Friday, March 11, 2011

Don’t Mess with The OC – Top This Top Gun

Posted by CotoBlogzz

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA – Despite claims from a DUI defense law firm to provide potential clients  arrested and charged with DUI anywhere in Southern California with “aggressive legal representation they can count on,” it is fair to say that  if such charges are filed by the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) office, the promises may be just that.

Consider that over 100 law enforcement agencies within Orange County forward some 170,000 complaints per year to the OCDA,  including misdemeanor and felony cases.  Once the cases are reviewed, the OCDA rejects an average of 16% of the  total cases for a number of reasons, including shoddy work.  Turns out that about 30% of Orange County Sheriff Department (OCSD) forensics and 20% of  OCSD  cases forward to the OCDA are rejected - the highest reject rate of all cases forwarded to the OCDA by  all of  the law enforcement  agencies.

Further, nine OCDA attorney’s were honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) during  MADD’s  24th Annual Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition Luncheon held  yesterday March 10, 2011 at the Richard Nixon Library, to honor Orange County prosecutors and police officers for their outstanding contributions to the prosecution of DUI cases.

At the luncheon, nine Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) prosecutors were recognized for their assistance providing support to victims and their families and diligent efforts in criminal prosecution. Each was nominated by their OCDA supervisor or a MADD victim advocate.

Cases prosecuted by Senior Deputy District Attorneys Steve McGreevey and Robin Park, and Deputy District Attorneys Michael Carroll, Patrick Moss, Cliff Page, Rebecca Reed, and Daniel Varon included  charges ranging from felony driving under the influence causing great bodily injury to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with prior convictions. The efforts of the prosecution resulted in the defendants' convictions with sentences as high as 15 years to life in state prison. 

Senior Deputy District Attorney Susan Price and Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez were each given the Heart of MADD Award for their excellent prosecution of DUI cases.

MADD is a nationwide, non-profit organization that works to stop drunken driving, support victims, survivors, and families affected by drunken driving, and prevent underage drinking. The Orange County Chapter of MADD was formed in 1981 and offers services and education to the local community, including youth programs, victim services, and special events. MADD works closely with Orange County law enforcement agencies to support the prosecution and apprehension of those who put the public at risk by driving under the influence of alcohol.

The message is clear, don’t drink and drive in the OC, even if you think you can count on getting aggressive legal representation.  The best you can hope for is for the OCSD to forward your case to the OCDA’s office.


Go Figure...Literally!



Dear JL "Buzz" Aguirre,

In reference to the following from your second paragraph:  "Consider that over 100 law enforcement agencies within Orange County...," there is nowhere near 100 law enforcement agencies within OC. There are about 21 city police departments, the sheriff, 2 university police departments, CHP, and maybe Fish & Game might reel a duce in once in a while. 

Reference the DA's rejection rate, how many of those are due to prosecutorial inability? All too often DDA's will reject a case because they cannot win it, not because the suspect is innocent.

When DDA's lose cases, they invariably search for excuses they hope will shift blame to others rather than cite their own ineptitude. Marcia Clark's excuses for arranging OJ's playing golf outside of Pelican Bay were specious at best. Johnnie Cochran did not set OJ free. In fact, Johnnie Cochrane was a moron. Gil Garcetti, Marcia Clark and Chris Darden lost it. They were bigger morons. But for their gross ineptitude, OJ would be swinging an imagined golf club inside a Pelican Bay cell.

While I will not deny that at times cops will submit "shoddy" work (You try working 5 midnight shifts in a row with a few overtime shifts thrown in while unable to remember the last time you slept more than a few hours.), it is also true that DDA's will perform shoddily. And unless you have actual proof that "shoddy" law enforcement work products were causal of declined DUI prosecutions, you're assuming. 

Law enforcement's responsibility is to determine whether probable cause exists to believe a crime was committed and that the arrestee committed it. It is the DA's responsibility to convict. Evidence necessary to convict is not a component of probable cause to arrest. Hence, a prosecutor's opinion to not proceed against an arrestee does not infer innocence, nor does it implicate "shoddy" work. 

DUI conviction rates are not so much a function of prosecutorial ability as it is due to our legislature's removing every conceivable defense to that crime, as it should be. A DUI arrest is about as close to slam dunk as it gets. It's so easy even a caveman can win one.

Buzz, I admire prosecutors who take cases to trials in which suspects are guilty but where proving them is extremely difficult. It's not impressive that a prosecutor wins a slam dunk case.  

BTW, Debra Oberlin, former president of MADD, and Candy Lightner, its founder, were both arrested for DUI. 

Figures dont' lie - Liars hide the figures



You bring up excellent issues – some of which can be resolved through a closed-loop corrective action system, while others require an extreme culture make over, including pension reform.
With a closed-loop corrective action system, a taxpayer should be able to follow a paper trail of an incident report from inception through disposition, including whether it gets forwarded to the DA or not.  Why we have been encouraging OC law enforcement to  use what we call the eDistrictAttorney:  At least in this case, we can follow the transition of the cases from law enforcement to the OCDAs office.  We understand that the use of electronic filing is voluntary. 

The closed loop corrective action system does not explain why in the City lf Laguna Woods an investigator is assigned weeks before an incident is documented, then that incident is closed, and repeated requests to management seeking answers obfuscates matters further.  Or why there is such a discrepancy between the safest city in the county and the least safe – after all, it is the same management and the same union.

You are right that some law enforcement agencies do not submit that many cases – there are more than 40 agencies that submit more than 100 cases per year.  The point is that whether a law enforcement agency submits one case or 6000, all of the cases need to be accounted for.

You are right that there are many reasons why cases get rejected.   We continue to research the question and eDistrioctAttorney should help. However,  consider that certain agencies consistently  post relative lower rejection rates than the OCSD –  3Q2010 figures shown below including total cases and rejection rate

SANTA ANA POLICE DEPT.            6012            10%
HUNTINGTON BEACH POLICE DEPT.   4575            8%
GARDEN GROVE POLICE DEPT.            3589            6%
COSTA MESA POLICE DEPT.            3538            6%
FULLERTON POLICE DEPT.            3336            6%

As to the association fallacy, may I offer some of the same, as in:  Laguna Nigel's OCSD Deputy Waters, Arrested on Multiple DUI related crashes,  Pople Vs. Hibbs’ case, Sheriff Carona and myriad of other indictments and or convictions?

Or as Mr. Connely ,the OCSD’s  Executive Director of Independent Review,  says about OCSD accountability “Accountability means different things to different people”. We asked Mr. Connely if he was aware of tools and or metrics used by management in the department to make sure there was some sort of accountability - he knew of none.  We also asked Mr. Connely if in his tenure to date, if  he had developed a dashboard to determine actionable times that could be used for these purposes.  He had not.

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