By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Sandra’s Got Their Guns
Sheriff’s concealed-weapon policy prompts accusation of homosexual, Zionist plot
The 2,286 folks who got concealed-weapon permits (CCWs) under Sheriff Mike Carona must be shootin’ mad. Sandra Hutchens, the new boss at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, has decided to trash the previous administration’s wildly liberal CCW policy. That one hinged on an applicant giving the sheriff a campaign contribution or, apparently, demonstrating the ability to print one’s own name on an application without making more than two spelling errors. Hutchens says she’s going to issue CCW permits only to people showing “good cause . . . about a clear and present danger.”
The policy shift has left local Republican supervisors antsy, given indigestion to gun enthusiasts and outraged the Southern California anti-Jewish-conspiracy types. On Oct. 13, a local gun-rights blog posted an entry titled “Dyke Sheriff Begins taking away concealed weapons permits.” The post, written by a coward hiding behind the identity “Zenos,” continued, “And the great disarming begins. With the impending doom of the U.S. economy and the possible collapse of the government, the last thing the jews want is a pissed off armed public. Sorry you filthy fucking jews, it’s not going to work. People know it’s you now.” (All typos in the preceding quotation are, appropriately, [sic].)
Imagine what they’d say about Hutchens if she weren’t all of the following: a heterosexual Republican, Second Amendment supporter and lifelong law-enforcement officer who has not been afraid to use lethal force in her career.
I don’t know if Hutchens is Jewish; she says her religion is “irrelevant.” And I’m not sure if Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters or someone else will challenge Hutchens in the 2010 election, but I’ve got news for her political enemies: Don’t underestimate her.
On Oct. 9, Hutchens spoke at a Chapman University leadership conference and displayed not just depth and a sense of humor, but also charisma that, frankly, I didn’t know she possessed. (Prior to his FBI arrest on corruption charges, Carona had charm, too. His was awesome, if empty—like a traveling vacuum salesman fresh off an Alabama prison stint.) After the corruption we’ve seen over the years at OCSD, nobody is more suspect of sheriff’s department management, but I didn’t get that “fake” vibe from Hutchens. The sheriff, who has been in office for four months, never mentioned Carona, but her points ran contrary to his practices, the ones that unfortunately made the department an international embarrassment.
Hutchens told the crowd that she isn’t going to bow to political pressure on the CCW issue, isn’t afraid to hire people she considers smarter than herself, and doesn’t want deputies who will “blindly follow orders,” but rather ones willing to “challenge” the department to improve. She thinks employee accountability will increase when they see consistent, fair enforcement of policies, she says, and is committed to making the department “open, transparent and inclusive.”
That last one is a tall order. While the department has outstanding folks, there’s also an entrenched group of Carona-promoted knuckle-draggers who despise the notion of public accountability. Will they trip her?
Here’s what’s certain now: Despite an early fumble telling District Attorney Tony Rackauckas that he had no business questioning a botched sheriff’s probe into an alleged pedophile deputy, Hutchens is growing into her job. The age- and gender-diverse crowd at the Chapman event warmed to her quickly because, they told me, she seemed genuine.
MARRIED TO THE SNOB
Sassy Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg, arguably the inspiration for Montgomery Burns on The Simpsons, frequently sucks his teeth, yawns and makes facial expressions during criminal trials similar to a person passing post-lunch gas. Judges such as Froeberg, a former prosecutor, rarely miss opportunities to let folks know who’s king in the courtroom. He has even felt compelled to comment about my choice of shirt in front of a jury hearing a death-penalty case.
But for years it’s puzzled me that Froeberg presides over cases involving sex crimes when his wife, Rosanne, heads the district attorney’s sex-crimes unit. It’s not that I’ve thought prosecutors in Rosanne’s well-run unit have taken advantage of the situation. By my reckoning, they’re all exceptional deputy DAs, tireless public servants and damn good people who’ve put countless monsters in prison.
Still, the close, personal relationship between this powerful judge and this high-ranking prosecutor seems to unnecessarily raise potential ethics questions. This issue became relevant again when I recently obtained evidence that prosecutor Froeberg used the e-mail account of Judge Froeberg to respond to law-enforcement officers attempting to build a case against a controversial sex-crimes suspect.
In March, for example, Orange County Sheriff’s Department Deputy James R. England sent an e-mail to Rosanne Froeberg’s DA e-mail account concerning the status of his investigation into Gerald Stenger, the fellow deputy and pedophile suspect mentioned above. (Stenger allegedly molested at least two young boys before committing suicide in his patrol car as DA investigators prepared to arrest him earlier this year.) Apparently oblivious to the appearance of her act or, worse, eager to underscore its potency, Froeberg responded to England’s communication from an Internet account bearing the name “William Froeberg.”