Court date for Fullerton policemen delayed

SANTA ANA – A pretrial hearing for the two Fullerton officers charged in connection with the death of a homeless man in July was postponed Friday until Dec. 16 after defense attorneys received discovery from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office about hundreds of police interviews of witnesses and other evidence.

Superior Court Judge Erick Larsh delayed the hearing at the request of the defense attorneys for Manuel Ramos, 37, and Jay Cicinelli, 39, who are charged with felonies for their roles in the violent encounter on July 5 with Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old transient with a history of schizophrenia.

Thomas died from suffocation after he fought with six Fullerton officers when he was confronted outside the Fullerton Transportation Center. The 30-minute skirmish was witnessed by several people and captured on surveillance video.

Ramos, a 10-year veteran on the Fullerton Police Department, is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. He is the first police officer in Orange County history to be charged with murder for an incident that occurred while on duty and in police uniform.

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas contends that Ramos triggered the deadly exchange when he snapped on a pair of latex gloves, leaned over Thomas in menacing manner and made two fists before telling the homeless man, “Now, see my fists? … They are getting ready to f— you up.”

Ramos, free after his family and friends posted $1 million bail in September, faces a potential sentence of 15 years to life if convicted of second-degree murder. A jury could also find him guilty of the lesser crime of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

Cicinelli, 39, a 12-year veteran of the Fullerton police force, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force under color of authority for his role in helping subdue Thomas. Rackauckas contends that Cicinelli fired his stun gun four times into Thomas, and then smashed him in the face eight times with it after Thomas became nonresponsive.

Cicinelli, free on $25,000 bail, faces a maximum sentence of four years in prison if convicted.

Ron Thomas – Kelly Thomas’ father, outspoken in his insistence that the officers involved in his son’s death be prosecuted for murder – faced television cameras and said seeing the two defendants free on bail was difficult.

“It was real emotional for me this morning,” he said. “When you think about justice for Kelly … I could kill that man. … I want to kill them both.” Later, he added, “I’m not going to do it, but it is my right as Kelly’s father to feel that way. … Look at what they did to my son.”

A judge at the next hearing on Dec. 16 could select a date for a preliminary hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to warrant a trial.

Contact the writer: lwelborn@ocregister.com or 714-834-3784

Woman Accusing Justin Bieber of Fathering her Child Facing Statutory Rape Investigation (Penal Code Section 261.5)

If the District Attorneys office wants to file criminal charges against this 20 year old woman who is stating she had sexual relations with Justin Bieber,  she could end up doing as much as three years in jail for having sexual intercourse with a minor. It doesn’t matter if you have sex with a “pop star” at a break at a concert or in any other location. IF the person you have sex with us under 18 years of age you can go to jail. Whether the DA will file criminal charges will depend upon many factors.

– First, do they believe the girl is telling the truth? Will a jury believe her story?

– Second, will the DNA testing confirm that Mr. Bieber is the father of this child?

If so, then the DA would have overwhelming evidence that in fact this 20 year old had intercourse with a 16 year old.

Whether the DA files charges in this case may depend in part upon the massive amount of publicity such a decision would bring to this case? Does the DA really want to make a consensual sex act between a 19 year old and a 16 year old celebrity a “major media circus”?

Had this been consensual sex between two “ordinary” people, the likelyhood of charges being brought would increase tremendously.  That is why it is important to retain an experienced Southern California sex crimes attorney as soon as you think you are under investigation for statutory rape. You can contact the law offices of Wallin and Klarich at 1-888-749-0034 or visit www.wklaw.com for a free consultation.

Seal Beach first responders ran toward gunshots

Seal Beach first responders ran toward gunshots

It was ‘a scene of an ambush,’ said a contractor working nearby, among the first in the salon after a gunman exited. | Full coverage of the Seal Beach shootings.

SEAL BEACH – Doug Childers and his colleagues were outside, some just finishing lunch within sight of the Salon Meritage, when they heard the gunshots.

The men ran toward the shots.

Article Tab: left-second-childers-peña
Doug Childers, second from left, was the first person to enter Salon Meritage after the shootings last month. With him that day were Brendan Peña, left, John Gallegos, second from right, and Michael Sauerwein, right. Two of the men, Childers and Gallegos, are former Marines. Peña has emergency medical technician training.
SAM GANGWER, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

As Childers approached the building off Pacific Coast Highway and Fifth Street on Oct. 12, he said a man police later identified as Scott Dekraai stepped out of the salon. The man walked calmly away, carrying what appeared to be a 9 mm weapon.

The gun was pointed up – until the man saw Childers.

“He looked right at me,” Childers said. “Then he pointed it at me. He then put it back up in the air.”

“I was in a reactionary mode. I didn’t stop.”

Childers, 47, was the first responder to walk inside the salon and smell the gunpowder.

A former Marine with eight years as a firefighter at the El Toro Marine Corps base, he had seen combat and been trained for emergencies, but nothing could prepare him for the largest mass shooting in Orange County history. Eight people inside the salon were shot at close range. Seven would die.

At first, no one knew that another man was shot inside his parked car and would become the eighth to die in the shooting spree. A homeless man would spot him and summon police for help.

Other men working as contractors with Childers on a site across the street ran to the salon to help. Two of them had special training: John Gallegos, 46, a Lake Forest resident who served as a Marine for 22 years, and Brendan Peña, 27, an emergency medical technician who had spent 10 years as a volunteer with Long Beach Search and Rescue.

Gallegos called what he encountered “a scene of an ambush.”

“They were civilians. At the end of the day, they were supposed to go home,” Gallegos said. “In combat, you’re either going to get shot or shoot somebody. Here, these guys had no expectation of any of that. They had plans. They had plans. They had lives to live.”

“NOT A SOUND”

When Childers first walked into Salon Meritage, “I didn’t see anybody alive.”

“I couldn’t see anybody moving,” he said.

So he identified himself and called out: Everything is OK.

“I’m here to help,” he said to a room full of bodies.

“When I went around explaining who I was, people started coming out of their spots, so I went from there.”

There were two hairstylists hiding in a bathroom, three more people hiding in a facial room and two more women who came out of other places, he said.

Childers said his goal was to get the survivors out, ensure there was no other shooter, do triage on the victims and see who was left alive that he could help.

Inside the salon, one woman, shot dead, had her head in “the bowl,” what hairstylists call the sink used to wash clients’ hair. That may have been Christy Wilson, a salon employee getting her hair done that day by colleague Michelle Fournier, Dekraai’s ex-wife.

An Anaheim woman who was salon owner Randy Fannin’s client said the day of the shooting that a man walked in, shot Fournier first, then Wilson, who was getting her hair washed by Fournier, and Fannin third. The woman then ran outside to safety.

In an interview with police, Dekraai confessed to the killings and described the same sequence, according to court documents.  He called the additional victims “collateral damage.”

In the first moments following the two-minute shooting spree, the salon was eerily quiet, Childers said.  “Not a sound.”

As a former Marine, Childers assigned tasks to his colleagues. One would act as a spotter in a safe location across the street and be on the lookout for the shooter, should he return. A second colleague, Mike Sauerwein, 34, worked as “communications” to relay messages from the spotter to Childers.

After an initial check of what was happening, Childers yelled to his communications man, Sauerwein, to get Gallegos and Peña “to come over with all the medical kits we had available.”

Peña ran over with a first-aid kit and a defibrillator. While Childers worked one end of the L-shaped salon, checking rooms and doing triage, Peña said he worked another.

Gallegos was assigned to help Los Alamitos resident Hattie Stretz, 73, the only gunshot survivor. Stretz was in the salon to get her hair done by her daughter, Laura Webb Elody.

All of the men, who had training in combat or emergency work, described locking everything else out of their minds and focusing on what needed to be done.

“You listen for certain sounds, commands,” said Gallegos.

“My yelling,” Childers added.

Gallegos, who has known Childers since 1994, said, smiling: “We were able to communicate.”

Sauerwein, meanwhile, stayed just outside the door but Childers didn’t let him come inside. When he first approached the salon, Sauerwein said he, too, saw the man he later identified as Dekraai in a photo line-up coming out of the salon.

“He was pulling on his pocket, trying to stuff something,” said Sauerwein, a Lakewood resident. “He was walking casually, as if he was just walking down the street.”

Then Sauerwein heard what he recalls were three more shots outside the salon. And he called 911.

FLAT LINE

It wasn’t long before people started to come out of the busy shopping center that houses restaurants, doctors’ offices, a MacDonald’s, beauty salons and other businesses.

Witnesses pointed the arriving police to the man in a white truck, Sauerwein said. Police arrested Dekraai at Central Avenue and Twelfth Street about a half-mile away, some five minutes later.

Police arrived at the salon only minutes after the first call. After ensuring it was safe for paramedics to come in, firefighters from Station 44 were called in. They were only a few blocks away and could hear the police sirens.

Scott Belshe was the first Seal Beach paramedic from the station to step inside the salon. He remembers “a lot of things going on, people in shock, victims, people in need of assistance.” Before long, cell phone ring-tones filled the room, as news of the killings began spreading locally and across the nation.

Belshe immediately focused on the victims. There were two who were still alive. One of them wouldn’t make it. Paramedics checked for lung sounds and ran an EKG on each victim to check for heart rhythms. When the monitor recorded a straight line, paramedics handed the flat-line strip to police.

“A few minutes later, we found out there was a third patient outside,” Childers said.

A VICTIM IN THE PARKING LOT

That was David Caouette, who had parked in his black Land Rover before heading to one of his favorite restaurants, Patty’s Place. In court documents, police said Dekraai apparently thought Caouette was an off-duty or undercover police officer and shot him.

Childers said he also hadn’t heard about Caouette until he walked outside. “One of the officers said there was another victim in the parking lot,” he said.

In the chaos of the shooting, police apparently did not immediately realize that Caouette was shot outside, in his parked vehicle. Managers at the McDonald’s in the same shopping center said they saw a man they know as “Homeless Mike” or “Seal Beach Mike” point out Caouette’s Land Rover to the police.

Michael Vosburgh, a Seal Beach man who lives in his car and hangs out regularly in the shopping area of the salon with his dog, said he noticed Caouette slumped over in his car.

“I yelled ‘Hey, hey,’ but got nothing,” Vosburgh said. “I’m just amazed how nobody else walking around saw him.”

Caouette was alive. “He was struggling to breathe,” Vosburgh said. “When I realized he needs help now, I ran around, opened his door and yelled, ‘Hey, hey, you alright?’ “

Vosburgh said he then closed the car door and ran toward the salon, ducking around the police yellow tape, looking for somebody to help.

According to Vosburgh, who grew up in Seal Beach, there was a quick exchange with a police officer:

“Mike, get the hell out of there.”

“Hey, you got a gunshot victim over here.”

“What? Where?”

“Over here, in the Land Rover.”

The paramedics were all inside tending to the victims in the salon, Vosburgh said. He called to another officer he knew and told him he would run over to a private ambulance that was just arriving. “We have a gunshot victim who needs attention now,” Vosburgh said he told them.

Vosburgh couldn’t say how many minutes had passed between the time he heard the gunshots as he was parking in front of the McDonald’s on Pacific Coast Highway and the time he found Caouette.

“Too long, which bums me out,” he said, “although it probably wouldn’t have made a difference.”

Seal Beach police and District Attorney representatives said this week they could not discuss any details of the case.

SHOOTING AFTERMATH

In the aftermath of the shootings, some of the men who first ran to the site said they have been deeply affected.

Childers talks about nightmares.

Gallegos, who already was struggling with post-traumatic stress from his days as a Marine, said this has made it worse and it’s difficult to sleep. Gallegos helped take care of and comfort Hattie Stretz, the lone gunshot survivor. She was in the salon to get her hair done by her daughter, Laura Webb Elody, who died.

To help bring closure and in honor of the victims, many of them have attended some if not most of the victims’ memorials. Childers went to the ceremonies for all the victims: Fournier, Wilson, Fannin, Caouette, Webb Elody, Victoria Buzzo, Michelle Fast and Lucia Bernice Kondas.

For Childers, of Garden Grove, the tragedy has led to new connections. He said he’s found strength in new friendships with hairstylists, area restaurant owners and others affected by the shooting. Ironically, his background not only includes military and fire department work but he was the former co-owner of Studio OC hair salon in Laguna Niguel.

Childers said he’s not new to death or emergencies. He was 22 or 23 when he was shot in the foot by a guy trying to rob him.

“I hit the gun out of his hand and as I did, it discharged,” he said. Then, a few years ago, he was on his way back from Amsterdam when he had to deal with two medical emergencies, including a passenger who went into cardiac arrest before the pilot made an emergency landing.

“I’ve been in really weird situations,” he said.

In City Hall, there’s been talk of honoring the men later this month for their bravery. The men dismiss the idea and said they did what they had to do.

“We’re all of the opinion,” Childers said, “we just did what we thought was right.”

Contact the writer: fromroxana@gmail.com

Buena Park CA Police: Four arrested in Halloween night rapes

Police: Four arrested in Halloween night rapes

By SEAN EMERY / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

BUENA PARK – Police have arrested three men and a juvenile they suspect of raping two women at a Buena Park motel.

Investigators believe that the rape occurred when Hyeon Ju, 19, of Anaheim, Sung Park, 20, of Norwalk, Hojoon Lee, 19, of Irvine and an unidentified 17-year-old met the two women at a room in the Crescent Motel in the 8500 block of Beach Boulevard in the early morning hours of Oct. 31, according to a written police release.

Police say one of the men was an acquaintance of the two women and persuaded them to come to the motel, where they were given alcoholic drinks. Investigators allege that all three men and the juvenile had sexual intercourse with the two women.

The women suspected they were drugged, police said, since they immediately became incapacitated and had only vague recollections as to what happened after they had the drinks.

The women went to the Buena Park police station to report the incident Wednesday, authorities said.

The three men and the juvenile were interviewed, and police say they confessed to serving the women drinks mixed with multiple Xanax pills. One of the men got the pills from a pharmacy where he worked, police said.

The three men are being held at Buena Park city jail in lieu of $300,000 bail, police said. The minor was taken to juvenile hall, where he is being held without bail.

Authorities are asking anyone who believes they may also have been a victim to call Sgt. Brad Geyer at 714-562-3902.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7939 or semery@ocregister.com

Medical Marijuana Advocates Protest Obama’s San Francisco Visit

Medical Marijuana Advocates Protest Obama’s San Francisco Visit

Obama Marijuana San Francisco Protest

SAN FRANCISCO — Hundreds of marijuana advocates gathered in downtown San Francisco Tuesday to protest recent federal crackdowns on California’s medical cannabis industry while President Obama attended a fundraising luncheon at the nearby W Hotel.

Among the demonstrators was an employee at a local marijuana collective. “I’ve worked there for years,” the man, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Huffington Post. “But if the Feds close us down, I’ll be out there on the street with the Occupy Wall Street protesters because I’ll be out of a job. This is my career, my livelihood. What Obama has done to our industry is nothing short of entrapment.”

Despite an earlier promise to leave medical marijuana laws to the states, federal officials recently launched a whirlwind crackdown on cannabis dispensaries throughout the state, threatening to shut down certain pot shops and targeting others with exorbitant IRS bills and other sanctions. At a press conference held prior to the demonstration, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) joined advocates, local lawmakers and business owners in calling on the Obama administration to intervene.

“It’s a total overreaction by the U.S. attorneys and they need to be reined in,” Ammiano said. “I don’t know who let the dogs out, but they need to be called off.”

San Francisco resident Misha Breyburg, who participated in the protest, said he was disappointed in Obama’s regression from his campaign promises. “It’s important for politicians to stand by their words,” he said. “These people out here — they’ve worked hard, they’ve saved their money and they’ve taken all of the legal steps — and then to have their property taken away from them? Maybe in North Korea.”

California voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 1996 with the passage of Proposition 215, later named the Compassionate Use Act, which allows patients to possess and cultivate cannabis with a doctor’s permission. The law has been interpreted many times since its inception. In City of Garden Grove v. Superior Court in 2007, trial court sided with the patient, finding it “is not the job of local police to enforce the federal drug law.” A California Supreme Court ruling in 2010 found residents may grow or possess “reasonable amounts” of marijuana with a doctor’s blessing.

As a candidate, Obama promised to maintain a hands-off approach toward pot clinics adhering to state law, telling a 2007 town hall in Nashua, N.H., that a Justice Department prosecuting medical marijuana users was “not a good use of our resources.” Now Ammiano, a self-described Obama supporter, is asking the president to “exercise some leadership on this issue.”

“We have it on tape,” Ammiano said of Obama’s promise. “Eric Holder early in the campaign said that the Attorney General would not raid medical marijuana dispensaries — there are around 16 states that have them — then out of the blue comes this droid missile aimed at medical marijuana and the dispensaries, and there’s a lot of untruth…to me this is kind of a ‘Reefer Madness’ mindset.”

The crackdown comes even as 50 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana, according to a recently released Gallup poll, up from just 36 percent in 2006.

Authorities estimated nearly 1,000 protesters descended on the W Hotel during the duration of Obama’s appearance. In addition to the marijuana enthusiasts, the president was greeted by environmentalists, anti-war activists and a smattering of Occupy Wall Streeters. The most vocal demonstrators opposed the construction of the Keystone pipeline in the Midwest.

Rally signs ran the gamut, from “Yes We Cannabis” and “Obama Changed,” to “No Pipeline For The One Percent” and “Bring Our Troops Home.” Another group set up a loudspeaker and played clips of promises made during Obama’s 2008 campaign speeches that have not yet been met.

The president stopped by San Francisco as part of a West Coast tour promoting his economic and jobs plans as well as his 2012 campaign. Take a look at images and video from the demonstrations below:

SLIDESHOW THUMBNAILS

It’s not necessary for you to have to go to the jail to find a bail bondsman.

It’s not necessary for you to have to go to the jail to find a bail bondsman. In today’s technology-driven world, you can post bail from the comfort of your home, office or through the use of your hand-held mobile device. In Southern California Chad The Bail Guy has Bail Agents available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ready to help in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Ventura County, San Diego County, and Santa Barbara County.

Santa Ana, CA: 4 injured when car hits pedestrians

Article Tab: santa-civic-volvo-spurgeo

Santa Ana police officers examine a crushed baby stroller after a driver in a Volvo struck multiple pedestrians who were injured along Civic Center Drive at N. Spurgeon Street in Santa Ana Thursday.
H. LORREN AU JR., THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

 

By SEAN EMERY / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

 

SANTA ANA – Two adults and two children were critically injured Thursday when a vehicle struck a group of pedestrians as they crossed a street in downtown Santa Ana, police said.The driver of a Volvo sedan traveling westbound on Civic Center Drive about 4:45 p.m. struck two women pushing strollers across the roadway just west of Spurgeon Street, Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.The car ended up on top of a 3-year-old girl, Bertagna said, and struck the two women and a 1-year-old boy. Police initially believed that a 5-year-old boy had also been injured but later learned that the child hadn’t been struck.

The two women, the 1-year-old girl and the 3-year-old boy were taken to a hospital in critical condition, Bertagna said, but their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

The driver, who police identified as a woman in her 50s, was also taken to a hospital for a “medical condition,” Bertagna said. Police did not specify what the condition was or whether it related to the accident.

Based on their preliminary investigation, police believe that the driver didn’t see the pedestrians, who were crossing from the south to north side of Civic Center. The intersection where they were crossing has no marked crosswalk, Bertagna said.

Civic Center was closed from North Bush Street to Spurgeon as investigators went over the scene. A crushed stroller was left in the street after the crash.

Police believe that the accident was caught on surveillance video, Bertagna said, and hope to access a copy of the footage on Friday.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7939 or semery@ocregister.com

Sacramento arrest made in national bail bond scam

Sacramento arrest made in national bail bond scam

SACRAMENTO, CA – 24-year-old Michael Moynihan of the Bay Area is accused of scamming close to one thousand people. He is in custody at Sacramento County Jail after an investigation into a nationwide scheme.

Authorities say he posed as an officer to acquire information falsely about recently released inmates. Then, he pretended to be a bail bondsman – telling his victims their bail would be increased and they would be re-arrested if they didn’t pay up.

During a one to one conversation inside Sacramento County Jail with Moynihan, he said the allegations were all a lie.

“It’s not accurate at all,” said Moynihan.

Topo Padilla, who owns Greg Padilla Bail Bonds in Sacramento and is President of the Golden State Bail Agents Association said, “He had a very intricate scheme going on. We’ve been trying to get to the bottom of it in our industry.”

Placer County Sheriff’s Detective Jim Hudson has several recorded phone conversations between Moynihan and law enforcement where Moynihan identified himself as “Officer Johnson”.

Detectives in Colorado Springs called Placer County authorities and requested their help on this case. Authorities arrested Moynihan at the Red Lyon Inn last week.

Moynihan is in custody at Sacramento County Jail on a no-hold parole hold until charges are filed by the United States Attorney’s Office in California.

“He contacted agencies and jails in 42 states that we know of,” said Hudson.

Detective Hudson says Moynihan contacted all the bail bondsmen in the Sacramento area. According to Hudson there’s no word on exactly how many victims there are, but authorities hope to have a final tally in a few weeks.

By Suzanne Phan, sphan@news10.net

Twitter: @suzannephan

Facebook: SuzannePhanNews10

RIVERSIDE – A bail bondsman who allegedly abducted a customer at gunpoint

The Valley News
Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
Issue 42, Volume 14.

RIVERSIDE  – A bail bondsman who allegedly abducted a customer at gunpoint and held him until he paid off a debt pleaded not guilty today to felony charges.

Damion Paul Perkins, 36, is charged with kidnapping for ransom, assault with a deadly weapon and using a firearm during a felony.

He’s being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

Perkins appeared today with his attorney before Riverside County Superior Court Judge James T. Warren, who set a felony settlement conference in the case for Nov. 2.

An investigation into the alleged abduction was initiated last month by the California Department of Insurance, which licenses bail agents.

Officials said that in July of this year, Riverside-based Bail Bonds United, co-owned by the defendant, posted a bond for a man who failed to pay the up-front premium on the surety after being released from jail.

With the help of an unidentified male accomplice, Perkins went to the customer’s residence on Aug. 9 to collect the debt and allegedly ordered the victim out of his home at gunpoint in front of his children, authorities said.

Perkins allegedly handcuffed the man and placed him in the back of his vehicle, then drove around, demanding that the victim come up with assets to satisfy the unpaid premium, according to the DOI.

The man eventually obtained additional money and illegal drugs from his family, which he turned over to Perkins as payment, prompting the defendant to release him, officials alleged.

If convicted, Perkins could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“Bail bond agents must abide by the law when they collect payments from customers — and they definitely may not kidnap their clients at gunpoint, or else they will wind up behind bars, requiring the services of their own bail bond agent,” California Advertisement

Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said earlier this week.

Lock your cell phones! California governor allows warrantless search of cell phones

California governor allows warrantless search of cell phones

 

By Amy Gahran, Special to CNN
updated 12:31 PM EST, Tue October 11, 2011 | Filed under: Mobile

 

California law now allows warrantless searches of an arrested person's cell phone and access to all data stored in it.
California law now allows warrantless searches of an arrested person’s cell phone and access to all data stored in it.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • Governor vetoes a bill requiring police to get a warrant to search an arrested person’s phone
    • Authorities could search someone’s texts, chat logs, photos, search history and more
    • California legislators must wait a year before reintroducing the bill

 

Editor’s note: Amy Gahran writes about mobile tech for CNN.com. She is a San Francisco Bay Area writer and media consultant whose blog, Contentious.com, explores how people communicate in the online age.

(CNN) — California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have prohibited police in that state from conducting warrantless searches of the cell phones of people under arrest.

“This measure would overturn a California Supreme Court decision that held that police officers can lawfully search the cell phones of people who they arrest,” the governor’s brief statement said. “The courts are better suited to resolve the complex and case-specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizures protections.”

The veto dismayed privacy advocates and others who said it could allow overzealous authorities to trample citizens’ constitutional rights.

California Sen. Mark Leno, who sponsored the bill (SB 914), responded: “This veto is very unfortunate. The message from the governor was rather incoherent. When you consider all the information that is accessible on one smartphone, if that same information was contained anywhere else police would need a warrant to search for it. So it makes no sense to carve out a legal exception for smartphone searches.”

According to California Assembly rules, state legislators must wait a year before attempting to reintroduce this legislation.

Over the summer, SB 914 unanimously passed the California legislature. The bill would have protected against the warrantless search of personal and private information contained in the cell phones of people who have been arrested.

This bill was inspired by a California Supreme Court ruling in January in the case of Gregory Diaz. After his 2007 drug-related arrest, an officer with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department checked the text messages on Diaz’s phone and found incriminating messages.

That state court ruling has privacy implications that reach far beyond text messages. It allows police in California to access any data stored on an arrestee’s phone: photos, address book, Web-browsing history, data stored in apps (including social media apps), voicemail messages, search history, chat logs, and more. Also, depending on the use of location-enabled services or apps that store data on the phone, the police might also be able to infer the arrestee’s past whereabouts.

On October 3, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition to hear the Diaz case. So with the governor’s veto, the state court ruling stands as law in California.

In a blog post about the California veto, law professor Orin Kerr contended that “Governor Brown has it exactly backwards” because legislatures tend to move far more quickly than the courts — an important advantage when dealing with issues that involve fast-changing technology.

Kerr also pointed out that there’s a conflict of interest when the executive branch, which oversees law enforcement in the state, is in a position to block laws that would limit the powers of law enforcement.

What happens next? Hanni Fakhoury, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (which has been supporting the California bill, and following this issue nationwide) expects an increase in law enforcement “fishing expeditions” involving cell phones.

“I think we’ll probably start to see more questionable searches of cell phones in arrests that have nothing to do with cell phones,” he said.

He cited a recent case before California’s 6th Appellate Court in Silicon Valley, where police pulled over a driver expected of driving under the influence. Once they’d arrested the suspect, they searched his cell phone and found evidence indicating possible drug trafficking activity that was unrelated to the original arrest premise. The court supported this search, so evidence from the phone was legally used in the case.

Aside from Fourth Amendment concerns about self-incrimination, Fakhoury and Leno both observed that this veto poses clear concerns for First Amendment and press freedoms in California — and perhaps elsewhere, as other state governments and courts decide what to do about warrantless cell phone searches.

Noting how much the Occupy Wall Street protestors are using cell phones to organize and publicize the demonstrations spreading around the United States, Fakhoury said, “California police might decide to arrest you for disturbing the peace, or illegal camping, and then check your phone and see messages coming through from organizers.”

Said Leno, “Reporters who are covering protests and other events that attract police attention should be concerned about getting arrested and then having the info they gathered, including info about sources, ending up in police hands.”

Since several states are wrestling with this issue, Fakhoury expects it will likely end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

But in the meantime, if you’re in California and are concerned about privacy and your constitutional rights, it’s a good idea to protect your cell phone and other electronic devices with a password or encryption.

In our January story on warrantless cell phone searches, Catherine Crump of the American Civil Liberties Union told CNN that if you keep your phone locked, “The police can ask you to unlock your phone — which many people will do. But they almost certainly cannot compel you to unlock your phone without the involvement of a judge.”

The opinions expressed in this post are solely those of Amy Gahran.