By Rex Dalton
November 18, 2015 at 2:00 PM
A coalition of national legal authorities is calling for a federal investigation of the Orange County District Attorney and Sheriff’s Department for alleged systemic violations of defendants’ rights involving jail informants.
In a letter sent Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, six legal organizations, three dozen former prosecutors from across the nation, and U.S. Constitutional law authorities called the ongoing informants scandal “a crisis.”
“The constitutional rights of defendants appear to have been violated for decades in Orange County,” states the letter, which was signed by a who’s who of the legal establishment led by Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, and John Van de Kamp — a former U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, California Attorney General and Los Angeles District Attorney.
(Click here to read the letter in its entirety.)
Chemerinsky, who is a Voice of OC board member, publicly has called for a federal inquiry before. Now, along with Van de Kamp, he is joined by: The American Civili Liberties Union; California Attorneys for Criminal Justice; the National Association of Public Defense; the Constitution Project; Harvard’s Charles Ogletree; former Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti; and Elisabeth A. Semel of UC Berkeley School of Law.
“Now, it’s critical that a credible, neutral party conduct a thorough investigation of the actions of both the Sheriff’s Department and the OCDA,” the 16-page letter goes on to say.
“Otherwise, we will never know how many citizens’ constitutional rights were violated, and the public will not be able to have full confidence in our criminal justice system.”
Rackauckas’ office didn’t respond to a request for comment today on the call for a federal inquiry.
A spokesman for Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said the department is reviewing the letter and would cooperate with such a probe, as it is with other inquiries.
To read expanded article, click here.