DPOC Members! My Resolution on the Snitch Scandal May Come Up Tonight


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I’ve been trying to bring a resolution to DPOC on the “snitch scandal” — which has been the subject of astonished, anguished, and agitated national coverage  and a grand jury investigation— and various other problems with criminal justice administration in our county.  These are significant and increasing problems — ones that the legal world is watching as closely as the political world is watching our Congressional races.  This is the first time that the perpetrators of the shocking, even Trumpian, level of disregard for the Constitution — leading to the disqualification of the OCDA’s office from matters, tossing out the death penalty for Seal Beach beauty shop spree killer Scott Dekraii, and release of convicted murderers (and innocents who should never have been convicted) out on the streets — will have been tested before the voters.

LONG LONG CAPTION: The courtroom conversations between then-Judge (now Justice) Thomas Goethals (top left) and Deputy OC Public Defender Scott Sanders (bottom right) — which led to the unearthing of the snitch scandal, failure to release exculpatory “Brady” evidence, and more travesties and catastrophes of justice (wiretapping prisoner’s calls to their lawysrs????)  — has been one of OC’s most dramatic legal battles in history, bringing in many other players besides OCDA Tony Rackauckas (pictures roughly between them) and departing Sheriff Sandra Hutchens (top right). These include — aside from two floating heads of an irritated, and a downright furious, Bill of Rights author James Madison: Undersheriff and candidate to move up Don Barnes, above Rackauckas, being gazed at lovingly by turncoat DINO Rep. Leu Correa; reformist Democratic candidate for Sheriff Duke Nguyen and simpatico (but nor formally aligned!) candidate for DA Todd Spitzer, below Goethals; and below them some of the loved ones of those murdered in the Seal Beach spree killing, who became plaintiffs in the ACLU’s civil case against the County, led by ACLU attorney Somil Trivedi

So far the DPOC has done two good things this year related to criminal justice administration: endorsed Democrat Brett Murdock in the primary for District Attorney and endorsed Sheriff’s candidate Duke Nguyen in both the primary and general elections.  But we’ve never really told the public what it is we stand for in these areas — which borders on political malpractice at the very time in the two-year cycle that when people are paying the most attention.

That failure to say what we stand for should end — and it hopefully it will end tonight.  I’m submitting an “urgency resolution” under DPOC’s “10/75 rule” which requires that 75 copies of the resolution sign be delivered to the DPOC office no less than one hour before the meeting and that 10 members sign on as proponents of the resolution.  Unfortunately for me, this comes on the day that I start a new gig in Loa Angeles for a couple of weeks, so I will be hard pressed to be at the meeting when it starts, let alone an hour beforehand, but I’ll have dropped off the resolutions before I go and will collect signatures before they I’m told they are needed.

I recognize that many members of the DPOC have not wanted to wade into these waters because they don’t want to be seen as endorsing Todd Spitzer, regardless of how heinous Tony Rackauckas is, due to (1) their unhappiness with aspects of what Spitzer has and hasn’t done as supervisor and (2) the fact that. well, according to the Democratic Party’s state and local bylaws, we can’t!  I get it — the Republicans have the same restriction, although that didn’t prevent them from taking de facto stands for Correa ran against Bao Nguyen for Congress and in other D-on-D races.  So let me make one thing clear.

This is not an endorsement.  It is a statement of principles.

It’s probably more critical in the Sheriff’s race than in the DA’s race, where we should be doing all that we can to support our endorsed candidate Nguyen over the current #2 in the department, Barnes.   This is part of “all that we can.”  Duke Nguyen already endorses our principles — and Don Barnes will never do so — so our job is making sure that voters know what they are: that is, why they should vote for Duke other than “because we say so.”

In the DA’s race, our job is to set forth our principles.  If one candidate — or both! — want to embrace them in whole or part, great — that may mean that we’re having some effect on our counties public discussion of criminal justice administration.  If one candidate embraces some and the other flees from them like a demon evading holy water — well, we don’t have to say anything more to voters.  But when one candidate is attacking the other for a limited embrace of the ACLU’s help in conforming to the demands of the constitution, we should have a position on that as Democrats — and that position should be standing up for the ACLU and the Third through Eighth amendments to the constitution.  If we don’t do that, we’re being lousy Democrats and lousier activists. (And this doesn’t simply apply to County offices, either: City Councils hire police chiefs who are also expected to follow the constitution — and could certainly use encouragement to do so.)

So, having listened to a whole lot of feedback from local party leaders and activists, here’s the motion I’m putting forward for tonight’s packed-to-the-gills meeting.  I hope that my fellow members will sign onto it literally and figuratively.  This is, I believe, how we turn people a little bit more from No Party Preference to Preferring Our Party — though if the Republicans want to join us in respecting these constitutional protections for the accused and convicted, I’d be happy to see that happen.

RESOLUTION ON DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES IN ADMINISTERING JUSTICE IN ORANGE COUNTY

WHEREAS, matters of criminal justice and procedure are currently of great interest to citizens of Orange County, especially given the Governor’s signing of SB 1421 on Police Misconduct & Use of Force, and

WHEREAS, while DPOC’s positions on certain principles and issues – such as its opposition to the death penalty; prevention and prosecution of hate crimes; and calls for fair treatment of all regardless of immigration status, housing status, and demographic background – have been conveyed to the public in previous of our resolutions, other of our stances have not been recently conveyed, and voters and other OC residents should know where Democrats interests lie, and

WHEREAS, the DPOC recognizes that those favoring Democrats will play an unprecedentedly large role this year in determining the future of Orange County’s criminal justice administration, with Democratic candidates receiving 26.2% of the primary votes for District Attorney (including 22.8% for our endorsed candidate Brett Murdock), this being eight times the 3.3% margin that separated the two candidates in next month’s runoff,  and with our endorsed candidate for Sheriff Duke Nguyen having played the major role in holding his opponent in next month’s runoff below 50% of the primary vote; therefore

BE IT RESOLVED that the DPOC shall inform the public that (1) it joins with the ACLU in opposing the use of any “snitch program” that does not comport with (a) the U.S. Constitution’s protections against self-incrimination and (b) the right of suspects to be questioned only with their attorney present unless that privilege is knowingly waved; and (2) it supports proven and effective rehabilitation efforts such as collaborative courts, youth programs, and in-custody job training programs in order to stop the revolving door of recidivism; and (3) that police, sheriffs, prosecutors, and correctional officials should be held to the highest ethical standards, with none being trained and evaluated on a “win at all costs” mentality and all being trained and evaluated based not solely on achieving the highest possible arrest numbers, trial record, and conviction rate, but on the successful and accurate administration of justice; and (4) that policies and procedures must be implemented and enforced to ensure that no culture of sexual or other harassment exists in Orange County’s criminal justice system, from the moment of initial suspicion of wrongdoing, to the internal operations of those in all levels of city and county criminal justice administration operations, to preparation for and participation in trials as prosecutors and  witnesses, to the administration of our incarceration facilities; and (5) that tailored risk assessment tools and detention release criteria should be used to evaluate what appropriate bail, if any, should be required to ensure the attendance of the defendant during criminal proceedings; and therefore

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that voters should seek out candidate positions for all who will be involved in the criminal justice process, from those directly involved like candidates for Sheriff and District Attorney to candidates for City Council who will select and supervise chiefs of police and those working below them, to ensure that justice is done not merely expediently, but with the aim of abiding by the above principles and practices so as to assure “liberty and justice for all” – and we invite candidates at all levels to express to Orange County’s voters their agreement with these principles and practices,

[Room for ten signatures provided.]


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)