"Reformers have for years recommended that all forensic labs be independent from law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies' and this is a key reform promoted by The Justice Project (2008). But fixing these problems is only half the answer' because half of the wrongful convictions attributed to misleading forensic evidence involved deliberate forensic fraud' evidence tampering' and/or perjury.
From "The Elephant in the Crime Lab," by co-authored by Sheila Berry and Larry Ytuarte; Forensic Examiner; Spring, 2009; http://www.t-mlaw.com/blog/
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Over the course of decades, not a single prosecutor nor police officer was willing to speak up and reveal that evidence was being systematically withheld from the accused. And it’s not as if the silence is stopping or the truth is suddenly flowing.”
Assistant public Defender Scott Sanders;
STORY: "Orange county in crisis: 3 snitch scandal investigations threaten change for sherriff, D.A." by reporters Tony Saavedra and Andre Mouchard," published by the Orange County Register on December 31, 2016.
SUB-HEADING: "A year ago, the county’s justice system looked to be emerging from the jailhouse informant scandal. Today, it’s melting down. What happened?"
SUB-HEADING: "Are county prosecutors and jailers working within constitutional rules to put away criminals? Or, as a growing number of critics have suggested, is there a win-at-all-costs culture among those who hold the keys to justice in Orange County?"
GIST: "Ten months ago, at a community forum in Santa Ana, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens told the crowd that her deputies did not cultivate a secret network of jailhouse informants to illegally gather confessions from accused criminals. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas sat nearby, nodding in agreement. He too denied wrongdoing in his department, later saying allegations that prosecutors routinely misused informants and withheld evidence from defense attorneys were nothing but the wild imaginings of a public defender and the inaccurate reporting of a media that didn’t understand the facts. “You’ve heard the conspiracy theories... ” Hutchens said, referring to allegations about a network of jailhouse informants and a computer database known as TREDS, that would show how deputies track informants in county jails. “None of it is true.” Actually, that’s still being sorted out. And because of that, as 2016 comes to a close, Orange County’s justice system is in crisis. Documents suggest investigators almost certainly have moved beyond the question of if a network of informants was run in O.C. jails and, instead, are looking at how long such a network operated, and to what degree it’s been used -- and might still be used -- to win convictions.........At least a half-dozen cases in Orange County have unraveled over the past two years because judges found wrongdoing by prosecutors or jailers or both. Last month, Bryant Islas, who received a six-year plea deal in November 2015 for attempted murder because of informant problems, was paroled from prison. Before the deal, Islas faced a life sentence. Now that the Justice Department is in Orange County, what happens next? People who’ve worked on federal investigations say Justice Department lawyers will gather documents, conduct interviews and possibly take depositions from locals connected to county cases. This will help them get a picture of what’s happening. They could find that the system is working as it should. Or they could find that constitutional rights are being violated. If they find that rights are being violated, they could meet with county prosecutors and jailers to get them to agree to stick to practices that don’t violate federal law, using a contract called a consent decree. If county officials resist, the Justice Department can take the District Attorney and the Sheriff’s Department to court, forcing the reforms. It’s even possible that federal officials, for a time, will be tasked with overseeing local prosecutors as part of a plan to manage changes. Another part of the investigation could involve looking at past cases and what, if anything, they say about the current culture among prosecutors and jailers. The assistant public defender who has brought informant problems to light, Scott Sanders, has said that he has evidence of some 30 cases, prosecuted over several decades, in which there was improper use of informants or failure to disclose evidence. One of the cases involves Thomas Thompson, who was executed in 1998 for the 1981 murder of 20-year-old Ginger Fleischli. Thompson was convicted based on the testimony of two informants who said he confessed to committing the murder on his own. But county prosecutors also convicted a second man for killing Fleischli, based on testimony from two different informants who offered different versions of the death. The same prosecutor handled both cases. The fact that the DA’s office, then led by Cecil Hicks, used different informants to say different things about the same crime showed that “informants were being assessed not for the truthfulness of their claims about the statements they received, but about whether they could help secure the sought-after win,” according to a legal brief filed by Sanders years later. Sanders says culture among local prosecutors hasn’t changed. “Over the course of decades, not a single prosecutor nor police officer was willing to speak up and reveal that evidence was being systematically withheld from the accused,” Sanders said. “And it’s not as if the silence is stopping or the truth is suddenly flowing.”http://www.ocregister.com/articles/county-739904-informants-prosecutors.html
The entire story can be found at:
The entire story can be found at:
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/