Friday, November 21, 2014

ELMY WORKMAN: Two plea deals rejected, case goes to trial but " resolved"?

Elmy Workman was found guilty of PC 245(a)(1), assault with a deadly weapon and personal infliction of great bodily injury per PC 12022.7. - John Chiv/Words Worth

Basically, this one was not allowed to tank.

◼ Well, look at this: link - Lost Coast Outpost prints the DA's PRESS RELEASE, which DOES NOT tell the story of how Gallegos/Zach Curtis tried to tank this case.

It is a grotesque misrepresentation of the story of the verdict. You can read the lousy thing at the link. The only good thing you can say is the DA's Office finally does seem to grok that there were life-threatening injuries.

A couple of comments shed some light:
Jacqueline ZumwaltThe district attorney was going to let her plea out to an assualt charge. Angel had to get a lawyer. The judge finally denied the plea agreement and made her stand trial for a felony charge. It took Angel 3 years for justice to be served. I wish that LoCo had told more of the story. If Angel hadn't fought hard for that justice, that woman would have been let off with probation. I hope the new DA better serves the Humboldt community.

Angel DawnThank you. Allison Jackson is a hero. She took my case, probono, two hours before this crime got a three year probation result. It's sad the DA's office didn't do their job themselves. I hope Maggie Fleming can turn that office around for the better. I got lucky. Think about how many cases didn't get proper justice :/'s stomach turning

swedeIf you all would read the Chiv blog regarding this case, I don't have a link, you will learn that Gallegos twice attempted to gain a plea bargain for probation for this convicted vermin apparently falsely asserting special circumstances existed. Allison Jackson had to represent the victim because the DA was more concerned with expediting the prosecution (sic). Per the blog, Jackson represented the victim in front of Feeny and Feeny denied the plea bargain as Jackson successfully argued the special circumstances did not apply and the wounds received by the victim were evident the criminal was attempting to eviscerate her (purposeful "J" incision with severed liver, etc). A status was set for June 30th of this year. Apparently when Jackson and the victim appeared on the 30th they learned Gallegos had already in early June attempted and achieved his same plea in Reinholtzen's court. As I understand, Jackson had that matter reversed.

Jackson rightfully called out Gallegos for "forum shopping" attempting to find a judge who would approve his plea bargain attempt while totally disregarding the victims rights per a recently passed proposition requiring DAs' to notify victims of prosecutorial actions against their assailants.

It is a relief to see that this matter was finally brought to its rightful, final conclusion. We all should be relieved Gallego's time as the top law enforcement officer in this County is now numbered in the days.

Jacqueline ZumwaltExcellent Swede. Thank you for posting that info/history. Gallegos actually told Angel that she had no rights or say in what deal was made with the woman who tried to kill her.

John Chiv was the only one to cover the case as it went its tortuous way through the courts. LoCo is remiss in not pointing this out and linking people to the coverage - OR asking for a full report with a byline. As it is, you don't know the half of it. But those commenting DO.

TWO Plea Deals tossed, NOT by the Perp. BY THE COURT. Denying a victim's rights, judge shopping (BY THE DA!), a complete and utter failure to act in an ethical and transparent manner.... and yet he, the DA, no less, lectures the people of the County about their 'priorities.'

Sneaky Plea Deal fails
Allison Jackson scores another win for victim; deal between Gallegos and Sanders busted - John Chiv/Words Worth
Allison Jackson puts a crimp in secret plea deal - John Chiv/Words Worth Jul 30, 2014
Allison Jackson, who is representing the victim in the Elmy Workman case was never notified that the same plea deal that was rejected by Judge John Feeney was presented again to Judge Dale Reinholtsen. She was not also sure if Judge Reinholtsen had been given the background of the case. - John Chiv/Words Worth Jul 30, 2014
Previous plea deal rejected back on table with no victim notification; exact deal - John Chiv/Words Worth Jun 30, 2014
Judge Feeney tentatively rejects Workman plea deal; final decision is the same, case to go to jury trial - John Chiv/Words Worth Apr 15, 2014
Elmy Workman sentencing postponed again, this time defense requests continuance based on amended probation report - John Chiv/Words Worth Apr 3, 2014
Elmy Workman sentencing postponed again. - John Chiv/Words Worth Mar 20, 2014
Defense and private attorneys run the courtroom under Paul's watch? - John Chiv/Words Worth Mar 12, 2014
Another case where comments sections get out of control - Real News From The North Coast June 3, 2012
Suspect arrested after woman stabbed in Arcata - Times-Standard May 31, 2012
Blue Laker Slashed, One Arrested - Arcata Eye May 30, 2012
APD Press Release - May 29, 2012

Eureka police shooting investigation awaits DA's decision... And....

The district attorney's office will rule whether it was a justifiable homicide - Times Standard

...And, every so often, he does the right thing. Sad as it is for the families involved. It is the right choice.

DA: No Charges Will Be Filed Against Officer for Death of Tommy McClain - Andrew Goff/Lost Coast Outpost

After reviewing the report in its entirety, the District Attorney’s Office concluded that that the evidence does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an officer committed a crime. Therefore, no criminal charges will be filed against any officer arising out of the September 17, 2014, shooting of Thomas McClain.

Specifically, the evidence establishes that, on the early morning hours of September 17, 2014, Thomas McClain was in possession of a BB gun that resembled an actual firearm. Thomas McClain was carrying the BB gun in the front waistline of his pants. The BB gun was perceived as an actual firearm by law enforcement officers. On lawfully engaging with Thomas McClain, law enforcement officers directed him to put his hands up and comply with their orders. At that time, the officers observed what they believed was Thomas McClain moving his hand toward the BB gun. Believing that the BB gun was an actual firearm, and that Thomas McClain would shoot them, the officers responded and Thomas McClain was shot and killed. The perceived firearm was later determined to be an unarmed BB gun.

The District Attorney stated that: “Thomas McClain’s death is a terrible tragedy. He is mourned by his family, his friends and this community but it was not caused by any criminal activity that I can see on the part of the law enforcement officers. My heart and my prayers go out to Thomas McClain, his family and friends and the law enforcement officers involved in this terrible tragedy. It is my sincere hope that time brings comfort and solace to all.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On plea deals...

A Plea against Pleading - Conrad Black/NRO

...The percentage of federal prosecutions tried by juries declined from 19 percent in 1980 to 3 percent today, as prosecutors have huge advantages over defense counsel and throw a great raft of counts against a defendant who declines to roll over.

...In actuality, our criminal-justice system is almost exclusively a system of plea bargaining, negotiated behind closed doors and with no judicial oversight. The outcome is very largely determined by the prosecutor alone....

His premise is 'Prosecutors abuse the system to win unjust convictions.' - but we've seen the opposite here.

Knowing how it's played out here - whaddya think? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Fieldbrook homicide suspect Jason Arreaga prelim on Dec 17

The case is being prosecuted by DDA Zach Curtis. THis hearing was in Courtroom 1 with Judge John Feeney. - John Chiv/Words Worth

Monday, November 10, 2014

Arcata chef stabbing case back in court this afternoon, Co-defendants plead, get probation and community service

The question of the day is will outgoing District Attorney Paul Gallegos show up for this hearing? The last time we waited almost half an hour, while court staff and the DDA in court tried "to locate Mr. Gallegos." - John Chiv/Words Worth

Juan Ferrer, is represented by Marek Reavis, Nicholas Stoiber is represented by Jennifer Dixon and Sophie Rocheleau is represented by Benjamin Okin. They are all co-defendants in this case.

Co-defendants in Ferrer case get 3 years summary probation and 50 hours of community service - John Chiv/Words Worth
"I realize that a person died, " said Judge Reinholtsen, after he sentenced Rocheleau and Stoiber who were out of custody and stood by their attorneys. Their loved ones and friends as well as Juan Ferrer's family, who is the one charged with the stabbing that resulted in the death of Douglas Anderson-Jordet and is in custody, silently listened as Judge Reinholtsen pronounced the sentence after hearing from victim witness who read letters from the victim's family and after DA Paul Gallegos and the attorneys made brief statements.

Before he sentenced them, the Judge read the definition and penalties that could be imposed on them and advised them of the rights they were giving up by not going to trial.
Two defendants plead guilty to battery charges in Arcata fatal stabbing case - Will Houston/Times-Standard
(Defense Attorney Ben) Okin said that everyone involved in the case is a "good person," but a "catastrophic combination" of events occurred.

"I think we need to look at what Ms. Rocheleau knew at the time she acted," Okin said, further stating that Rocheleau did not know Anderson-Jordet had been stabbed when she kicked him.
Juan Ferrer who is charged with stabbing Douglas Anderson Jordet back in court on Dec 17 - John Chiv/Words Worth
DA Paul Gallegos said the family wants to proceed with a jury trial and he wants that scheduled as soon as possible.
"Doug was a victim that day...we will be victims the rest of our lives" - John Chiv/Words Worth
This is one of the heart wrenching statements in 5 letters by Douglas-Anderson Jordet's family read by victim witness representative Marybeth Bian. This statement was written by Douglas' 80 year old parents.

Pled out - 8 counts reduced to unlawful sexual intercourse, false imprisonment and human trafficking in plea offer

The plea deal offer, has yet to be accepted by Judge Reinholtsen and sentencing is scheduled for this afternoon. If it is accepted, it looks like it would result in 8 counts being reduced to three counts. - John Chiv/Words Worth

After the case being dismissed the first time, mistrial the second time, a plea deal was reached right before the third trial started for David Anderson, a suspect who was originally charged with kidnapping, rape by force, forcible oral copulation of minor victim over age of 14, sexual battery, unlawful sexual intercourse, threats to commit crime resulting in death, false imprisonment and human trafficking.

Anderson has been represented for all three trials by private defense attorney Benjamin McLaughlin, who was appointed by the court as Anderson's attorney. The case was prosecuted each time by DDA Luke Brownfield....

Sentence in human trafficking case: 9 years, 4 months - Will Houston/Times-Standard
Brownfield said in an interview with the Times-Standard that the plea deal was reached during a third trial in the case. During the first trial, other alleged "pimping and pandering" victims of Anderson's from two other California counties also testified, but Brownfield said the case was dismissed. When the district attorney's office refiled, the trial went on for about six to eight weeks before a mistrial was declared based on a statement made by a witness. Brownfield said it was about three weeks into the third trial when "we reached a negotiated deal to the human trafficking charge."

...Before the sentencing, McLaughlin asked Reinholtsen to consider waving or reducing the fines associated with the case — which included a $500,000 fine for the human trafficking charge — due to his client not having "the resources to pay any significant fines or fees."

Friday, November 07, 2014

Passing the Torch: Maggie Fleming looks to the future as district attorney

Video at KIEM-TV/News Channel 3

And, no. It's not going to become the 'watchmaggie' blog.

'Human trafficking' case sentencing continued until November 10

"One of the counts he pleaded to initially was incorrect. We were simply modifying the charging document to accurately reflect the disposition," Mr. McLaughlin told me outside court. - John Chiv/Words Worth

Elections have consequences

Multiple Humboldt Correctional Facility Inmates Released Into a Shiny, New Post-Prop 47 World - Andrew Goff/Lost Coast Outpost

On Tuesday, Californians passed Proposition 47 — AKA the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act — which reclassifies drug and theft crimes that involve less than $950 from felonies to misdemeanors.

Less than three days later, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office announced this morning that it has already freed eight qualifying inmates. There’s certainly more to come.


Will Fr. Eric's murderer go for California's Insanity Defense aka the McNaghten rule? - John Chiv/Words Worth
There is a gag order on the case. (Gary Lee Bullock) It is my understanding that usually you enter a plea of not guilty due to insanity and the Court appoints a professional to do an evaluation.

This would have to be done on the record and in the open and so we will see what happens at the pre-trial conference on December 17.

Monday, November 03, 2014

The Brain Drain Continues

Élan Firpo Moves On

Former Humboldt County District Attorney candidate Elan Firpo took her first steps in a new career today, stepping in as a partner in a prominent local firm now known as Zwerdling, Bragg, Mainzer and Firpo....

Firpo’s departure comes just weeks after her successful double murder prosecution of Bodhi Tree, who is now serving 108 years to life in state prison. Tree’s conviction wound up being Firpo’s prosecutorial swan song. She was also slated to handle the case of Gary Lee Bullock, a Garberville man accused of torturing and murdering popular St. Bernard Church Pastor Eric Freed on Jan. 1. Firpo said the hardest part of her decision to leave the office came when she called Freed’s family to tell them she’d be handing off the case.

This is a crying shame, given the absolutely decimated prosecutorial team.

What it means is - the already overburdened prosecutors are now having to handle this load. So where is Gallegos? With a little over 2 months to go, he leaves the place in an absolute shambles.

It's not going to help with putting out a welcome mat to attract new (seasoned, competent) prosecutors to the Humboldt County DA's Office, and that's a shame.