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Monday, November 10, 2014

More on the Orange County snitching scandal

The revelations that the California Orange County District Attorney's Office has been secretly using jailhouse snitches without disclosing information to defense counsel has led to some stunning developments, including dropped homicide cases and the release of a man held for two murders.  As Radley Balko at the Washington Post put it, "Incredibly, Orange County prosecutors appear to be ready to let accused murderers and other alleged felons go free rather than open up practices and tactics to scrutiny."  In an article entitled "Here is why an admitted killer walked free," the OC Register explains one case:

"Isaac John Palacios admits he shot and killed a rival gang member, pulling the trigger at least 15 times in a Santa Ana driveway. Last month, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, a crime that often carries a life sentence.

But Palacios walked free hours later from the county jail. Despite the guilty plea, Orange County prosecutors agreed to release the 30-year-old gang member, giving him credit for time served, and dropping charges against him in a second gang killing.

The lenient deal is a casualty of the district attorney’s surreptitious use of jailhouse informants to gather information from suspects awaiting trial and the office’s tardiness in turning over evidence to the defense. This conduct came under legal attack this past year during the prosecution of Orange County’s largest mass killing case. ...

The lead prosecutor in the Palacios case, Marc Rozenberg, said he agreed to the deal, in part, because he didn't want another judge to review evidence of discovery and informant violations. One local judge already ruled prosecutors committed misconduct."