Orange County, California voters have declined to re-elect District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, whose doings have provided repeated grist for this space. His successor and former protege sounds like a possible source of grist too: “A Wahoo’s employee told the deputy Spitzer decided to handcuff the preacher because he kept looking at Spitzer.” [Nick Gerda, Voice of OC; R. Scott Moxley, OC Weekly]
“Using taxpayer funds, government officials in Orange County have spent the last 16 years arguing the most absurd legal proposition in the entire nation: How could social workers have known it was wrong to lie, falsify records and hide exculpatory evidence in 2000 so that a judge would forcibly take two young daughters from their mother for six-and-a-half years?” The argument did not fare well as a hearing before Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Trott: “I’m just staggered by the claim that people in the shoes of your clients wouldn’t be on notice that you can’t use perjury and false evidence to take away somebody’s children. That to me is mind boggling.” [R. Scott Moxley, OC Weekly; video]
- Amid multiple scandals, why won’t office of Orange County, Calif. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas confirm name of county investigator alleged to have beaten defense attorney in courtroom hallway? [R. Scott Moxley/OC Weekly via Radley Balko, Voice of OC]
- And from February: “former Los Angeles sheriff Lee Baca announced that he would plead guilty to criminal charges related to systemic misconduct in his department, specifically to a charge of lying to investigators in an effort to cover up that wrongdoing.” [Kevin Williamson]
- Post-Ferguson investigation: problems with small-town municipal courts go way beyond North St. Louis County into outstate Missouri [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
- Judge throws out mountain of tickets from Chicago traffic and speed cameras [TimeOut, Timothy Geigner/TechDirt, earlier]
- Britain: following collapse of lengthy Operation Midland law enforcement inquiry into a fantasist’s wild tales of abuse (did senior Tories murder rentboys for fun?) vindicated officials and their families wonder where to turn to get their reputations back [Dan Hodges/Telegraph (citing Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe’s favorable reference to a second official’s statement that “The presumption that a victim should always be believed should be institutionalized”); Matthew Scott/Barrister Blogger, Richard Bartholomew]
- Supreme Court nominee: “In Criminal Rulings, [Chief Judge Merrick] Garland Has Usually Sided With Law Enforcement” [New York Times; more on Garland’s D.C. Circuit rulings]
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas may pull out the old playbook, but it hasn’t kept the latest scandal from getting national play [OC Weekly, Dahlia Lithwick/Slate, Kevin Williamson/NRO (entire office disqualified from representation in case “following revelations that the office colluded with the Orange County sheriff’s department to systematically suppress potentially exculpatory evidence in at least three dozen cases, committing what legal scholars have characterized as perjury and obstruction of justice in the process.”]
The Costa Mesa, Calif. police union scandal breaks wide open with new court papers shedding light on the conduct of a law firm representing the union. [Orange County Register] Two private investigators hired by the law firm called in a fake DUI on the town’s mayor and attached a GPS to a councilor’s car to track his movements, according to the county district attorney’s office. [Daily Pilot] We’ve been covering the scandal for more than two years here, here, and here.
More: union gumshoes alleged to have set honeytrap for opposing councilmember. [Matt Coker, OC Weekly] It’s like Costa Mesa Confidential!
P.S. And yet more from the “playbook”: “keep the pressure up till that person assures you his loyalty then move on to the next victim.” [Steven Greenhut, San Diego Union-Tribune (“Yes, ‘victim'”)]
Explaining how Kelly Thomas came to meet his gruesome decease called for some creative lawyering from defense attorneys John Barnett and Michael Schwartz, who often represent California law enforcers charged with misconduct [OC Weekly, disturbing images]
Also: Why let accused cops delay answering questions after an episode of alleged excessive force? To let them shape their story? [Scott Greenfield on new Dallas policy] And on the brighter side: Radley Balko, the nation’s premier reporter on police and prosecutorial abuse and someone regularly linked in this space, is joining the Washington Post. [Poynter]
The Economist has a short piece on the unseemly business of probation and collections companies operating under government contract that leverage misdemeanors and petty fines levied on hapless citizens into larger ongoing obligations. Local police and sheriffs’ departments share in the booty as well as sometimes lending enforcement muscle. More: OC Weekly on collections in Orange County, Calif.
This isn’t the first time Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, has come under suspicion of turning forfeiture proceeds into what one might call seizure slush funds. “According to guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Justice, agencies that participate in the federal equitable sharing program (like the Fulton County DA), must ‘avoid any appearance of extravagance, waste, or impropriety’ when spending forfeiture funds.” [Nick Sibilla, Institute for Justice]
P.S. In other forfeiture news, the U.S. Department of Justice has dropped efforts to seize/forfeit the property of landlords renting to California legal medical marijuana dispensaries [Nick Schou/OC Weekly, Reason] And [h/t commenter Gitarcarver] South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel has an expose of forfeiture doings in Sunrise, Fla. Yet more: Baltimore judge aims stinging criticisms at assistant U.S. attorney Stefan Cassella in seized-Mercedes case [Van Smith, City Paper]