Prosecutorial (and Judicial?) Misconduct in Orange County

Monday, March 17th, 2008

The OC Weekly follows up on an absolutely outrageous case in which a carjacking suspect took a plea under a direct threat from the trial judge that he’d put the man in prison for life if he continued to maintain his innocence and was still convicted. This, after DNA evidence excluded the man. The crime lab expert says when she showed the test results to the prosecutor, she said she "didn’t care" about the findings, "I want him not excluded." More disturbingly, she added,

About every week, we ask the crime lab to reconsider findings. Sometimes, they make changes.

Can’t think of a better argument for reforming the forensics system. Who the hell are prosecutors to ask crime lab experts to “reconsider” their findings? Findings are findings. They’re supposed to be grounded in science. If technicians in Orange County are “reconsidering” their findings at the request of prosecutors, they’re either sloppy the first time around, or they’re tweaking their results to help the state win convictions. Neither prospect reflects well on them, or on justice in Orange County. Of course, the prosecutor could just be lying about all of this. Which, given her conduct in this case, doesn’t seem all that far-fetched.

But kudos to the crime lab technicians in this particular case for holding their ground. In fact, the technician here was prepared to testify for the defense. As she absolutely should do–and be permitted to do–when prosecutors proceed with a case in the face of exculpatory forensic evidence.

The suspect was later exonerated when the crime lab was able to match the DNA to a career criminal.

(Hat tip: The Innocence Blog)

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25 Responses to “Prosecutorial (and Judicial?) Misconduct in Orange County”

  1. #1 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The boldness of their claims that prosecutors commonly ask crime labs to “reconsider” their results is just astounding; as if exculpatory evidence is really just an inexcusable annoyance. Not only that, but it wasn’t just one person in the prosecutor’s office. If conspiracies existed (but, we all know they don’t) this would probably qualify.

    I especially love the comment at the end about the DA planning to set up his own DNA lab. That’s one way to get results more to his liking.

    It’s a shame that the worst thing these sleazy bastards face is a civil trial. They should face a really enthusiastic prosecutor and a “law and order” judge. Muahahahaha!

  2. #2 |  SJE | 

    Where are the Feds with corruption charges? are there any grounds by which the accused can sue the prosecutor AND the judge (howabout fed civil rights violations)?

  3. #3 |  Nando | 

    How is evidence tampering (which is really what the prosecutor is asking the lab to do if he asks them to reconsider their scientific findings) and bold threats by a judge not considered grounds for disbarment?

  4. #4 |  Tokin42 | 

    It amazes me that anyone would have any faith in our judicial system. This goes back to what I’ve said previously, it isn’t a question of if you’re guilty or not but can you afford a good attorney and investigators.

  5. #5 |  David | 

    What happens to the lab tech in this case. I’m sure that she’s, at minimum, being blackballed by the the prosecutors office and the PD for not being part of the team.

  6. #6 |  Andrew | 

    Firstly, as Radley said, my hat goes off for the crime lab technicians here, for standing up for what’s right when so many of their colleagues in other areas have repeatedly bowed to prosecutors in giving them the results they want or hiding exculpatory evidence from the defense.

    As for the prosecutor…. this is worse than the Duke case, IMO. The prosecutor should be going to jail.

  7. #7 |  Bahamut | 

    The problem is that in smaller cities and towns, the judges and prosecutors have too much leeway because the people themselves don’t know their rights. So when they abuse their powers such as this, they aren’t called for on it because the people themselves fear retribution from them.

  8. #8 |  Prosecutorial (and Judicial?) Misconduct in Orange County | DNA Evidence Monitor | 

    […] Prosecutorial (and Judicial?) Misconduct in Orange County Tags: Crime, csi-evidence, DNA Evidence, Forensics, innocence, News, orange, orange-county, people, police, prosecutor, published-works, radley-balko […]

  9. #9 |  Steven in Colorado | 

    | SJE | March 17th, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Where are the Feds with corruption charges? are there any grounds by which the accused can sue the prosecutor AND the judge (howabout fed civil rights violations)?

    You don’t think the FEDS do the very same thing??? No way are they gonna touch this. Steve

  10. #10 |  RS | 

    They should be putting the DA on trial, and putting the judge in review. This should be unacceptable to the people of Orange County. They need to get together and force a change.

  11. #11 |  Andrew | 

    At a minimum, both the judge and the prosecutor should be brought before the state bar, because they’ve both committed some clear violations of the canon of judicial ethics and the attorney ethics rules, respectively.

  12. #12 |  nugget | 

    DUDE: When will you find these guys? I mean, do you have any promising leads?

    POLICEMAN: Leads, yeah. I’ll just check with the boys down at the Crime Lab. They’ve assigned four more detectives to the case, got us working in shifts! Leads…

  13. #13 | | 

    They need to reform the whole prison system.

    It’s all one big cluster f!ck.

    Where’s the reform? Maybe if had LESS laws and MORE public humiliation? Anything will work better than what they currently have.

    Let’s get our minds off this crap.

    Here’s a cool article for you:

    Top 10 Awesome Websites That Sell Cool Products You Probably Have Never Visited But Need To.


  14. #14 |  stimp | 

    Prosecutor should go to jail. What is the deal with white collar crime in the USA? The crooked mortgage people, this prosecutor, none of them go to jail. Certainly there is a law to convict this prosecutor of his criminal action. Your Pledge of Allegience says, “truth and justice for all.” Back it up. Otherwise, your USA is just an organized crime, a barrel of soulless lazy bums except for their enthusiasm for stealing and ruining people. Predators is what they are.

  15. #15 |  Mike Jackson | 

    I’ve always thought that when any member of the court or the police (& crime labs), or the witnesses knowingly make false statements, withhold evidence, etc…, then the person(s) perjuring themselves should receive the sentence they were trying to obtain. Ie, manufacture evidence in a capital case, then expect the death penalty yourself; lying to convict someone for a 10-20 year stint in prison? Tell your friends you’ll see them in 20.

  16. #16 |  wingtip | 

    prison guard’s union

    California Correctional Peace Officers Association
    The California Prison system is the third largest penal system in the country, costing $5.7 billion dollars a year and housing over 161,000 inmates. Since 1980 the number of California prisons has tripled and the number of inmates has jumped significantly. In the past few years controversies involving prison expansion, sky-rocketing costs, and claims of mismanagement and inmate abuse have put the California prison system under heightened public scrutiny.

    The California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) is the California prison guards’ union. In recent years the CCPOA has become a major player in California politics. Its political influence has grown to the point that it is widely considered to be one of the most powerful political forces in Sacramento. Its lobbying efforts and campaign contributions have greatly facilitated the passage of legislation favorable to union members.

    San Diego Union Tribune
    DATE: August 15, 2000
    Have you ever wondered why California’s prison population grew from 23,264 in 1980 to 160,846 in July 2000? It is not because rapists and murderers are finally getting their due; for the most part, that was already happening. What has driven the growth of the prison system in California over the past two decades is the 25-fold increase in the number of drug offenders sentenced to prison under harsh new state sentencing laws for virtually every offense imaginable. Because of these laws, California now has the highest rate of drug offender incarcerations in the nation – 134 per 100,000. A rate that exceeds states such as Texas and Louisiana, where compassion and sympathy for law breakers is not highly prized (49 per 100,000 and 106 per 100,000 respectively). Although such a system seems counter to public safety interests, there are powerful political forces at work in California that promote and sustain the present system. Chief among these forces is the prison guard’s union. Because they benefit from prisons teeming with inmates, the guards lavish campaign contributions on political candidates. The influence that the prisons guard’s campaign contributions buys, allows them to pressure elected officials to enact sentencing laws that keep inmates in prison longer, thus expanding the overall pool of prisoners and creating a “need” for more prisons. The guards union blatantly uses its political influence to promote the funding of more prisons.

  17. #17 |  FOREX REVIEW BLOG » Prosecutor asked medical examiner to alter findings to convict innocent man | 

    […] The suspect was later exonerated when the crime lab was able to match the DNA to a career criminal. […]

  18. #18 |  WHATTHA!?! | 

    I know for fact orange county public court employees can plant evidence inside a jury instruction for you to fail and be convicted of anything; the planted evidence was known to be false. Printed proof. The scales of justice can be rigged for you to fail and be convicted in orange county type justice. They used serious major false evidence. There are some public court employees who corrupt and undermine the law codes and Constitution. Also, I have seen where the main prosecution witness confimed no crime occurred to the accused innocence and the judge immediately calls for a conference with both public court employee attorneys and court reporter in the back hallway…the evidence that confirmed innocence is no longer in the court record. The person tried to get the record corrected with that deleted removed altered tampered with evidence and the judge would not allow the private attorney in the case. If thats not obstruction of justice then what is ? The person tried having a local civil rights activist call the assigned public attorney to correct record before sentence but would not and did not investigate witnessess who heard testimony evidence of innocence. Crimes happened in that orange county courtroom and public court employees are suppressing it. Expose the truth.

  19. #19 |  WHATTHA!?! | 

    Obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence and offering serious major false evidence to the jury by some court public employees can never be a state interest or public policy. Anyone who has a court proceeding had better audio tape record the proceedings because there are some public court employees who can delete remove alter and tamper with evidence. And you would think being in a courtroom for justice that would assure the highest public safety in orange county…you would be deceived again…in there they can plant evidence for the jury to consider in the jury instruction itself. Serious major false evidence. Expose corruption.

  20. #20 |  Edwin L. Jones | 

    I have evidence in the form of government documents that show :

    Police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct in violating constitutional and civil rights are
    coordinated between local, state, and federal agencies in criminal as well as civil proceedings.
    Arrest and detention without probable cause, unconstitutional and repeated searches. Jailed on
    charges procerred by perjured testimony…..testimony collectively known to be false prior to arrest.
    Jailed 5 months based on discovery NONE OF WHICH WAS IN AFFIDAVIT FORM. I have proof of
    my pro se Federal Appellate and US Supreme Court filings but the clerks’ offices did not file those
    cases yet mailed bogus decisions to me. In complete isolation, who could I complain to?
    Even if those cases were properly adjudicated, there was blatent abuse of discretion by judges.
    Years of certified mailings to Presidents and Department of Justice produced no investigations.
    Letters signed by Richard Lugar and Dan Coats cannot be trusted as authentic. Steven Hatfills’
    experience with the government was a picnic compared to what they are doing to me.

    And, as a result of the aforementioned violations, a totality of circumstances show malicious
    and vindictive intervention into every aspect of my life. The goverment has relentlessly manipulated
    my life socially, physically and mentally in a manner similar to Steven Hatfill ( anthrax investigation )
    only worse and over a longer period of time. The government has destroyed my relationships
    between family and friends, and has prevented the media from publicizing their wrongs. The
    government has even stolen and manipulated my certified mailings. I have been reduced to the
    slave status of my African ancesters by this government. This government was even controlling
    my criminal defense lawyer! He knew I was being falsely accused but did nothing but quit being my
    lawyer when I questioned, among other things, why the Affidavit for Probable Cause was signed
    by a prosecutor, Carol Orbison…..why there was no Judicial Officers’ signature, and was not in
    affidavit form! He KNEW the State was wrong.

    In the following cases you will find the very worst official corruption.
    State of Indiana v. Edwin L. Jones,Case No. 49 G069001CF007921, Edwin L. Jones v. Indianapolis
    Police Department et al, US District Court Southern District of Indiana Cause No. Misc 90-134 IP,
    Edwin L. Jones v. Indianapolis Police al Cause No. 91-1594, 7th Circuit Federal Appleate Court
    of Appeals, Edwin L. Jones v. Indianapolis Police Dept et al, Cause No. 91-7923 , US Supreme Court,
    Request for Investigation filed with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission filed 9-18-92,
    against Ali Talib.

    I am looking for honest, bold representation to take on the goverment. I want compensation and them
    out of my life.

  21. #21 |  WHATHAFK | 

    They need to investigate for judicial misconduct in orange county type justice. You will need to audio tape record court proceedings because when there is missing evidence/statements in record, court employees will not correct the record even though you have a right to this process and procedure to correct the record of missing evidence/statements from record. Especially when the missing evidence is to your innocence. Investigation as to why obstructed from justice and tampered with evidence of innocence needs to be done. Also, how about the actual use of serious major evidence that does NOT exist to deceive the jury and continued onto the public. Inside a public courthouse in santa ana they planted serious major false evidence for the jury to consider and use against the accused/defendant and convict with. False evidence especially planted inside a printed document can never be public funded.

  22. #22 |  WHATHAFK | 

    The new due process warning they will have to read you is that they can delete remove tamper with evidence of innocence toward the accused/defendant that was testified by the prosecution witness and place plant rig set-up frame false evidence in a printed document for the jury to use against you and convict you. Hey…at least you are now warned they can do this. For at least one and more than likely alot of others they were not warned or made aware this was allowed.

  23. #23 |  Private Crime Labs Could Prevent Errors, Analyst Bias: Report | NewsWire | 

    […] labs in the U.S. report directly to a law enforcement organization. In some cases, this can lead to overt pressure from police officers and prosecutors to produce desirable results. But most of the time the bias is […]

  24. #24 |  Private Crime Labs Could Prevent Errors, Analyst Bias: Report | 

    […] labs in the U.S. report directly to a law enforcement organization. In some cases, this can lead to overt pressure from police officers and prosecutors to produce desirable results. But most of the time the bias is […]

  25. #25 |  ginger | 

    Orange County CA: My son was convicted for petty theft. Judge, DA, and private $20,000.00 caught in judge chambers agreeing not to address lies being told by store scurity guard (this is allowing perjury and they have committed conspiracy. (who the DA made the victim because the store would not prosecute) Son had approx $44.00 of medicine in sox… I hired a private investigator to prove the items did not come from that store… judge would not allow at trial..I sent it to him via certified mail. At 16 year sentencing..judge says so what if you didn’t steal them from this store.. you probable stole them from a different store. (2003) cop , one ever checked to see if the items belonged to that store. Son was turned down at EVERY level. Judge’s wife is in District court… good ol guys looking after each other. son went thru the US Supreme court… turned down at every level. We now have it with the FBI. Son has served a miserable 10 1/2 years at this point..DA has been promoted to judge for juveniles… pat on the back for corruption… go figure: The piece of crap attorney seems to me was bought off. no interest in defending. DA withheld evidence. MUCH> MUCH more..looking for help.. going to all the TV stations.. SOME somewhere will listen…