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POSTED October 25, 2012 9:01 p.m.

CALIFORNIA BEGINS REGAINING  CONTROL OF STATE INMATE CARE: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — The federal courts will begin handing responsibility for inmate health care back to California corrections officials today, the first step in ending a 7-year-old receivership that has cost the state billions of dollars to improve prison medical conditions.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will assume responsibility for hiring employees and preparing to open a $1 billion prison medical complex in Stockton, 50 miles south of the state capital. The state also is taking charge of 2,200 guards who are responsible for transporting inmates to medical appointments.

If the transition goes well, the court-appointed overseer, J. Clark Kelso, predicted his control of inmate medical care could end in about a year. A federal judge is likely to appoint a special master to monitor the state's compliance at least into 2014.

HERCULES TEACHER ACCUSED OF POT POSSESSION: HERCULES, Calif. (AP) — A middle school teacher in Contra Costa County is out on bail after police say they found more than a pound of marijuana and $4,200 in his car at the school.

Sixty-six-year-old Allen Goodman of Walnut Creek was arrested on Wednesday at his Hercules middle school on suspicion of marijuana distribution. Police say they are now investigating whether Goodman sold any of the drugs at the school.

Hercules police spokeswoman Connie Van Putten says a school resource officer responding to reports of an unattended car idling in a parking lot on the middle school-high school campus found the marijuana and cash.

The vehicle was allegedly traced to Goodman, who was then arrested.

FAMED 'HAUNTED' HOUSE LOSES TRADEMARK LAWSUIT: SAN JOSE  (AP) — A California appeals court says a straight-to-DVD horror movie loosely based on the life of the woman who built the 160-room Winchester Mystery House in San Jose did not violate the popular tourist attraction's trademark.

The 6th District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that a Los Angeles film company had a First Amendment right to use Sarah Winchester's story and name in its 2009 film "Haunting of Winchester House."

Winchester, the widow of gun maker William Winchester, started building the mansion in 1884. The huge house was under construction 24 hours a day, seven days a week until her death 38 years later.

Popular legend has it that Winchester's eccentric behavior stemmed from a medium who told her she would be haunted by the spirits of people killed by Winchester guns if she stopped the construction.

160 LAPD EMPLOYEES COULD BE LAID OFF: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some 160 Los Angeles Police Department employees could be laid off by January 1 under a cost-cutting plan announced by Chief Charlie Beck.

In a memo posted on the department's internal website on Thursday, the chief said the layoffs would include one police administrator, a nutritionist, 10 secretaries, 81 senior clerk typists and 66 clerk typists.

City News Service reports the positions were selected when the layoffs were first proposed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the spring and might be modified under current plans.

The LAPD has lost 628 civilian employees to budget cuts and early retirement offers since 2009, according to the department.

ACLU SUES OVER TAKING PHOTOS AT BORDER CROSSINGS: SAN DIEGO (AP) — Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union have sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over restrictions on taking photos and video footage at ports of entry.

The ACLU said Thursday that it filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of activists who were trying to document California border crossings with Mexico and had their photos deleted by authorities. The lawsuit says the government requires approval for images taken at or near ports of entry.

In its lawsuit filed Wednesday in San Diego, the ACLU says the policy violates constitutional rights to free speech and against illegal search and seizure. It says the policy deters the public from documenting potential misconduct.

AGENCY SUES TO REVEAL DONORS TO ARIZ. GROUP: SACRAMENTO  (AP) — California's campaign watchdog agency has filed a lawsuit seeking to force an Arizona nonprofit to reveal the source of the group's $11 million contribution to a political action committee that is active in the November election.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Sacramento County Superior Court says Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership has refused to comply with an audit request by the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

The Small Business Action Committee PAC received the $11 million contribution last week. The group is campaigning against Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative and in favor of a separate initiative that would erode union political power in California.

 

VALLEJO WOMAN FINDS UNCLE DEAD WITH SEVERED HAND: VALLEJO  (AP) — Vallejo police say a woman came across a grisly scene on Wednesday afternoon when she came home to find her uncle dead with a severed hand.

The unidentified 44-year-old man had apparently cut off his left hand with a butcher knife after going to his brother's house and finding no one home. He died of blood loss.

Police say he had previously been put on mental evaluation holds. He apparently tried to cut off his left arm before severing his hand.

 

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