By Tony Saavedra and Scott Schwebke / Staff writers
March 4, 2016 – Updated 6:08 p.m.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California jumped into the Orange County fight over jailhouse informants on Friday, filing a public records request seeking access to internal law enforcement files dating back to 1985.

ACLU staff attorney Caitlin Sanderson said the organization has been monitoring the controversy over the alleged misuse of jailhouse informants and the witholding of evidence in Orange County’s criminal justice system for the past two years.

Sanderson said Friday’s action came in response to statements by Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Sheriff Sandra Hutchens at The Orange County Register’s “Beyond the Snitch Tank” community forum that brought together the county’s criminal justice leaders Monday night.

“We were very disappointed at the tone they took with the lack of responsibility,” Sanderson said. “The idea we can just move on is very problematic.”

The county’s top prosecutor and sheriff both told the audience of more than 200 that while their agencies had made some mistakes, there was no widespread misuse of snitches or withholding of evidence favorable to the defense.

The Sheriff Department had not received the ACLU request yet, Lt. Mark Stichter said Friday morning. (Read the request)

“We obviously respect the California Public Records Act process and we will need time to review the request when it does comes to us,” Stichter said. “At this time we are not aware of the request and will also be consulting with the county counsel attorney.”

Roxi Fyad, spokeswoman for the District Attorney, said: “We have received the ACLU letter, and we will process their CPRA request under the law as we would do for any other citizen.” (Read the request)

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