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A San Diego Superior Court commissioner has tossed out a case against a homeless man accused of sleeping overnight in Balboa Park after determining that police failed to abide by an order to overturn the evidence his attorney wanted. 

The low-level criminal case took two and a half years to resolve and illustrates the impacts of the city attorney’s decision to hand over responsibility of prosecuting infraction cases to police, Jesse Marx writes.

The attorney who represented the homeless man has been arguing for years that city policy has made infraction cases difficult to challenge, preventing her and her clients from accessing records and other information that might clear their name. 

Citing past court cases, the city attorney’s office has argued that removing professional prosecutors from low-level criminal cases is ultimately in the interest of defendants. Infractions are supposed to be quicker and simpler to resolve because the punishments are less severe. 

But the case in question was far from expeditious. One former commissioner who presided over the case told Marx that he’s sympathetic to the arguments on both sides but thought the issue could be resolved in the short term if deputy city attorneys intervened in the evidence-sharing process for defendants who requested it. 

Although the dismissal of the case was a victory for the homeless man, his attorney intends to appeal to address her larger question of who ought to oversee the production of evidence when it comes to infractions. 

New Census Data Shows San Diego Grew More Diverse

New Census data released Thursday shows that the U.S., California and San Diego County have gotten less White and more diverse in the past decade.

The data also shows that San Diego remains the eighth most populous city in the country and San Diego County is the fifth largest county, the Times of San Diego reports. The county’s total population grew by 6.6 percent from 3 million in 2010 to nearly 3.3 million in 2020.

You can explore all of the data here, but there are some things from NPR’s Census guru Hansi Lo Wang that you should keep in mind, particularly about what the Census data can’t tell us.

For example, many households didn’t answer the questions about race and Hispanic or Latino origin. Data about Latinos may be skewed – because of the way the Census frames its questions. People of Middle Eastern and North African origins will also be hidden in the data because there is no category for them – an issue San Diego’s large refugee population has been sounding the alarm about.

Now that you’ve taken that all into consideration, here is what the new Census data tells us about race and ethnicity in San Diego County. People who identify as only White made up 49.5 percent of the county’s total population in 2020. That is down from 64 percent in the 2010 Census. The populations of Asians and Latinos have grown significantly. The number of people who identified as Asian only grew by 74,661 – a 22.2 percent increase. The number of people who identified as Hispanic or Latino grew by 128,281 – a 12.9 percent increase from 2010. Those who identified as Black or African American alone decreased from 2010 by 2,400 – a 1.5 percent decrease – and those who identified American Indian or Alaskan Native grew by 14,628 – a 55.5 percent increase. Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations decreased slightly by 51 people since 2010. Those who marked two or more races grew by 229.3 percent from 158,425 in 2010 to 521,692 in 2020. The Union-Tribune also did its own breakdown of the data.

But again, take this data with an understanding of the Census’ limitations. We can expect Census over- and undercount rates in 2022.

The data still isn’t fully ready for redistricting yet. It needs to be reformatted and California will be reallocating individuals in its state prisons to their last known address in the data.

In Other News

  • The county reported 1,216 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and 46 additional hospitalizations. 
  • As cases surge across San Diego, the county is once again opening testing sites to handle the increased demand. (City News Service)
  • La Jolla resident and former owner of San Diego’s KFMB stations, Elisabeth Kimmel, was the 32nd parent to plead guilty in the Operation Varsity Blues nationwide college admissions bribery scandal. (NBC 7)
  • December Nights this year at Balboa Park will be a modified event similar to last year’s drive-through experience. (NBC 7)
  • A temporary closure of Point La Jolla went into effect Thursday morning after months of reports of beach-goers bothering, and in a few cases harming, sea lions and pups. (Union-Tribune)
  • The San Diego Superior Court is not ready to mandate that employees get vaccinated, or face regular COVID-19 testing, as San Diego County did two weeks ago and the governor did for schools across the state week. (Union-Tribune)
  • City Heights’ Soda Bar led the way for concert venues in the county to mandate vaccinations or a negative COVID-19 test to attend shows, and other venues have followed suit while some have continued to resist major policy shifts. (KPBS)
  • In an effort to keep sand on its beaches, the Oceanside City Council voted 4-1 this week to spend $1 million on plans and permits for beach groins and a sand bypass system. Groins, as MacKenzie Elmer explained in a recent Environment Report, are rocky walls built from the shore hundreds of feet into the ocean to trap sand that would otherwise float away. (Union-Tribune)

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, Megan Wood and Maya Srikrishnan, and edited by Sara Libby.

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