March 26, 2014

PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT IN #SAN JOSE: AUSA KALEBA AND PARRELLA INDICT, ARREST AND WRONGFULLY PROSECUTE AN INNOCENT CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER

San Jose Federal Prosecutors Daniel Kaleba and Matthew Parrella are either the most abundantly stupid prosecutors on the planet, or just plain evil. They indicted a criminal defense attorney, alleging that he revealed confidential information to Hells Angels gang members. He didn't. He merely REPEATED info that was revealed by prosecutors in state court.

But these two remarkably stupid and/or power hungry San Jose Deputy United States Attorneys indicted him, made him put up $100,000 bail, and emotionally and financially tortured him for months before DISMISSING the case with a giant OOPS.

HERE'S THE STORY

July 28, 2013

SAN DIEGO SEXUAL POLITICS: IF FILNER GOES, SEND JAN GOLDSMITH AND THE CITY COUNCIL WITH HIM

It's utterly fascinating - and somewhat frightening - that most members of the City Council are calling for Bob Filner's resignation because of sexual harassment allegations. There's fire and brimstone coming from every corner. Every politician is jumping over the next trying to get a front row seat on the "Get Rid of Filner" train. You'd think they were REALLY upset by sexual harassment. But they're not. Each one of them is just as guilty of sexual harassment as Filner.

If Filner goes, so should the highly misogynistic Jan Goldsmith, AND the city council members who recently voted to hand Goldsmith $500,000 to hire two big law firms to defend lawsuits by victims of sexual predator, Anthony Arevalos. Let's be consistent folks. (Click HERE for an article on the first $250,000 authorization by the City Council.)

That's right. These very City Council members authorized $500,000 in retainers on two high profile law firms to DEFEND the city and the sexual predator cop against lawsuits brought by the sick cop's last 2 victims. Now the city attorneys and their high powered firms can further harass, bury, paper and destroy two women's lives who were already sexually assaulted by a cop the City knew was out there doing it. The cop is in state prison, his supervisors knew what was happening for years, the Chief gave the cop's supervisors promotions, and City Attorneys are taking depositions of victims, prying into their sex lives, trying to find old boyfriends, trying to scare them. Thanks San Diego City Council for protecting innocent women. All of you Filner haters who voted to continue the emotional harassment of two innocent victims of rogue cop Anthony Arevalos by handing misogynist Jan Goldsmith a blank check are simply two-faced.

So, if the defenders of women's virtue - the San Diego City Council - want Filner to go, I say "You go with them." And so should Jan Goldsmith, because he's complicit with ‎San Diego‬ City Council members who are allowing the continued sexual assault of two innocent victims.

Continue reading "SAN DIEGO SEXUAL POLITICS: IF FILNER GOES, SEND JAN GOLDSMITH AND THE CITY COUNCIL WITH HIM" »

March 24, 2013

CRIMINAL DEFENSE NEWS: Innocent Man Released After 23 years has Heart Attack

By GILLIAN MOHNEY
March 23, 2013

Click HERE for ABC news story, and video.

David Ranta has suffered a massive heart attack just two days after being exonerated of murder and leaving prison for the first time in 23 years, his attorney told ABCNews.com.

Lawyer Pierre Sussman said that Ranta, 58, was being treated in an New York hospital after suffering a severe heart attack Friday night. He did not provide further details.

Ranta was freed from prison Thursday after serving 23 years of a 37.5 year sentence for the murder of Brooklyn rabbi Chaskel Werzberger in 1990.

Ranta left a Brooklyn courtroom Thursday after a judge said he was free to go and his family cheered. On the way out he told reporters that the sensation of walking freely out of the courthouse was "overwhelming."

August 31, 2012

DEATH PENALTY REVERSED BECAUSE OF PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT-SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW

The California Supreme Court here reverses a death verdict on the basis of a Brady (373 U.S. 83) violation at the penalty phase. It seems that the defendant
claimed that he killed because the Columbian Mafia had threatened to kill the defendant and his entire family if he didn't.

It turns out that the prosecution had evidence which supported this claim but failed to turn it over. The DA actually argued at penalty that there was no evidence to support the duress claims of the defendant.

We will be watching to see if the Coudrt refers the prosecutor to the California State Bar for
prosecution. Don't hold your breath.

In re Bacigalup
o; 2012 DJ DAR 11861; DJ, 8/28/12; Cal. Supremes

Continue reading "DEATH PENALTY REVERSED BECAUSE OF PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT-SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW" »

February 16, 2011

THE CALIFORNIA SUPREME COUERT LETS PROSECUTOR GET AWAY WITH MISCONDUCT

BRIBING JURORS TO IMPOSE DEATH JUST FINE; JUST CLAIM IT'S A JOKE

The California Supremes tell us the issue in this sickening case is whether "the prosecutor in this case improperly tampered with a sitting juror by sending her alcoholic drinks and money, and telling her to return a guilty verdict." Yes, sports fans, we lose! How, you ask?

The prosecutor (an AG) went to a cafe where, it turned out, the juror was a cook. The two met; the AG said he couldn't have any contact with the juror. After having drinks and appetizers, the AG paid and left a (normal) tip, which he told the bartender he should share with the juror, and that the bartender should tell the juror to vote guilty.

Hey, it was all a joke! Can't you tell? Did I mention that this is a death case? Hey, no problem killing this guy after a juror was bribed. It was just a joke, right? This is easily the outrage of the week, and prosecutorial miscondcut at its worst.

But even more, it set s tone and send s a message to prosecutors that the law and rules of ethics just don't apply to them.

Can you image what would happen if a public defender did this?

People v. Price; 2011 DJ DAR 2409; DJ, 2/15/11; Cal. Supremes

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.

November 6, 2009

CALIFORNIA CRIMINAL LAW: PLACING A SHERIFF'S DEPUTY IN A CHAIR NEXT TO A TESTIFYING DEFENDANT (OUTRAGEOUS!)


PLACING A SHERIFF'S DEPUTY IN A CHAIR NEXT TO A TESTIFYING DEFENDANT

This was an outrage of the week in 2007, and it's an outrage of this week as well. There was no claim that the defefendant had been disruptive or presented any sort of danger.

Nevertheless, the Alameda County Sheriff had a policy that when in-custody defendants testify, a sheriff's deputy pulls up a chair next to the defendant in the witness box, and sits there throughout the defendant's testimony.

Incredibly, the California Supreme Court hold that this wasn't shackling and was just fine, because, get this, it's not inherently prejudicial. And maybe the jurors thought
that the bailiff was there to protect the defendant. From the jurors?


What?

People v. Stevens; 2009 DJ DAR 15705; DJ, 11/6/09; Cal. Supremes

November 4, 2009

PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT QUANTIFYING PROOF BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT


PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT QUANTIFYING PROOF BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT

The Deputy District Attornrey in this case illustrated proof beyond a reasonable doubt by
using a PowerPoint slide show, showing a jigsaw puzzle picture of the Statute of Liberty, which comes together with two pieces missing. The DA used this to argue that proof beyond a reasonable doubt can be found even with missing information.

The Court of Appeal finds that this is error. The DA was essentially arguing that proof beyond a reasonable doubt may be found by just a few pieces of evidence, and was encouraging the jurors to jump to a conclusion.

In addition, the DA was quantifying proof beyond a reasonable doubt, suggesting that having 6 of the 8 pieces was enough, meaning that 75% would suffice. Wrong.

Incredibly, the Court of Appeal finds this prosecutorial misconduct harmless.

People v. Katzenberger; 2009 DJ DAR 15632; DJ, 11/4/09; C/A 3rd

June 25, 2009

CIVIL RIGHTS LAW: JURY AWARDS $5 MILLION TO MAN WHO SPENT 17 YEARS IN PRISON AFTER CRIME LAB WITNESS TESTIFIED FALSELY

In San Diego, we have had a prosecutor who intentionally and wilfully withheld evidence from defense attorneys that one of the San Diego Sheriff's Department crime lab analysts had testified falsely numerous times. Not only did he not tell defense attorneys about this information, he continued to allow his prosecutors to call that lying witness to the stand and let her lie again. Now that prosecutor is a judge. His name is Michael Smyth. Click HERE, for the story. All at tempts to have him respond to the proof of such allegations has been ignored, and the Office of the City Attorney has declined to rectify the wrongs that occurred.

n San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside, BioTox lab analyst Aaron Layton lied falsified ther esults of tests, lied about conducting confirmatory tests, failed a polygrraph, and now thousands of his cases are being scrutinized. Under a federal g rant, the San Diego Police Department is tasked with investigating problem areas with BioTox and attempting to resolve them. However, the San Diego Police Department has declined to follow this mandatory federal requirement. Click HERE to see article.

Now, a jury has awarded a measly $5 million to a man who spent 17 years in a federal prison after a lab analyst testified falsely in his case. See below for story. It is time the public understands that power corrupts, that prosecutions witnesses lie, and that innocent people are put in prison every day.

JURY AWARDS RODRIGUEZ $5 MILLION

June 25, 2009, 10:03PM

A federal jury on Thursday awarded $5 million to a Houston man who spent 17 years in prison for a kidnapping and rape he did not commit, finding the city should pay for its “deliberate indifference” to problems at the crime lab whose false evidence secured the conviction.

George Rodriguez, 48, gained his freedom in 2004 after DNA tests discredited the findings of the troubled Houston Police Department crime lab on his case. By that time, he had served nearly two decades in prison. His father had died. His daughters faced abuse from men their mother lived with.

“Ain’t no amount of money is going to even my scale,” Rodriguez said after hearing the verdict. “I lost my dad and my girls have been through hell. I am grateful, but no money could replace what I lost.”

A jury of five women and three men deliberated for about two days after hearing testimony from former Mayor Lee P. Brown, who was police chief in 1987, James Bolding, a crime lab manager who testified at Rodriguez’s trial and from Rodriguez himself.

Continue reading "CIVIL RIGHTS LAW: JURY AWARDS $5 MILLION TO MAN WHO SPENT 17 YEARS IN PRISON AFTER CRIME LAB WITNESS TESTIFIED FALSELY" »

June 3, 2009

SAN DIEGO COP & PROSECUTOR COMMIT MISCONDCUT

Well, it's another day of misconduct in San Diego.

In December, I filed a federal Civil Rights case against a cop who has had to pay out hefty judgments in the past. Right after I filed a police misconduct motion in a criminal trial, the prosecutor filed a resisting arrest charge against my client just days before the statute of limitations was about to run.

What did they charge? They charged resisting arrest. Problem is, my client is a paraplegic and couldn't resist arrest anayway. It was pure, unadulterated retaliation.

So, what's new? Some woman who wants to divorce her husband gets a bunch of PI's to tail him. Then an SDPD sergeant called one of San Diego's DUI cops to tail the husband. Cop stops husband, and he seems to be fine. He blows a .10, but he has diabetes (and if you know anything about ketosis or acedosis, you know that these compounds in diabetics register like alcohol on these machines, skewing the results). So no charges are filed.

Oh, now wait a minute! That is, until the man who was hunted by the cops on the taxpayer dollar decided to file a claim against the City and sue. Lo and behold, the City Attorney files a DUI charge against the man who the cops hunted, just days after he sends them notice he is going to sue them!

Here it is. Oh, and City Attorney Jonathan Lapin, a misdemeanor prosecutor who will never be more than a misdemeanor prosecutor, scoffs at the medical testimony.

You might remember me posting that Lapin tried to quash a subpeoan of a former prosecutor who had information about a dirty cop I was investigating.

June 3, 2009

CALIFORNIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE: SAN FRANCISCO MAY PAY 4.5 MILLION TO WRONGFULLY CONVICTED MAN

ITS PAYBACK TIME FOR PROSECUTORS WHO BREAK THE LAW. SAN FRANCISCO CITIZENS WILL PAY FOR PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/06/03/BATB17VOV1.DTL

Francisco officials have tentatively agreed to pay $4.5 million to a man who spent nearly 14 years in prison before a judge reversed his murder conviction, finding that city authorities had withheld evidence his attorneys said could have cleared him.

The payout to John "J.J." Tennison, 37, would be the largest settlement ever in San Francisco of a lawsuit related to police conduct, records show. It will go first to the Police Commission and then the Board of Supervisors for approval.

Tennison was freed in 2003 after a federal judge overturned his conviction for the August 1989 killing of 18-year-old Roderick "Cooley" Shannon. He had been serving a prison term of 25 years to life.

Another judge freed Tennison's co-defendant, Antoine Goff, who was serving 27 years to life. A Superior Court judge subsequently declared both men "factually innocent." They then sued in federal court, saying the city had violated their civil rights.

The city attorney's office reached a proposed settlement with Tennison last month, court documents show. Goff's suit is still pending and is scheduled to go to trial later this year.

Although the documents do not give the proposed sum in Tennison's settlement, sources familiar with the matter told The Chronicle that it was $4.5 million. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement has not been formally approved.

Elliot Peters, one of Tennison's attorneys, would not discuss the details of any agreement. But he said, "John is going to be compensated for his 14 years in custody - he deserves it."

The city attorney and the lawyer for the two retired police investigators who arrested Tennison when he was 17 have denied that the city or police did anything wrong. Matt Dorsey, spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, declined to comment on any settlement.

Attorneys for Tennison and Goff have long argued that prosecutors and the two police investigators - Earl Sanders, later the chief of police, and Napoleon Hendrix - kept possibly exculpatory evidence from the defense at the time of trial and afterward.

Tennison's team said the evidence included a post-trial confession of another man and the earlier statement by a woman who indicated that the man may have been involved in Shannon's killing.

The courts found that other evidence the defense says San Francisco authorities never provided - including the existence of a $2,500 reward fund in the case - could have helped Tennison's attorneys challenge the credibility of the only eyewitnesses to the shooting, two girls ages 11 and 14.

Jim Quadra, a private attorney retained by the city to represent Hendrix and Sanders, declined to discuss the settlement but stressed that his clients had acted properly.

"They deny vehemently that they did anything wrong," Quadra said.

Judge found case weak

In freeing Tennison, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken concluded not only that authorities had withheld key evidence from the defense, but also that the prosecution's case was weak to begin with.

"No physical evidence was presented at trial tying Tennison to Shannon's shooting," she said. "The prosecution's entire case was dependent upon the testimony of ... two young girls whose eyewitness identifications of Tennison were questionable."

Wilken has served as the judge in Tennison's and Goff's lawsuits as well. In the civil case, she rejected some of the same claims that she had cited in releasing Tennison and left only three issues in dispute.

One was the issue of the existence of the "secret" $2,500 reward fund. Defense attorneys said they could have used its existence to challenge witnesses' credibility.

Quadra said police had given a memo mentioning the reward fund to prosecutor George Butterworth, an assertion disputed by Tennison's attorney. "Butterworth did not know about the secret memo," Peters said.

In any event, Quadra said, no money was paid out.

Late confession

The second issue involved the circumstances surrounding the post-trial, taped confession of Lovinsky Ricard. Butterworth admitted the existence of the tape during a hearing on the motion by Tennison's defense for a new trial in May 1991. He said he had just gotten the tape the day before.

Quadra said former inspectors Sanders and Hendrix had never known about the confession, which Ricard made to another investigator, or about the tape's existence. Tennison's attorneys argued that Sanders and Hendrix had known about the tape for seven months but withheld it from prosecutors.

Ricard ultimately asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions in the civil case.

The third issue concerned the account provided by the woman who had earlier told Sanders and Hendrix that Ricard might have been involved.

Tennison's attorneys said they had not known about the statement by Chante Smith until years after the trial. Butterworth suggested he had not fully understood the account of the interview he got from police, but that he had still given it to the defense.

Wilken ruled that a jury should sort out the dispute.

Continue reading "CALIFORNIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE: SAN FRANCISCO MAY PAY 4.5 MILLION TO WRONGFULLY CONVICTED MAN" »

April 29, 2009

PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT:EVIDENCE OF SELF-INCRIMINATION ASSERTION

People v. Waldie (4th Dist., 4/24/09, E042303) 09 C.D.O.S. 4980

Error (harmless here under Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18, 24) for Riverside County Judge Albert J. Wojcik to allow prosecutor to introduce evidence of prearrest silence and then to argue it.

Police were allowed to testify that defendant never participated in police interview even after he was called a dozen times. Judge instructed jury that it showed consciousness of guilt. In closing argument, prosecutor commented that defendant had not cooperated with police investigation. Evidence and argument violated Fifth Amendment because defendant was deprived of meaningful right to refuse to talk to police.

"If the police are allowed to call a subject persistently and then offer his unwillingness to response as evidence of guilt, a defendant would never be able to claim the protection of the freedom of incrimination ... testimony about repeated phone calls and apparent evasiveness ... is constitutionally infirm." But see Jenkins v. California (1980) 447 U.S. 231 (prearrest silence may be used to impeach credibility).

How can this be "harmless error"? It deals with a Constitutional right!

April 10, 2009

FEDERAL JUDGE SANCTIONS GOVERNMENT $600,000 FOR SECRETLY TAPING DEFENSE LAWYER

Legal Ethics ABA JOURNAL LAW NEWS DAY
Federal Judge Sanctions US $600K for Secretly Taping Defense Lawyer

Posted Apr 9, 2009, 12:24 pm CDT
By Martha Neil

In a blistering 50-page opinion (PDF) today criticizing the "win-at-any-cost
behavior" of federal prosecutors who secretly taped a defense lawyer, a
federal judge in Florida has awarded more than $600,000 in sanctions against
the government.

The money, which the United States must pay to a South Florida physician it
accused of prescribing pain medication without a proper medical purpose,
will cover more than half of Dr. Ali Shaygan's defense costs, reports the
South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The 36-year-old doctor, who lives in Miami Beach, was acquitted in March of
141 counts of unlawful prescribing. As a result of his overprescribing, the
government had contended, a West Palm Beach man died of a drug overdose.

The prosecutors who tried the case were Sean Cronin and Andrea Hoffman.
Midway through trial, the defense team learned that attorney David Markus,
one of three lawyers representing Shaygun, had been secretly recorded by
witnesses with approval from the government. The conversations-which the
government says were made to investigate possible witness-tampering-violated
legal ethics rules and U.S. Attorney's Office policy, according to the
newspaper, because they were not disclosed to the defense prior to trial.

Alicia Valle, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, says mistakes
were unintentionally made in the case, and that it has been referred to the
U.S. Department of Justice for further investigation, apparently concerning
the conduct of the prosecution, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

After a two-day hearing after the jury's March 12 not-guilty verdict, U.S.
District Judge Alan Gold awarded $601,795.88 to Shaygun. In his opinion,
which accorded the most criticism to Cronin as lead prosecutor, the judge
castigated the government for pursuing an "unfounded" witness-tampering
probe based on "personal animus against the defense team," the newspaper
writes.

Gold says he also intends to forward his sanctions ruling, which found that
both Cronin and Hoffman acted unethically by not disclosing the recordings,
to attorney discipline boards.

His opinion today follows another blistering blast earlier this week by a
federal judge in Washington, D.C. He appointed a special prosecutor to
investigate possible obstruction of justice by the federal prosecutors who
tried former Sen. Ted Stevens in a corruption case last year and expressed
concern that similar prosecutorial misconduct is occurring elsewhere.

Like the prosecutors in Shaygun's case, the Department of Justice lawyers
who tried Stevens admittedly did not provide exculpatory evidence to the
defense as required before trial.

March 25, 2009

SAN DIEGO CRIMINAL DEFENSE: MORE PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT UNVEILED

http://jailtimeconsulting.com/blog/tables-turned-on-federal-prosecutors

February 13, 2009

SANTA CLARA PROSECUTOR FOUND TO HAVE ENGAGED IN EGREGIOUS MISCONDUCT WILL GET TO KEEP HIS JOB; ASKS TAXPAYERS TO PAY FOR HIS DEFENSE

MERCURY NEWS
Posted: 02/12/2009 06:18:41 PM PST

Despite a state bar finding that prosecutor Ben Field engaged in widespread misconduct (click
HERE for previous article), Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr said Thursday that she will keep her deputy on the job while he appeals a state bar judge's order that could strip him of his law license for four years.

bad%20prosecutor.jpg

Carr said Thursday that she cannot comment on specifics of the judge's ruling because the case is continuing to unfold, adding only, "I absolutely respect the state bar court's authority to make its judgment in Ben Field's case." But she said that Field has a right to remain a prosecutor as he pursues his legal appeals, and "we'll assess an appropriate place for him in the office."

Click HERE for prior story on how the prosecutor's office is trying to shield this creep.

COMMENTARY: Let me guess. The taxpayers get to keep him on, pay his salary, pay for his defense. I'll bet the DA is even going to promote this goon. Can I sue him, please?

For more recent state bar actions against prosecutors, click HERE.

Continue reading "SANTA CLARA PROSECUTOR FOUND TO HAVE ENGAGED IN EGREGIOUS MISCONDUCT WILL GET TO KEEP HIS JOB; ASKS TAXPAYERS TO PAY FOR HIS DEFENSE" »

February 13, 2009

STATE BAR OPINION: PROSECUTOR SHOULD BE SUSPENDED FOR FOUR YEARS

MERCURY NEWSPosted: 02/11/2009 11:47:52 AM PST

Suggesting the harshest disciplinary punishment in recent history for a California prosecutor, a state bar judge Wednesday called for Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Ben Field to be stripped of his right to practice law in the state for four years because he "abused his prosecutorial power.''

untitled.bmp

In a scathing 67-page ruling, Judge Pat McElroy described Field as an "overzealous'' prosecutor who violated a host of ethical rules in four criminal cases, ranging from disobeying judges' orders to hiding crucial evidence from defense lawyers that could help their clients. The judge's decision was based on a series of hearings held last year in which bar prosecutors charged Field with a string of misconduct in cases dating back to 1995, and she largely accepted the prosecution's depiction of the case against Field.

McElroy, however, took the extraordinary step of recommending punishment more severe than prosecutors had sought. Bar prosecutors had recommended that Field be suspended from practicing law for three years, ordinarily the stiffest penalty handed down in discipline cases short of disbarring an attorney.

"His overzealousness to convict and punish defendants who had murdered, robbed and raped obstructed his understanding of a prosecutor's special duty to promote justice and seek truth,'' the judge wrote.

Continue reading "STATE BAR OPINION: PROSECUTOR SHOULD BE SUSPENDED FOR FOUR YEARS" »

February 1, 2009

CALIFORNIA STATE BAR SANCTIONS THREE PROSECUTORS

WELL, IT'S ABOUT TIME.

In three disciplinary cases pending before the State Bar Court, current or former deputy district attorneys are charged with committing acts of moral turpitude and disobeying the law. The bar alleges that two of those charged withheld exculpatory evidence.

I only wish they could go to jail.

http://www.calbar.ca.gov/state/calbar/calbar_cbj.jsp?sCategoryPath=/Home/Attorney%20Resources/California%20Bar%20Journal/July2008&sCatHtmlPath=cbj/2008-07_TH_04_Misconduct-charges.html&sCatHtmlTitle=Top%20HeadlinesSCONDCUT.bmp

January 27, 2009

FEDERAL JUDGE CHASTIZES FEDERAL PROSECUTOR FOR WITHHOLDING EVIDENCE

By Jonathan Saltzman
Globe Staff / January 27, 2009

The chief judge of the US District Court in Massachusetts is threatening to sanction a federal prosecutor for what he characterized as the latest "egregious failure" of the US attorney's office to disclose evidence that could have helped clear a defendant.

Judge Mark Wolf (left) listed at least nine major cases in which he alleges prosecutors withheld important evidence.

NOT THE FIRST TIME

Chief District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf said in a sharply worded memorandum that Assistant US Attorney Suzanne Sullivan failed to disclose that a Boston police officer's testimony at a pretrial hearing contradicted what the officer had repeatedly told the prosecutor beforehand. The defendant, a Mattapan man arrested on gun charges in July 2007, is awaiting trial.

Wolf said the truth about the circumstances of the arrest came to light only when he reviewed Sullivan's notes of her interviews of the police officer, Rance Cooley. The judge wants Sullivan and her boss, US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, who are not related, to file affidavits by Feb. 5 explaining why he should not sanction her, the US attorney's office, or both.

"The egregious failure of the government to disclose plainly material exculpatory evidence in this case extends a dismal history of intentional and inadvertent violations of the government's duties to disclose in cases assigned to this court," Wolf, a high-ranking prosecutor in the office in the 1980s, wrote in his 42-page rul ing.

He listed at least nine major cases he presided over during the last two decades in which prosecutors working for Michael Sullivan and his predecessors allegedly withheld important evidence. In several instances, the jurist, 62, wrote, the misconduct led to mistrials and convictions that were overturned.

In an extraordinary rebuke of the office in July 2007, Wolf asked the Bar Counsel of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers to launch disciplinary proceedings against a veteran federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Auerhahn, who allegedly withheld key evidence in a New England Mafia case from the early 1990s. That matter is pending, according to the Bar Counsel.

Wolf said in Wednesday's ruling that his only successful sanction occurred in 2002, when he ordered an inexperienced prosecutor to attend a seminar on wrongful convictions after the lawyer repeatedly withheld critical evidence.

Yesterday, Michael Sullivan said in a statement that Suzanne Sullivan was a "valued member" of the office but that "we, of course, take seriously the issues raised by the court." He said he was reviewing the matter and would file a response.

Michael Sullivan, a President Bush appointee who has served as the top federal law enforcement official in Massachusetts since a week after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, is widely expected to be replaced by the Obama administration in the coming months.

John F. Palmer, the court-appointed lawyer for the defendant, Darwin E. Jones, 30, in the gun case, said he was disappointed Wolf found that the arrest still passed constitutional muster despite the alleged misconduct by the government. But Wolf's threat of sanctions illustrated that the judge will not tolerate the withholding of evidence, he said. "Judge Wolf is known to take exculpatory evidence issues very seriously, and, as he recounts in the decision, it's not the first time that it's happened," the Boston lawyer said. "And he wants to send a broader message. That's what I take from the decision. It is a big deal."Continued...

Wolf's ruling came in a relatively routine gun arrest by members of the Youth Violence Task Force, a joint effort by Boston police and the State Police. Around 11 p.m. on July 3, 2007, Cooley and other members of the unit went to Middleton Street in Dorchester in response to a complaint about a group of youths smoking marijuana and playing loud music.

Cooley testified at a pivotal pretrial hearing in October that he saw a man on a bicycle at the scene and made eye contact with him, and that the man then turned and rode away, according to Wolf's ruling. Cooley said this was suspicious because he recognized the bicyclist as Jones and had never known Jones to avoid him. After Jones allegedly rode away, other officers pursued him down a dead-end street, but he did not stop, the ruling said. He got off the bike and ran down an alley to another street, ignoring orders to halt. Officers on foot finally tackled him and found a gun in his pocket, authorities said.

However, the report that Cooley wrote immediately after the arrest said nothing about him recognizing Jones on the bicycle, according to Wolf's ruling. Rather, it says that Jones was identified later, after the officers tackled him.

Cooley repeatedly told the prosecutor in the case, Suzanne Sullivan, the same thing in the months after the arrest, Wolf wrote. Nonetheless, after Jones's lawyer challenged the arrest, the prosecutor filed an affidavit by Cooley saying he recognized Jones on the bike and found his behavior suspicious.

The truth, Wolf said, only came out during the pretrial hearing after he reviewed Sullivan's notes of her interviews with Cooley. She also took the witness stand at the hearing, during which Palmer questioned her and then Wolf did.

"The court assumes that her failure to disclose material, exculpatory information was not intentional, in part because Sullivan produced her notes for the court's in camera inspection," Wolf wrote. "Nevertheless, the violations were clear and inexcusable. If the error by an experienced prosecutor was inadvertent, it seems only to be explained by ignorance of, or utter indifference to, the constitutional duty she repeatedly claimed to have understood and obeyed."

Suzanne Sullivan was a prosecutor in the Plymouth district attorney's office, which Michael Sullivan once headed, before she became a federal prosecutor.

Wolf ultimately ruled that the police had the right to arrest Jones because he allegedly fled when officers began pursuing him in a cruiser and on foot. A convicted felon, Jones faces a sentence of 15 years to life in prison if he is found guilty of gun possession, Palmer said.

Citing court precedents, the judge mentioned several possible sanctions against Suzanne Sullivan ranging from a fine to an order to attend an ethics seminar.

Wolf wrote that it is up to the US attorney's office to decide whether to prosecute any officer who testified falsely in the Jones case. Elaine Driscoll, a Boston police spokeswoman, said department lawyers were reviewing the matter to determine what action, if any, to take.

She said Cooley is a "highly respected member of the Boston Police Department and has done tremendous work out on the streets."

Continue reading "FEDERAL JUDGE CHASTIZES FEDERAL PROSECUTOR FOR WITHHOLDING EVIDENCE" »

January 25, 2009

CONTRA COSTA PUBLIC DEFENDER CHALLENGES DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S USE OF ILLEGAL CLIENT RECORDINGS

Public defender challenges DA's use of jail phone conversations
By Malaika Fraley
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 01/25/2009 04:49:29 PM PST

MARTINEZ — Contra Costa County's top public defender says the District Attorney's Office is illegally using conversations recorded at jail pay phones to build criminal cases against defendants.

Public Defender David Coleman will go before a Contra Costa County judge Thursday to argue against prosecutors' use of phone calls in a challenge both sides say could ultimately make its way to higher courts.

Coleman contends that the District Attorney's Office's practice of listening to jail phone calls to gain information in criminal cases violates constitutional rights, state wiretapping laws and attorneys' professional codes of conduct. The district attorney's office says the practice is supported by legal precedent and calls Coleman's case "groundless."

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November 22, 2008

PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT DURING VOIR DIRE

PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT DURING VOIR DIRE

During voir dire, the DA in this case told the prospective jurors some stories about other rape trials that the DA handled, and things the jurors in those cases told him, as a way to tell this panel that they should just convict and shouldn't be bothered with trivial or collateral matters (like evidence).

The Court of Appeal says that this is prosecutorial misconduct, though they find it harmless error.

My next thought on prosecutorial misconduct is that we should ask the Court of Appeal when they make such a finding to file a complaint with the State Bbar. Prosecutors do this stuff quite frequently, knowing that the courts of appeal will find almost every reprehensible thing they do "harmless." But it's really not. The more they get away with it, the more they do it. And, while even if something is "harmless" to the trial, it certainly is a violation of the Rules of Professional Responsibility.

People v. Castillo; 2008 DJ DAR 17086; DJ, 11/20/08; C/A 4th