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#1 Mar 8, 2011
Los Angeles, CA
First Amendment advocate, Sean Erenstoft faced off last year with the Los Angeles District Attorney who complained that Erenstoft filed a lawful civil suit against what Erenstoft termed a "corrupt government witness" the DA had offered as a witness against Erenstoft's client in a stalking matter then being tried by Steve Cooley's office.
Despite the fact that Erenstoft called media attention the fact that he had filed the suit to timely address the civil mis-doings of the witness (which included assault and battery on Erenstoft's client in 2008), the DA perceived the lawsuit as intended to intimidate the witness.
Erenstoft maintained that civil suits are filed everyday for a host of legal reasons, including the redress of grievances, money, and to obtain restraining orders.
It seems that Erenstoft got mis-handled by a DA who was unhappy with his aggressive manner of pushing back against the virtually unchecked power of the prosecutor.
In 2008 and 2009, Erenstoft raised concerns about the DA's office and its handling (and hiding) of criminal discovery thereby effectively violating the Constitutional rights of defendants to obtain evidence to afford them a fair and full hearing.
Erenstoft was also critical of the DA's lackadaisical handling of the whistle-blower's complaints leading (one year later) to the indictments pertaining to official corruption in the City of Bell.
Later yet, Erenstoft called on Cooley's office to normalized the penalties exacted for similar crimes (such as DUI and drug offenses) to ensure fairness in the system of justice.
His criticism of the DA's office went virtually un-noticed until his recent handling of the famous "Bling-Ring" case which launched Erenstoft's stature and amplified his concerns about Los Angeles' criminal justice system.
Regardless, Erenstoft remains staunch supporter of the deputies and other law enforcement personnel who have provided the insights and information which have served to launch his own policing of our government.
God Bless Sean Erenstoft
#2 Mar 8, 2011
Sean Erenstoft put himself out there for all of us who have fallen victim to rampant over-charging by the D.A. We need heros like him to make sure that the even for those of us that made a mistake, get a fair shake. When I met Sean, he was complaining about Steve Cooley's treatment of Deputy Disrict Attorneys who were part of a Union. Cooley was trying to bust up the Union. Apparently, Erenstoft even fights for the rights of prosecutors.
#4 Mar 9, 2011
I'm suspicious of the Los Angeles District Attorney taking aim at a lawyer it litigates against. Sean Erenstoft sued a DA witness for his client and the DA sued him back? Something stinks here.
#6 Mar 22, 2011
Sean Erenstoft is committed to providing his clients with honest and zealous representation. He and his staff are dedicated to providing a written retainer agreement specifically outlining the services to be rendered; and the expenses anticipated. Erenstoft is a zealous communicator and enjoys making telephonic and email contact with his clients. All telephone calls and electronic communications will be answered and returned promptly. If you have a question, Sean Erenstoft and his staff know and understand that communication is important. Erenstoft understands that his clients are nervous and need a responsive partner in stressful times.
Sean Erenstoft is a Los Angeles based lawyer who is respected by prosecutors and judges throughout Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley for his integrity and ethical representation. Erenstoft takes great pride in working closely with individual and their families to ensure that everyone is informed about the status of their case. Consultations are always free and confidential. Call the Law Office of Sean Erenstoft today to discuss a strategy to protect your legal rights.
#7 Apr 20, 2011
Criminal Defense Attorneys Take on Wendy Segall’s Strategy of Posting Corrupt Witnesses
There is an old legal axiom stating that “you are stuck with the witnesses who were on hand.” Attorneys use that axiom to explain to juries that the witnesses they will observe at trial are not chosen or volunteered. Indeed, they are seldom the people we would want to stake our freedoms on or trust our lives to. But, too often, yesterday’s strangers are today’s heroes. This point is made poignant by the following article:
A prosecutor with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s “Stalking and Threat Assessment Team” has been posting corrupt witnesses to prove feeble claims of “stalking” against Los Angeles men. Claims of stalking are usually hard to prove and rely upon hearsay evidence and the testimony of investigators who are funded by the same grants as the District Attorney’s STAT team.(California Emergency Management Agency). Besides the obvious conflict of interest, hearsay evidence is typically relied upon to prove-up these cases. The she-said-he-said evidence is usually based on conjecture and un-sourced email which the District Attorney makes no attempt to authenticate properly.
First Amendment Advocates of Los Angeles observed abuse by the Los Angeles District Attorney when it called attention to the filing of a lawful civil suit that renowned Los Angeles trial attorney, Sean Erenstoft filed on behalf of his client against a so-called “victim of stalking.” The gravamen of the complaint was based on his client’s claim of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress his client suffered at the hands of the so-called “victim” of the stalking. The victim had been arrested for the crime; and pictures of his client told the story of a well-curbed client who stood idle while he was beat by his ex-girlfriend.
It was apparent that Erenstoft’s client had been late to file the civil suit. The victim had run to the police department to affect a restraining order which resulted, ultimately, in the filing of a criminal complaint against Erenstoft’s client. It proved to be a race to the courthouse.
After the civil suit was filed on behalf of his client, Wendy Segall unethically took aim at defense attorney, Sean Erenstoft to thwart his use of the First Amendment (the filing of the civil suit) for the redress of grievances. As stated earlier, attorneys don’t have the luxury of picking eye-witnesses, but attorneys do have a duty to zealously defend their clients by citing the deficiencies of the witnesses who are called “victim” by the District Attorney.
The label “victim”(relied upon by the District Attorney) pervades motions to suppress that loaded reference at trial. While many defendants’ activities are otherwise boorish and present poorly to a jury audience, it remains inviolate that defense attorneys insist on their clients’ right to push back against naked allegations of wrong-doing. The filing of civil litigation is a valid mechanism for the redress of grievances. Civil litigation also provides a means (through the Code of Civil Procedure) to obtain information that may be relied upon to push-back against the momentum of a biased prosecutor. And of course, the validity of any civil litigation is subject to demurrer or similar procedure at virtually any stage of the litigation.
When a prosecutor tasks its investigators to investigate the criminal defense attorney, as Wendy Segall did in the case of People of California v. Chris Stewart, we must certainly question the ethics of the prosecutor. At the precise time in which Wendy Segall was tasked with responding to criminal discovery consisting of the source of any emails claimed to have been sent by Chris Stewart, Wendy Segall sent a D.A. investigator to investigate the attorney who filed a lawful civil action against her victim-witness.
#8 May 4, 2011
Sean Erenstoft Issues Public Comment on Dispensary “Crackdown” in Los Angeles
By: Jay Redding
May 4, 2011
Renowned criminal defense attorney and civil rights advocate, Sean Erenstoft of Sherman Oaks, California spoke today at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel in Woodland Hills and addressed a number of attorneys about the Los Angeles City Attorney’s most-recent actions to curb marijuana dispensaries throughout the City of Los Angeles.
He said,“The City is using its zoning ordinances to effectively prohibit the establishment of dispensaries and is calling on landlords of established dispensaries to evict their tenants on the basis that they are conducting unlawful activities.”(Such property uses are typically prohibited in most commercial leases and City Attorney, Carmen Trutanich appears to be providing fodder for landlords to evict their tenants and/or tipping his hand that landlords that do not evict their dispensary tenants could face imminent prosecution).
Sean Erenstoft has represented a number of dispensary owners over their concerns about the right to patient privacy; and the City’s questionable and unconstitutional use of undercover resources to effectively invade the doctor-patient privilege. Erenstoft has been monitoring litigation on the topic and believes that the police are accessing personal information without a warrant or subpoena.
Erenstoft explained:“The exercise of the City’s ability to restrict business expansion through zoning ordinances that actually lapsed prior to the dispensary registration deadline in November, 2007, effectively denied citizens their due process rights.” Dispensaries that registered timely (and the landlords who leased their property) probably suffered eminent domain and other civil rights violations.
While Erenstoft has raised concerns about the rampant expansion of the marijuana trade in Los Angeles by citing to the fact that nearly 600 dispensaries have operated since California legalized marijuana, he explains that the City Council should consider redrafting the legislation to conform to the citations of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr.
Erenstoft applauded City Councilman, Ed Reyes in his decision to ask Trutanich’s office to draft a new ordinance that conforms to Judge Mohr’s stated concerns. Meanwhile, Erenstoft contends that the City should be restrained from bringing suit (or otherwise enforcing the criminal sanctions) against dispensary owners during the pendency of any rewrite. At present, dispensaries are being hailed into courts for alleged misdemeanor violations wherein fines levied seek $25,000 against individuals and separate fines of $5,000 per day (in which the dispensary operates).
Sean Erenstoft has long supported Trutanich’s efforts at curbing the rampant growth of marijuana dispensaries especially near schools and places where minors congregate. Erenstoft declared during his exchange with reporters recently that he believes marijuana remains the number-one gateway drug for teens and would like to see dispensaries “distance themselves from the doctors who prescribe such drugs.” Sean Erenstoft referenced other examples where other professionals are restricted from ownership in “tangential trades which carry the inherent risk of financial self-interest.”
Erenstoft is slated to appear at other continuing legal education seminars in May. He is currently on assignment providing litigation consulting for a number of Los Angeles-based firms. Sean Erenstoft was recently acknowledged as a civil rights “hero” for his bravery taking on corrupt government witnesses by filing civil suits against them for civil rights violations against accused criminal defendants.
Since: May 11
#10 May 20, 2011
Sean Erenstoft Speaks at Beverly Hills Hotel About Pushing Back Against Corrupt Prosecutorial Witnesses in Criminal Litigation
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.
#11 Jun 7, 2011
Vindictive Los Angeles Prosecutor Takes Aim at Defense Attorneys Who Push Back Against Corruption
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles Prosecutor, Wendy Segall was cited for her vindictive behavior during a recent meeting of influential criminal defense attorneys who noted a recent spate of problems stemming from their inability to exact lawful criminal discovery from Segall’s “Stalking and Threat Assessment Team.” Given the intricacies of cyber-stalking (which Segall’s office prosecutes), unique forms of discovery are required to prove (or disprove) the dispatch of offensive data over the internet. This information has been woefully overlooked by the Segall as she counts on the mere label of “stalker” or “terrorist threat” to stong-arm defendants she prosecutes. Astute defense attorneys have called upon Segall to produce the foundational proof that substantiates Segall’s otherwise vacuous claims of cyber-bullying.
Research on Wendy Segall reveals that Wendy Segall prosecuted a man for crimes when she knew she had no evidence to prove a crucial element of the crime. In the matter of People v. Ghaffari, the 2nd Appellate District overturned a conviction Segall had obtained when she otherwise painted the defendant reprehensible with a comprehensive and repetitive recitation of unflattering allegations. The jury was said to have improperly confused Ghaffari’s unsavory conduct with his relatively innocuous online speech. It was the unethical prosecutorial conduct which carried the case past the jury despite Wendy Segall’s knowing lack of evidence.(See, Daily Journal, Friday, September 29, 2000 – Court Reverses Jury in Cybersex-Chat Case).
Wendy Segall has become so vindictive in her scheme to prosecute without first securing foundational evidence that when defense attorneys have served her office with formal written discovery requests (allowed under the Penal Code), Segall tasks her special investigator, Eric Cheung to investigate the defense attorney. Besides the obvious mis-use of County resources exemplified in having her own office investigate criminal defense attorneys, Segall continues to refuse to provide specific discovery required to prove the origin of email, text, and other suspect electronic data. Segall prefers, instead, a strong-arm tactic of alleging multiple counts against a defendant; retaining them in jail under the bail schedule; and then letting a defendant plea several months later to one strike-count and a stipulation to a prison psychiatric evaluation which takes an additional 90 days. In essence, Segall regularly abuses the bail schedule and the Evidence Code to allege crimes she knowingly cannot prove.
Defense attorneys should approach Ms. Segall with caution. She is a dangerous addition to the L.A.D.A. insofar as she ignores the accused’s right to information and uses DA resources to take aim at her attorney opponents. Attempts at addressing the Defense Bar’s concerns have fallen on deaf ears insofar her boss, Bill Hodgeman, appears to have no desire to check Segall’s vindictive behavior.
#12 Jun 7, 2011
Jurors in Los Angeles are demanding better evidence from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. The DA has been troubled by comments from jurors who demand better evidence in the cases the LADA bring to them for consideration. With the advent of TV shows such as L.A.Law in the 90’s came the verbal theatrics that the likes of Johnnie Cochran ran with. Recently, the LADA has been asking jurors whether they think that “CSI” quality evidence is necessary to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. In many cases, the answer is “yes” and the DA is left to explain that such evidence is just not economical to produce... and yet, they demand that jurors find defendants guilty on scant evidence.
One such example occurred in a case I was handling in which Deputy District Attorney, Wendy Segall sought a conviction against my client who was alleged to have emailed his ex-girlfriend threatening emails. No evidence existed that the emails originated from my client despite the false headers on the emails suggesting that, indeed, they were written by him. I had produced examples of emails that I had received from my own email address that were advertisements (not written by me). Indeed, most individuals with email accounts have had the occasion of having received email purportedly sent to us by... us. This is called “email ghosting” and is intended by marketers to cause us to open seemingly innocuous email . This concept was lost on Ms. Segall who proceeded to rely upon the hearsay documents consisting merely of printouts of the suspicious email. To make matters worse, Ms. Segall charged my client with 15 strike offenses relating to Penal Code 422 (making a terrorist threat). To repeat, Ms. Segall charged my client with 15 serious felony charges for what consisted of 15 so-called threatening emails. My client was exposed to 56 years in jail for email.(I’ll save for later my complaints about the decision to charge the crime excessively to effectively deny my client bail).
I served Wendy Segall with written discovery requests in an attempt to glean the IP address and the names of servers and other indicia of authentication of the suspect emails and was outright stone-walled. Indeed, she refused to even inquire about the possibility that the suspect emails were ghost emails. Come to find out, she hadn’t even tasked an investigator to make an inquiry about the emails but, instead, tasked the investigator to investigate me!
What does this experience mean to the defense bar? It means we need to engage the DA with discovery inquiries and be prepared to present evidence about the lack of evidence such a deputy, relies upon in the effort to convict our clients. Defense counsel should ask the DA investigators questions such as: Why didn’t your investigation include an inquiry about email ghosting? When Mr. Erenstoft inquired about the likelihood that the email was a “ghost,” why didn’t you inquire, follow-up, or take any efforts to investigate? Did you actually see the defendant write the email? Can you tell me just how many servers the email visited before landing in the victim’s “inbox?” You have no certainty that the defendant wrote the suspect email, do you?
The Los Angeles District Attorney is bringing more and more “electronic” cases and relying on weaker and weaker evidence to convict defendants. It is up to the defense bar to demand, through discovery and from poignant questioning, what efforts are being taken to shore-up the evidence that is offered as proof. When it comes to electronic crimes such as email threats, fraud and identity theft, call upon the DA to show their work... and when the work is scant; they’ve cut corners; or simply ignored your discovery inquiries, make sure the jury knows that more reliable (and better) evidence exists but the investigator simply didn’t take the time or care enough to make sure the evidence was solid... beyond a reasonable doubt.
#13 Jun 10, 2011
Sean Erenstoft Applauds Steve Cooley for Stepping Down as District Attorney
Since May, 2008, during the primary race for district attorney, Sean Erenstoft has participated in public debate about Steven Cooley being too “cozy” with a handful of defense attorneys and the resulting patent dissimilarities in the handling of like cases. Despite the fact that Steve Cooley pledged to voters when he came to office that he would only serve two-terms, he ran for a third-term just as news that a federal complaint was filed against him alleging suppression of First Amendment Rights and retaliation against County employees on the basis of their union membership.(See, One Unnamed Deputy District Attorney v. County of Los Angeles; United Stated District Court, Central District of California; Case No.: CV 09-7931 ODW (SSx)).
Erenstoft enlarged the debate about Cooley’s office reliably giving lenient plea-deals to the likes of Lindsay Lohan and others who had otherwise flaunted their wealth and privilege. And yet when Erenstoft had pressed for leniency in the famed “Bling Ring” matter in exchange for his client’s participation in solving previously unsolved crime, Cooley’s office was slow to respond. Indeed, Erenstoft argued,“such accommodation is important to society insofar as criminal suspects can help solve a significant amount of otherwise unsolved crime.”“It seems that the D.A. has their priorities messed up if they are not going to reach out the defense bar to help solve crime.
The debate raged on as Erenstoft noted the vindictive behavior or Deputy District Attorney, Wendy Segall who, rather than respond to criminal discovery in a cyber-stalking matter tasked her investigator to investigate Erenstoft’s filing of lawful civil litigation against a corrupt government witness. Cooley’s office took another “shot” at First Amendment Rights by criticizing Erenstoft for his settlement exchanges with a civil litigation defendant who was also serving as a witness in related criminal litigation.
#14 Sep 3, 2011
Great article, except Sean G. Erenstoft was disbarred last month. I found this link while surfing the Internet.
#15 Nov 18, 2012
What's with all these bogus internet blogs and postings involving "John Fielder" (ie., Sean Erenstoft)calling himself a hero and other lauditory names. It's as if this disbarred attorney is masturbating in public and wants us to applaud when he climaxes. Yuck. What a schmuck!
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