Settlement to give disabled persons better access to San Bernardino County courts

A proposed settlement has been reached in a 2006 federal class-action lawsuit filed against San Bernardino County and its courts over accessibility for disabled persons at more than a dozen courthouses.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Riverside, claimed that parking, paths of travel, courtrooms, bathrooms and other areas were inaccessible to people with mobility or manual dexterity disabilities.

Lawyers for the Disability Rights Legal Center in Los Angeles, which represented plaintiffs in the case, said Tuesday that both sides worked hard to reach what they described as a model settlement that could be a blueprint for any court system in any county.
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County to settle $831K courthouse suit

By Melissa Pinion-Whitt, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 11/14/2011 12:44:44 PM PST

San Bernardino Superior Court has agreed to settle an $831,000 class-action lawsuit claiming the county’s courthouses are inaccessible to the disabled, court officials said today.

Four plaintiffs named in the federal lawsuit will split $80,000 in damages. San Bernardino County is expected to pay $690,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs, and another $61,000 to monitor the county’s progress in making courthouses accessible.

The settlement terms include plans to improve disabled access in entrances, emergency exits, witness stands, jury boxes and other areas of the courthouses.

San Bernardino County and the Superior Court officials “denied and continue to deny the allegations and claims in the actions,” according to the settlement.

Seized files to be returned to Burum

In a rare move, federal prosecutors have agreed to return materials to a Rancho Cucamonga developer that were seized in September as part of an investigation into alleged corruption surrounding the $102 million lawsuit settlement between Colonies Partners LP and San Bernardino County.

The materials were seized by FBI agents serving search warrants at the offices and home of developer Jeff Burum, Colonies co-managing partner, and looking into alleged bribery and conspiracy related to the landmark 2006 settlement.

Stephen Larson, Burum’s attorney and a former federal judge, argued in the days after the Sept. 15 search that agents erred by taking documents and other materials not covered under the warrant.
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Judge declines to bar Grand Jury transcripts in San Bernardino County corruption case

Mike Cruz and Joe Nelson, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 10/24/2011 02:55:29 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO — A Superior Court judge on Monday declined to bar more than 2,000 pages of Grand Jury transcripts in a criminal corruption probe from being used in a civil case involving the county and three other public entities.

Attorneys representing the county filed a motion with the court in September attempting to block the defendants in an indemnity lawsuit from using the transcripts in its defense. The county sued San Bernardino Associated Governments (SanBag), Caltrans and the city of Upland in 2004, seeking to recover any damages that could arise from a separate land rights lawsuit it was engaged in with Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners LP.

The developer sued the county in 2002, arguing the county abandoned its flood control easements and refused to pay for flood control improvements on its 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland. The county settled with the developer in November 2006 for $102 million, a settlement prosecutors now say was tainted by bribery and conflict of interest.
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Attorney: Former San Bernardino County Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin civil rights violated

Joe Nelson, The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 10/17/2011 02:19:00 PM PDT

The attorney defending former San Bernardino County Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin in a sweeping corruption probe is alleging that an FBI search of Erwin’s home was flawed and that Erwin’s civil rights were violated.

A motion filed by attorney Rajan Maline in U.S. District Court in Riverside on Oct. 11 is the second to be filed in the last three weeks challenging the strength of the Sept. 15 FBI raid in connection with an investigation into the county’s $102 million legal settlement with Rancho Cucamonga developer Colonies Partners LP in November 2006.

On Oct. 3, attorney Stephen Larson, who represents Colonies’ co-managing partner Jeff Burum, filed a motion with the court alleging Burum’s civil rights were violated and FBI agents essentially lied to him and in an official court document, tainting the search altogether.
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Calfornia attorney general explains decision to leave mortgage settlement talks

Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/04/2011 03:56:03 PM PDT

State Attorney General Kamala Harris said Tuesday she left national settlement talks with lenders over potential mortgage and foreclosure violations because she doesn’t expect a deal will provide enough compensation for troubled California homeowners.

“I do not believe that the total number of Californians who are in foreclosure would be eligible for relief,” Harris said in a conference call with reporters.

Harris also said she was concerned that a deal would allow lenders to escape civil, or even criminal, penalties for alleged wrongdoing.
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California attorney general explains her leaving mortgage settlement talks

By Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/04/2011 03:56:03 PM PDT

California Attorney General Kamala Harris held a conference call today to explain her decision to leave national settlement talks with lenders over potentially illegal mortgage and foreclosure practices.

In the call, Harris said the state is experiencing a renewed wave of foreclosures and that the dollar figures being discussed in negotiations would not be sufficient to provide relief to Californians at risk of foreclosure.

Harris first announced her withdrawal from settlement talks on Friday. Her leaving clears the way for California to press its own investigation of lending and foreclosure practices, which she said may lead to civil or even criminal filings against lenders.
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Settlement reached in illegal campaign contributions case

Mike Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/02/2008 09:26:45 PM PST

Upland businessman Mark Anthony Leggio has tentatively agreed to settle allegations of campaign contribution violations with the state.

However, any impact of the settlement on his criminal case in San Bernardino County remains to be seen, said Riverside County prosecutors who are pursuing the case after the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office bowed out, citing a conflict of interest.

“I don’t believe there will be any (impact),” said Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Michael Cabral when asked about the settlement with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
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San Bernardino County agrees to jail headscarves

ORANGE (AP) — San Bernardino County will allow jailed Muslim women to wear headscarves after settling a lawsuit with a woman who alleged her religious freedoms were violated when she was forced to remove her hijab during a 12-hour jail stay, her attorney said today.

The county, which did not admit wrongdoing, will also pay $45,000 in damages, according to a settlement agreement signed by the county last week and released today.

Plaintiff Jameelah Medina will get $10,000 after subtracting attorney fees, said Hector Villagra, director of the Orange County office of the American Civil Liberties Union.
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