New York Times Calls for Federal Investigation of OC District Attorney’s Office

In an editorial with the headline “Dishonest Prosecutors, Lots of Them,” the New York Times castigated the Orange County District Attorney’s Office Wednesday for the ongoing jailhouse informants scandal.

The Times’ editorial board did not pull any punches, describing the actions of prosecutors as “blatant and systematic misconduct” and calling on the U.S. Justice Department to launch an investigation.

The piece digested the scandal, which began last year when Scott Sanders, the lead public defender for mass murderer Scott Evans Dekraai, filed a 505-page motion that described how prosecutors and sheriff’s deputies for years withheld evidence from a network of informants they ran inside the county jails. The editorial included links to articles published by Voice of OC and several other local publications.

Here’s an excerpt:

Prosecutors who bend or even break the rules to win a conviction almost never face any punishment. But even given lax controls, the blatant and systemic misconduct in the Orange County district attorney’s office in Southern California stands out. In a scheme that may go back as far as 30 years, prosecutors and the county sheriff’s department have elicited illegal jailhouse confessions, failed to turn over evidence that is favorable to defendants and lied repeatedly in court about what they did.

These unconstitutional abuses are all the more troubling because Orange County is not some corrupt backwater with one rogue prosecutor. With more than three million residents, the county itself is more populous than nearly half the states in the country. Its district attorney’s office employs 250 prosecutors. In March, a California judge, Thomas Goethals, removed all of them from the county’s highest-profile murder prosecution in years because misconduct had tainted the entire office’s handling of the case. He reassigned the case to the California attorney general, Kamala Harris, a ruling her office is appealing…The Justice Department should conduct a thorough investigation. But there is no indication that’s going to happen.

And here are links to Voice of OC’s ongoing coverage:

Court Opens Records Alleging Improper Jailhouse Informants

Testimony Provides Rare Look Into Use of Jailhouse Informants

Murder Conviction Vacated After Jailhouse Informants Network Exposed

Murders Forgotten: How Far Did Prosecutors Go to Hide Informants Network?

Wozniak Lawyer Chronicles 30 Years of Alleged Abuses by Local Law Enforcement

Please contact David Washburn directly at dwashburn@voiceofoc.org.