Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes and District Lawyer Todd Spitzer are busy pointing fingers at one another over a brand new scandal involving evidence-booking insurance policies, but it surely’s more and more clear that an out of doors company must take an in depth have a look at systemic issues within the county’s law-enforcement system. Individuals’s constitutional rights are in danger.
Barnes and Spitzer are new to their posts for the reason that county’s “snitch” scandal, whereby the DA and sheriff’s workplace improperly used informants to safe jailhouse confessions. This newest mess brings into query the legitimacy of dozens — maybe a whole bunch — of felony circumstances.
The Register reported final month that “practically one-third of the proof collected from February 2016 to February 2018 was booked past the company’s one-day coverage. Some bookings had been tardy by greater than a month, creating questions on chain of custody.”
The general public defender’s workplace — sadly, the one Orange County company persistently minding the shop — mentioned that 1000’s of items of proof are at subject.
This isn’t some minor bookkeeping subject. Defendants are convicted primarily based on the veracity of the proof in opposition to them. If the Sheriff’s Division didn’t file proof, or misplaced management of its chain of custody, then folks could have been wrongly convicted — or had been disadvantaged of the chance to mount the best-possible protection. Barnes didn’t inform county supervisors about the issue till the Register was about to publish a narrative, highlighting a disturbing try at secrecy.
The sheriff mentioned Spitzer ought to have recognized on condition that the Sheriff’s Division referenced the data when it despatched the DA circumstances of doable wrongdoing by deputies. Spitzer complained that he had no approach of figuring out this was a systemic downside. Barnes disciplined or fired some deputies, however Spitzer selected to not prosecute them.
As typical, the Orange County Board of Supervisors has been AWOL. A state Division of Justice probe of the snitch scandal was quietly dropped after 4 years.
Perhaps the booking scandal will alert state officers — or possibly the feds or the courts, given the constitutional-rights ramifications — that there’s bother once more in Orange County.