day to go before the California primary, Meg Whitman is holding to a commanding 19 point lead in the polls over Steve Poizner, according to, which aggregates polling data. The mega-rich ex-eBay CEO leads California’s insurance commissioner 48.5 to 29.9 percent:

6. And Carly Fiorina enjoys a 17 point lead in the polls over Tom Campbell, according to The ex-Hewlett-Packard CEO leads her more moderate rival 38.3 to 20.8 percent. Tea Party favorite Chuck DeVore is third with 16.4 percent:

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that opponents of Prop. 14 had out-raised and out-spent supporters of the ballot measure. It's the opposite.

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