OC Weekly investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has been writing about the scandal-plagued District Attorney’s office for years, most recently breaking major stories on how prosecutors routinely buried exculpatory information and illegally used jailhouse informants to solicit pre-trial confessions from lawyered-up suspects. Although both the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register have basically taken a nap on the coverage, newspapers as far away as the Washington Post have followed the action, often crediting Moxley’s groundbreaking work on the story.
Now The Marshall Project, the New York-based criminal justice reform-oriented enterprise edited by former New York Times editor Bill Keller that just shared a Pulitzer for their reporting, is jumping on board as well. Yesterday, it published an article, “The Scandal-Singed DAs Who Want to be Judges,” linking to Moxley’s coverage and highlighting the fact that two key prosecutors involved in the scandal are running for local judgeships on June 7. Both Michael Murray and Larry Yellin, the article states, are “supervisory level district attorneys in an office that a judge recently ruled ‘habitually ignored the law over an extended period of time.” Noting that both prosecutors have acknowledged withholding evidence, the article ironically notes that, if elected, they’d hold office next to judges that have already “called them out on their conduct.”
As previously reported by Moxley, Murray failed to produce a taped recording of jailhouse informant Oscar Moriel which contained information helpful to defense lawyers for Alberto Martinez, who was later sentenced to death for murder. And in 2007, a California appeals court cited Murray for misconduct in several other cases, saying it was troubled by the frequency in which we see prosecutorial misconduct.”
Yellin, for his part, failed to turn over tapes involving jailhouse recordings relevant to a murder case against Nuzzio Begaren.
“If Murray and Yellin are elected,” the article concludes, “they will be in a position to rule on cases related to withheld database evidence.” But this is Orange County, Jack, and as the article marvels, both prosecutors are considered “shoo-ins” for the bench.
And in a funny bit of reportorial bowdlerizing, the Voice of OC reprinted the Marshall Project story but removed all the many links in the original story citing our coverage, replacing them with their
own stories—never mind that VOC isn’t cited once by the Marshall Project. Stay funny, kids!
Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is Editor of OC Weekly. He is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (Nation Books 2006), which provided the basis for the 2014 Focus Features release starring Jeremy Renner and the L.A. Times-bestseller Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World, (Thomas Dunne 2009). He is also the author of The Weed Runners (2013) and Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood (2016).