Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Grand Jury papers to be unsealed in Moore case

URGENT ALERT! This case was TOSSED by the Judge - never made it to trial.
☛ ER http://eurekareporter.com/article/080826-judge-throws-out-douglas-zanotti-case
Feeney said the indictments the grand jury handed down to Douglas and Zanotti in December 2007 weren’t supported by probable cause. Insufficient evidence regarding the former leaders’ alleged failure to oversee other law enforcement was also presented to the grand jury, Feeney said, and instructions given on “exigent circumstances” were inadequate.
The grand jury should have also been instructed on justifiable homicide by law enforcement officials, Feeney said.

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Original post: Grand Jury papers to be unsealed in Moore case

ER The transcripts from the criminal grand jury investigation into the death of Cheri Lynn Moore were unsealed Tuesday by Superior Court Judge John T. Feeney in the Humboldt County Superior Courthouse.

Former Eureka Police Department Chief Dave Douglas and EPD Lt. Tony Zanotti were indicted Dec. 3, 2007 for their leadership roles in a scene that involved SWAT and ultimately led to Moore’s death on April 14, 2006. Moore was killed in her Eureka apartment.

During a standoff with SWAT that lasted about two-and-a-half hours, Moore brandished a flare gun out of her window. Officers entered her residence – believing she had put the gun down, as reported, and she was shot when she reportedly pointed the gun at officers.

The grand jury transcripts state that David Douglas and/or Anthony Zanotti alledgedly committed the following lawful acts with criminal negligence:

Failed to adequately supervise or direct the Eureka Police Department SWAT team members and failed to adequately supervise or direct the team members in response to a barricaded subject.

Gallegos went on to say, according to the transcript, “a person acts with criminal negligence when the way he or she acts is so different from the way an ordinarily careful person would act in the same situation that his or her acts amount to disregard for human life or
indifference to the consequences of the act.”


In court, criminal defense attorneys William R. Bragg and Greg Rael represented Douglas. William Rapoport from Redwood City represented Tony Zanotti.

The defense expressed that they were not opposed to unsealing the transcripts from the grand jury indictment – except for one part.

Douglas and Rapoport said they believed that the transcripts would exonerate their clients of guilt. But they requested in court that the beginning portion of the transcripts remain sealed – as they could spread prejudice and contaminate the jury pool.

The testimony of the witnesses pretty much exonerates Lt. Zanotti, Rapoport said, adding, it shows the planning involved. In a SWAT operation, everyone has veto power of the mission, he said.

Bragg and Rapoport agreed that when Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos instructed the grand jury on how to rule the law, he had misinterpreted it.

In a grand jury proceeding, Bragg explained, the district attorney shows evidence of how the law was broken. But there is no rebuttal by the defense to offer its interpretation of how the law applies, he said.

“We’re not asking that evidence be sealed,” Bragg said of the transcripts in court. “We don’t feel there’s a need to have it sealed.”

Bragg and Rapoport said they believe the transcripts will show no evidence of wrongdoing by their clients.

The defense said it just wanted the district attorney’s instructions to the grand jury – which, they claimed, were “horribly wrong” – and Gallegos’ argument of evidence to remain sealed, Bragg said.

He argued that in his jury instructions, Gallegos offered a biased interpretation of the law, but in a court trial the defense would have had an opportunity to explain their view of the situation.


Bragg said that unsealing that portion of the transcripts would be unfair, calling it, “a recipe for bias to be planted in the jury pool.”

He cited that the county jury pool has a 16 percent turn out rate – which is likely to read the media and be swayed by Gallegos’ opinion, he said.

Bragg said that it’s a concern to him that the media circulation exceeds the jury pool because the jury pool is 90,000, but the turnout yields a jury panel of just 425.

However, Feeney released the transcript, and an in-depth look is on the way.

There are 150 items of evidence, called exhibits — such as pictures, that will remain sealed for 10 days after the defense receives them.

Videos of various witness’ testimonies before the grand jury will also remain sealed until 30 days after the defense has received copies of them.

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For a pretty nearly complete list of articles (w/links) on this topic, CLICK HERE

Some of the articles are posted on watchpaulARTICLES in case links go dead.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

The portion of the DA's comment on the law quoted in the posting is word for word accurate, as far as it goes. It is reasonable to assume that, unless and until Bragg and Co. show otherwise, that the DA read the so called "Calcrim"
instructions to the jury, which is the right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

The question I have is if our local DA read and instruction for justifiable homicide by police. State law states that the shooting was justified if she threatened them with deadly force. If she pointed the gun at them, then they were justified in shooting her. If they were justified in shooting her, then there can be no criminal negligence in the homicide - because it is justifiable. If there is no criminal negligence in the shooting, then that extends to all parties. You can’t say the shooting was justified, but the call to go in which resulted in the shooting is somehow separate from the shooting.

But that requires some critical thinking and logic, which our illustrious DA doesn't have.

Chris Crawford said...

The thing to look for in the transcript is whether PG fairly represented both sides in a closed grand jury proceeding.

As I understand it, normal process is to file a criminal complaint and then have a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to go to trial. When choosing to go by way of grand jury, the DA is supposed to be prosecutor AND defender by fairly representing both sides of the issue since the other side is not there to defend themselves.

Besides which, how can a commanding officer second guess a police officer reacting to an on-the-spot threat in the line of duty?

I smell another in a long line of losing cases that began as a result of pursuing a personal agenda instead of representing the "people of the state of California."

Anonymous said...

Sadly Chris, I agree with you. I wish it were different, but it is not.

Eric V. Kirk said...

If the first portion of the transcript is merely Gallegos' argument, and that mere argument is going to prejudice the jury pool, what's to keep Gallegos from making the argument in a public forum? Or in his opening argument in trial?

I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

It's all about the front page. Apparently good or bad, press is press.....right Britney? I mean Paul.

Anonymous said...

Eric, did you really say that? Or is someone who knows nothing about the ethical strictures on prosecutors regarding public statements in violation of a defendant's right to a fair trial posting in your name? On the other hand, I see your point. What is there to prevent PVG from going there?

Eric V. Kirk said...

A prosecutor can state the legal basis for the prosecution in a public statement, and that's all that would be in the opening statement. I think the other poster is right. Bragg probably didn't expect the motion to be granted, but wanted to make the motion in order to frame the issue for the public.