The State Bar Court of California recommends a year-long suspension for an Orange County prosecutor who was found culpable of suppressing evidence and failing to produce discovery to opposing counsel.
Filed on Oct. 10, the recommendation comes after Deputy District Attorney Sandra Lee Nassar was found culpable on three counts of misconduct on Oct. 1 by the same court.
Click here to read R. Scott Moxley’s story on the events that landed Nassar in the State Bar Court, “Orange County Prosecutor’s Cheating Gains California State Bar Attention.”
Noting that Nassar “won her government job after her wealthy businessman father contributed money to county law enforcement officials,” Moxley reports on her having hid key exculpatory evidence in State of California v. Iacullo “in order to secure strategic trial advantage” for the government.
In that case, Nassar won a child abuse conviction and 12-year prison sentence for Carmen William Iacullo II.
Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals later agreed that Nassar hid evidence and that her excuse about not knowing what the law was is no excuse at all.
“Ignorance of the law for an experienced prosecutor for engaging in misconduct is not a reasonable excuse either,” Goethals ruled in 2014. “That was a willful violation.”
In the recommendation signed by Judge Yvette D. Roland, the State Bar agrees. In court documents that identify Nassar as “respondent,” it is written, “Respondent demonstrated a lack of insight regarding the present misconduct. She testified that she not only did nothing wrong, but did everything that a prosecutor should do. Respondent also testified that she would engage in the same conduct if given another chance. Her lack of insight and unwillingness to acknowledge her own misconduct is reason to believe that she may again commit similar misconduct. Accordingly, Respondent’s lack of insight warrants significant consideration in aggravation.”
Finding Nassar guilty of Moral Turpitude, violating Attorney’s Duty to Support Laws and Suppression of Evidence, the State Bar Court recommends she be suspended from the practice of law in California for two years, that execution of that period of suspension be stayed and that she be placed on probation for three years subject to the following conditions:
*Nassar is suspended from the practice of law for a minimum of the first year of probation, and will remain suspended until she provides proof to the State Bar Court of her rehabilitation, fitness to practice and present learning and ability in the general law.
*She comply with the provisions of the State Bar Act, the Rules of Professional Conduct and all of the conditions of her probation.
*She submit written quarterly reports to the Office of Probation on each Jan. 10, April 10, July 10 and Oct. 10, stating whether she has complied with the State Bar Act, the Rules of Professional Conduct and all of the conditions of her probation during the preceding calendar quarter. In addition to all quarterly reports, a final report, containing the same information, is due no earlier than 20 days before the last day of the probation period and no later than the last day of the probation period.
*She must answer fully, promptly and truthfully any inquiries of the Office of Probation or any probation monitor that are directed to her personally or in writing, relating to whether she is complying or has complied with her probation conditions.
*Within one year after the effective date of the discipline, she must submit to the Office of Probation satisfactory evidence of completion of the State Bar’s Ethics School and passage of the test given at the end of that session.
*Within 30 days after the effective date of discipline, she must contact the Office of Probation and schedule a meeting with her assigned probation deputy to discuss the terms and conditions of probation.
Nassar has denied she is guilty of anything.
Moxley’s original report noted that in 2008, Nassar’s father, Gabriel Nassar, testified at the federal corruption trial of Sheriff Mike Carona that he sold official department badges in exchange for contributions to the lawman.
Rackauckas, who shared the same senior campaign consultant as Carona, declared the sheriff innocent before a federal jury found him guilty of ethical violations. A judge then sent Carona to federal prison.
Now Sandra Nassar’s boss Rackauckas and his office being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for what has become known nationally as the Orange County jailhouse informant scandal. That centers on prosecutors and sheriff’s deputies having allegedly conspired systemically for decades to violate the constitutional rights of in-custody, pre-trial defendants by tricking them into making incriminating statements without their lawyers’ knowledge.