Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. Defense lawyers for ex-BART cop Johannes Mehserle won two battles in court yesterday, including securing a gag order against attorney John Burris, who represents family members and friends of Oscar Grant, the Trib reports. The gag order means Burris is forbidden from talking publicly about the case during Mehserle’s murder trial, which gets underway today. Mehserle’s attorney Michael Rains also won the right to have his expert interpret videos of the fatal shooting for jurors. The decision frustrated Grant’s family who believe jurors should be able to interpret the videos themselves.
2. In a victory for police and a substantial setback for criminal suspects, the US Supreme Court rolled back Miranda rights yesterday in a landmark ruling, the LA Times reports. In a 5-4 decision, the court’s conservative majority shifted the burden from police to suspects, saying that they can be interrogated without their lawyers present unless they make an unambiguous request to remain silent or to have their attorney on hand.
3. California would become the first state in the nation to ban plastic bags in grocery and convenience stores statewide under a new bill that has the support of Governor Schwarzenegger, the Chron reports. The bill, which appears likely to be signed into law this year despite fierce opposition from the plastic bag industry, also would require shoppers to pay 5 cents to use a paper bag or to purchase reusable bags.
4. State regulators are poised to replace one toxic pesticide used on strawberries with a super-toxic one, the Chron reports. The pending decision by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation would make it legal for growers to use methyl iodide, a powerful carcinogen, instead of methyl bromide, which harms the earth’s atmospheric ozone layer.
5. California’s fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is one of the most imperiled water systems in the country, the Chron reports, citing a new study from the conservation group American Rivers. The Delta is second only to the Upper Delaware watershed in Pennsylvania and New York.
6. And four Bay Area activists who were captured by Israeli troops when they tried to run a blockade of the Gaza are healthy and should return home soon, the Chron reports. However, there was no word on a fifth activist, Paul Larudee of El Cerrito, who was hurt when Israeli soldiers raided the flotilla of boats trying to bring food and supplies to Palestinians.