Friday, June 20, 2008

Eye-Opener

***URGENT UPDATE/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.
***

Thanks! to Thaddeus Greenson for an information-filled article!
Read the whole thing here - Attorneys asks for Douglas-Zanotti case dismissal

Paul Gallegos' obligation to present BOTH sides to the Grand Jury has been discussed here before. This article details the defense's motion and for the first time it is crystal clear just how spectacularly he failed to do that. If you remember the early months of the Palco case, it was reported that Stoen stopped talking to people and agencies that tried to tell him he had no case. In this case, Gallegos had a fully qualified expert witness who gave an opinion contrary to what Gallegos wanted to hear, and he never called him back, instead presenting the Criminal Grand Jury with a lesser qualified expert witness, and then proceeded to tear him down, pointing out that he really had no qualifications.

Excerpts - ...Because criminal grand jury proceedings are prosecution driven, and don't provide defendants with a defense, it is the legal obligation of the prosecutor to present evidence which might show the innocence of the defendants.
In one of the motions filed Wednesday, the defense argues that Gallegos failed to fulfill that obligation.


According to two declarations filed with one of the motions, District Attorney's Office Chief Investigator Mike Hislop interviewed two experts in the field of SWAT team operations and both said they did not believe there was a criminal case against Douglas and Zanotti.

Neither expert was called to testify before the grand jury.

According to the motion and accompanying declaration, Stuart Meyers is the CEO of OpTac International and president of Operational Tactics, a nonprofit organization that manages law enforcement instructors and consultation services. It was selected to train the SWAT and sniper teams for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

According to Meyers' declaration, after being briefed on the events surrounding Moore's death in a June 2007 phone conversation, Meyers told Hislop he did not believe there was a basis for criminal liability. Hislop never contacted Meyers again, according to the declaration.

EPD Sgt. William Nova, who was the SWAT team commander in April 2006 but was off-duty at the time of the Moore shooting, states in a declaration that he had a similar conversation with Hislop.

In his declaration, Nova states that Hislop told him he felt the shooting of Moore was legally justified, and that he was trying to persuade Gallegos not to bring the matter to the grand jury.

”I advised Mr. Hislop that I agreed with him, and that in my capacity both as the Eureka Police Department SWAT commander and as an uninvolved party, I believed that there had been no violation of law, policy or current SWAT practices with regard to anything that had been done in connection with the Moore incident,” Nova states in the declaration.

Nova said he would have given the same testimony before the grand jury had he been called....


Gallegos did call police training specialist George Williams to the stand as an expert witness at the request of Zanotti's attorney. Williams testified that Moore's death was a clear case of “suicide by cop,” and that the SWAT operation had been handled properly.

Gallegos questioned Williams' qualifications as an expert before the jury, saying he had never trained in SWAT tactics.

”Quite simply ... his summary of qualifications, though impressive as to particular things, is lacking as it relates to the facts that he gave an opinion as to,” Gallegos told the grand jury.


I wonder what the Grand Jury members would say to this?


The other defense motion filed Wednesday targets the pillars of Gallegos' involuntary manslaughter case: that Douglas and Zanotti acted with criminal negligence and that, in entering Moore's apartment without a Ramey warrant, officers committed an unlawful act that led to Moore's death.

In the motion, the defense argues the Ramey warrant wasn't required in the Moore situation because clear exigent circumstances existed, namely that Moore posed an immediate threat to herself and the community that necessitated prompt action.

The defense motion also takes aim at the prosecution's claim that Douglas and Zanotti acted in a criminally negligent manner by failing to adequately supervise the SWAT and crisis negotiation teams, and the communication between the two.

Not only does the evidence show that both teams, and the communication between them, was supervised, the defense argues, but Gallegos also failed to provide the grand jury with a benchmark of what constitutes “adequate supervision.”


In the motions, the defense also argues that Gallegos improperly and inadequately instructed the grand jury on the law.

”There were numerous serious errors and omissions in the prosecutor's instructions to the grand jury in this case; together and separately, they permitted the grand jury to indict on a legally improper basis and on less than probable cause,” the motion states.

The defense also argues that Gallegos failed to instruct the jury on justifiable homicide as an absolute defense to manslaughter and that, by presenting SWAT team members with immunity agreements that were known to the jury, Gallegos implied they were somehow guilty of committing a crime and that, by extension, so were their commanding officers.

Further, the defense argues in the motions that if the court finds legal fault with one of Gallegos' theories -- either of criminal negligence or the commission of an unlawful act leading to Moore's death -- it is obligated to throw out the entire indictment.

The motion states “where a court finds that one of the two alternate theories of guilt is legally unavailable, and there is no means by which to determine whether or not a conviction was predicated on that theory, the convictions must be reversed altogether.”

If a judge denies the defense motions, which are scheduled to be heard July 10, it would still have an opportunity to appeal them to another court before a trial takes place because the motions were filed within 60 days of Douglas and Zanotti's arraignment.


Related coverage Links to articles, letters and Op-Eds

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

On an admittedly unrelated matter, it appears two men who brutally sodomized a third man are getting off with no sex convictinos at all because, says Mr. Klein " the victim went fishing". Well, in the old days, the DA's office was perfectly capable of pulling a witness off a mid-ocean fishing boat in mid trial. Oh wait, that prosecutor is long gone to another county. Never mind. Next time give the victim a subpoena.

Anonymous said...

A subpoena? You mean like the Gunderson wife got? Wonder why these two criminals weren't worth it? Too bad the fisherman wasn't asleep during the assault.

Anonymous said...

If the defense attorney's claims are true, Gallegos is incompetent and should be removed from office before he wastes more of our tax dollars. However, realizing that a defense attorney's claims are not always accurate (see Gunderson case) I'll wait to see what happens.

I voted for Gallegos twice and against the recall. I'll apologize for those votes if this is true.

Can we get an apology from the Bush voters too? His incompetence has had much more devastating effect than Gallegos.

Rose said...

Can anyone just stay focused on THIS problem for one second? There are plenty of people focused on Bush.

THIS is something you can DO something about. THIS is right here IN YOUR BACKYARD.

Your voice and your vote can FIX this one.

Bush, Bush, Bush, Bush, Bush - stop it@!goddammmn it!

Right here, right now you are allowing a man to destroy an office that belongs to you and that directly affects you, yours friends and your neighbors. Your taxes pay for this man to degrade YOUR office, lose YOUR prosecutors, WASTE years of invested time and training, lose grants, lose employees, ruing the reputation, but WORST OF ALL, let the bad guys go free.

Using his office for his political contributors - think Palco, Douglas and Zanotti and Bowman...

If you won't say anything about this you have no right to breathe a word about Bush.

That's my opinion.

Anonymous said...

So the answer is no apologies for Bush. I already did say what I thought about this. Can't you read?
I SAID if what the defense attorney says is true that Gallegos is incompetent and should be removed from office. What do you want? A donation for a hit man? The fact that you think Gallegos is a more serious problem than Bush speaks volumes about your mentality, or lack of.

Rose said...

Are you able to discuss any subject without getting into Bush?

What to have for dinner, maybe? When you're talking to your auto mechanic about what is wrong with your car, do you blame Bush?

Rose said...

You know, it's funny. I used to know thie 'born again Christian" guy, and when he'd talk about his day, it was...:Boy Satan was really testing me today... I had a flat tire, and I knew Satan was really trying to win in my soul... stuff like that. Every aspect of his day was measured by that, and every sentence was peppered with it and references to God and Satan. And worse than that he was always trying to convert all the people at the table in the coffee shop.

It became comical, and annoying. Just like this weird injection of Bush into every conversation and every aspect of life.

As if.

Anonymous said...

I agree Rose, the constant anti Bush line gets old.

This issue about DA Gallegos is a serous one that has, does, and will continue to cause real problems within Humboldt County.

I'm anxious for the judge's ruling. I believe that the charges will be dismissed on both douglas and Zanotti. As they should be.

What happens then? Will Gallegos appeal the decision into the ground like he did with the PALCO case (wasting untold manhours and money)? I think he will. His ego and his special supporters will require it.

The real issue or problem is who might run against Gallegos? Who would seriously want the job after the office has been run into the ground? The sad fact is Gallegos may get another term just because he screwed up the office sooooo bad that nobody will want to take on such a herculean task.

Just a few thoughts.

Anonymous said...

It will take someone with guts as well as intelligence and integrity to fix that mess. I am just waiting for the mudslinging that will start when and if guts and integrity steps up to remove the putz from office.

Anonymous said...

An attorney with guts, intelligence and integrity would never even consider running for the office of DA! Let alone run against a self-serving, vindictive, tyrant like Gallegos. I think I have a solution... Drag that corrupt, socially inept, malicious, pathetic excuse for a DA from Del Norte County down here to Humboldt to run against PVG. Watching those two Dumb Asses go for each other's throats would be ghastly amusing to say the least!

Anonymous said...

Gee you are up awful early. I disagree with you, I think that there are people with guts and integrity that may run, but it will probably take a groundswell of support to convince anyone to throw their hat in given how bad it is now. Why go attack the Del Norte DA. It looks like he has done a pretty good job, at least there is nothing in the press on a daily basis about him.