The Times-Standard reports that Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos is making a secret list of of law enforcement officials “whose character and honesty have come into question.”
So because we like to help–we’re givers, you know, deep down inside–we thought we’d get the ball rolling with a list of people in Gallegos’ own office against whom dishonesty has been not only alleged but judicially substantiated.
Our story begins with a routine DUI arrest in Ferndale and ends almost two years later with a California court of appeal tossing the case after finding that DA Investigator Wayne Cox and Deputy DAs Ben McLaughlin and Randy Mailman committed prosecutorial misconduct and violated the defendant’s constitutional rights.
A subsequent opinion upheld these findings and added Assistant DA Wes Keat–the number-two guy in Gags’ office–to the list of perpetrators.
The appellant, Rocky Crowl, was arrested in Ferndale in 2009 for allegedly driving under the influence. At the time of the arrest, the defendant and his two alleged passengers–Rocky’s girlfriend, named Jessica Sneed, and Rocky’s cousin Christopher Crowl who bore a “ballpark” resemblance to Rocky, according to court records–were out of the vehicle, and it was unclear which Crowl had actually been driving. Was it the drunk Rocky or the sober Christopher?
Sneed and Christopher didn’t help the prosecution’s case a bit when both testified at the preliminary hearing that it had been Christopher, not Rocky, behind the wheel. But this setback was only temporary, because the resourceful men and women from the DA’s Office had a solution: Tell the witnesses that if they testify at trial you’ll throw them in prison for perjury–or, to use the formal term for that activity, intimidate the shit out of the witnesses.
Cox had them arrested (over a 3-day weekend) and both charged with felony perjury and being an accessory to a felony. And then, maybe just because some things never change, McLaughlin offered them a deal in exchange for guilty pleas. Both refused.
Just how unusual was it to arrest and charge defense witnesses with perjury? The trial judge said that in 12 years on the bench, he’d never seen anything quite like it. According to the appellate decision,
We need not ignore the clear inference that the nearly unheard of conduct by the prosecution in this case was designed to intimidate these witnesses and keep them from testifying for defendant.
The court concluded
that the evidence in the record supports the trial court’s finding that the prosecution’s unnecessary urgency in arresting, forcefully interrogating, and filing perjury and accessory after the fact charges against Sneed and Christopher resulted in effectively precluding these previously willing defense witnesses from testifying at defendant’s trial. This was misconduct.
The court notified the California State Bar of its findings of misconduct by McLaughlin, Mailman and Keat.
Oh, and it also affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the DUI case on the ground that the prosecution violated the defendant’s constitutional right to due process by intimidating defense witnesses.
So there’s four names for Gallegos’ Brady list. We’d put Gags on there too, except it’s pretty hard to question the character and honesty of someone who has neither.
Filed under: Humboldt County Tagged: | another story Thad Greenson will never write, Ben McLaughlin, Brady bunch, Ferndale, Humboldt County District Attorney, Paul Gallegos, prosecutorial misconduct, Randy Mailman, Rocky Crowl, violation of constitutional rights, Wayne Cox, Wes Keat, witness intimidation