The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) today announced a lawsuit against Orange County’s top two remorseless law enforcement officials for continuing to trample the constitutional rights of charged, pre-trial defendants with the illegal use of jailhouse informants.
“The Orange County criminal justice system is in disrepair and disrepute,” the ACLU’s Peter Eliasberg and Brandan Hemme stated in their courthouse filing. “Public faith in the integrity of the Orange County district attorney’s office (OCDA) and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), and in their ability to seek justice, has been eviscerated by continuous revelations of systemic misconduct.”
As the Weekly recently revealed in what is known nationally as the Orange County jailhouse snitch scandal, government cheating has so far upended at least 19 major criminal cases with District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Sheriff Sandra Hutchens firmly stuck in shameless denial even though their misdeeds last year infamously wrecked a slam dunk death penalty case, People v. Scott Dekraai.
For his part, a grumpy Rackauckas, who is 75 years old and currently seeking a sixth term in the June elections, the scandal is the fictional work of sly defense lawyers and gullible courthouse reporters. Hutchens has announced her retirement and handed off her denial baton to undersheriff Don Barnes, who is campaigning for the job as if his underlings hadn’t been caught repeatedly committing perjury.
Back in reality, the ACLU lawsuit used 41 pages to detail specific known facts of systemic prosecution team corruption.
“Rackauckas and Hutchens have made clear that they do not intend to put a halt to these abuses,” they argue. “It is well past time for both of them to comply with the law. No less than the integrity of the criminal justice system in Orange County is at stake.”
In addition to seeking long-hidden agency records involving informant use to secretly win convictions, the ACLU wants a permanent injunction forcing OCSD and OCDA to stop violating the U.S. Constitution’s due process clause as well as to honestly comply with their discovery obligations.
During a cable news interview earlier this year, Rackauckas, who would end a sixth term a few months short of 81 if he defeats Supervisor Todd Spitzer, said he planned to find a non-elected replacement shortly after he dupes voters in June.