Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stranger and stranger

Felony rape and burglary becomes 19 days and 20 bucks...

Mistakenly released inmate re-released Monday
The man whose mistaken release from jail two weeks ago sparked a daylong manhunt and front-page media coverage was re-released from custody Monday — intentionally — after one of two felony charges against him was dropped and the other was reduced to a misdemeanor.

Clinton Lee Harris III, 25, of Arcata was arrested April 18 and was awaiting trial on felony rape and burglary charges for allegedly breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s Arcata residence and raping her.

He was mistakenly released from the Humboldt County jail Aug. 3 and was returned to custody Aug. 8, after sheriff’s officials discovered the mistake and Sheriff’s Detective Troy Garey tracked Harris down in Arcata.

Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Ben McLaughlin said Wednesday that the plea deal was made because the case suffered from “problems of proof in regards to the sexual assault and, by extension, the burglary.”

“I believe that the sexual assault allegation was problematic for several reasons,” McLaughlin stated in an e-mail. “The victim and the defendant had a preexisting romantic relationship and continued their relationship after their separation; there was not a (sexual assault) examination until 10 days post-event; and the victim’s roommate, who was home at the time of the alleged event, did not hear anything out of the ordinary.

“Ultimately, the misdemeanor burglary offer was my attempt to get Mr. Harris on probation. For the reasons stated above, had this proceeded to trial, I do not think we would have prevailed.”

Arcata Police Chief Randy Mendosa said Wednesday that his department, which originally arrested Harris, was studying the details of the plea agreement.

“I have asked our staff to review the issue, which includes ordering a copy of the court minutes. Our inquiry, which will include reviewing the facts with the District Attorney’s Office, will most likely take some time to accomplish. So at this point, I can’t say if I will have any concerns or not.”

For the misdemeanor burglary charge, Harris was given a 19-day sentence and a $20 fine. He will also serve three years of probation, with a condition added to his probation prohibiting him from going anywhere near the ex-girlfriend.

“Ultimately, what was of utmost concern for the victim in the case was that there be no contact,” McLaughlin said. “The previous deputy who was handling the case conveyed to me that this was what the victim was concerned about.”

ER Arrest made in alleged sexual assault incident 4/18/07
ER Rape suspect re-arrested after he was mistakenly released 8/8/07
TS Inmate accidentally released from jail
TS Sheriff's Department taking precautions after accidental inmate release


  1. McLaughlin is evidently grossly incompetent along with everyone else there now. It is his job to prove challenging cases. Not just the slam dunk ones.

    What is patently clear from his statement is that he did not even consult the victim or Arcata PD before flushing this down the toilet.

    Frankly, I think that the women up at Humboldt State ought to hold a protest against this recklessness by an evidently corrupt and incompetent pitiful excuse of a DA.

  2. Based on what is in the article - it looks to me like there are valid doubts in this case.

    Is there more to the story? The fact that APD is questioning it makes me wonder. And, if APD finds something they do not like in those court minutes, will we hear about it?

  3. What's in the story is what may or may not be cya remarks by the dumping deputy. It is significant that APD is concerned, and as for the "prior relationship" take a look at Penal Code section 262- spousal rape. It is also significant that McLaughlin is not a newbie, he's been a lawyer since 2000 and worked previously in the
    Del Norte DA's office, so he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

    Room mate heard nothing. Fine. Was roommate awake? Sober? Using headphones? What's the house layout? Are the rooms adjacent? There's a lot of reasons why rapes don't get overheard. Violence? Fear? Panic? Submission?
    How many times did they have consensual sex that the room mate overheard? Any? I could go on, but I won't. The question is how many of these questions does McLaughlin know the answer to.

    As yougo proved, a lame lazy incompetent prosecutor can drop anything in this county, then claim the victim is "100% satisfied". Did this happen again, or not? Sometimes rape cases get dropped, but a little circumspection goes a long way, both before filing and before dismissing. Seems like a bit of a rush here. But again, maybe the homework was done. But then APD should have been in the loop.

    Maybe this lady is ok with dropping the case [not the controlling factor, actually] maybe she's just traumatized, maybe she's not happy at all.

    It's just interesting how many sex cases go down the tubes these days.


  4. It's just interesting how many sex cases go down the tubes these days.

    Make that "cases just go down the drain" and I'll agree with you.

  5. I know the investigating officers on this case. They are FURIOUS. They worked very hard on this case and it got flushed. Chief Mendosa is being very, very diplomatic in his response. Read between the lines of his statement. It's public record also that Harris committed a similar sexual assault several years ago. We'll probably be reading about him committing a homicide in the near future.

  6. This is not surprising. If you read the local papers the only convictions (other than the murderer Applegate) are for misdomeanors. Misdomeanor possession of an assault weapon, misd possesion of drugs, misd possession of an illegal weapon, ... it's just misdomeanors. I remember when the "On the Record " section of the T/S on sundays was a full page with every 2nd or third one a felony. But that's been 5 or 6 years ago.

    If the DA's office didn't have Maggie Flemming no one would go to prison anymore.

  7. Who went to prison?

  8. robin shelley8/24/2007 5:01 AM


  9. Oh come on 10:26 - there is nobody left in that office that has any integrity left.

  10. 9:09 am, there are a couple.

    Applegates going to prison and I'm assuming the convicted child molester will go to prison.

  11. In alphabetical order, the integrity of:
    and numerous staff members
    is established beyond cavil.
    That of the new folk is an open issue. It is said that the elected DA has told the new hires they owe no respect to the opinions or guidance of the senior lawyers, and that the judgment of the recent (Gallegos) hires is equal to or better than the more experienced lawyers.

    Pardon the digression. The integrity of the DA (elected) is
    well, also established, or perhaps
    "known" is a better way to phrase it. It's 0 parts per million.

  12. With regards to the people in the office - one of the things I fail to comprehend, throughout this entire time, is how the very people who will go to the mat for you, to make sure you are treated well, to make sure laws are followed will not do one single thing to stand up for themselves, or for the rights of the their co-workers, the employees of that office.

    Why everyone is so afraid of Gallegos.

    I understand the caveat of not speaking ill of your employer - if you do it is usually you who are judged.

    I understand that there is a desire to protect the people trying to do their jobs from unwanted turmoil. these are not people who hunger for the spotlight, they prefer to do their jobs and leave the talking to the press to the DA whose job that is.

    But when speaking out will right a wrong - I do not understand the silence. All it takes for evil to triumph is for the good people to stand by silent. They know that.

    Knowing how bad it is and staying quiet,,,, I do lay blame on them. No if ands or buts about it. They are living with the consequences. they have chosen that. But the truth is, other people are also having to live with the consequences.

    Each and every day someone else is dealing with the consequences.

  13. Frankly, I think something is really wrong with the persons that have remained and who know full well about the lies, and corruption, but choose the pay check instead of an honest pay check.

    But, maybe lawyers are so far up on the food chain so as not to be bothered by silly things such as honesty and integrity.

  14. The honest lawyers who remain are doing their cases honestly. End of story.
    And if they don't want to get fired, that's their business.
    They have the right not to speak just as much as you have the right to speak.
    It's a democracy. The voters elected PVG. The DDA's
    are entitled to do the job for the elected DDA unless and until individually asked to do something immoral or illegal.
    You don't like the elected? Don't re-elect him.
    You have evidence of actual crimes? Go to the AG.
    Misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance and generally being a lying weasel are not crimes; they are the requirements for getting elected by a
    population of fat-assed simpletons who think
    the Simpsons is high art.

  15. Being a prosecutor is a vocation, not just a job. Keat, Fleming, Eads and Cardoza are not reposnsible for what PVG does. The fact that they remain in that office does not in itself establish complicity with, or approval, of PVG's actions. It's easy to say that they should take the high road and quit, but really, folks, you had better hope they remain then criticize their choices. Now, if PVG required any of those folks to do anything unethical or untoward, that would be different. But there is no evidence of such a thing occurring. First of all, PVG is scared of Maggie Fleming (The firing of Alison Jackson was PVG's feeble attempt to regain his manhood after Ms. Fleming verbally pimp-slapped him because he implied that she had leaked information concerning Stoen's then ongoing sexual harrasment case to the press); he does not care or even know anything about juvenile law, so Stacey is safe. And the day he directs Max to do something unethical is the day he finds out what it feels like to have a shoe jammed up the wrong end of his ailmentary canal. As for Keat, he is the last hope Humboldt has of anything being done right in that office.

  16. Some very good points 2:49PM Just think of the total collapse we would have if the core DDA's left. Even the new ones need some mentoring. Who's going to point them in the right direction, answer their questions.

  17. One of the most telling comments (from an anon): Gallegos has taken what was "arguably the state's best small DA's office, with a cutting edge CAST program that "trained the trainers"... into a bunch of time serving bureaucratic wannabee brown nosers, lightly sprinkled with a couple of earnest learners who are sure to split as soon as possible.

    One weeps for Max Cardoza who won Angellel, and for Maggie Fleming who won so many impossible victories. Mired in Humboldt for personal reasons, they have to suffer the ignominy of working for Paul, with Yougo, yes, yougo who has freed more people as a prosecutor than he did as a defense attorney. As has Paul.

    I agree with you, 2:49 and 6:18. I understand that they are trying to help people and to hold the office together. And I wish that they had spoken up when it could have made a difference.

    I also know, at least in part, why they didn't. And, in a couple of cases (not necessarily those in the office today), what happened when they tried.

  18. Yes, "Justice for all" ...... and special justice if you don't go along with PVG's party line.

    Oh well. This is the direction Humboldt County has been going for some time. The marijuana money controls everything directly or indirectly. The local papers even praise well known growers in the paper for what is nothing less than successful money laundering schemes. This climate just attracts other like minded crooks and undesirables.

  19. I think its great that the 4 remaining don’t want to get fired. I just can’t figure out how that means more than their principles. Maybe their principles are not exactly anything more than just a paycheck. Maybe not, but it sure looks bad.

  20. 9:28, perhaps you can't see past your own grudges. As long a DDA handles his or her own cases ethically and professionally, no principles are compromised. The fact that the boss is an incompetent unethical hack whom the voters can't get enough of does not have to be a DDA's problem. In fact, it is a matter of principle that a line prosecutor should be above politics, and continue to serve the public regardless of the idiocies emanating from the top.

  21. Forgive me for believing that it should be different. Maybe you are a lawyer? Sorry, I am just average and don’t split hairs for a living. I have no idea what you mean by a line prosecutor, but if you mean that you spend you days covering up for a dishonest boss in the name of Public Service, then you are not serving the public. Are you in public service? If that is the case, and you think that is ok, then it seems pretty dismal. If that if that is really what a line prosecutor does, then we are all in it deep.

  22. A line prosector is "on the line"
    or "front-line" in court trying cases, not in the corner office
    making politically expedient decisions. That's really what a prosecutor does. Nothing there that's a cover-up. The facts are all out there, were out there at the time of the last election, and
    Humboldt County voted PVG. Once the voters speak, the only duty a
    Deputy DA has is to do his or her own job, not worry about the boss doing his.

  23. I guess a lot of us out here just disagree with that. You aren't chained to a job. Its a choice. Guess it was a choice that a lot of other people who quit disagreed with.

  24. At some point, 8:23, there is a line that is crossed, and the Deputy DA does have a duty to speak up. That line was crossed a long time ago, and I suspect you know it.

    Those who are left are enablers for Gallegos. Every time he goes out and lies about them, and they stay silent, they are in essence lying too. And I suspect you know that too.

    I wish for your sake that you could just bury your head in the sand and it would all just go away. It hasn't, it isn't and it won't.


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