Thanks to one intrepid reporter, the Weekly got mentioned in three different newspaper stories today. Oh, and someone got out of jail. And the DA looks stupid. And the cops. And a judge. Cool.
Earlier today Paul Brennan expertly explained how the LA Times was almost exactly a year late in getting to the story of James Ochoa's wrongful imprisonment, a wrong righted by our own R. Scott Moxley. However, the Times is not alone in its negligence; today also marked the popping of the OC Register's Ochoa cherry, a year after Moxley laid out a thorough and convincing list of reasons why the kid was blatantly innocent.
Back then there wasn't a peep from the other local papers. After all, who gives a damn about another wrongful arrest in Orange County? Certainly not Judge Robert Fitzgerald. One month after Moxley's first story appeared in the Weekly (which Fitzgerald dismissed as a "rag"), the judge told Ochoa he could either plead guilty and get two years or plead innocent and risk life imprisonment, with the warning that "innocent people get convicted too" in Fitzgerald's courtroom. An odd boast, to be sure.
Ten months later, after Ochoa is both out of jail and out of the county (with plans to start a new, less persecuted life in Texas), the papers decide he's newsworthy. Today the Times carried the H.G. Reza article mentioned in Brennan's piece as well as a Dana Parsons column on the case, while the Register's Frank Mickadeit also chimed in. Welcome to the party, pals.
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Mickadeit incorporated the story into a domestic dispute between him and fellow Registero Norberto Santana on the importance of informing the public as to the quality of judicial candidates. It includes the choice line, "…I lay in bed contemplating what it would be like to waterboard Santana…" Dana Parsons waxed indignant on how the cops, the prosecutors and the judge can't plead ignorance this time. Oh, they can, Dana. They seem plenty ignorant to me. Ignorant of Ochoa's innocence, ignorant of the facts of the case, ignorant of their duties…I could go on.
But instead I'd rather close out this final-est chapter of the tragicomedy that is the James Ochoa case by noting that the papers really ought to know better. After all, this isn't exactly the first time they've been uber-scooped by Moxley.
- Shantae Molina, the woman who did not murder her baby
- Dr. Kooshian, the doctor who watered down his patients' AIDS medicine
- Jeffrey Nielsen, the accused pedophile with powerful Republican friends
- Eddie and Jo Ellen Allen, the Republican power couple and con artists par excellence
- Bob Dornan, the asylum inmate-to-be who used to be a Congressman
- Greg Haidl, the sex-offender whose rich father used to be a Reserve Sheriff's Deputy
- George Jaramillo, former Assistant Sheriff, busted for helping Haidl the Younger, taking bribes and assorted foolhardiness
The list goes on; Ochoa's incarceration does not, thanks to R. Scott Moxley (and DNA evidence) and no thanks to the Register or the LA Times.