By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
Fast-forward six years, and we find a sitting judge regurgitating Haidl-rape-defense excuses. But the Gurel case isn’t the first time Johnson’s conduct has been questionable in recent domestic-violence cases. Consider:
•In an ongoing case against Jeffrey Patrick Haley—a man accused of repeatedly punching, kicking, strangling and pointing a loaded handgun at a girlfriend, Johnson has ridiculed the victim in open court, calling her “a dullard.”
•Convicted killer/robber/woman-beater Terrance Russell knew he faced California’s Three Strikes Law if he committed another crime but tried to strangle a woman with both hands in September 2007. Prosecutors wanted Russell, who pleaded guilty, to receive a 35-years-to-life sentence. But to “make sure that justice is done,” Johnson ignored the wishes of the frightened victim, reduced the two felony charges to misdemeanors and gave Russell just eight months in the local jail.
But for Gurel, if it’s good to have a semi-sympathetic judge, it’s even better to be handed a serious prosecutorial screw-up.
You might think that Deputy District Attorney Suzy M. Snyder, who has been a passionate courtroom advocate for rape victims, would have earned a pat on the back for putting Gurel in prison. However, Snyder’s boss, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, was incensed by her conduct. In fact, multiple law-enforcement sources tell me that she was escorted out of the OC DA’s offices and placed on administrative leave, a move that could end in her joining the ranks of the unemployed.
According to a DA’s-office document obtained by the Weekly, Rackauckas believes that Snyder had been having an affair with the man who was the lead detective handling Gurel’s case. Normally, nobody would care about sexual liaisons, but what upset Rackauckas was that he believed Snyder violated his office’s conduct guidelines by secretly engaging “in a sexual relationship with a testifying police witness,” according to a Sept. 25 letter the DA sent to Gurel’s defense lawyers, James Crawford and Leonard Klaif.
A self-described “regretful” Rackauckas stated in the letter that he doesn’t think the ethical breach undermines evidence pointing to Gurel’s guilt or his conviction. But the defense lawyers, who’ve already filed their intention to appeal the case, must be salivating about the prospects of presenting a prosecutorial-misconduct argument to the court of appeal.
So where does this leave Jane Doe?
“She’s understandably devastated and disheartened and continues to be terrified of the defendant,” according to Rackauckas.
Who can blame her? She’s now been screwed by the defendant, the judge, a prosecutor and the police.