Citing "grave concern" for the pending "crisis," more than three dozen prominent legal community members today asked Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch to launch a formal investigation into "compelling evidence of pervasive police and prosecutorial misconduct" in Orange County.
"We write to urge the Department of Justice to initiate an investigation into the actions of the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD) and the District Attorney's Office (OCDA) in connection with the use of jailhouse informants and the concealment of informant-related evidence," wrote signatories Erwin Chemerinksy, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law; and former California Attorney General and Los Angeles District Attorney John Van de Kamp.
Others joining in the sentiment of the communication include Harvard legal theorist Charles Ogletree, criminal justice professor Angela Davis, former Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti, former Chief Assistant United States Attorney Richard Drooyan and Alex Whiting, a Harvard professor and former prosecutor of international crimes at the Hague as well as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Constitution Project.
The 16-page letter uses court records, judicial rulings and news reporting–including exclusive articles published by OC Weekly–to argue that a previously chosen reform group handed picked by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas can't be trusted given the DA's continual controversial insistence that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by law enforcement officials.
(The DA hails his group "independent" but wrote into their contracts a condition that he must approve all statements made to reporters.)
Today's truly non-compromised group told Lynch: "Orange County requires a thorough investigation by an independent entity, one with the authority to investigate long-concealed evidence in the custody of the OCSD and OCDA. The unwillingness of [those government agencies] to acknowledge the due process implications of the alleged misconduct has become only more entrenched as attention to the situation has grown. Nearly two years have passed since many of these issues were first brought to the attention of OCDA and OCSD, allowing them ample time to demonstrate their ability to bring themselves into conformity with core constitutional principles."
They also declared their goal is to "restore public confidence in the criminal justice system in Orange County."
Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders uncovered the scandal while representing two death penalty clients.
Not surprisingly, Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff at OCDA, dismissed the letter to Lynch as a defense lawyer conspiracy while also attacking media coverage of the scandal because news articles haven't mimicked her agency's spin that unethical prosecution team moves–100 percent of them harming defendants in more than three dozen cases–were accidental mistakes.
Read the entire letter HERE: