DOJ investigating Orange county law enforcement agencies
by Marty Carlson
Last month the Department of Justice opened an investigation into the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, that focuses on allegations that both offices systematically used jailhouse informants and enlisted incriminating statements from specific inmates who had been charged and were represented by counsel, in violation of the sixth amendment.
The investigation will also seek to determine whether the District Attorney’s Office committed violations of the 14th amendment that refers to due process rights under Brady v. Maryland. That case with the 1963 Supreme Court case, where the District Attorney’s Office had failed to disclose promises of leniency that would have substantially undermined the credibility of the informant’s trial testimony. The investigation is pursuant to the violent crime control and Law enforcement act of 1994.
Orange County district attorney Tony Rackauckas had requested that the Justice Department review his office’s informant policies and practices and has offered unfettered access to documents and personnel.
The head of the civil rights division was quoted as saying “a systematic failure to protect the right to counsel and to a fair trial makes criminal proceedings fundamentally unfair and diminishes the public’s faith in the integrity of the justice system.” They also stated the investigation will examine the facts and evidence to determine whether the District Attorney’s Office and the sheriff department engaged in a pattern or practice of violating those rights.
They also stated that they are appreciative that the District Attorney’s invitation to review office policies and practices, and the unfettered access to documents and personnel in the office.
Attorneys for the civil rights division’s special litigation section of the US attorney’s office of the Central District of California are jointly conducting this investigation.
For those of you reading the daily reports of the Frank Carson et al preliminary hearing, and for all those in court every day, you’ll see a lot of similarities and some of these Brady issues and the use of these inmates and discovery.
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