Beverly Hills, California
Renowned civil rights attorney, Sean Erenstoft spoke today at the Beverly Hills Hotel before a gathering of Los Angeles attorneys to discuss strategies of taking on prosecution witnesses in criminal litigation.
The discussion was prompted by a recent spate of questionable litigation stemming from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Stalking and Threat Assessment Team (STAT) charged with filing complaints against cyber-stalkers and other threat crimes. STAT has a long history of one-sided litigation against mostly male defendants. It’s chief prosecutor, Wendy Segall, has been called into question lately for her unwillingness to provide e-discovery relating to alleged cyber-crime; and for relying on corrupt witnesses who have either committed the same crimes themselves or committed battery and other domestic violence on the alleged male suspects.
Civil rights attorney, Sean Erenstoft entangled with Wendy Segall when he served a written demand for discovery on STAT to provide foundational data proving the source of email allegedly sent by his client to the prosecution’s female witness. Unfortunately, Segall refused to provide the source data relying, instead, on hearsay statements by the witness who, herself, had battered the defendant repeatedly in a domestic brawl.
Erenstoft implored local lawyers to rely on Penal Code section 1054.5 which succinctly outlines a defendant’s right to discovery. Erenstoft reminded,“whereas civil discovery requires formal written requests, criminal discovery is less formal.” However, he added,“counsel are reminded to place their discovery requests in writing nonetheless and rely on those writings to present formal motions to compel discovery from the prosecutor should she fail to provide the information sought.” Judges appreciate the formality of written discovery requests because it ensures a clear and concise record of evidence that the parties will rely upon at trial. Erenstoft was adamant about holding a firm line on discovery in criminal matters because all too often, prosecutors rely upon the summaries provided to them by officers and detectives. Erenstoft maintained,“Get to the heart of the matter by demanding the source data and avoid the prosecutor’s reliance on second-hand information.”
When it comes to cyber-crimes, the paper print-outs relied upon by STAT are hearsay unless properly authenticated with source data which proves it is what the proponent says it is. Most of the time, judges are willing to allow the admission of paper print-outs on the mistaken assertion that the emails and other data are self-authenticating, business records, or contain other information denoting reliability. However, in this era of “ghosting” where hackers and other on-line marketers are capable of fooling email recipients about the source of the email they receive, it is imperative that proper routing data are coupled with the email offered as evidence to prove it is what the prosecutor says it is. Wendy Segall didn’t like this sort of demand and instead, simply refused to provide the data prompting Erenstoft to bring a formal motion to compel the data. Segall later dropped nearly all of the charges against Erenstoft’s client reluctantly admitting that she could not prove the bulk of her case.
Erenstoft concluded by remarking about his own boughts with the DA in this regard and cautioned that this prosecutor is not beyond alleging claims against defense attorneys for “dissuading” or “bribing” a witness when civil suits are alleged against corrupt government witness who have violated civil and criminal laws and then go running to the police in a race-to-the-courthouse. Erenstoft has been booked for a future discussion about the filing of lawful civil suits against corrupt government witnesses in June.