In an official response to the Orange County Grand Jury’s June report, which called the jailhouse informant scandal a “myth,” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas agreed with most of the report’s findings, except for those which criticized his department for a lack of training protocols and procedure.
The response, released Tuesday, thanked the Grand Jury for its “independence and courage” in criticizing the belief that Orange County law enforcement has been unconstitutionally using jailhouse informants to gather incriminating evidence on defendants.
The findings of the Grand Jury report, released in mid-June, are in stark contrast to a string of rulings by Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals, and by the California Fourth District Court of Appeals which have found prosecutors withheld evidence from the defense to hide informant use.
But the report has been praised by the DA’s office and Sheriff’s Department as a vindication of their offices, in the face of what they said was inaccurate and overblown media coverage of the problems underlying the jailhouse informant issue.
The DA’s response agreed with Grand Jury findings that there is no “structured” jailhouse informant program and that confusion about the word “informant” blurred the lines between legal and illegal informant use.
“In short, the use of informants is both a complex and nuanced area of the law, a fact that has often been missed during public discourse on this subject,” the report states.
The DA disagreed with a statement in the Grand Jury report that “violations in discovery and/or Brady disclosure in the Dekraai case are limited to the actions of a few members of the OCDA and a few OCSD personnel.”
Rackauckas wrote that there were “no intentional discovery and/or Brady violations committed by any OCDA personnel” in the case of Scott Evans Dekraai, a multiple-murder case in which Goethals and the Court of Appeals have ruled the DA committed discovery violations.
The response also disagreed with a finding that supervisory promotions are “not the result of standardized, objective hiring practices and does not include any required training in management or supervisorial skills training.”
Read the DA’s entire response on the OCDA website.
Contact Thy Vo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.
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