WITHOLDING EVIDENCE NO LONGER THE EXCEPTION BUT THE RULE
by Marty Carlson
A recent New York Times article details the HBO series called “The night of” where the police think they have solved a murder by arresting this gentleman who had a bloody knife in his pocket was found near the victim’s house. But a relentless detective name Box cannot resist looking further into it. In the middle of the murder trial, Box tells the prosecutor he has discovered circumstantial evidence that points to an entirely different suspect.
The prosecutor would not listen to what he says.
She stated “we have more on this kid”, and continues on with the trial not bothering to share the information with the defense.
It was a flagrant violation of the law, and the lawyers seem to break so many laws in the courtroom of “The night of” that some of them do not even exist as of yet. The covering up evidence that might help a defendant, there is real laws pertaining to that.
Holding back exculpatory evidence is regarded as one of the most serious violations of a prosecutor’s duty – so much so that when it is discovered, there is a massive effort by the prosecutors to pretend it did not actually happen.
This month in Queens, lawyers will begin arguments in a case that is a real-life echo of the misbehavior in” The night of.”
More than 11 years ago, a man was shot in the leg during a road rage episode in a Ridgewood neighborhood in New York. Witnesses said the gunmen drove off in a four-door car. A little while later, just down the block police officers found the hood of a car that was still warm, it was registered to Julio Negron who lived in the building where was parked. Mr. Negron worked as a janitor in two local schools, starting early in the morning and finishing late in the evening. The car was towed off.
The police contacted Mr. Negron, and not mentioning anything about the shooting, he was invited to the police station. Five witnesses were called in, identification lineups were done, four did not recognize Mr. Negron; the fifth witness said it was definitely not him.
And that’s where Mr. Negron’s nightmare started. The shooting victim initially could not pick out Mr. Negron with certainty. Then the victim spent 15 minutes in a room with a detective and a prosecutor and when they came out and look at the lineup a second time, the victim decided that Mr. Negron was a perpetrator.
In the meantime, the police were at Mr. Negron’s apartment searching it, with his permission. They found nothing. But a neighbor saw the police and fled to the roof with a cache of weapons and ammunition, then somehow got stuck up there. The commotion drew the attention of the police.
Eventually Mr. Negron went to trial, he realized that the neighbor had been arrested on suspicion of illegally having guns, but did not know that the man had the same caliber ammunition used in the road rage shooting, nor that he had fled after spotting the police.
Both cases were handled by the same prosecutor, but not revealing the circumstances of the neighbors arrest to the defense attorneys of Mr. Negron. No one outside the prosecutor’s office knew the details. After Mr. Negron went to prison, he learned through the freedom of information act request how the other man had been caught. Mr. Negron’s representative Joel B. Rudin took the case to the state court of appeals.
Chief judge Jonathan Lippman asked an appellate lawyer from the Queens District Attorney’s Office, “Why don’t you just give it to them?”
The prosecutor’s response was that the weapon seized were not matched through ballistics to the road rage shooting, and therefore were “immaterial” to Mr. Negron. The court of appeals had found that the Queens District Attorney’s Office had violated its obligations and overturned the verdict.
A legal scholar on systematic criminal justice system problems, James Doyle, said the problem was not the lone erring prosecutor. He said judges adopt a see no evil attitude about such violations, and poorly funded defense lawyers do not catch things on their own.
Richard Emery, a civil rights lawyer, said the system needed to create incentives for the police and prosecutors to chase any lead even after an arrest, perhaps was stricter limits to prevent defense lawyers from using spurious information.
Mr. Negron, who has already served 10 years, now faces another trial. There was no comment by the Queens District Attorney’s Office but the article states it appears they did not like being told by the state’s highest court that they had won a case with bad tactics.
If some of this sounds familiar, sadly, it appears it is becoming more common. In California we are constantly seeing more and more of cases like this, namely Orange county, in the Baca case. That’s where the entire Orange county District Attorney’s Office was recused from a case for misconduct. In fact, they were hiding witnesses and evidence.
Right here in Stanislaus County we are seeing what I feel is an extreme travesty of justice. We are in the 11th month of a preliminary hearing of the Frank Carson et al. case.
There has been an ongoing pattern of missing evidence, statements and testimony that is constantly changing by drug addicts, drug dealers, career criminals and some of them violent criminals, who have all testified with pending charges, cases, sentencings.
At one point in this case the court could not locate all the warrants used in the last four years, and after extensive searching by all parties involved they were located at the law enforcement level in an evidence locker and not filed by the court as required by law. There were even some warrants that were rejected, and that rejection could never be found. Then after some judge shopping and a judge two counties away, read and signed the arrest warrant after reading the 330-page document in a little over two hours.
There was one witness who took the stand and took upon himself to make the courtroom his own personal playground so he could tell the attorneys to go “Fuck themselves” while he was on the witness stand. That also included inappropriate gestures with the middle finger towards many people in the courtroom. He testified twice, the second time in custody and displayed the same activities both times with no efforts by the judge to curtail his vulgarity and obvious disdain for the court system.
There was one witness in the case, who had pending felony charges of embezzlement, $12,000 from her dentist employer, who had 25 continuances in her case and then finally pled out to a misdemeanor charge and in the court minute order there was no order of restitution to the victim, nor any jail time at any time.
See minuet order here: romero
The victim in that case had attended all 25 continuances, had shown aggravation with the District Attorney’s Office in not moving forward with the case, and then was not notified that they had agreed to a plea bargain that was not given the opportunity to make a victim’s impact statement to the court before sentencing. The victims impact statement is required by law, called Marcie’s law, and was only notified by a letter sometime after the plea. They didn’t even have the decency to call her. (or the guts)
The Dist. Atty.’s investigators blatantly lied to the main witness’s attorneys, as to the results of a polygraph test in order to obtain a confession. The attorneys for that witness eventually had the witness wave attorney client privilege so they can reveal a conversation that they had with their client, and a statement saying that he had lied before.
Nonetheless none of the six defendants were released from this case after the recant, four are still in custody and none have been released.
An 11-month preliminary hearing in any case is extreme, and unnecessary. I have received information through what I consider a reliable source that the Stanislaus County Dist. Atty. Birgit Fladager had told the prosecutor in this case Marlisa Ferreira to make this preliminary hearing last as long as possible. This in my opinion is an attempt to financially, psychologically, emotionally destroy these defendants. What other reason could there be? And why didn’t they just go to the grand jury and get a quick indictment?
This behavior is starting become the normal in this country today, for some reason some people feel the need to show their power over others. There is nothing more egregious than taking away the freedom of another person just because you can.
The judge in the Frank Carson et al. case told the Dist. Atty. that they should be held to a higher standard due to their abilities to take away people’s freedoms, and their abilities to take certain actions. And then turned around and did not hold that same Dist. Atty. to a higher standard and what I personally feel has been numerous acts of misconduct and some of them extremely egregious.
When are we going to get outraged? When are we going to say enough? When are we going to do something to put a stop to this? Somebody please tell me because I don’t get it and I don’t know why people are standing around, possibly some judges where other cases are seeing the same activity, and doing nothing about it and holding these prosecutors accountable.
In the state of California, we have an attorney general by the name of Kamala Harris, who was originally elected in 2010 and to this date has never filed a misconduct charge against a prosecutor in the state. This is quite exceptional in light of what is happened in Orange County, it has been brought to my attention that people have talked to Kamala Harris about the problems in Stanislaus County, and she has stated to people “you don’t want to get involved.”
Also of note, Kamala Harris has announced she is now running for the United States Senate wanting to take Diane Feinstein’s seat. I guess there’s probably more donations to be had by not prosecuting offending Dist. Atty.’s worst offenders.
Also of note here is a screenshot from her website dedicated to her run for Senate:
CLICK HERE to visit the site
THE QUESTION IS NOW IS ANYONE WILLING TO STEP UP AND BE HEARD AND DO THE RIGHT THING?