Kamala Harris and the Moonlight Fire case

The burgeoning Moonlight Fire litigation scandal, which has already tarnished government agencies that include the California fire and forestry agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Forest Service, could also raise questions for California Attorney General and Senate hopeful Kamala Harris. John Fund:

“The misconduct in this case is so pervasive,” [California Superior Court judge Leslie] Nichols wrote, “that it would serve no purpose to attempt to recite it all here.”

Nichols also didn’t spare the office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, now a candidate for Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat and a national Democratic star. Nichols wrote that he can recall “no instance in experience over 47 years as an advocate and a judge, in which the conduct of the Attorney General so thoroughly departed from the high standard it represents, and, in every other instance has exemplified.” Judge Nichols then ordered the state to pay Sierra Pacific a whopping $32 million in damages and expenses. Cal Fire denies any wrongdoing, while the offices of Harris and Governor Jerry Brown aren’t talking.


  • I especially loved this part, after the Feds and CA had extorted $4 million and 22,000 acres of land from Sierra Pacific, “Judge Nichols then ordered the state to pay Sierra Pacific a whopping $32 million in damages and expenses.”
    That’ll buy a lot of chainsaws.

  • Judge referring to U.S. Attorney General, not California Attorney General. Get your facts straight.

  • Dear anonymous “correction”: here’s more coverage making clear that the judge was reproaching lawyers from the California attorney general’s office, not that of the U.S. attorney general, in the quoted remarks:

    http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/fires/article2590556.html (“Nichols also had harsh criticism for the two state lawyers who handled the case for Cal Fire.”)

    http://www.therecorder.com/id=1202713735783/US-Prosecutors-Take-Heat-Over-Handling-of-Moonlight-Fire-Case?slreturn=20150108105450 (“The judge declined the defendants’ request to sanction two deputy attorneys general working on the case, Tracy Winsor and Daniel Fuchs. He did not, however, spare them a tongue-lashing.”) A state bar search finds Winsor and Fuchs affiliated with the state attorney general’s office in Sacramento.

    Although federal prosecutors participating in the case did share in the discredit in other respects, all the coverage agrees that the quoted language was directed at the state lawyers. “Get your facts straight,” indeed.

    • The federal prosecutors blew it too.

      “The Nichols ruling prompted Sierra Pacific to enter federal court, charging fraud, and to demand that its settlement money be returned. Ben Wagner, the U.S. Attorney responsible for the federal case, insists there is no fire behind all the smoke of a legal coverup, but he hasn’t properly explained why Robert Wright, his top assistant in charge of fire litigation, was removed from the Moonlight Fire case after he stated that he believed it was his duty to disclose material seriously damaging to the government’s case. In fact, Wright was removed by his immediate boss, David Shelledy, because he was honest and would not have gone along with the program. Wagner defends his subordinate Shelledy in part by noting that he was recently given an award for distinguished service by Eric Holder. Color me less than impressed.”


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