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June 28, 2006

Carefully exploring the wrongful conviction problem

At the end of my first post on Marsh, I assailed Justice Souter's bald assertion that "false verdicts ... are probably disproportionately high in capital cases."  Today over at Concurring Opinions, Dan Filler has this thoughtful response giving his account of six reasons why he thinks "there is a good chance that Souter is right and Doug is wrong."

As always, Dan raises a number of good points, and his comments prompted me to read this article, by Prof. Sam Gross et al. and entitled "Exonerations in the United States 1989 Through 2003," which is the most systematic examination of these issues that I could find.  The authors rely on various numbers and hypothesis to conclude that criminal justice systems are "much more likely to convict innocent defendants of murder — and especially capital murder — than of other crimes, and a large number of false convictions in non-capital cases are never discovered because nobody ever seriously investigates the possibility of error."

My gut reaction to Justice Souter's initial assertion was based on my (unsubstantiated) belief that plea bargaining may contribute greatly to the wrongful conviction problem.  No one plea bargains to a death sentence (though many do to avoid such a sentence); but there are roughly a million non-capital convictions from felony charges each year that are the result of plea deals. 

Imagine if only .01% of all defendants who plead guilty when facing felony charges are actually innocent and plead guilty due to a (reasonable) fear of getting a much harsher sentence after possibly losing at trial.  Even if 99.99% of all defendants who plead guilty are in fact guilty, we would still have roughly 1000 innocent people convicted of non-capital felonies each and every year.  (If only 99.95% of all defendants who plead guilty are truly guilty, then we have 5,000 wrongful convictions nationwide resulting from pleas even before we start looking at trial error in non-capital cases.)

Of course, this scary number crunching does not directly address the rate of wrongful convictions across crimes, and I suppose I was a bit rash when expressing exacerbation about Justice Souter's assertion on that point.  But I find the cumulative numbers far more disturbing than the rate, especially given the harshness of our non-capital sentences and the massive size of our criminal justice systems.  It is, of course, a great tragedy if 1 of the roughly 100 death sentences handed down last year involved an innocent person.  But I think we should be even more concerned that perhaps 1000, or 10,000, or even 50,000 other sentences were given to innocent persons even if the wrongful conviction rate in non-capital cases is lower than in capital cases.

June 28, 2006 at 06:52 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Why do people plead guilty when the sentence is life imprisonment and no death penalty is possible? I have met a number of inmates through the years and asked this same question, their response was invariably that they just wanted out of the county jail and in a better environment, but soon found the fire was not better than the frying pan. Most lawyers, especially in drug cases have no defense, so they always recommend a plea, less, work, same money. I went to trial without a defense, my lawyer had no defense in the conspiracy and was lost as an Easter egg, what could he argue, why even try to defend a conspiracy to manufacture amphetamine. At the close of the government’s case it was strictly a matter of jury instruction, which stated, that “if you find the defendant was a member of the conspiracy and anyone in the conspiracy committed a criminal act, then you must find the defendant guilty”. Well, I would have convicted myself. It was not a question of sufficiency of the evidence to convict, the testifying snitches who “cut the deal” made sure you would do their time for them. The testifying witnesses made sure of a conviction in admitting their crime, but you will do their time. If you are indicted for a conspiracy, whether it be drugs, fraud theft or other crimes, you will be convicted because of the jury charge and how can you create a defense other than not guilty. I wish my lawyer had kept his mouth shut, “doth thou protesth too much”, for even though I spent more than 15 years in federal prison, I would never have agreed that I was guilty of the conspiracy. A guilty plea ends the argument of guilt or innocence, and the deal struck is the bargain of a lifetime!!!!

Posted by: Barry Ward | Jun 28, 2006 10:07:22 PM

Doug,

Can you clarify what you mean by the terms "wrongful conviction" and innocent? Do you mean defendants who are FACTUALLY innocent or defendants whose convictions are infected by constitutional error? I assume you mean the former, but as Kansas v. Marsh shows, some very smart people have been using these terms interchangeably to suit their own policy views.

Steve

Posted by: Steve | Jun 29, 2006 9:01:59 AM

@ Steve: Since the Constitutional protections are there precisely to prevent the conviction of the innocent, I'm not sure I see the distinction you're making. I think Doc's arguments here are right on point, and I appreciate him insisting that non-capital cases be part of the discussion.

Plenty of factually innocent people get convicted in non-capital cases - ask the folks in Tulia, Brandon Moon, or other recent Texas exonerees - frequently because such mere Constitutional protections have diminished across the board on the assumption, as Filler makes, that those accused are guilty. Even if true for most, when the assumption is sweepingly made, wrongful convictions inevitably result from the prejudgement.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jun 29, 2006 9:59:05 AM

You apparently do understand the distinction I'm making but think it's irrelevant. I'm still putting my question to Doug to ask him to clarify, because there is a difference between a person who actually did not commit the crime, and a person who committed the crime but was convicted, say, in violation of the rule in Crawford. This latter person is not "innocent"; he may have been "wronfully convicted," but the most he gets is a new trial without the testimonial hearsay. If that new trial results in an acquittal, he's "not guilty" in the eyes of the law, but that doesn't make him factually innocent.

I'm not disputing that factually innocent people are convicted and sentenced routinely in this Country. I simply would like us to use proper nomenclature when discussing this issue.

Posted by: Steve | Jun 29, 2006 1:40:40 PM

I think Steve raised an important point for clarification, although I also like GfB's rejoinder. For now, I am inclined to just talk about those who are factually innocent, though this is not a clean category either (e.g., a person might be factually innocent of murder, but still be guilty of manslaughter; or factually innocent of using a gun in a drug transaction, but still guilty of selling drugs).

Posted by: Doug B. | Jun 29, 2006 5:09:08 PM

It's not that I see the distinction as irrelevant, just inappropriately focused. Wanting to avoid convicting innocent people without giving weight to mere constitutional protections is like the man who orders a steak while condemning the slaughterhouse. One cannot simultaneously demand that court outcomes reflect justice while crippling procedural protections that prevent wrongful convictions. I'm not saying you support "crippling" anything, Steve, just that you seem to be implying that constitutional protections are somehow unimportant or a less important aspect of justice. They're not - they're how the system prevents innocents from being convicted, or how it's supposed to.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jun 30, 2006 10:32:31 AM

Ok, and I'm saying that when we execute someone whose judgment of conviction is infected by a constitutional error, I'm not nearly as alarmed as when we execute someone who didn't commit the act he or she was charged with. I think there's a qualitative difference between the two groups, and I think that the abolitionists routinely attempt to merge them because the numbers look far more frightening (from their perspective) when you can include in the classification of "innocents" those defendants whose convictions were procured in violation of the constitution.

I note that one of the reasons that the Supreme Court has imposed a harmless error standard on federal habeas (Brecht) that is far more lenient than the one that applies on direct appeal (Chapman) is because the system ought not to tolerate the added cost of a retrial without the constitutional error when it's likely that the individual in question performed the act he or she was accused of and would be convicted again anyway.

Posted by: Steve | Jun 30, 2006 3:17:50 PM

I fear the fact that many folks, practicioners included, are "not nearly as alarmed" at constitutional violations is a big reason those rights are today so little respected, which inevitably leads to actual, factually wrong convictions. The USSCs expansion of harmless error as you describe certainly contributes to the dilution of those rights in a way that encourages bad convictions, I agree, though you seem to be citing the trend approvingly.

Minimizing constitutional violations while saying "Tsk Tsk" when innocent people are convicted is like the environmentalist who decries global warming while driving a Hummer. Inconsistent is perhaps the most generous way to describe it.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jul 1, 2006 5:18:13 AM

Grits just loves to spin my responses to suit his argument!

According to him, my using the term "not nearly as alarmed" really means I am not alarmed at all when factually guilty people are convicted at a trial infected by a federal constitutional error. Grits, if you demand perfection from our system of justice, you will find fault with it at every turn (as you will with those, like me, who happen to think it's the best in the world).

Posted by: Steve | Jul 5, 2006 2:44:04 PM

As a practicing appellate attorney, my experience

teaches me that the best defense against wrongful

conviction is being able to convey to a lay jury

by argument or adequate jury instructions the

term:"beyond a reasonable doubt". I have made a

study of the issue and believe that we should

start a public debate over the term's true

meaning.

Posted by: Bruce W. Cobb | Jul 9, 2006 12:49:37 PM

A bit late to join the fray but...

In Florida, straight up pleas do occasionally result in imposition of the death penalty and the following case was a plea bargain that actually resulted in imposition of the death penalty.

Rodgers v. State, WL 1766374 (Fla. 2006).

Frequently the imposition is reversed, though not always.

Posted by: Jim Green | Jul 19, 2006 4:07:59 PM

Unfortunately, the situation is worsening. Even attorneys are strongly advising their clients regardless of their innocence to take the pleas. This eliminates expensive court appearances and is a "sure thing". There are more innocent people on probation in Florida than is statistically acceptable. Florida boasts a 96% conviction rate. I certainly wouldn't brag about that...it would make me look a fool. If we are not convicting the innocent, shouldn't the rate be lower? Florida prefers to convict the innocent rather than allow the guilty go free. Isn't this unconstitutional?

Posted by: | May 12, 2007 5:14:54 PM

Dear Dr. Berman, I was (and still am) a victim of the Ohio judicial system in Cincinnati. The court and the attorneys it appointed to represent me violated every Constitutional and Statutory right I had in order to coerce me into a Plea Bargain. And now, as I attempt to seek relief AFTER THE FACT, I am astounded at the level of hostility I have received at every level of the government. What might you recommend to someone who wishes to clear his name so he might return to work, but who has fallen victim to a dozen lawyers and has had his pro se cases arbitrarily dimissed by the courts? Is there simply no justice in Ohio and no hope for men like myself? I appreciate your time and attention, Dr. Berman. Sincerely, John Carl Robbins, Mesa, Arizona.

Posted by: John Carl Robbins | Dec 13, 2007 5:13:56 PM


Judge Finds DA Investigator Innocent
EXCLUSIVE: Judge Finds DA Investigator Innocent
Exclusively from kesq.com

A judge found major problems in the way the Riverside County District Attorney's office investigated a high-profile case. The same judge gave a rare "finding of innocence" to a former DA Investigator once accused of beating his wife.

This finding could impact cases in Desert Hot Springs and ongoing FBI investigations.
Former DA investigator Luis Bolanos has reason to be relieved now that a Superior Court judge finds there was "no credible evidence" against him and that he is "factually innocent" after a 2005 arrest for allegedly beating his wife and lying under oath.

The Riverside County District Attorney's office is singled out for having "no reasonable cause" to believe the charges against Bolanos were ever true. And, the State Attorney General's office is targeted by the judge for "rubber stamping" an "incomplete investigation."

"I'd like to get my 3 years back, my family's 3 years back. I'd like to give my children the quality of life that we had, prior to this nightmare starting," said Bolanos. "I'd like to be able to get all that back. I would like the individuals that caused this to have to be held accountable for what they did. I just think it's time. It's just amazing how they've been able to hide amongst themselves and protect each other at whatever cost."

Before apparently wiping out his entire family in a 2005 massacre, DA Investigator David McGowan was Bolanos' former partner. Bolanos filed an affadvit stating that their bosses illegally pressured McGowan to change reports in the case involving former Desert Hot Springs Police Officer David Gallardo.

Gallardo says he lost his job in an attempt to cover up major problems of corruption and sexual crimes inside the DHS Police force. The DA's office went after Bolanos in 2005, arresting and firing him.

Here's the rest of the KESQ.coms story. Video included.
http://www.kesq.com/Global/story.asp?S=7516703


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Posted by: Wow! | Dec 24, 2007 10:22:46 PM

Part 28: Judge Finds DA Investigator Innocent



By Nathan Baca
News Channel 3

A judge has found major problems in the way the Riverside County District Attorney's office investigated a high-profile case.

The same judge gave a rare "finding of innocence" to a former DA Investigator once accused of beating his wife.

This finding could impact cases in Desert Hot Springs and ongoing FBI investigations.

Former DA investigator Luis Bolanos has reason to be relieved now that a Superior Court judge finds there was "no credible evidence" against him and that he is "factually innocent" after a 2005 arrest for allegedly beating his wife and lying under oath.

The Riverside County District Attorney's office is singled out for having "no reasonable cause" to believe the charges against Bolanos were ever true.

And, the State Attorney General's office is targeted by the judge for "rubber stamping" an "incomplete investigation."

"I'd like to get my 3 years back, my family's 3 years back. I'd like to give my children the quality of life that we had, prior to this nightmare starting," said Bolanos. "I'd like to be able to get all that back. I would like the individuals that caused this to have to be held accountable for what they did. I just think it's time. It's just amazing how they've been able to hide amongst themselves and protect each other at whatever cost."

Before apparently wiping out his entire family in a 2005 massacre, DA Investigator David McGowan was Bolanos' former partner.

Bolanos filed an affadvit stating that their bosses illegally pressured McGowan to change reports in the case involving former Desert Hot Springs Police Officer David Gallardo.

Gallardo says he lost his job in an attempt to cover up major problems of corruption and sexual crimes inside the DHS Police force.

The DA's office went after Bolanos in 2005, arresting and firing him.

But key witnesses told News Channel 3 and the FBI that Bolanos' ex-wife Jolie was used by the DA's office in a slanted investigation against Bolanos.

Olga Bates who was a witness in the Bolanos case said, "She purjured herself and she hasn't even got a slap on the wrist and this man for two years has been crucified. Where is the justice? where is the justice?"

The Deputy Attorney General who prosecuted Bolanos had a history with him:

During the 2002 investigation of DA Investigator Dan Riter for shooting a man in Coachella, Michael Murphy with the State Attorney General's office refused to listen to evidence from then - sheriff's investigator Luis Bolanos that would have cleared Dan Riter of murder charges according to Bolanos.

Riter was sentenced to several years in prison.

But with his new finding of innocence, Bolanos and his attorney says they're still waiting for an apology letter.

"I don't think an apology letter is in the mail unless and until the thing makes its way perhaps through the federal court or we find out about any appeal on the finding of factual innocence," said Bolanos' attorney Ulrich McNulty.

The District Attorney's office says that DA Rod Pacheco is out of the office until January 2nd and not available for comment.

With Bolanos' finding of innocence, his mugshot and arrest record will soon be destroyed.

Posted by: Luis | Jan 10, 2008 10:39:50 AM

Riverside Superior Court judge issues "Very rare" Factual Finding of Innocence to Senior Investigator Luis Bolaños. As a result, he is 100% exonerated and vindicated by Riverside Superior Court. Judge SLAMS Riverside County District Attorney's office for conducting an incomplete investigation which resulted in the Attorney General's office "Rubber Stamping" this incomplete investigation. Lead investigator Candette Hammond developed an "inappropriate" relationship with Bolaños' ex-wife (Jolie Bolaños/Alfego/Morgan/Ryan/Ongley) and lied in the report that led to the attempted prosecution of Senior Investigator Luis Bolaños. FBI and Grand Jury Investigates Riverside D.A.'s office
Chthppnz | July 05, 2008
"The straw that broke the camel's back was a statement he made that good prosecutors win their cases, but it takes a great prosecutor to put an innocent man in prison," Baugh said in a recent telephone interview. "The statement was one of the most offensive things I ever heard."

Several Assembly Republicans were present when Pacheco made the statement in a meeting room at the Capitol, and shortly thereafter, they moved to recall him as Assembly minority leader in April 1999.
Chthppnz | July 05, 2008
Riverside District Attorney Rod Pacheco proudly bragged:

"Good prosecutors win their cases, but it takes a great prosecutor to put an innocent man in prison"

Posted by: Riverside | Aug 7, 2008 9:40:32 PM

Part 4: Did McGowan's partner know too much?


Related Links

Part 5: D.A.'s Chief Investigator retires








By Nathan Baca
NewsChannel 3

Is former District Attorney Investigator Luis Bolaños the man who knew too much about the possible cause of partner David McGowan's murder-suicide?

McGowan shot his wife, three children, and his mother before killing himself in his mountain home.

"He confided in me that he was being pressured by Chief Clay Hodson of the D.A.'s and Assistant Chief Rick Nelson to change his findings in an investigation involving numerous police officers from Desert Hot Springs," Bolaños says.

Four officers were fired in Desert Hot Springs for filing false reports. Bolaños says McGowan was pressured to say they were guilty.

Before McGowan's funeral, family and friends asked Luis Bolaños to deliver the eulogy.

Bolaños says he knew McGowan feared losing his job if he didn't change his investigation findings. Work-related problems were quickly dismissed by the District Attorney's office led by Grover Trask at the time.

Bolaños' bosses demanded they read the eulogy before the service.

"He asks me ‘is that the eulogy?' I said ‘yes sir' that is. And then his next statement was ‘May I read it?' And I just knew where this came from. I looked at Clay and I told him the same thing I told Chief Hodson. ‘No sir, respectfully, no.'"

People leaving the funeral recalled who spoke at the service.

"Just a real represented service," one attendee said recalling the list of authorities who were there.

Bolaños says his bosses were afraid he would mention McGowan's work problems in the eulogy.

"Chief Clay Hodson had two investigators standing by the podium ready to pull me off the podium if I said anything inappropriate during the eulogy.

D.A.'s office spokesperson Ingrid Wyatt says they don't comment on employment actions or any allegations contained therein.

Posted by: M. Andrews | Oct 3, 2008 7:42:31 PM

I am seeing in the above comments the same issues that are a problem in the Courts. We must stop and think that the Constitutio was formed to support a fair system therefore, anyone relieved of conviction due to a Constitutional violation should not be presumed guilty simply because they got off on a technicality. If the Constitution was violated to convict a person then the Contitutional violataion is a crime in itself and had the violation not occurred the person may have been found innocent and possibly factually innocent. If the Prosecution with all its resources and training cannot find someone guilty without violating their rights which contitutes unethical behavior and possibly violations of laws by the Prosecution, then that person should not be considered guilty for any purpose. The Prosecuors have the scale stacked in their favor when going to trial and a defendant should not be subject to any consideration or future punishment for anything the Prosecution could not get a conviction on. Do to this unfair stacking on the side of the Prosecution is why many innocent people are being sent to prison daily. Anyone not convicted should be considered innocent.

Posted by: Peter Navarro | Oct 13, 2008 11:37:58 AM

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Posted by: | Oct 14, 2008 11:22:01 PM

"Perhaps Mr. [Rod] Pacheco (pictured) and Mr. [Michael] Jeandron should re-read the Mission Statement and remember they are public officials and the public they serve has the right to know," News Channel 3 News Director Robert Smith said.

Posted by: Gary | Oct 28, 2008 9:02:46 AM

Deputy D.A.'s Refusal to Talk to KESQ and the D.A.'s Response

Posted: Jan 6, 2009 05:07 PM PST





Deputy D.A.'s refusal to speak with KESQ-TV

Deputy District Attorney Lisa DiMaria refused to speak with News Channel 3 about the Kevin Brom case Tuesday at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.

She did speak with at least one other member of the media, so we assume this is a continuing effort by the Riverside County District Attorney's office to keep you, our viewers, in the dark.

This has been going on for months.

The DA's office refuses to share public information with our news station because it doesn't approve of how we cover stories and investigations involving the District Attorney's office.

We feel you have a right to know this.

D.A.'s office response

Our prosecutors use their discretion when determining whether or not to speak to members of the media. They make those decisions based on their own experiences with the reporter or station without compromising the integrity of the criminal justice system.

We encourage your station to report that the District Attorney's office is part of a unanimous law enforcement community in the Coachella Valley that believes for the past decade your station has engaged in slanted coverage of law enforcement and thereby cannot rely on your station or its representatives to treat law enforcement personnel or victims fairly or honestly.

Furthermore, we encourage your station to report that the unanimous Coachella Valley law enforcement community sent a letter to your station's General Manager in an attempt resolve these issues but received no response. Instead, your station continues to disparage law enforcement agencies during your newscast and on your website and that type of behavior does not advance an open and honest dialogue about your station's coverage.

Michael Jeandron
Public Information Officer, Riverside County District Attorney's Office

Posted by: Galvin | Jan 12, 2009 9:18:11 AM

How can the d.a. attempt to control the media. What arrogance. It is not uncommon for the d.a. to involve himself in cover ups and prosecutorial misconduct. Herman Atkins is one of many to be wrongfully convicted by the d.a. engaging in misconduct. Had it no been for dna, he would still be wrongfully imprisoned. Prosecutorial misconduct is a common occurance in Riverside County, unfortunatly several judges allow it to go unchecked. The latest deputy d.a. to get his hand caught in the cookie jar is Richard Necochea. Unfortunatly, the State Bar choose no further action.

Posted by: Citizen14 | Feb 7, 2009 8:38:55 PM

Riverside deputy d.a. joins Richard Necochea in being found commiting prosecutorial misconduct and Brady violations. It was recently upheld by the appellate court case #E046082. This behavior is common in Riverside County and is ignored by the state bar. They also go uncheck by D.A. Rod Pacheco and continue to work for the d.a.'s office.

Posted by: Citizen14 | Mar 10, 2009 8:04:40 PM

RIVERSIDE COUNTY GRAND JURY FINDS ROD PACHECO'S OFFICE IN NEED OF SERIOUS REPAIR. DEPUTY D.A.S HONG AND NECOCHEA HAVE BEEN LESS THAN HONEST IN THEIR SELF REPORTING TO THE STATE BAR REGARDING BRADY VIOLATIONS AND PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT. YET, THE CALIFORNIA STATE BAR TREATS THEM WITH KID GLOVES.

Posted by: Citizen14 | May 24, 2009 5:34:23 AM

Riverside County District Attorney: Chief DDA Linda Dunn and DDA Amy Glaudini also routinely violate Brady and destroy exculpatory evidence to win convictions of persons they know or suspect to be innocent.

Posted by: gomez | Jun 6, 2009 8:04:29 PM

Riverside District Attorney Rod Pacheco proudly bragged:

"Good prosecutors win their cases, but it takes a great prosecutor to put an innocent man in prison"

Posted by: Vic | Aug 14, 2009 11:59:25 PM

A former high-ranking prosecutor is suing Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco, saying he forced her to resign because she refused to support his 2006 bid for office.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Eileen Hunt also states Pacheco ignored her claims that an investigator and prosecutor in his office had acted dishonestly.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Riverside County Superior Court.

"Pacheco's relentless campaign against her was blatant retaliation for her refusal to endorse his candidacy for district attorney, and also because she insisted upon full compliance with her legal and ethical obligations as an attorney," the lawsuit states.

Pacheco denied Hunt's claims Thursday and vowed to take the case to trial rather than settling it.

"Lawsuits are sometimes brought by people who want to get money from the taxpayers... and it's an attempt to retaliate against me and the office," Pacheco said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Hunt, who left the office in March after 20 years, declined to comment Thursday on the lawsuit. She now lives in New Hampshire.

Hunt had specialized in prosecuting crimes against children, including abuse and murder.

The attorney who filed the lawsuit, Nathan Goldberg, of Los Angeles, did not return calls seeking comment.

The lawsuit also names Riverside County as a defendant. It claims Pacheco violated the state labor code by demanding political support from his staff, committed gender discrimination by treating Hunt differently than male employees, and violated Hunt's civil rights.

Riverside County spokesman Ray Smith said it would be premature to comment on the lawsuit. "We will handle this case as we do all cases that involve the county," he said.

The suit seeks unspecified damages plus attorney fees and costs. The case has been assigned to Riverside County Superior Court Judge Douglas E. Weathers. A hearing is scheduled for March 23, 2010.

Political Nod

Hunt's lawsuit says she took medical leave, then decided to resign. She said her decision to leave came after three job relocations in 20 months, work-hour monitoring that was applied to her but not a male colleague, and disregard for her warnings about possible misconduct by an investigator and a prosecutor.

Hunt's lawsuit said the campaign against her started before Pacheco, a former state assemblyman, was district attorney. She declined to endorse him in August 2004. He ran in 2006.

Hunt claimed Pacheco told her: "Eileen, people make choices every day -- yesterday, today, tomorrow -- and, there are consequences for our choices."

Hunt, 54, received an unfavorable review in July 2005 from Assistant District Attorney Randall Tagami.

She said Tagami told her: "Come on, you can figure it out. Rod told me to set you up so he could get rid of you."

Tagami, who left the office in 2007, did not return a phone call Thursday seeking comment.

Hunt also said when she spoke to then-district attorney Grover Trask in April 2006 about Pacheco's treatment of her, Trask told her to apologize for not giving Pacheco the endorsement. Trask did not return a phone call Thursday seeking comment.

Pacheco said Hunt was an at-will employee and he could have fired her without cause after he took office in January 2007.

"If it was a 'relentless campaign,' it doesn't make any sense," he said. "We would have been able to fire her for no reason, and she wasn't. She retired."

Hunt had been named a felony "prosecutor of the year" in her office and was promoted to chief deputy district attorney in 1999.

She was a member and chairwoman of a team that reviewed child deaths in Riverside County from 1994 to 2009, and had reviewed and evaluated more than 1,500 child deaths. She has been recognized nationally for her expertise on prosecuting crimes against children.

management Style

Since Pacheco took office in January 2007, more than five-dozen prosecutors -- some with decades of experience -- have left the district attorney's office. Those who left said one reason was Pacheco's rigid management style.

A county grand jury report in May said Pacheco's staff operates "under a pervasive climate of fear and intimidation." Pacheco rejected the grand jury report finding.

Hunt said in her lawsuit she was transferred to Indio in July 2006, after telling Pacheco she was in escrow for a home the lawsuit only says is in "Laguna," and that would require a five-hour commute.

She believed the transfer was permanent, and bought a home in the desert. Her moving costs were paid by the county.

In February 2007, Hunt was assigned another job that allowed her to keep her desert home but required her to commute to Riverside and Temecula about three days a week.

In May 2008, the lawsuit says, Hunt's job was moved back to Riverside.

"This meant the plaintiff had been geographically moved three times in 20 months, which was unheard of in the district attorney's office," the lawsuit claims.

Bolanos Case

Pacheco denied Hunt's claim that she complained to him in April 2006 about a district attorney investigator who may have lied on a police report. "That's not true...I never had that discussion," Pacheco said Thursday.

Hunt claimed she brought up the matter about the investigator again in early May. "She reiterated to Mr. Pacheco that it was cut and dry, the investigator had prepared a false report."

Under the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Brady v Maryland decision, prosecutors have a duty to disclose evidence helpful to the accused, including the credibility of a witness. Hunt said Pacheco told her not to disclose anything to defense attorneys in the unidentified case.

Pacheco said there was a system set up in 2006, when Trask was district attorney, to review possible Brady violations and she did not follow that policy, he said.

Hunt said in her lawsuit she did not know at the time that the same investigator was the subject of similar allegations in a case that was under review by the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office. That case involved an investigation that resulted in the dismissal and filing of criminal charges against an unidentified employee.

Luis Bolanos, a former district attorney investigator was fired in 2005. Bolanos has been in a protracted legal battle since then with Riverside County and the district attorney's office.

"I believe it is a logical conclusion that this is in reference to the Bolanos matter," the former investigator's attorney, Ulrich R. McNulty, said by phone Thursday after reviewing Hunt's lawsuit.

Bolanos has been declared factually innocent of felony criminal complaints of spousal battery and perjury. But he is still fighting his dismissal.

Bolanos has sued Riverside County and district attorney investigator Candette Hammond, among others, in federal court. The next hearing is Oct. 26. McNulty said Thursday that Bolanos told him the FBI and U.S. attorney's office investigation had concluded without any action being taken.

Another Reprimand

Hunt's lawsuit also says she was reprimanded in October 2008 for the dismissal of a onetime felony infant-killing case that had been reduced to a misdemeanor.

"What made this latest reprimand so hurtful, and appalling, was that the plaintiff had devoted her career to holding those who harmed children accountable," the lawsuit said.

She said a "junior" deputy district attorney had reduced the case from a felony to a misdemeanor. She said the prosecutor lied to his supervisors and claimed the judge had reduced the charge on his own initiative.

She said she brought it up with Assistant District Attorney Chuck Hughes, but no action was taken against the prosecutor. He was eventually promoted by Pacheco despite an overwhelming vote by chief deputies and supervising deputies against advancing him.

Pacheco said he could not discuss the personnel matter about the unidentified prosecutor.

"If this case was so important to her, why did she dismiss it?" Pacheco asked. "She is the one who handled the case and dismissed it, and now she is blaming someone else."

Hunt said in her lawsuit the reduction of the charge left the case in such a bad legal state that it had to be dismissed.

Two days before the case was dismissed, the deputy district attorney she had complained about took part in making a video "with ADA Hughes and Mr. Pacheco wherein they dressed up as Batman and Robin. This video was then distributed via e-mail to all district attorney employees."

Pacheco said Thursday he was briefly in the video as himself. "I was not dressed as Batman or Robin," he said. "What does that have to do with the lawsuit, other than to smear us?"

He could not recall for certain if the video was created for either an awards banquet or a holiday party.

Posted by: Clay | Sep 26, 2009 12:17:23 AM

Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco proudly bragged:

"Good prosecutors win their cases, but it takes a great prosecutor to put an innocent man in prison"

Posted by: Clay | Oct 6, 2009 6:47:46 PM

What a shocker. Pacheco is sued by former Chief Deputy D.A. She alleges Pacheco knowingly ignored Brady issues in his office. The hits keep coming for the worst D.A. since Nilfong.

Posted by: Citizen14 | Oct 8, 2009 6:43:16 PM

California's Attorney General is now scrutinizing perjury allegations against DA Investigator Candette Hammond.

Internal affairs documents reveal Candette Hammond's supervisors at the DA's Office believed she made up an entire interview while investigating a criminal case.

In one of those questionable cases, the State Attorney General's office arrested former District Attorney Investigator Luis Bolanos in 2005 for domestic violence and perjury, based on reported evidence compiled by Candette Hammond. But, the case was so weak, it never went to trial.

The prosecutor on the case against Bolanos was Deputy Attorney General Michael Murphy from the San Diego office. Now, Murphy is handling the investigation against Candette Hammond. This case has come full circle.

Bolanos explains, "The history that Mr. Murphy and I have is clearly a conflict of interest for him, as the man who tried to prosecute me and the one that lost the appellate decision when the court gave me a finding of factual innocence."

As first reported on KESQ.com, during the 2002 investigation of D.A. Investigator Dan Riter for shooting a man in Coachella, Deputy Attorney General Murphy refused to listen to evidence from Bolanos that would have cleared Riter of murder charges, according to Bolanos. Riter is now in prison.

Local defense attorney Shaffer Cormell handles many of the same types of cases Candette Hammond was involved in.

Cormell gives his legal advice to people Hammond investigated, "What they want to do is make sure they consult the attorney that represented them initially on their case, and see how she played into that investigation."

Cormell adds, "One of the things when you have allegations of perjury, once you have these types of allegations, though, everything they've had their hands involved in, everything they have participated in, because they're really an intimate part of the DA's investigation in a domestic violence case. It's important for them to have their attorney evaluate their case based upon this new information that's coming out."

Riverside Sheriff's detectives worked the investigation against Candette Hammond these past few months. They handed it off to Palm Springs Police since that is where the alleged perjury happened. The State Attorney General's office tells us it just received the investigation files Tuesday.

Sources close to the Sheriff's Department investigation tell News Channel 3 there is enough in their findings for search and arrest warrants.

Last week, Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco's office told us they have "no comment" on this case.

Posted by: Recall Rod | Oct 22, 2009 8:50:17 PM

PALM SPRINGS - California's Attorney General is now scrutinizing perjury allegations against DA Investigator Candette Hammond.

Internal affairs documents reveal Candette Hammond's supervisors at the DA's Office believed she made up an entire interview while investigating a criminal case.

In one of those questionable cases, the State Attorney General's office arrested former District Attorney Investigator Luis Bolanos in 2005 for domestic violence and perjury, based on reported evidence compiled by Candette Hammond. But, the case was so weak, it never went to trial.

The prosecutor on the case against Bolanos was Deputy Attorney General Michael Murphy from the San Diego office. Now, Murphy is handling the investigation against Candette Hammond. This case has come full circle.

Bolanos explains, "The history that Mr. Murphy and I have is clearly a conflict of interest for him, as the man who tried to prosecute me and the one that lost the appellate decision when the court gave me a finding of factual innocence."

As first reported on KESQ.com, during the 2002 investigation of D.A. Investigator Dan Riter for shooting a man in Coachella, Deputy Attorney General Murphy refused to listen to evidence from Bolanos that would have cleared Riter of murder charges, according to Bolanos. Riter is now in prison.

Local defense attorney Shaffer Cormell handles many of the same types of cases Candette Hammond was involved in.

Cormell gives his legal advice to people Hammond investigated, "What they want to do is make sure they consult the attorney that represented them initially on their case, and see how she played into that investigation."

Cormell adds, "One of the things when you have allegations of perjury, once you have these types of allegations, though, everything they've had their hands involved in, everything they have participated in, because they're really an intimate part of the DA's investigation in a domestic violence case. It's important for them to have their attorney evaluate their case based upon this new information that's coming out."

Riverside Sheriff's detectives worked the investigation against Candette Hammond these past few months. They handed it off to Palm Springs Police since that is where the alleged perjury happened. The State Attorney General's office tells us it just received the investigation files Tuesday.

Sources close to the Sheriff's Department investigation tell News Channel 3 there is enough in their findings for search and arrest warrants.

Last week, Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco's office told us they have "no comment" on this case.

Posted by: Recall Rod | Oct 22, 2009 8:52:42 PM

A former investigator with the Riverside County District Attorney's Office is the target of a criminal investigation.

Recently retired D.A. Senior Investigator Candette Hammond is accused of perjury.

News Channel 3 has confirmed Sheriff's detectives handed over the case just days ago to the Palm Springs Police Department.

Candette Hammond is not under arrest tonight. But, she soon could be. And, dozens of criminal cases this DA investigator took part in her years of service are now in question.

According to internal affairs reports obtained by News Channel 3, Hammond first came under suspicion in 2006. Her immediate supervisors at the DA's office concluded she made up an entire interview while investigating a criminal case.

They brought the matter up to then Chief Deputy District Attorney Eileen Hunt. When Hunt told District Attorney Rod Pacheco about it, she claims in a recent lawsuit Pacheco told her "don't disclose anything." The DA's office denies this ever happened, calling Hunt a disgruntled ex-employee.

Hammond targeted former District Attorney Investigator Luis Bolanos for investigation. The State Attorney General's office arrested him in 2005 for domestic violence and perjury.

After losing his job, and his livelihood, a judge determined the case against Bolanos should have never seen the light of day.

Bolanos speaks out, "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that because of Rod Pacheco, and his directions, there are individuals in custody right now that do not deserve to be there. For this man to supervise and direct, I could be sitting and talking to you in jail right now. Now, who would have listened to me then?"

We interviewed Olga Bates May of 2007. She knew Bolano's ex-wife. Bates says the DA's office ignored her when she told them the ex-wife admitted lying to her about the charges and the gifts she received from Hammond.

"I was interviewed by two FBI agents and they were amazed that after my letter of complaint to the District Attorney about Candette's investigation and her behavior, that no one bothered to talk to me from that office," said Bates.

The District Attorney's office discounts Bolanos as another disgruntled ex-employee.

David Downing is a former prosecutor and now a superior court judge. He testified in support of Luis Bolanos to get his named cleared.

Downing later claimed the DA's office tried to commit the act of "witness intimidation" against him. They call Downing's words "irresponsible." The DA's office claims Downing is yet another supposed disgruntled ex-employee.

The Sheriff's Department in Palm Desert handed over the Candette Hammond case to Al Franz with Palm Springs Police because much of the alleged perjury happened in that city.

The fate of dozens of criminal cases handled by Investigator Hammond now hang in the balance. But, Bolanos says his life is already ruined.

"I lost the ability to care for my kids. I haven't been able to take care of my kids for the past 5 years. Destroyed me. That's what Mrs. Hammond means to me."

News Channel 3 received a response late Friday afternoon from John Hall at the DA's Office. It reads: "The District Attorney's Office has no comment on this inquiry."

We have in depth reporting of this investigation on our website, KESQ.com. Just go to the home tab at the top left of your screen and in the section titles "Special Reports," click on "Inside The DA's Office"

Posted by: Recall Rod | Oct 22, 2009 8:56:18 PM

Google "Many Small Fission Nukes at the WTC"

Posted by: David Howard | Dec 23, 2009 12:15:31 PM

To whom it may concern 11-18-10
From buddy lee George 
12016 gladhill ave
La mirada ca 90638-1505
Trial ended 8-15-09 the verdict

Enclosed in this letter is information
Regarding a wrongful conviction on
Case# VA107160
The trial was held at Norwalk superior
Court located in Norwalk California 
The Honorable judge Roger Ito division S
Listed below is reasons why and enclosed in this writing is evidence Were all the evidence in my case had been destroyed 3 to 5 months before the trial it's a email from the detective to the district attorney in my case disclosing the date evidence was destroyed 3 to 5  months before the trial
1.) my due process rights were violated
2.) I supoened 5 officers only one showed up and that was detective hakala out of Whittier police department he was the lead detective and the expert witness 
3.)their was bias involved with the processing of evidence because he used his own lab were the evidence had also been destroyed 3 to 5 months before the trial. 
4.) the detective stated during the trial 
He removed the drugs before the pre search video because he had a dog their was no dog
5.) right before the trial there was a conflict of interest with the attorneys that were representing me they violated attorney client privilege by having a meeting with the city of la mirada with out my permission nor knowledge were my case was discussed
6.) the attorneys name was Henry salcido out of long beach
7.) Henry salcido had two retired district attorneys working for him that were overfimilararity with detectives involved in my case 
8.) these attorneys told me they don't care if I'm innocent or guilty and that I should take a deal under the condition
I move out of la mirada when I get out
9.) Henry salcido told me if I gave home 180.000 and sign over the deed to our home he said he is best friends with steve cooley he could also make this case disappear 
10.) when the trial started the attorney I hired Joanne alberry out of riverside dident have enough time to familiarize her self with the case
11.) district attorney kang the Los Angeles county district attorney had me charged with prison priors and strikes I dident have and it was not until after the verdict did she admit her mistakes  email below is evidence of 
Were the evidence was destroyed
12.) I was charged with possession for sales when no drugs were found in my possession and no money was recovered 
13.) cruel and unusual punishment
14.) violation of my due process rights
15.) negligence 
16.) malpractice 
17.) wrongful conviction
18.) misrepresentation  
Please consider looking into this thanks
Respectfully submitted 
Buddy George 
19.) the first search warrant was denied whittier narcotics came in any way
20.) the 2nd search warrant was done with the name of Walter Eugene Farris 
A guy who has never stepped foot in our home  

Buddy George - VA107160From: joanne alberry
View Contact To: LAURIE YTARTE -----------------
-------------------------------------------------------------
-- Laurie,here is the email from the Detective 
telling the court that all the property was
destroyed. Sorry about all of it. Feel free to mail
me any payments you can at my office address
4229 Main St Suite 4 Riverside CA 92501 I will
let you know when I find an attorney who will
take on a governemtn entity. good luck to you
and Buddy,Joanne ---------- Forwarded message
----------From: Date: Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 7:23
AMSubject: Fw: Buddy George - VA107160To:
joannealberry@gmail.com Hi Joanne, Per our
conversation, here is the email from Detective
Hakala confirming that the evidence was
destroyed. I will request that our matter be taken
off calendar today. Thanks. ----------------------
Forwarded by Miriam Kang/DAUsers/NLADA on
09/25/2009 07:22 AM --------------------------- To:
cc: Subject: RE: Buddy George - VA107160 I
contacted our central property and the items
seized in the Buddy George case (408-15814-
0460-184) were dispoed on 05-29-09. Any other
questions just let me know. Eric ---------------------
-----------------------------------------------------------
From: MKang@da.lacounty.gov
[mailto:MKang@da.lacounty.gov]Sent: Thu
9/24/2009 2:49 PMTo: Hakala, Eric J.Subject:
Buddy George - VA107160 Hi Detective Hakala,
Just as a reminder, please email me a letter
confirming that the the property booked into
evidence for this case has been disposed of and
the date of disposal. Thanks so much!
Sincerely,Miriam KangDeputy District
AttorneyTel: 562-807-7211 

Posted by: Buddy George | Nov 23, 2010 1:14:26 AM

Richard Necochea has not done any high profile cases due to being in violation of Brady and prosecutorial misconduct.

Posted by: Richard | Jul 14, 2012 6:16:31 AM

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