AFRICANGLOBE – Shocking information exposing corruption the justice system in Orange County has been revealed, causing a judge to remove the OC District Attorney’s Office and all 250 prosecutors from one of the most notable cases in modern history.
On October 12, 2011, Scott Dekraai killed eight people in cold blood, including his ex-wife, at her place of work. He was apprehended wearing body armor after being stopped by police less than a mile from the Salon Meritage hair salon where the massacre took place. In addition to multiple witnesses identifying him, Dekraai admitted to the shootings. There is no question he is responsible for the mass murder. However, due to misconduct by police and prosecutors which has been discovered, the case against him is disintegrating.
Once Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals found out about the flagrant violations of Dekraii’s rights by the prosecution, he made the decision to remove the entire DA’s office from any further involvement in the case. According to the LA Times,
“The legal wrangling involved how Dekraai came to occupy a jail cell next to a prolific jailhouse informant. Prosecutors and jailers said it was a coincidence, but Dekraai’s attorney insisted it was part of a widespread operation to elicit incriminating remarks from defendants who were represented by lawyers, a violation of their rights.
Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas’ conflict of interest in the Dekraai case ‘is not imaginary,’ the judge wrote. ‘It apparently stems from his loyalty to his law enforcement partners at the expense of his other constitutional and statutory obligations.’”
The corruption does not start and end with this specific case. For decades, law enforcement and prosecutors have been colluding to fabricate and store evidence in order to secure a conviction. This system has a name – TRED. OC Weekly reported last month,
“In recent months, we’ve learned, over the objections of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), that the agency created TRED, a computerized records system in which deputies store information about in-custody defendants, including informants. Some of the data is trivial; other pieces contain vital, exculpatory evidence. But for a quarter of a century, OCSD management deemed TRED beyond the reach of any outside authority. In [the case of] Dekraai, deputies Ben Garcia and Seth Tunstall committed perjury to hide the mere existence of TRED. Those lies didn’t originate from blind loyalty, however. The concealed records show how prosecution teams slyly trampled the constitutional rights of defendants by employing informants–and then keeping clueless judges, juries and defense lawyers.”
Judge Thomas Goethals, apparently, has caught on to this system. Goethals was a homicide prosecutor and defense attorney prior to becoming a judge, so it is not surprising he picked up on the many red flags. Orange County prosecutors are not at all happy about this and have asked he be disqualified from a staggering 57 cases since February 2014. The previous three years the DA’s office has only steered him away from five cases total.
It is apparent the lawyers are doing their best to avoid the judge’s keen observation skills – and they’ve been getting away with it. According to California state law, lawyers are permitted to request to disqualify a judge without giving any reason. Understandable, as it’s doubtful a judge would be disqualified if a prosecutor simply said, “He knows we cheat, so we can’t win our case with this judge presiding.”
The Dekraai case was not the only case in which cops and prosecutors needlessly cheated when they would have obtained a conviction based on legitimate evidence. In the case of Jeanette Espeleta, courts overturned a guilty verdict after it was discovered that prosecutors had used an informant to obtain incriminating statements from Henry Rodriguez, a confessed accomplice to the murder.
Due to prosecutors taking the easy way out instead of working within the laws of their own judicial system, murder cases all over the county are falling apart. Cases in which no shortcuts were even necessary; there was enough concrete evidence provided to secure convictions, and the judicial system is protecting them. Now cold-blooded murderers are being set loose while those convicted of victimless crimes and trivial offenses sit behind bars.
This information also begs the question – how many cases in which the prosecutors cheated were the defendants innocent? If these police officers and prosecutors are this desperate for convictions, it can only be assumed that at least some innocent people are rotting in cages for absolutely no reason.
In this country the innocent are held hostage, the guilty are set free, and those responsible are above the law.
By: Mike Sawyer
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