March 12, 2010

CALIFORNIA CIVIL RIGHTS LAWYER: DOES USD DRUG TEST ONLY BLACK ATHLETES?

May 12, 2010:

There is more and more evidence coming out that the University of San Diego only drug tested it's African American athletes, and left the white athletes along.

A lawsuit, claiming racial profiling and racial discrimination, has been filed on behalf of former USD point guard Trumaine Jackson stemming out of two events in which he was wrongfully accused of a crime. Click HERE for story and more links.

But it seems that the harrassment of African American students at USD is more pervasive and systematic than originally thought.

Does USD have a policy of only drug testing its African American athletes? What say you?

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March 11, 2010

CALIFORNIA CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY MARY FRANCES PREVOST SUES UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO/COACH/POLICE ON BEHALF OF USD'S FORMER POINT GUARD ALLEGING RACIAL PROFILING/RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

In 2008, University of San Diego point guard Trumaine Johnson was at the top of his game. He led the USD Torero's basketball team to the NCAA playoffs under new coach Bill Grier.

But Johnson's tenure at USD was marked with significant instances of racial discrimination. On March 9, 2010, Johnson filed suit against USD, Coach Grier, and the San Diego Police Department (and others) for racial profiing/racial discrimination based on two instances where Johnson was wrongfully accused of crimes. After the second instance, in which Johnson was tacked, kneed in the back, pepper sprayed and arrested for a crime he did not commit and a crime the prosecutors declined to prosecute, he was let go from the Toreros.

For the San Diego City Beat articles, click HERE.

For the San Diego Union Tribune article, click HERE:

March 6, 2010

CALIFORNIA DUI DEFENSE: ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPUTY ARRESTED ON DUI AFTER CRASHING TWICE IN 30 MINUTES!

Off-duty O.C. sheriff's deputy is arrested on DUI charge after crashing twice within 30 minutes.

An off-duty Orange County sheriff’s deputy, who allegedly was intoxicated when he crashed his Mercedes-Benz into another vehicle and injured a passenger, had crashed 30 minutes earlier and was allowed to drive from that accident scene by fellow deputies, authorities said Friday.

Sheriff’s deputies were called Monday afternoon to a crash involving Deputy Allan James Waters, 36, and another vehicle outside City Hall in Dana Point. Deputies took a report and permitted Waters keep driving, said Assistant Sheriff Mike James.

About 30 minutes later, at 5:20 p.m., Waters crashed his Mercedes-Benz into a Toyota in Laguna Niguel, causing it to cross the center median and slam into a tree, according to the California Highway Patrol. Dolores Molina, a 78-year-old passenger in the Toyota, suffered minor injuries.

Can you say "lawsuit?"

CHP officers said Waters showed signs of being intoxicated and was booked on suspicion of driving under the influence. He was released Wednesday, according to jail records.

Waters is a 13-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, assigned to south Orange County, James said.

The department is conducting an internal investigation to determine why Waters was allowed to keep driving, James said.

Waters had been placed on administrative leave about two months ago, but James would not say why. He said the deputy will remain on leave while the investigations are conducted.

March 1, 2010

SANTA CLARA PROSECUTOR'S FOUR-YEAR SUSPENSION FOR MISCONDUCT UPHELD

FOUR YEAR SUSPENSION FOR PROSECUTOR UPHELD.

A former Santa Clara County deputy district attorney abused his office and violated the due process rights of several criminal defendants, a State Bar Court review panel ruled last month, and should therefore lose his law license for four years.

Finding that BENJAMIN THOMAS FIELD [#168197] “disregarded prosecutorial accountability in favor of winning cases,” the three-judge panel upheld the recommendation of hearing Judge Pat McElroy and also urged that Field be given five years of probation.

The state Supreme Court must rule on the recommendation before it takes effect.

Field, 45, a career prosecutor and one-time rising star in the DA’s office, originally was charged with 25 counts of misconduct in four cases he prosecuted. The bar court dismissed several charges as duplicative.

“Although our system of administering justice is adversarial in nature and prosecutors must be zealous advocates in prosecuting their cases, it cannot be at the cost of justice,” wrote Judge Catherine Purcell, who was joined in the decision by Judges JoAnn Remke and Judith Epstein.

“Field lost sight of this goal,” Purcell continued, “ … and in doing so, he disregarded the foundation from which any prosecutor’s authority flows — ‘The first, best and most effective shield against injustice for an individual accused … must be found … in the integrity of the prosecutor.’”

The judges found that Field’s misconduct began shortly after his 1993 admission to the bar and spanned 10 years. The allegations stemmed from four cases and charged:

Field obtained a dental examination of a minor accused of sexual assault in violation of a court order. He was attempting to try the youth, who claimed to be 13, as an adult. A juvenile court judge suppressed the evidence obtained in the examination.
In a murder case, Field intentionally withheld a defendant’s statement favorable to co-defendants. As a result, the judge dismissed a 25-year gun enhancement against one of the co-defendants.
He made an improper closing argument in a sexually violent predator (SVP) case, which an appellate court described as “deceptive and reprehensible.” The court reversed a judgment committing the man as an SVP.
He intentionally withheld a witness’ statement that was favorable to the defense in a 2003 habeas corpus proceeding involving a sexual assault. The judge found that he committed a discovery violation.
In that matter, the review panel found that Field’s misconduct escalated over time and constituted “a calculated scheme to hide evidence favorable to the defense.”

Two men who were convicted of sexual assault had filed petitions for writ of habeas corpus and provided a declaration by a witness who claimed the 15-year-old victim had made false accusations because she missed curfew.

Field’s investigator found and interviewed the witness but did not notify the defense. In addition, he instructed his investigator to prepare a misleading declaration and filed it with the court, filed a statement with the court implying he did not know the witness’ whereabouts, and then waited five months before disclosing the interview, only after opposing counsel learned of the interview and had filed a motion alleging prosecutorial misconduct.

Finally, the court concluded, Field urged the court to proceed with the habeas hearing without the witness.

In the same case, Field obtained five search warrants despite the judge’s doubts about his tactics. Indeed, when Field asked the judge what to do if he needed a warrant in an emergency, the judge testified, “I looked him right in the eye and I said, ‘Ben, just don’t do it.’” Five days later, Field obtained a search warrant in another state without notifying the habeas judge.

The review panel found the Field committed several acts of moral turpitude, and did not obey a court order or follow the law. Field admitted to poor judgment and viewing his discovery obligations too narrowly, and self-reported the finding of prosecutorial misconduct to the bar.

Throughout the trial before Judge McElroy, which drew widespread interest among Field’s colleagues, he defended his behavior. The review department rejected his assertions.

Although the misconduct could have resulted in disbarment, the court found extensive mitigation, including Field’s cooperation with the bar’s investigation, an impressive record of pro bono service and “an extraordinary demonstration of good character.” In particular, it expressly noted the testimony of former Santa Clara District Attorney George Kennedy, who lauded Field’s “extraordinary professional skills and good character” and said he considers Field an honest person who is not intentionally corrupt.

Field left the DA’s office and is now chief of staff with Working Partnerships USA, a San Jose company that addresses the needs of working families in Silicon Valley.

The California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) filed an amicus brief on his behalf warning that several of the grounds for discipline involved questions of law that have not been settled. “Attorneys should be disciplined for conduct that violates clearly established law, or conduct so outrageous that its illegality is obvious,” the amicus stated, “but should not be disciplined for conduct where the law is unsettled.”

Field’s attorney, Allen Ruby, did not return a phone call for comment, nor did W. Scott Thorpe, CDAA chief executive officer.

March 1, 2010

SAN DIEGO CRIMINAL DEFENSE: COURT OF APPEAL REVERSES CASE FOR JUROR MISCONDUCT

CALIFORNIA COURT OF APPEAL REVERSES CASE WHERE JUROR'S MISCONDUCT WAS PERVASIVE

The California Court of Appeal Fourth District, Division Four, has just reversed a case where a juror committed "pervasive" misconduct. In this case, the San Diego trial juror repeatedly violated his oath to remain impartial and to refrain from speaking to anyone juring the court of the trial. Because the juror consistently and pervasively spoke about the testimony in trial to a non-juror friend - including commenting on the defendant's failure to tetify - the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's d enial of his Motion for New Trial.

Click HERE to read the opinion.

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