Lance Janssen hasn’t led a charmed existence. The Healdsburg man has a long criminal rap sheet, dating back to the late 1980s, and has spent much of his adulthood in jail and prison. It looked like he was going away for life when he committed his third ‘strike’ offense: Fleeing police last year through Fountaingrove in Santa Rosa with a loaded handgun under the seat of his motorcycle. But fate finally smiled on the 45-year-old ex-con.
Plans for a new Sonoma County courthouse are moving forward, but a scaled-down budget and a delayed schedule are expected to push construction back another year to 2015. The revisions, driven by state funding woes, are expected to trim more than $15 million, or about 10 percent, from the construction budget, reducing the total estimated cost to about $166 million.
A Sonoma County judge has struck down the approval for a controversial rock quarry west of Cotati, saying key parts of the environmental impact report were inadequate. The final ruling, issued Thursday by Judge Elliot Daum, could derail the project by requiring the county and quarry developer John Barella to conduct a new environmental report, or overhaul large parts of the existing one. Opponents of the 70-acre Roblar Road quarry, including neighbors and environmentalists, welcomed the decision.
Wal-Mart may revive a controversial plan to expand its Rohnert Park store with a 32,000-square-foot grocery — a proposal approved by the city two years ago but then stopped in court. ‘We’re evaluating the next steps and working with the city on the requirements established by the judge’s ruling,’ said Wal-Mart West media director Delia Garcia. She was referring to a 2011 decision in which Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau said parts of the environmental report for the project were inadequate.
State officials approved a $5.2 million deal Wednesday to buy land in Santa Rosa for a new $178.7 million Sonoma County courthouse. The state Public Works Board approved the agreement to purchase 6.8 acres of bargain-priced land from the county at its main campus north of Steele Lane. It includes the site of the former county jail, which was demolished in 2010.
Cameras at the courthouse are not new. But with the rise of multi-defendant gang cases drawing dozens of onlookers — and with the strain of staff reductions — cameras are seeing more action in Sonoma County courtrooms. Some see the devices as an invasion of privacy rights and an incursion on civil liberties. What’s your take?
Lawyers argued Friday before a packed courtroom about a controversial asphalt plant proposed for the Petaluma River that was approved by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors despite community opposition over potential environmental effects.
Opponents and supporters of the proposed Dutra Materials asphalt plant south of Petaluma are set to have their date in court Friday. A lawsuit challenging approval of the project, one of the most controversial land-use issues in Sonoma County, will be the focus of a civil court hearing. What should the judge do?
A 20-year-old Windsor man behind a rash of commercial burglaries was the first to be sentenced in Sonoma County under a new state law that requires certain offenders to serve their time in local jails rather than state prison. The law, designed to reduce prison overcrowding, may be the biggest change to the county’s criminal justice system in a generation. Some are concerned that local officials are not equipped to handle hundreds of additional offenders entering the county jail and probation system each year.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s raid on courthouse construction funds to balance the state budget means Sonoma County will likely wait another year before its aging facility is replaced. The county is now looking at 2016 until it gets a new courthouse — and construction could be put off even longer.