By Marisa Gerber and Paul Pringle
May 1, 2015
Responding to defense allegations of “outrageous prosecutorial misconduct,” the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has removed the prosecutor who had been spearheading the L.A. Memorial Coliseum corruption case.
In a court filing Friday, the office said it had replaced Deputy Dist. Atty. Dana Aratani and an investigator “in an abundance of caution” after defense attorneys argued that the prosecutor violated the rights of a defendant by viewing emails he exchanged with his attorney.
Aratani inadvertently read the emails after taking over the case from another prosecutor, the district attorney’s office said. The office argued that the emails were sent before the criminal probe began.
Prosecutors filed the motion after attorneys for the stadium’s former event manager and two concert promoters facing trial in the case argued that the corruption charges should be dismissed or the district attorney’s office removed.
Gary Jay Kaufman, who represents promoter Pasquale Rotella, accused Aratani of deliberately and repeatedly reading emails Rotella had sent his attorneys, including Kaufman.
“The entire case is tainted,” Kaufman said in legal paperwork filed last month. He said the prosecutor “opened, read and analyzed” confidential emails that Rotella sent his attorney the day after The Times published a story online about the district attorney’s investigation. The Coliseum scandal grew out of a series of Times reports that began in 2011.
Kaufman’s motion blamed the district attorney’s Public Integrity Division, arguing that a lack of written protocols for handling attorney-client emails “fostered an environment where the prosecutors and investigators not only reviewed attorney-client-privileged emails willy-nilly but also failed to keep any records of the privileged emails that they read.”
Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy is expected to rule at a June 8 hearing on whether to dismiss the charges or recuse the district attorney’s office.
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