Late this afternoon, the California Court of Appeal rejected an emergency appeal by Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens to continue hiding embarrassing records tied to the ongoing jailhouse informant scandal that exposed her government agency's illegal operations against pre-trial criminal defendants.
Tired of Hutchens disobeying his discovery orders issued 198 weeks ago in a death penalty case (People v. Scott Dekraai), Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals announced on Nov. 8 that he planned to release to the public 243 heavily redacted pages of an internal sheriff's department records system on Nov. 18.
Goethals' reasoning? The public deserves to know about unethical tactics employed by our county's most powerful law enforcement agency.
The terrified sheriff balked, claiming originally that the reason for the outrageous delay in surrendering the records was that nobody on her staff knew they existed (ponder that) and, then after the lie got exposed, she asserted the information is vital to daily jail security (ponder that argument shift)—and disclosure would result in (get a load of this shameless bureaucratic spin) a series of murders of deputies and jail snitches.
(For partial background about Hutchens' brazen obstruction of justice, see, “California Judge Blasts OC Sheriff Sandra Hutchens' Dishonesty In Death Penalty Case,” Sept. 22. 2016; “OC Sheriff Sandra Hutchens Refuses To Surrender Death Penalty Case Records,” Oct. 26, 2016; and “Death Penalty Judge Gives OC Sheriff Last Chance To Stop Hiding Evidence,” Nov. 10, 2016.)
Nonetheless, the state appellate panel decided to give the sheriff until Dec. 2 to appeal her two earned losses to the California Supreme Court.
Hutchens became OC's sheriff in 2008 after the prior sheriff, Mike Carona, earned a 66-month federal prison trip for his own corruption.