Sunday, December 31, 2006

Spin and Reality

Quoted in the Times Standard's Year End Recap Paul Gallegos has this to say:
"While crime has continued to go down, we are still trying to catch up on the backlog of cases, especially homicides, from the past,” Gallegos said. “Hopefully, we will have tried all of them by the end of 2007.”

Gallegos described 2006 as a good budget year “because we were able to begin the slow process of rebuilding from the losses caused by the budget crisis. Unfortunately, it will take a couple of years of rebuilding to be where we need to be to do the job that we want to do. Morale is good despite the work load and the long hours.”

The biggest challenges have been dealing with the lack of resources and treatment options for the drug and alcohol addicted and the mentally, as well as the recent police shootings.

”My firm belief continues to be that if we can meaningfully address drug and alcohol abuse and addiction and mental illness, we will profoundly improve the quality of life for all people in Humboldt County,” he said. “My personal hope is that my office can assist Humboldt County in becoming ranked as one of the best places in the country to live.”

Really? The slow process of rebuilding from the losses caused by the BUDGET CRISIS?
C'mon, man. your office must be swimming in money - hundreds of thousands of dollars not being spent on all those unfilled positions, saved because all but three of your experienced prosecutors are gone. Maybe you better rehire the PR man to come up with some new BS line for the New Year.

Morale is good? IN the DA's Office? Is that why they are all leaving?

"The biggest challenges have been dealing with the lack of resources and treatment options for the drug and alcohol addicted and the mentally, as well as the recent police shootings?" Are you kidding?

The North Coast Journal is more in touch with the reality of the situation: "THE YEAR IN GALLEGOS - A take-no-prisoners election challenge from within the office, red-handed plagiarism, terminal short-handedness, high-profile cases ignored or overturned on appeal -- all in all, it was a pretty quiet year for District Attorney Paul Gallegos. But as the list would indicate, even Gallegos' down times pretty much out-Richter those of most anyone else you could care to name.

The first half of the year was taken up by the election. Gallegos was running for the office for the third time in four years, including the failed, Maxxam-financed recall attempt against him in 2004. This time, his challenger was Deputy DA Worth Dikeman, a veteran Humboldt County prosecutor, who had announced that he'd seek to oust Gallegos nearly a year previous, back in the summer of 2005. The race was not friendly, from either side -- Dikeman charged Gallegos with incompetence, Gallegos' proxies charged Dikeman of racism and bias toward the police. Gallegos won by a healthy margin -- 53-46 -- but not near as healthy as his 60-40 recall win.

A couple of prosecutors quit. Dikeman was fired. In August, news broke of a horrible case of animal abuse out in the hinterlands, with 41 dogs found dead or dying of neglect just over the border in Trinity County. It turned out that the alleged perpetrator, Roberta Bugenig, had just moved there from the Bridgeville area, where the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office had filed felony animal abuse charges against her in 2004. Gallegos' office had declined to prosecute the case. The discovery of these facts prompted condemnation from animal rights activists.

Seemingly in response -- in fact, it was never quite clear -- Gallegos published an opinion piece titled "Vigilantism A Force Of Anarchy" in the Times-Standard. The piece's odd phraseology prompted the Eureka Reporter's Heather Muller, who had originally reported the Bugenig case, to do a Google search; as it turned out, much of the op-ed had been lifted straight out of an academic paper on The Ox-Bow Incident.

Not all the post-election news was as embarrassing -- or not yet, at least. In November, Gallegos finally filed the long-delayed appeal of his office's sprawling fraud lawsuit against the Pacific Lumber Co., which had been tossed out of court a year and a half prior. The suit, along with Gallegos' generous medical marijuana policy, is the thing that first defined his tenure in the office, and gave him a reputation as a crusading people's prosecutor. Will the appeal bring back some of the magic?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gallegos Loses FOUR More

Who's prepping cases? Jessica, the free intern from HSU?

Lost Investigator Kathy Philp
Losing Deputy District Attorney Andy Truitt
Losing Office Manager Linda Modell
Losing Investigator Chris Andrews

Kathy Philp chose to retire. She was a "half-time Domestic Violence Investigator, working out of the D.A. Criminal Division in the Courthouse and has been a detective at the District Attorney's Office for 22 years.

Linda Modell was the Office secretary and has "handled fiscal matters at the District Attorney's Office for over 20 years, and managed all of the fiscal needs of the District Attorney's Office such as grants and audits."

Chris Andrews was a Special Agent assigned full-time to the "Northern California Computer Crimes Task Force". He handled digital forensics for Humboldt, Del Norte, and No. Mendocino Counties and was the Macintosh expert for the entire NC3TF Task Force (13 counties).

You know the elections are over when....

Richard Salzman is reduced to writing letters demanding his MT-- ooops, I mean NFL Network.

Time for a new group. Hmmm. You'll need a name. The "Alliance for ___________________" or "Citizens Against ____________"

Help him out, guys.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Baykeeper Signs

Baykeeper's posting signs? Public land? Or private land?

By the way: Photo source - Trees Foundation
Claims that the sign is on Mad River.
...Trees Foundation? The guys Earth First! sues for FRAUD Ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Learn a bit more about Baykeepers' parent - the Waterkeeper Alliance... Excerpts below.
(Look up by organization, foundations, celebrities and key players)

The genesis: "The Waterkeeper Alliance has declared war on America’s pork industry, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is in charge of the battle plan. Officially, Waterkeeper is a coalition of more than 80 “neighborhood watch” programs for America’s rivers, bays, and shorelines. But this is thin political cover for the real coalition here -- one of big-money trial lawyers (many of them still counting their tobacco-settlement fees) who see billion-dollar payouts where most consumers see ribs, ham, and bacon."...

"It’s abundantly clear that money makes the world go ‘round for this group of Kennedy-led ambulance chasers. The world of class-action torts and nuisance lawsuits is based on the simple premise that attorneys get paid on “contingency” -- that is, they pocket a percentage of whatever a judge or jury awards their clients.

Kennedy’s legal dream team has loads of experience with this model. Among the products whose manufacturers they’ve sued: tobacco, diet drugs, asbestos, genetically improved crops, and diabetes medications.

The Waterkeeper Alliance will insist until pigs fly that their raisons d’etre are clean water and the environment, but consider this: every state, without exception, already has regulations in force mandating environmental standards for hog farmers. All pork producers, both big and small, must follow the law. If Kennedy really believed that America’s environmental laws weren’t being enforced, or weren’t strict enough in the first place, he would be suing the Environmental Protection Agency for better enforcement, or lobbying various state legislatures for tougher standards. And Kennedy wouldn’t need to build a war chest from 15 different law firms to get it done.

The problem with these approaches is that there’s no money in them. Suing the government sometimes gets results, but it seldom makes anyone rich. For much the same reason, Kennedy probably won’t bother suing any pork producers whose bank accounts aren’t big enough to attract the big-time trial lawyers in his corner. This kind of lawyering targets only the ripest fruit. It’s called extortion by litigation, and the Waterkeeper Alliance is raising it to a high art form.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Why Ask About Cooking Dungeness Crab?

(Note to cooks: If you're googling for instructions, this is not actually a site giving you instructions for cooking dungeness crab, though there are several methods and even a recipe included in the discussion here. I recommend the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission or this one This post is a discussion about the actions taken by the predatory litigious activist group called "Humboldt Baykeeper.")

Anybody know how to cook Dungeness Crab - and why it has to be prepared a certain way?

Yes. I had a reason for asking. And, yes, I know how to cook crab - and why. Or at least I thought I did.

But lo and behold - I got the Lawsuit-Happy Baykeepers' Christmas begging, I mean, greeting letter, and discovered I have been wrong all these years...

They care so much, they were kind enough to enclose "a pamphlet on safe preparation of Dungeness crab."

They "wish this information were unnecessary, but so long as we're still working to clean up the Bay, please follow the guidelines when enjoying local seafood to protect your health and the health of your family."

Oh really?

"They" felt it necessary to provide this little guide to killing the crab before cooking him, "because of increased levels of pollution in our bays and oceans."

What are you really trying to say, Mr. Sterling-Nichols? You just want to IMPLY it, you don't REALLY want to SAY it, because that would be incredibly irresponsible wouldn't it? Imagine the damage you can do the local fishermen, and local shellfish industry with an irresponsible implication like that. But anything to bring in the money and get people scared so they will turn to BayKeeper for Salvation - oh, and don't forget SEND MONEY to "help us grow stronger and more effective."

Very Sneaky. And downright Despicable.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A busy week for the DA's office

A case overturned, plea bargains, the DA on the stand and all this:
ER - Throckmorton found not guilty
TS - Throckmorton found not guilty
Graham sentencing continues Friday
Prosecution in Dinsmore trial calls FBI doctor as expert witness

Former Deputy DA sues county for alleged wrongful termination
I've been observing this trial - what strikes me most is the contrast between the prepared, informed, knowledgeable, professional, straight responses from ADA Wes Keat, Co. Risk Manager Kim Kerr and Linda Modell from the DAs office and the disinterested, unprepared, uninformed "I don't know" "I don't recall" all over the map statements from Gallegos.

And, in Trinity County
Malcolm attorney requests charges be dropped

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Another plea bargain - Churchill

Another plea bargain and confusion in the courtroom....
Churchill sentencing continued due to plea error

Gallegos' Rollins case overturned w/UPDATE


Ruling of man accused of causing the death of Orick woman overturned


In essence, there were several statements taken from the defendant. One was "Mirandized." One wasn't.

In the investigator's first interview, Rollin started talking before she had read him his rights. He denied any guilt.

In the subsequent interview, after having been read his rights, Rollin admitted guilt.

Instead of using the Mirandized admission of guilt, Gallegos made extensive use of the first statement. He used the un-Mirandized denial.

In other words, he used an illegal statement that was irrelevant and unnecessary.

In making its ruling the Appeals Court couldn't even consider it to be harmless error because Gallegos had made it central to his argument, playing both the videotape of the un-Mirandized statement, then contrasting it with the legally taken audio-taped Mirandized statement - and explicitly telling the jury to consider it as circumstantial evidence of Rollin guilt - apparently failing to understand the folly of using an un-Mirandized statement.

Read the full Ruling

The Appeals Court found that: 'Joseph Pierre Rollin appeals his conviction for abuse of a dependent adult. We reverse because a statement obtained in violation of the rule announced in Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436 was admitted at trial as evidence of his guilt, and the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. (Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18, 24.)"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What will Gallegos do this time?

Because this time, people are watching.
Derek Bowman arrested on warrants

"Derek Bowman was arrested late last week on two warrants and remained in custody Tuesday.

On Friday, Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Bowman, 25, of Loleta, on no bail warrants for second degree burglary and forgery.

Bowman is the son of Leonard Bowman, the chairperson of the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria.

In July, Bowman was sentenced to 180 days, less time served, in the Humboldt County jail for a probation violation. However, according to jail personnel, he was released Sept. 11 to serve the rest of his time in the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program.

His most recent arrest violates the terms of his SWAP.

Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Edited comments

The online version doesn't match the print version, so you'll have to get a hard copy of the TS to see their Editorial space running selected comments from this story.

It's interesting to note which ones they chose - as the most explosive comments were left out - comments from someone who claimed to be Jonni Honda's daughter talking about the child molestation charges against her father. She claims they were false, that the girls in question were lying, that they were foster kids who had been taken in by her parents, and who she claims manufactured these stories in retaliation against her father.

I do not know how to feel. Angry for killing my father, or relieved that he is in peace. My father is NOT NOT a child molester. Those girls used the system, just like everyone else. To get what they want. See my mom and dad did foster care, taking care of the children who had loser parents. They blamed my family for that and said that they would do what ever they had to do to go back to their family.

Well isn't ironic, they may have their family back, but now mine is gone. My dad would never hurt anyone in that way. You know the CPS law "Children never lie" BS, sometimes I wonder if they have children of their own. Chances didn't look good for him. Tell me, would you want to go to prison for something you didn't do. Something that serious?

I love my DAD so much, I know he was scared. He is a great man. He will be missed so very much.
Hon's Daughter | 12.09.06 - 10:08 am | #

I am just so shocked...children are engaging in sex at the ages of 10, they know what molestation. The system teach them. My dad went to court for almost two years...tying to have a fair trial. In a case like this, no evidence is needed. Just the word of the these kids. My family took in these kids to try and help them have a better life. F*** those girls. They will face God and be judged. I hope that the ones judging him will never have to endure what he has gone through the last two years. To Mr. Anonymous I pray that you will never have to be in my dad's shoes. He tried to go about it the legal way.

Stop judging and talking like you know what he went through.
Jon's Daughter | 12.09.06 - 12:57 pm | #

This is not a blog, but rather a place for people to leave comments on stories that appear on the TS. But this is interesting, and dangerous territory for a newspaper.

Is this person really who she says she is? Is there any truth to what she is saying? If there isn't, is it fair to the victims for this to be part of the newspaper record? Has the Times Standard or any other reporter interviewed her, and the others who claim to be family members on the site? Perhaps there is a story in the works. These are certainly important, if true, and if it isn't true, that needs to be clarified.

Either way - why not include these comments in the column?

Note: For those whose browsers are unable to load the TS comments on their site - I posted the first 113 comments here. Their comments run in reverse with the earliest at the bottom of the list and the most recent at the top, so to start from the beginning you have to scroll all the way to the bottom. The discussion degenerates as it goes along.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A question about PLEA BARGAINS

Last Wednesday, the 16-year old murderer Joaquin Angel Fitzgerald pled guilty to second degree murder of Tracy Daniel Reynolds.

He was charged with committing murder during the commission of a robbery, personal use of a firearm during a robbery, torture and cruelty to an animal. "Deputy District Attorney Allan Dollison said an agreement was reached that his other charges, including unrelated infractions, would be dropped if Fitzgerald pleaded guilty to second degree murder."

The charges against his sidekick, 15 year old Keyontae Lamar Taylor were dropped earlier in exchange for his testimony against Fitzgerald. Taylor was charged with murder during the commission of a robbery, committing robbery while vicariously armed, and with torture and cruelty to an animal.

"The two boys were accused of befriending Reynolds, 38, on the railroad tracks, drinking a few beers with him and then leaving and returning with a gun and robbing and killing Reynolds.

But before they killed him, “The investigation indicated that the victim was shot first in the leg. The painful character of that wound (was) intended to speed up his cooperation with the robbery,” Humboldt County Assistant District Attorney Wes Keat said in a previous interview with The Eureka Reporter." (Sixteen-year-old pleads guilty).

The complaints of torture and animal cruelty stem from incidents that allegedly happened prior to Reynolds’ killing, Keat said. Keat said the boys allegedly shot at cows in the area, killing one.

So you plea bargain two guys who committed premeditated murder, who shot the guy in the leg to make him give them his money before they killed him, and who tortured animals, shot cows for fun along the way.

He hasn't been sentenced yet, but had Fitzergerald been convicted of premeditated first degree murder he would have been looking at 25 years to life. Because he used a gun, he should have been looking at an additional 25 years to life - meaning he could have - and should have gotten a 50 year to life sentence...

Last Thursday, the Reggae Rapist accepted a deal from the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office and pled guilty to sexual battery. (a non-strike)

"Ramon Roberto Klein, 28, of Daly City, was charged with assault with intent to commit mayhem or sex crimes, unlawful sexual penetration and unlawful possession of a specified controlled substance.

Klein also had two enhancements to his charges in that he has a prior strike for being convicted of making criminal threats in 2001 and serving a prior prison term. ...Per the agreement, Klein will be sentenced to four years in state prison and will have to register as a sex offender."

He'll be out in 2 years from the time he was first arrested - and "sexual battery" doesn't count as a strike. Had they tried him what he was initially charged with he was looking at 16+ years AND the strike.

No mention of who the prosecutor was.
Klein accepts deal from DA's Office

Earlier, three of four Whitethorn kidnapping/rape defendants were sentenced to three years of formal, supervised probation. Each of the defendants had many of the charges against them dropped as part of a deal with the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office. Only Levi Garza, who pled guilty to kidnapping, false imprisonment and selling drugs was sentenced to eight years in prison, the longest penalty in a case that originally had four defendants facing life terms.

And, of course, there was Derek Bowman, with nine felonies and a handful of misdemeanor charges ...dismissed or suspended sentence on all of them in a single day. Given probation.

Is it enough that they are doing SOME time?

Who's being defensive?

The Times Standard is on the defensive this morning, in reaction to Murl Harpham's telling it like it is when he said that "he requested a state Attorney General’s Office Justice Criminal Investigation team to look into the Honda shooting.

“This request by no means should indicate to anyone that I think our officers acted outside the law, outside of procedure, or unprofessionally,” Harpham said. “It is only because of the recent incidents our officers have been forced into, and the negative reaction by some people and the spin by some media, that I am initiating this.”

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Garbage cases...

From the archives:In the News NCJ 2/21/02

Just think Palco and Debi August.

"...Top on Gallegos' list is the proliferation of "garbage cases," small-time crimes and overcharged cases that he said are clogging up the court system.

Garbage cases, said Gallegos, come in two forms: Cases that would lose if actually brought to trial and cases that are overcharged for the crimes committed. The idea behind filing both kinds of garbage, he said, is to get the defendant to plead guilty, netting a conviction without having to go into court.

"Probably 95 percent of the cases that are filed plead guilty. In fact, there are a lot of cases that are filed on the assumption they will plead guilty, because of the time and expense involved in defending them. But these cases shouldn't even be filed in the first place, because if they were challenged, they would lose," Gallegos said. Better yet: If they weren't filed at all, it would save the county time and money...."

So-o-o-- - that's why you're appealing the Palco "case" - the one the judge tossed because it wasn't worthy of even going to trial?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Whistling in the dark

”We don't have a problem with attorneys wanting to stay,” Gallegos wrote. “Most district attorney's offices, just like most large- and medium-sized law firms, experience and expect a certain amount of attrition.”

Gallegos: Doing 'more with less'...TS...Chris Durant..1/18/06