Friday, May 25, 2007

Enough secrecy in the DA's office!

I couldn't agree more.

Enough secrecy in the DA's office
The Times-Standard Editorial Article Launched: 05/25/2007 04:29:32 AM PDT

The chief prosecutor of Humboldt County has us scratching our heads with his waffling over making his office's “use of force” policy available to the public.

The issue arose when District Attorney Paul Gallegos and his new investigator, former Eureka police Sgt. Mike Hislop, proposed to beef up their firepower with the purchase of eight AR-15 semiautomatic rifles. This triggered questions from Loretta Nicklaus, Humboldt County's administrative officer, who wondered whether the DA had the need, training and policies in place for such an arsenal -- a use of force policy, in particular.

While working on a story about the new weapons, two Times-Standard reporters sought a copy of the DA's policy. Gallegos initially said he would get them a copy, then changed his mind and wouldn't even let them view the document. The Times-Standard then made a formal request a week ago under the state Public Records Act. Gallegos has 10 days to release the use of force policy, or to explain his legal reasons for withholding it.

Since then, Gallegos has offered these comments about the issue, via e-mail:

* “I never said that the information was not available under the Freedom of Information Act. Quite the contrary, I informed you that our use of force policy is not a public record.” To throw around some legal Latin, that's a non sequitur. A FOIA request is the federal equivalent of the California Public Records Act, and is a tool used to pry PUBLIC records out of reluctant PUBLIC officials.

* “I have some reluctance to make use of force policies public information . . . especially when there is no claim that anyone (in the DA's office) has unlawfully used force.”

That has no bearing on whether a policy is public or not. But perhaps Gallegos and his team are being overly sensitive to community polarization about four shooting deaths involving Eureka police officers, going back to Cheri Lyn Moore more than a year ago. DA investigations and findings on three of those deaths are pending, including Moore's.

* “I also informed you that, if you heard from others that (our use of force policy is a public record), to let me know and I would consider others' determinations.”

The Eureka Police Department and the county sheriff's department say their use of force policies are open to the public, as does the DA in San Diego County. So do two open-records experts we checked with -- attorneys who said the law is clear: The public not only has a right to view use of force policies, but to receive copies.

Also, the California Peace Officers' Association says such policies are important in creating public confidence in law enforcement. To do that, of course, the public must know what the policy is.

We have to wonder: Why all this bobbing and weaving, especially by somebody who should know the law? If the DA's office has a use of force policy, let's see it. If it does not, then it should 'fess up and create one (the California Peace Officers' Association has a sample you can adapt). Then put it online, so everyone can see it. That should free up time to produce the long-overdue report on Moore's death.

51 comments:

  1. Well, Richard? Allison? Defend this conduct. Tell us why this is better than what Dikeman would have done.

    (More crickets..)

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  2. Oh SNAP, Paul. Clearly you're not so much in the smarts department, so let's review: you've destroyed the CAST program and you won't release public documents that prove it, you don't care if people abuse their animals, you're a habitual plagiarist, you haven't gotten a solid win on even one important prosecution in four and a half years, you want to turn your ex-wife beating chief investigator and his untrained staff loose on the world with assault rifles, you can't make a decision within 14 months about a police shooting that involved two of your investigators, and now even the one newspaper in town willing to look the other way until your most recent episode of stupid has decided enough is enough.

    Ouch. Your sky is falling. It's time to run off to SoHum and set up your own 40 acres and a drug mule. It's your only hope now, and that's if the marijuana growers whose assets you seek to confiscate will let you.

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  3. The growers probably wouldn't take it so hard had he not funded three expensive campaigns with their money.

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  4. Hey Don't send him to SoHum, I don't even think the growers want him down here at this point.

    I can't believe that the TS, his greatest supporter is upset before The Eureka Reporter.

    It's about damn time.

    Oh and to answer 0759 (even though I assume its rhetorical)Dikeman is a real DA and that's what scared them.

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  5. Is it recall time yet? Let's get it going.

    We need a real DA.

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  6. Richard Salzman and Allison Sterling Nichols sold us this guy.

    They need to step up and address his professional derelictions.

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  7. Why do you think that Salzman and Sterling would address anything? Don't you know that PVG is their puppet and doesn't do anything with out their say so... Atleast that's the way he acts... He'll most people could make a decision on most things. He waffles back and forth so much it's sick.

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  8. TS said, "this from somebody who should know the law."

    Now, doesn't that make you a teensy bit apprehensive that he's the person making decisions about violent criminals?

    The DA's who worked with him when he took office knew this (they had cases against him when he was a defense attorney.) They also worked with him and saw him constantly shoot from the hip without ever bothering to crack a legal book and learn the law. The officers knew from working with Gallegos too. All these people tried to inform the public, but Gallegos's supporters threw out the two issues that pushed a lot of buttons---PL and marijuana.

    Now, he is finally being unmasked, albeit slowly. For the dismissed PL suit and 99 plants, you have an incompetent and secretive DA. Those traits in combination are very bad news for this community. He's bungling things and hiding it.

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  9. The ER has been pissed off for a long time. It's just that before now, the TS refused to recognize the reality of the situation and take responsibility for the bill of goods they helped sell us. Let's keep in mind who endorsed whom this past election. Let's also remember which newspaper broke the DA armament story and so many other scandals before it.

    Still, however, the T-S defection from the Gallegos glee club will have far-reaching implications. Now the ER, the TS, the NCJ and the Eye are all on the same page. Gags has nowhere left to hide, no one left to do his bidding. This is going to get interesting.

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  10. "This is going to get interesting."

    He'll just sit it out. We need a recall. This time it will succeed.

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  11. Gallegos has unabashedly lied to the press many times in the past without consequence. Now, they are not taking him at his word and asking for documentation. The top law enforcement official in the county been caught plagerizing and lying---he should be thrown out on his ear.

    Previous statement like, "I prevent crime by preventing crime" will no longer fly with our local reporters. They know the score now.

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  12. Still waiting for Richard and Allison, sales associates at Shitty Lawyer Clearance Warehouse, to honor their warranty.

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  13. Sorry to break it to ya but Rodoni's got the pot growers under his thumb already.If you want to cut Paul from the SoHum support,then convince Rodoni to give up his seat and run for DA.

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  14. Keep throwing these softballs Rose, maybe your shoulder will toughen up!

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  15. Rather than answer Heather Muller's questions.
    Gallegos called the Times Standard in to put on his little dog'n pony show with the two "old" rifles, expecting they would prop him back up and whitewash his debacle.

    It was incredibly disrespectful for him to do that. And I don't mean disrespectful to Heather Muller, though it was that, too, but disrespectful to the Times Standard reporters. Then to lie to them, and equivocate when they asked a simple follow up question, and then to perpetutate the lie, forcing them to file a public records act request, was just plain stupid.

    They're better than that and they deserve better treatment than that.

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  16. RECALL.

    Who wants to get it started?

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  17. Hey 948. Who will we get to replace him in a recal? The Best Candidate has left and is now in El Dorado County. I don't think he would come back... not after the people of this county have treated him.

    I say recal PVG's arse though. Rose you can run can't you?

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  18. The community has suffered enough. When, in early 2003, Richard Salzman first told me there was a rumor circulating that a Recall effort was underway, I told him to forget about it - that people here are very forgiving, and that a Recall would never succeed.

    He, however, wanted the Recall. He believed Paul would survive it and that he would then be "untouchable." Of course at the time, I had no idea the resources that were at Richard's disposal to mount a national PR campaign to protect his newfound tool - or why it was so important to him.

    I have long contended that Richard caused the Recall to come about, by putting out his ad campaign, stirring emotions and inciting rancor while he laid the groundwork for Paul's image as the gallant David against Goliath. A sham from the word go.

    While I am generally a believer in the concept of Recalls as the voter's right to say, "we made a mistake," or, "we were snookered, and we are not going to stand for that," I believe the right thing here is for Gallegos to resign. To spare the community any more shame and turmoil. To allow the system to right itself. That would be the honorable thing to do.

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  19. Whatever works. We need to be rid of this man.

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  20. Rose, you are stuck in 2003 and 2004. Salzman is so yesterday. For such a great mastermind, he sure was vanquished pretty easily. And if you think Pauls association with Salzman helped him win in 2006, you are utterly delusional.

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  21. Concerning a recall, Alison Jackson would be an excellent District Attorney. Unfortunately she has too much sense to run.

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  22. 4:51 - You are missing the point. The past is the past. It's what to do NOW that people can see Paul for what he is that is the question.

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  23. How about a petition? A big newspaper ad with thousands of signatures?

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  24. If you people weren't so eager to have him removed at all costs after he beat Farmer,he probably would never have been re-elected,and you wouldn't still be complaining about his job performance(which I'll admit has been dismal).So was it Salzman or Palco who dumped $250,000+ into the recall?I would assume that Paul,Palco,and Salzman together brokered the deal to begin the recall?
    You are far off in your estimation on how many voters were simply disgusted by the recall itself(me included),it was enough to sway the past election Paul's way.
    Another recall will get you nowhere,unless you're worried about politicos who would off of one going broke.The best thing to do is keep an eye on everything that happens in the office until his tenure is over.

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  25. You are absolutely right, mresquan. Every good and decent person was absolutely horrified at the notion that Palco, or anyone, with enough money, could try to buy their way out of a lawsuit. They believed it was wrong, and they rose up to defend the public judicial system from corruption. They did the right thing.

    It's what they didn't know that has always troubled me, they didn't know about Salzman and Shellenberger, and the equally powerful forces buoying Paul.

    There was no way to know what Paul was, or what damage he was about to do.

    If he were a different person, whose decency and morals matched those of the voters who believed in him, we wouldn't be in this position.

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  26. Look, it's time to remove this craven incompetent from office.

    Shall we have a meeting to scope out possibilities?

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  27. Paul has to resign. It is the only honorable thing to do. The ongoing series of scandals will not end.

    And back to 4:51 - for all his faults, I have some respect for Salzman, he is inherently more honest than Paul.

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  28. I don't know about you but I am suddenly nostalgic for the days when all the DA was armed with was pepper spray and cotton swabs.

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  29. What? You don't think an AR-15 goes with polyester ?

    How about some tazers? Some collaspable batons?

    How about PVG's statement that meth is not a problem anymore? Or it's less of a problem in Hummboldt ? DID he really say this on the radio ????? Can he be that blind? It must be that preventing crime by preventing crime stuff again.

    And waht about the rulling on the Moor shooting !!!??? What about a ruling on the shooting at the motel ??!?!?!? HOW long does it take?

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  30. Hey 5:21, after Allison was shanghied (sp) by PVG what makes you think she would even want to come back to this county???

    I'm just curious, not trying to start a fight or anything.

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  31. Well somebody with morals and ethics needs to take over if there is going to be any hope for Humboldt County.

    It would be nice to have a DA with more than 1/2 a brain.

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  32. Concerning Ms. Jackson, 7:30, that was kinda my point. I believe she is still around at the Harland firm though.

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  33. I see Allison Jackson around the courthouse all the time. She's around if called upon. But the fact is the election is years away and to run against Paul will require upwards of $200,000. Is she willing to make that kind of committment now? Are the people who want Paul out willing to committ to that kind of money up front. I know I wouldn't want to throw my hat into the ring on vague promises of support.

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  34. he's such a &^%$up someone could probably beat him on a decent write in campaign.

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  35. I want to know where all the police review jackasses like Greg Allen and Christina Notbright are and why the silence? Gallegos, dim bulb that he is, doesn't even know the law that he, as the chief law enforcement officer of the county (gawd, that makes my physically ill just to type) is sworn to uphold and enforce. If you walked up to the front counter of any local PD (ok, maybe not Blue Lake) and ask for a copy of their use of force policy, they'd burn you a copy on the spot. Why are the cop-haters silent? Their golden boy screwed up and now they are in a quandry.

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  36. The stunned silence is deafening. No letters to the editors, My Words, OpEds, passionate denunciations. Just, Holy SHIT!

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  37. The police review, anti Palco, anti progress, pro marijuana/pro drugs shitheads are just lying low hoping this will all blow over.

    Ssshhh, stay quiet and it will all just go away.

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  38. For not holding Gags to the same standard as they would have Worth, the police review crusaders officially suck ass.

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  39. When questioned about the Animal Abuse case, Gallegos claimed he didn't prosecute the case "in the interests of justice" because he would have had "issues of proof."

    Turned out there was videotaped evidence.

    "District Attorney Paul Gallegos said Monday that the first case, involving the 122 alleged misdemeanor violations, was received by his office June 15, 2004, and was rejected Oct. 26 of the same year.

    “These were regulatory offenses, not neglect offenses,” Gallegos said, adding that the reason given in the file for rejection of the charges was “interests of justice.”

    “There could have been issues of proof,” he said.

    The alleged felony offense of abuse of the horse was received by the DA’s office July 9, 2004, and rejected Aug. 23, 2004, for lack of evidence, according to Gallegos.

    “We can do nothing unless we have sufficient evidence of an offense,” he said. “That’s it in a nutshell.”

    Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Brenda Godsey said Tuesday that she could not speak to the evidentiary value of information provided to the DA’s Office, but could officially confirm that a videotape had been booked into evidence."


    This is a pattern of behavior with countless examples. Lie. Then equivocate when questioned further, or caught. Then, after his handlers have cooked up a plausible scenario, try to recover. But, time and again, his answers to not add up to the truth.

    It's fortunate that there is evidence to prove it.

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  40. It's simple. if there is no policy, he lied when he said there was one, and he lied again when he said it would not be released because it was not a public document, and it takes time to figure out how to line up witnesses to say the policy existed.

    Where is it, when was it written, who wrote it, who approved it, who has copies.

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  41. "Certainly" the office had a 'use of force policy.' No doubt it has been in existence for countless years, and it is filed somewhere. But Gallegos doesn't know what it is, what it says, where it is, or who knows where it is, since he has "lost" all of the people with the institutional memory, and all of the people who know how things are supposed to work. He spoke without thinking he would be questioned, and then tried to cover his tracks. It's stupid, but it is typical.

    No doubt he is working overtime trying to construct one. Question is, will it be backdated?

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  42. There is no policy. If there was, Dawson or his son in law Hislop would have produced it for Hislop's boss by now. If anyone was going to apply force, it would have been Dawson's investigators (Now Hislop's).
    If a policy existed, Dawson wrote it or had a role in writing it, and would be able to put his hand on it, and to help Hislop do so. Only one conclusion can be drawn from the Dawson/Hislop silence on this issue.
    And what about Farmer? Anyone thought to ask him about whether his office had such a policy?
    What to think if a policy suddenly appears?
    Who wrote it, when, where was it kept, etc etc.

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  43. Robin Shelley5/27/2007 4:34 PM

    Seems to me that Gallegos has until the 1st of June to produce a copy of his office's "use of force" policy for the Times-Standard or they'll see him in court... might save you the trouble, Rose.

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  44. HMM, so Hislop's boss is in a little hot water over a policy which Hilsop's daddy in law would have to know about, and it would help the boss to produce such a policy, making a BIG iou, especially if the policy had to be back dated, and yet still no policy has been "discovered" in a file somewhere.

    It's going to be hard to swallow the "oh, here it is, silly me it was in this file cabinent" story when it appears.

    Nobody in Humbodlt has a problem with serial liars in office, do they?

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  45. Watch out Paul, there's a new sheriff in town, she's taking no prisoners at the Times Standard. And I don't mean Rich.

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  46. A "use of force" policy is NOT a policy unless it is written down and placed (retained) in some kind of policy manual. These days many agencies keep their policy manual online with a hard copy back up. If it is not written down and placed in a policy manual then the best is can be is an SOP, an informal SOP. LE agencies want their policies accessible to their employees so they, the employee, can look some policy or issue up easily if they have a question or doubt.

    Any legitimate, professional law enforcment agency is going to have a use of force policy, a shooting policy and each of their gun toting employees, (cops deputies investigators) is going to have a pretty good idea of what that policy is. It is a very big issue. VERY BIG. And ALL law enforcement agencies know it. For a law enforcment agency the two things that will cause them the most grief (and $$$ for the city or county or state) is the use of force; guns, fists, nightsticks, tazers and so on) and pursuit driving.

    I am sure there was at least a basic use of force or shooting policy in place during the Farmer years and before.

    A professional law enforcement agency, from a 10 man department to LAPD, is going to have a use of force policy in place and a way to document that their employees are aware of that policy; a signature on some document saying they have read the policy and understand it. Or when they go qualify or train at a shooting range one of the instructors,rangemasters will read the policy out loud and prepare a memo or document to memorialize all that were present.

    Gallegos should be happy to give out his use of force policy. Unless it hasn't been updated in over 25 years.

    If the DA's office does not have a use of force policy/shooting police they should disarm all the investigators and keep them in the office. But as I understanc it the DA's investigators seldom leave the office for other than lunch or personal business.

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  47. Robin Shelley5/29/2007 8:00 AM

    Gallegos didn't say his office doesn't have a "use of force" policy - he said it's none of our business!
    He may change his mind about that after he receives the Times-Standard's appeal to him to reconsider his decision not to make the policy available to the public. But, if he doesn't, you can bet the T-S is prepared to teach the errant & arrogant DA a very important lesson about what is & is not the public's business & that process will be very prominently & publicly displayed on its front pages. Stories such as that have been known to garner national attention.
    Gallegos references "the law" & "the constitution" as though he might be familiar with them but his penchant for conducting the public's business in private makes me think he might be confused about which country's & state's laws & constituions he has been sworn to uphold & protect.

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  48. Excellent points, Robin.

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  49. And isn't the protracted and deliberate silence from Erik and Heraldo just deliciously coincidental? How clear does it need to be
    that the word is out to not cover this issue, hope it dies, hope PVG's refusal to produce sign in sheets, refusal to produce a use of force policy, etc etc
    just goes away?
    They've shut up about
    the lack of a Cheri Moore report too. Just coincidentally, that is.

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  50. And these are the EASY to answer Public Records Act Requests. Wait for the tougher questions.

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