Police, Prosecutorial and Judicial Mi...

Police, Prosecutorial and Judicial Misconduct

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“Karma 8)”

Since: Nov 11

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#1 Nov 10, 2011
Police, Prosecutorial and Judicial Misconduct

"There is no crueler tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of law, and with the colors of justice ..."
- U.S. v. Jannotti, 673 F.2d 578, 614 (3d Cir. 1982)

California: Seventeen years after he was set up by police and prosecutors and convicted of a murder he didn't commit, Obie Anthony is free. Attorneys from the Northern California Innocence Project brought a state habeas petition, which was granted on the basis of the cumulative harm done by egregious prosecutorial misconduct. And while Mr. Anthony sat in prison, the real killer got away with murder.

California: Caramad Conley of San Francisco spent 18 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit because then-homicide investigator Earl Sanders, who would later become police chief, had stood by in court while the star prosecution witness, a paid snitch, lied under oath. Business as usual.

California: Only a tiny percentage of prosecutors who engaged in misconduct were disciplined by the State Bar of California during a 12-year period, according to a report released October 4, 2010. Among 707 cases between 1997 and 2009 in which courts explicitly determined that prosecutors had committed misconduct, only six prosecutors -- 0.8%-- were disciplined by the State Bar of California. Only 10 of the 4,741 disciplinary actions by the state bar during the same period involved prosecutors. "Preventable Error: A Report on Prosecutorial Misconduct 1997-2009," issued by the Innocence Project's Northern California chapter, was written by Kathleen Ridolfi and Maurice Possley, a visiting research fellow at the project. Possley won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting at the Chicago Tribune. Ridolfi is a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. Click HERE to download the full report (pdf format).

Prosecutorial Misconduct Study

Truth in Justice

“Karma 8)”

Since: Nov 11

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#2 Nov 10, 2011
Police, Prosecutorial and Judicial Misconduct
U.S. Federal Court: A federal judge on December 15, 2009 dismissed the entire criminal stock-options backdating case against two former Broadcom Corp. executives, concluding that the government's handling of the case "distorted the truth-finding process" and made a "mockery" of the defendants' due process rights. Before a courtroom packed with observers and other parties in the case, U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney of Santa Ana, Calif., entered a judgment of acquittal for former Chief Financial Officer William Ruehle, who has been in trial since Oct. 23. Carney's decision was met at first with stunned silence. These prosecutors aren't used to losing or getting caught.
California: Ed Jagels, renowned as one of California's toughest district attorneys, built his career on the Kern County child molestation cases of the 1980s, putting more than two dozen men and women behind bars to serve decades-long sentences for abusing children. Appellate judges now say most of those crimes never happened. Since the late 1980s, all but one of 26 convictions Jagels secured have been reversed. Kern County has paid $9.56 million to settle state and federal suits brought by former defendants and their children. But he's retiring, leaving on his own terms, not held accountable for his actions. Why not? Because Kern County voters kept re-electing him.
California: As Michael Gressett waited for a jury verdict in a molestation trial, the Contra Costa County sex crimes prosecutor had what he called a "nooner," bringing a fellow prosecutor to his Martinez home for intercourse. What happened next, on May 8, 2008, is the subject of an explosive rape case brought by the state attorney general. It involves a gun and an ice pick, but rests on a simple question that Gressett often asks juries to decide: Was the sex consensual or forced? Do as I say, not as I do.
California: As part of a criminal justice review unprecedented in county history, the Santa Clara County public defender's has launched a massive project to revisit 1,500 or more sexual assault convictions dating back two decades to determine whether innocent people may have been put behind bars. Members of Valley Medical Center's Sexual Assault Response Team have been videotaping examinations of patients since 1991, but prosecutors failed to inform defense attorneys in cases involving those patients that such critical evidence existed. Under pressure to answer for the failure, District Attorney Dolores Carr has since revealed there are 3,300 such tapes in existence, and this week she vowed to inform defense attorneys of each case involving a medical-exam videotape where a defendant was convicted. Better late than never.
United States: An angry federal judge held Justice Department lawyers in contempt yesterday for failing to deliver documents to former senator Ted Stevens's legal team, as he had ordered. "That was a court order," U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan bellowed. "That wasn't a request. I didn't ask for them out of the kindness of your hearts.... Isn't the Department of Justice taking court orders seriously these days?" Judges rarely hold prosecutors in contempt. They're following in Mike Nifong's footsteps

Prosecutorial Misconduct Study
Truth in Justice

“Karma 8)”

Since: Nov 11

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#3 Nov 10, 2011
California: Herbie Gonzalez of Los Angeles, CA spent 196 days in jail, framed by two sheriff's investigators, Katherine Gallagher and Randy Seymour, who didn't hesitate to perjure themselves to make murder, robbery and residential burglary charges stick. When Judge Cary Nishimoto dismissed the charges because Herbie's "confession" was clearly coerced, Detectives Gallagher and Seymour implied he got off on a "technicality." And when the real killer, Milton Gallardo, was identified by DNA, Gallagher and Seymour continued to claim that Herbie was "somehow" involved in the crime. Once you frame a suspect, never admit you are wrong.

California: Contending that a top local prosecutor repeatedly sought to subvert justice, the state bar is recommending that Ben Field be suspended from practicing law for three years — a punishment that would represent an unheard of public discipline against a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney. Defense lawyer Jamie Harmon is facing trial in late October, 2008 on a 20-count state bar complaint, accusing her of neglecting the cases of some criminal defendants and misrepresenting what would happen to other clients if they pleaded guilty without going to trial. And the 6th District Court of Appeals has overturned several convictions in recent months after finding errors by Santa Clara County judges in their conduct of cases — including four cases in the past six months that were presided over by Judge Paul Bernal. Held accountable in Northern California.

UPDATE: A California State Bar Court appellate panel has upheld a four-year suspension for former Santa Clara County prosecutor Benjamin Field, despite an amicus curiae brief from the California District Attorneys Association warning of a chilling effect on prosecutions. Not Dissuaded.
California: In Bakersfield, the crime lab is part of the DA's office. There is no "firewall" between the prosecution side and the science side of the office. This creates a conflict that recently moved prosecutor Nick Lackie to tell a jury, "So what?" This conflict issue has come to a head in a recent case in which a lawyer, Daniel Willsey, stands charged with causing the death of Joe Hudnall, a local deputy by driving under the influence of methamphetamine and causing Hudnall to crash. Defense attorneys have learned that testing of the defendant's blood was conducted by a lab analyst who is a close friend of the dead deputy's family. Cops in lab coats.

But wait -- there's more. When Daniel Willsey's defense attorneys went back to court to argue motions related to mishandling evidence by the DA office's crime lab, everyone got a big surprise. The crime lab had "inadvertently" destroyed the sample of Willsey's blood that the lab claimed tested positive for methamphetamines. Gosh, it's not like the DA wanted to make sure Willsey's defense attorneys can't have a private lab test the sample. Ooops -- Butterfingers.

California: A federal appeals court removed a controversial judge, U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real of Los Angeles, from another case, accusing him this time of "excessive and biased interventions" that denied two defendants a fair trial. Biased Judge

California: The Orange County case against James Ochoa for robbing three restaurant workers was tainted at every level: police misconduct in manipulating the victims' identification of James and misrepresenting the responses of a police tracking dog; efforts by the DA's office to bully crime lab scientists into lying about the DNA exclusion of James as the robber; and the inexcusable conduct of Judge Robert Fitzgerald in extorting a guilty plea from James by threatening him with life in prison.

Prosecutorial Misconduct Study
Truth in Justice

“Karma 8)”

Since: Nov 11

Location hidden

#4 Nov 10, 2011
In a rare series of real-time reports about the prosecution of James Ochoa, R. Scott Moxley told readers of the Orange County Weekly exactly which public servants were perverting justice and how they were doing it. As you read these, keep in mind that for the police, prosecutors and judge, business goes on as usual. Moreover, the DA is starting up his own crime lab, so he won't have to put up with scientists who refuse to lie about their findings.

The Case of the Dog Who Couldn't Sniff Straight
There Once was a Judge from Nantucket

Oops. Quiet Admission They got the Wrong Guy
If Evidence Doesn't Fit, Alter It

Also see how the California Attorney General played games with James Ochoa's compensation: Making a Chew Toy of Justice

California: A coalition of national nonprofit groups has asked the Justice Department to investigate and suspend FBI employee Danny Miller, who was found by a jury to have falsified evidence against Herman Atkins, a man who served 12 years in prison before being exonerated by DNA evidence. Miller is in a position to continue doing harm to the innocent.

United States: The power, if not the arrogance, of prosecutors grated on Angela Davis throughout her 12 years at the D.C. Public Defender Service, three as its director. Now a law professor at American University, she has made a mission of exposing that power--on radio and TV and in a new book, Arbitrary Justice--with hopes of reining it in. Her beef is not so much with prosecutors breaking the rules, although plenty do. Davis' greater worry is all the behavior considered within bounds but outside any reasonable notion of fair play. Abuse at the early stages.

California: A Huntington Beach police officer's exoneration for planting a loaded gun in a suspect's car has led to the revelation that police routinely plant evidence in unsuspecting civilians' vehicles for training exercises. Police admit planting evidence.

California: Kern County DA Ed Jagels put two dozen innocent people behind bars on charges that they molested their own kids -- while ignoring evidence that his friends were throwing orgies with teenage boys. So why is one of America's most reckless prosecutors still in power? Mean Justice's Dirty Secrets

California: The California Highway Patrol is investigating claims that two of its officers were pressured to lie on the witness stand in a lawsuit by a Ramona man awarded $4.5 million by a jury in April, 2004. Under Pressure

California: Superior Court Judge William Danser of California's Santa Clara County was found guilty on all counts in his obstruction of justice trial. The judge was convicted of improperly dismissing 20 traffic tickets for professional athletes and acquaintances, and of transferring two DUI cases to himself so he could hand out lenient sentences. Playing Favorites

California: A day after a federal appeals court spared the life of convicted killer Kevin Cooper and ordered further testing of evidence, the death row inmate's defense team called for an independent investigation of the case. The appeals court ordered testing to determine whether a blood drop left outside Doug and Peg Ryen's bedroom had been treated with a preservative known as EDTA, commonly used to take calcium out of solutions, which could indicate the evidence was deliberately planted. Reliability of Evidence

California: On Dec. 4, 2003 a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the State of California to release Thomas Lee Goldstein without bail after finding that 24 years ago prosecutors had denied him a fair trial. But California ignored the Court and has kept Goldstein in custody. On January 30, 2004, the judgesrepeated their original order, putting in capital letters their directive for Goldstein's "IMMEDIATE RELEASE FROM CUSTODY."

Prosecutorial Misconduct Study
Truth in Justice

“Karma 8)”

Since: Nov 11

Location hidden

#5 Nov 10, 2011
Hours after a judge dismissed Thomas Lee Goldstein's 24-year-old murder conviction, Goldstein was right back where he started his long legal struggle: standing in a courtroom, entering a plea of innocent. Superior Court Judge Arthur Jean granted a defense motion on February 2, 2004 to dismiss the conviction, but prosecutors refiled the case almost immediately. Innocence is Irrelevant

UPDATE: On April 2, 2004, Thomas Lee Goldstein was finally freed when LA Deputy DA Patrick Connolly admitted the state lacks sufficient evidence to retry him. Justice Delayed 24 Years

California: Thirteen years ago, when he was a homicide detective, San Francisco Police Chief Earl Sanders hid evidence that John Tennison and Antoine Goff were innocent of killing Roderick Shannon -- the real killer's confession. Tennison and Goff went to prison; Sanders' duplicity helped take him to the top of the heap. Now a federal judge has overturned those convictions and pinned the blame squarely where it belongs. The Slippery Road to Promotion

California: In 1991, Rick Walker of Santa Clara County, CA was convicted of murder, thanks to an amoral trial prosecutor willing to trade truth for a deal with a liar and a near-vegetative defense attorney. Thanks to a dogged defense attorney and an honest prosecutor, Rick has been freed and declared Factually Innocent.

California: All Andrea Torres wanted was to get home after a hard day of work. Instead, she and two other family members wound up battered, arrested and spending the night in jail. The Night They Pulled Me Over

California: We're a year late with this story, and we apologize it took us so long to learn of it. In March of 2002, LAPD Det. William Douglass was caught -- by the presiding judge -- submitting phony fingerprint test results in an attempted murder case. The judge dismissed the charge and issued a stinging 8-page opinion against Det. Douglass. But don't worry. Douglass wasn't charged.(If you're in LA -- be careful out there.) LAPD Fiction

United States: James McCloskey, Director of Centurion Ministries, Inc., describes the factors that lead to wrongful conviction in excerpts from his law journal article: "Convicting the Innocent."
United States: Should federal prosecutors be exempt from state ethics rules that ensure due process to other defendants who are merely suspected of criminal acts? All Powerful Prosecutors

Prosecutorial Misconduct Study

Truth in Justice
Danny Alton Rucker

Elberton, GA

#6 May 19, 2013
The prosecutor in Mr. Rucker case committed prosecutorial misconduct. The star witness misidentified Mr. Rucker in a line-up. There was no scientific evidence linking Mr. Rucker to the crimes. The prosecutor moved forward with the case to trial before the Georgia Bureau Investigation (GBI) had completed its investigation. Mr. Rucker was found guity by a jury on February 14, 1989, for murder, arm robbery and aggravated assault. The GBI finished its investigation August 1989. The other witnesses for the state that gave false statements, their statements were changed by the Capt. of the Police Department and the DA's Office. Years later, both state witnesses recanted their story by saying that they really didn't hear Mr. Rucker say anything about committing the crimes. They just wanted their sentence to be reduce for their false statement.

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