Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm sure this makes sense on somebody's planet

I'm just not sure where that planet is...

A local Dad was put on trial for letting his toddler walk a few steps ahead of him on a street in Ferndale. He was facing TWO YEARS in jail.

Yet these guys, these members of the Mongols street gang, which the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has labeled the most “violent and dangerous” in the nation get MAYBE a year in jail, and more likely PROBATION in a PLEA DEAL?

For shooting a guy. For attempted MURDER.

Why? Because they admitted to belonging to the gang?

The DA's Office will request the sentencing judge prohibit the men from associating with other gang members, which would legally bar the men from each other's company.

Yeah. We know you guys just tried to kill someone, shot him actually. So, we just don't want you hangin' out together anymore, ok?

Well, That's harsh.

update: (Looks like the comments thread at the Times-Standard got pulled again.)
update: ◼ Mongols members sentenced for shooting 1/21/09 A.O.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're right to mention Marsh's trial Rose, nobody should forget that irresponsible breach of the public trust by the county, but you're missing the point if you're comparing these two cases.
There is evidence the victim fired the first shot, and Lundin was reacting in self defense. The victim is an H.A., and refused to testify at the trial or even confess that the gun, found next to his hand, belonged to him. If this was tied up in trial, it would blow tax payer dollars, and the DA would not be able to get a conviction from the sheer lack of evidence that this was not self defense. Instead, they offered them a bargain that effectively shut down the entire Mongols operation in Eureka in the short term, and in the long term, prosecutors will have a much easier time identifying and prosecuting members of the Mongols biker club as gang members.
This is a win for the DA, but in typical Rose fashion, you fail to notice.

Rose said...

You can argue that they should have given the shooters a medal, too.

IF those things are true - that he fired the first shot, then they were acting in self defense. Why would they be charged with attempted murder.

If he wouldn't testify - rather like Jane Doe in Gundersen, perhaps they shouldn't have been charged, adding that to the point above...

You make good points, but points that say the DA knew going IN that he had no case.

One more plea bargain under odd circumstances. A couple more bad guys gonna be right back out. At this point, how are we to trust? That decisions are being made for the right reasons, when he goes after innocent people with such gusto and throws the full weight of the law against them, and then pulls back and plays coy games when it comes to the REALLY rough characters. The ones who hire killers to have their wife butchered - a polygraph? ONE after the other.

At some point his record will be examined.

Anonymous said...

From the story in today's T-S:

"McLaughlin called the outcome “appropriate,” after facts in the Nov. 7 shooting incident surfaced late in the investigation showing 43-year-old Thompson may have fired the first shot."

The operative phrase there is "late in the investigation." The evidence about the weapon came up after the charges were filed. That information doesn't prove that the victim fired first, but it does raise the possibility, which means the DA couldn't prove it was murder. The victim, the only prosecuting witness, wouldn't even testify, and continued to lie about his ownership of the gun.

A plea bargain was warranted in this case. Everyone benefited. The shooter got 2 to 3 years in prison and a strike, the mongols chapter in eureka took a massive hit, the city is a slightly safer place.

Sometimes a win is a win, but those are rare, and this one isn't. Maybe the "victim" should see some charges too. He's a kidnapper, and megan's law registrant who may have murdered two little girls and got away with it and now he's packing heat at a bar in downtown eureka and hanging out with other Hells Angels.

That criminal just got off with a few gunshot wounds. That's hardly justice.

Anonymous said...

1:07 and 2:55 - quit blogging from the DA's office. Either you are McLaughlin or an investigator. Your defense of what happened is too ardent and you give yourself away by your defense and asserted knowledge of what happened and when.

Just start doing your job damnit and no one would be critical. Most folks here respect law enforcement but will not tolerate a bull shit job.

Anonymous said...

3:30, how wrong can one idiot be.

First, I'm not blogging, I'm commenting on a blog. I am not an investigator or lawyer, but I do have knowledge about this case -- so do a lot of people.

Also, I am very supportive of this community being watchful and critical of the DA's Office. Even this this specific case, I am saying the district attorney is being negligent for failing to charge Robert Thomas, a kidnapper, convicted sex offender and possible murderer for having a gun, and firing it at a person in a public place.

I'm commenting because I think bloggers have a great opportunity to be batman-like vigilante watchdogs. Rose has that opportunity, but because she is only loosely acquainted with these issues, she often misses the point. Like in this case. They put a bad guy in prison. But there is another bad guy, an even worse bad guy, walking around free.

Rose said...

I don't disagree with you.

And speaking of gun charges, were those also filed against the Mongols?

As far as the 'late in the investigation' aspect - that has been an ongoing criticism of Galleogs - going all the way back to the drive-by shooting when he first was elected - the investigation was not complete, and he filed lesser charges than were warranted, without waiting.

It keeps happening, and here it is again.

When it is someone he really wants to get, he piles on the charges, figuring something will stick, I guess.

Either that didn't happen in this case (perhaps because McLaughlin is not Gallegos) or the newspaper account is inaccurate or incomplete.

But you're right, it looks like a whole slew of bad guys will go free, and if you think some admonition not to hang out together will stop them, well, I don't.

Rose said...

And, btw - the reason I keep comments open is just so that, when I do miss the point, people can make sure it gets in there. Pro and Con, part of the record.

Rose said...

Never mind - it looks like gun charges were filed...

Four men accused of gunning down a Hells Angels member outside an Old Town bar last week were arraigned in court Thursday afternoon on charges of attempted murder, assault with a firearm and participating in a criminal street gang.

Rose said...

...felony charges of assault with a firearm and participating in a criminal street gang.

Lundin now faces between two and three years in prison at his sentencing Jan. 15....

...felony charge of participation in a criminal street gang, and 26-year-old Brad Miller -- whom investigators believe was attempting to become a member of the gang -- pleaded no contest to being an accessory after the fact.

Those three men face up to one year in jail or one year probation at the Jan. 15 sentencing....

Anonymous said...

The Mongols did have a slew of charges in typical DA fashion. They were all initially charged with attempted murder, assault with a firearm and participating in a criminal street gang -- that's from a link on your blog.
It's totally typical for charges to change over the course of an investigation.
Criminals get picked up for one thing, then as the investigation proceeds, prosecuting lawyers talk about what they can actually convince a jury of, and they change the charges.
Like you say, they're seeing what sticks.

Rose said...

NO wonder gangs have proliferated - the penalties are awful light. I think you can get more for jaywalking - or not using those twisty light bulbs. (KIDDING! Sort of.)

Anonymous said...

"Criminals get picked up for one thing, then as the investigation proceeds, prosecuting lawyers talk about what they can actually convince a jury of, and they change the charges.
Like you say, they're seeing what sticks."

Uh - hello. Aren't they only supposed to charge what they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. This looks like a charge as much as you and see what sticks later. If you think that that is an ok way to use power over people, then we really disagree. Overcharging to get the advantage is just plain wrong.

Anonymous said...

They are supposed to charge what they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. And what they believe they can prove, and what they can actually prove change as the investigation reveals more information about the event.
Take for example the a hypothetical shooting that occurs on the street outside of a bar. The guy who got shot may have also fired a shot, and is just as culpable as the people who got away. But that isn't known to the investigators who respond to the scene. He lies to them and tries to hide the gun.
Then four guys get arrested several blocks away with a gun in their van. Who knows which one of them actually fired it? The police and the DA don't know. But they have to book these guys and hold them on some kind of charge, so they choose the obvious possibilities: assault with a firearm, attempted murder and runnin' with a gang.
Then, as police uncover more information and analyze evidence, they find out who actually pulled the trigger, and who fired first, and who is lying and who is culpable. They flesh out the story of the events, then the suspects are arraigned a second time, and charges can be changed.
This isn't weird or unique to our area, this is the way the system works:
1. after the arrest a "complaint" is filed with the initial charges.
2. the suspects are arraigned on those charges and make their pleadings.
3. DA takes its case to preliminary hearing for judge to decide whether the case is solid.
4. "Information" or updated and more accurate, fleshed out charges are filed.
5. Suspects are arraigned again on the new charges.

So it's not "overcharging," it's the legal tool for convicting people for shooting other people in the streets.

Anonymous said...

And Rose, 2 to 3 years in prison is hardly a get outa jail free card.

Rose said...

What will be the actual time served?

No, you know what? This has such a feel of deja vu about it - these words - oh they're going away, it's good he got something. It sounds like the drive by case, it sounds like Martinez-Hernandez. It has that spin feel to it.

I don't know why.

And you almost draw me in. But no.

Anonymous said...

"So it's not "overcharging," it's the legal tool for convicting people for shooting other people in the streets."

If you are McLaughlin, you need to consider a different job. Whoever is posting here is really defending this bizarre plea bargain.

Rose said...

Well, the objective of OVERCHARGING, to see if something sticks, implies you WANT TO PUT THE BAD GUYS AWAY FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.

Offering them deals for polygraphs, or offering a deal on an attempted murder charge if they will admit to being part of a gang, is kind of the OPPOSITE thing.

Yin/Yang. I guess.

We want them in jail, but we don't.

One thing though, a PLEA DEAL gets counted as a Gallegos WIN - and he'll use it for his next election.

Still not clear - was it attempted murder? Or was it self defense?

If it was self defense shouldn't Thompson be charged with attempted murder?

SHOOTING on a city street. A gun battle on a city street.

Anonymous said...

The HA had a shiny little .22 revolver? Is that what I read?

And who fell for that?

Can you just see him putting that on the bar at his local chapter for the other HA's to admire.

You're killing me man.
Oh, by the way, shooting survivors do not get to refuse to testify, unlike Jane Doe, and PVG was perfectly happy to trample Ms. Doe's statutorily protected rights in order to go after Gunderson.

Gunderson had guns. The Mongols
shot people. I can see why you'd want to deal.

Anonymous said...

I'm not an attorney, and I don't have any stake in this case. But what I see is certainly not a "bizarre plea deal," but an extremely typical way for a county prosecutor to litigate a matter.
A lot of you on this blog have beefs with plea deals, but that's likely because you don't understand the legal system. Plea deals are a good thing. They keep costly cases from getting tied up in court and they bring fast closure to an issue.
The real problem with plea deals happens when criminals get off easy -- and that happens all the time in this county, and you're right to gripe. But this isn't what's happening in this case. This is a verdant outcome, a gang member is about to go to prison for shooting someone, and prosecutors and law enforcement are now better equipped to charge similar gang members in this county.
The only reason I'm defending this plea is because you Watch Paul readers (and writer) don't seem to grasp the problem here. The problem is not the plea deal, the problem is that Robert Thompson is not being charged for having a gun. This is a rapist, kidnapper, Hells Angel, and the possible murderer of two little girls, who may have fired his handgun at people in downtown eureka. He just got punished with a few gunshot wounds. He needs to be paddled with the swift and heavy hand of the law. We just need someone to step up and do it.

Frankly, I've explained this about as well as I can. If you still don't get it, that's your fault. I've been reading this blog for several months now, and I think it could be a very useful tool, but because you are all directing so much emotionally driven negative energy toward Gallegos, you're missing the real faults that are being perpetrated by his office.

Plea deals are not always a bad thing. When your discussion is purely wrapped around the notion that plea deals are wrong, no one who knows about this stuff will take you seriously. If you focus your criticism on things that have actually been done wrong, people will take notice, and you might be able to affect some change. Otherwise, all your gripes are just pissing in the wind.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:51 -
You're right, they could have put Thompson on the stand. It would be a defense attorney's wet dream to have a chief prosecuting witness like that.
Think about it, here's a guy with a violent criminal history, who is a H.A. member, who continues to deny that the shiny revolver found in his hand is his. Do you actually think a jury is likely to have sympathy? Or believe his testimony? Most definitely not. Those Mongols would have have all gotten off, and then imagine how bad your combined butts would hurt.

Anonymous said...

10:56 - it is obvious that you are an attorney and that you are with the DA’s office trying to justify this. So just come clean. Your choices of words like “litigate” along with all of your other comments only give you away.

So prosecutors packed the complaint with every single charge they could possibly think of that might fit what they believed to be the facts of the case? There is a word for this -it's called "overcharging" -- the decision to file every charge under the sun.
Now I am a law and order man but do know that some DA's overcharge to intimidate a defendant into pleading guilty to at least one offense. An overzealous and unethical DA will stack a complaint with charges that result in severe or double sentences, duplicative charges or those that are only loosely supported by the evidence. Then, by totaling up the sentences, the unethical prosecutor has an easy time placing fear in the heart of unsophisticated defendants - not to mention worry in the minds of their attorneys, who are familiar with how the game is played.
The defendant then fearing a long time in jail pleads guilty to one of the listed charges which is often the most appropriate description of the offense that law enforcement really believed the defendant committed. The single offense that should have been alleged in the first place.

Overcharging is, the major reason why about 95% of convictions are obtained through a guilty plea.
Sometimes a defendant faced with "overcharging" opts to try to reduce the charges by convincing a judge to strike some or all of the charges at the preliminary hearing. That's what looked like happened in the Gundersen case.
The DA responded by taking the matter and filing the same charges a second time and adding some. He even found another victim, charged it and when he was left to try that case separately, he dismissed it because it wasn't proveable. At least that is what I got from the times-standard's articles.

Prosecutors shouldn't be allowed to penalize defendants like this, simply for exercising their right to their day in court, or for challenging prosecutors' charging discretion. Responding by saying that they can overcharge simply because they can and then saying that “it's the legal tool for convicting people for shooting other people in the streets” make me cringe. It should make any reasonable law and order person cringe too.

The American Bar Association, openly discourages the practice of overcharging. First, the ABA's Criminal Justice Standards prohibits charging without "sufficient admissible evidence to support a conviction." Put simply it means: Don't charge what you can't prove. Our current DA and his staff seem to routinely ignore this. At least that is what I read in the papers on a daily basis.

But that's not the only ABA guideline. ABA standards also say that "the prosecutor should not bring or seek charges greater in number or degree than are necessary to fairly reflect the gravity of the offense." It is this rule that the current DA and his prosecutors have broken routinely. Overaggressive charging decisions like these waste taxpayer money, and undermine confidence in the system: People expect defendants to be charged with what they did, period. People do not expect and will not tolerate a DA to charge in a manner that of throwing shit on the wall just to see what if any sticks. When I look at this plea bargain and the response by the DA it seems that that office doesn’t heed the ABA Standards, and pick charges appropriate to "the gravity of the offense.” It looks like a free for all over there. Whoever is trying to justify it above ought to stop posting and go to work reviewing cases, charging appropriately and convicting the bad guys instead of wasting time trying to justify lame plea bargains on this blog.

Anonymous said...

11:40 - It's hardly any concern to me if you want to believe I'm a lawyer. But for the record, I'm not. I might be a law student, I might be someone who works in court records, I might be someone following this case from reports - It's all public record.

And thanks for your boring lesson on ABA standards. Here's the thing though. If we're discussing just this case on its own, there was no over charging. The initial charges represented only the things law enforcement suspected to be true at the time the suspects were booked. What would have happened, had this gone beyond a prelim, which it didn't, is the People would have amended their charges to reflect the updates facts in the investigation.

You're eager to write that the office did something wrong, but you fail to mention what they should have done. If they're going to book four suspected gang members for shooting someone, and they don't know who pulled the trigger, who do they charge? It could have been any of them. What any good lawyer would do in that case is initially charge them all with firing the shot, then as DA investigators and EPD detectives continue their investigation, amend the charges to reflect those facts.

There are plenty of reasons to complain about Gallego's office. Jennifer Leahy's disposition makes me sick. So does Chief Gunderson's disposition. But this is a different case.

Since you've read so much about ABA standards, why don't you give me your opinion on what the District Attorney's Office should have charged these four Mongols with?

Anonymous said...

The charges are fine. The deal, not so much. In a gang shooting, they're all guilty as long as it's for the benefit of the gang.

A response indicates the gun was found in the victim's hand. Then how was that "late breaking news"?

And as for the erotic dreams of defense attorneys, reluctant witnesses are the norm in gang cases. Gang prosecutors can deal with it. Or maybe your DA only beats up girls?

Anonymous said...

"And thanks for your boring lesson on ABA standards."

Why am I not suprised that you don't give a fig about ethics. Seems that whole office agrees with you.

Anonymous said...

You talk about the dubious ethics of overcharging, but you comment: "in a gang shooting, they're all guilty..."
Maybe I'm not clear about your meaning, but it sounds like you're saying they should have all been charged with attempted murder? They were.
Are you saying they should have been convicted of attempted murder? You really think that would be ethical? Even for the fourth guy, a non-mongol, who got dragged along that night?

I'm concerned that ya'll think I'm standing up for the DA's Office. I'm trying to be as clear as possible that I don't support Gallegos. I support people who think critically and hold him accountable for his wrong-doings, of which there are a-plenty.

If they had put Thompson on the stand, in light of the information about the gun, which surfaced late in the investigation, they would have lost the case. A gun was found at the site, which cast into doubt the assumption this Mongol fired the first shot. Even the best "gang prosecutor" wouldn't be able to erase that fact.

I'm concerned that you think I'm siding with the DA. The only reason I'm commenting is I am critical of the DA. Things need to be done more responsibly. More people need to be held accountable for their crimes. I am commenting becasue there's a noticeable failure to think critically and dispassionately on this blog. You are all so wrapped up in this litany of anti-gallegos, anti-pleadealing, et cetera, that you fail to notice this guy Thompson isn't getting in trouble. The guy who shot him, maybe in self defense, is going to prison.

PS: Since you think I'm with the DA I'll mention to you that I seriously doubt anyone from Gallego's office reads this blog much, or takes it seriously. All anyone does here is give sweeping, emotionally driven statements, and only a fraction of them could actually be considered useful critiques.

Rose said...

Any idea WHY Thompson wasn't charged? You do have a legitimate point.

If it is his gun, his fingerprints would be on the gun as well as the bullets in the gun. Theoretically, you could place the gun in his hand to make it appear that he had a gun, but the fingerprints on the bullets would be very telling.

If he shot first, then the other guys, maybe shouldn't have been charged at all. Though there could be probation violations - they may not be allowed to have guns. No word of previous offenses or a rap sheet that I remember.

Like I said, you could argue they should be given medals, and you could argue it would have been a good thing if they had all killed each other.

Was the investigation complete, and if it wasn't, how does or should that factor in?

You can argue that piling on charges is a good thing if it scares the pants of the accused, and makes them take a plea deal, I suppose.

You can argue that plea deals are a good thing because they save the taxpayers money, and put bad guys away for sure as opposed to taking the risk of them getting off in the hopes of steeper sentences.

Lots of unanswered questions.

I guess we'll see if they get any time, or get SWAP.

Anonymous said...

Fingerprints on gun? You watch too much tv. On bullets? They're tiny little .22 longs or long rifles, not much print surface. DNA, now, that's likely to be on it. And more interesting is when and where the gun was found. I am reading
"at the site" and "in his hand" and I still don't get how that came up late in the day and I will NEVER buy that a Hell's Angel
was packing a pop gun like a .22 and nothing else. There is something fishy about the role of this popgun as a key piece of evidence. And if the DA is afeared of reluctant gang bangers but not
of reluctant rape victims, well, he's got serious craniorectal
inversion.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea why he's not being charged. He's the worst kind of criminal, and an obvious candidate for some heavy charges. It looks like the DA's going to be ignoring it.

Here's how bad this guy is. From newspaper reports:

"The 43-year-old Thompson, who was accused of killing 12-year-old Jodi Ragsdale and 15-year-old Sheila Carter, placed his hands over his face and wept on Thursday as a court clerk read the verdict in his second trial: Not guilty on two counts of first-degree murder."

"Their heads were so badly crushed that some investigators said the girls were rendered unrecognizable."

"Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II expressed disappointment with the verdicts, saying Thompson will ultimately have to answer to a 'higher authority' than a jury of his peers.
'We remain convinced that we had the right guy,' Morse said."

If you want to know about this cat, check this:

Robert Thompson found not guilty
Merced Sun-Star
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/253/story/539249.html

Hells Angel shooting victim cleared in Merced girls' murder
T-S
http://www.times-standard.com/ci_10954250

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:21 - Agreed, the fact the gun came up so late is pretty suspicious. Although I think it's pretty reasonable for a parolee like Thompson to be packing .22. Even a popgun can put holes in a motherfucker.

And I agree it may seem weird Jane Doe went on the stand in Gunderson's trial, while they balked at putting on Thompson. It's actually a perfect example to demonstrate my point. The DA thought Mrs. Doe was going to a star witness to testify about Gunderson's rape and spousal abuse, but guess what, she changed her testimony at the last minute and became the most pivotal witness in Gunderson's defense. The witnesses an attorney chooses to represent their case can make it or break it. Thompson would have almost certainly broke it.

Anonymous said...

The whole case was broke to begin with. 4 monguls and 1 HA all of them worthless. The victim is worse than the criminal. Nothing to prosecute.

Anonymous said...

There are more than a few people commenting on this blog. To assume you are writing to one would be incorrect.

You stated that:"What any good lawyer would do in that case is initially charge them all with firing the shot, then as DA investigators and EPD detectives continue their investigation, amend the charges to reflect those facts"

Nope - what a good lawyer would do would be to charge the person they could prove fired the shot and if the others could be shown to have aided him, then charged them also. You don't charge someone and then try to find the evidence to prove it. That is what is so wrong with all of this. But then again, those pesky little bar standards seem to get in the way of expedience don't they?

Anonymous said...

Right 2:24 - When the EPD first made the arrest, they had four men and one gun. In an effort to book those suspects and hold them rather than release immediately, they had to file charges. Those initial charges, which law enforcement usually suggest, were filed with the DA's office. What would have happened had this proceeded through the prelim, those charges would have changed to reflect the facts law enforcement found during the ensuing investigation. The case didn't get past prelim, but the charges still changed -- the charges the Mongols actually pleaded to are probably similar to the charges they would have received if it had gone to trial.
Sometimes charges change several times between the first arraignment and the jury trial.
You saw a good lawyer would charge the person they could prove fired the shot. But what you're not getting is that not only were these charges filed too early in the investigation to know who fired the first shot, the charges were also filed before attorneys were notified of the other revolver found at the scene, which threw into question the entire notion that this was attempted murder. If it had gone to trial, the defense would have rightly stated that the shooter was reacting to being shot at. Since the evidence can't prove otherwise, the prosecution would not be able to prove these men were attempting murder beyond a reasonable doubt.
You expect the DA's Office to be able to charge and hold criminals, but you also want to castrate them.

Also:
"There are more than a few people commenting on this blog. To assume you are writing to one would be incorrect."

Seriuosly? No duh.

Anonymous said...

I have tried to be reasonable but you have tried my patience.

EPD goes out to the scene of the shooting and there are four folks involved. They don’t charge shit buddy. They arrest. Period.

Then they request that the DA charge. Somebody in that office is supposed to review the thing to see what can be proven and charge it accordingly. Then the DA files the damn thing. It is abundantly clear that the DA will charge anything and then see what sticks later. I and a lot of other folks find that to be pretty inexcusable. The state bar and aba thinks its unethical.

BTW - I have never said a word about castrating anyone, so I have no idea what you are referring to.

And I really don’t think that a misdemeanor participating in a criminal street gang charge is justice. If they are thugs and from a really bad gang, why not hold out for the felony charge? Why are they not aiders and abettors to the other guys assault? No I have lots of questions and so does the rest of the community. Nope. Bad plea bargain. And a lot more of us are tired of seeing these botched cases, botched plea bargains and botched trials.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry this discussion is trying you patience, but frankly that's your fault.
I don't dispute what you say about EPD suggesting the charges to the DA, that's what I wrote earlier. It looks like in this case you would rather have had the DA fail to file any charges related to firing a handgun, and release the four men, simply because they could not possibly know which of them fired the weapon. You're saying that rather than charge all of them with attempted murder, or assault with a firearm, they should release them, or look for some other, lesser violation to hold them on. That's what I mean by castrating them. The only way the DA is able to hold suspects in a case like this is to file initial charges, based on initial evidence, and wait until investigators flesh out the details before finalizing the charges. The ABA doesn't say that's unethical, but it would be unethical if the DA held those charges through trial in an effort to scare the suspects into a lesser admission. That's not at all what happened in this case.

I don't necessarily share your feelings about the criminal street gang aspect of this either. First, it is a felony offense they're being charged with. That probably doesn't assuage your bad feelings, since they're getting off on a year jail or year probation.

If you read what they pleaded to, I think that synchs pretty well with what appears actually happened that night. They were charged for either being in a gang, or helping out in the commission of this shooting.

What this bargain did do is give prosecutors teeth to bite gangs in our area. Now, unlike a week ago, the superior court here recognizes there is a criminal street gang called the Mongols, and there's case law established to prosecute them.

What would have been unethical in this instance, is if the DA had continued to prosecute those men on the charges that were filed in the complaint after their arrest in attempt to frighten them into an admission of guilt.

You might not be happy that Lundin got between 2 and 3 years in prison and a strike. You might not be happy that Garcia and Liebes are now recognized gang members who will be on close watch on probation and won't even be allowed to legally associate (though I agree with Rose that that's likely to happen). You might even think Miller, the guy who just thought Mongols were cool and wanted to join their gang, should get several years in prison. Not everyone is going to agree this is justice, but it's about as close as any court system is going to get. And it's much better than what happened to Gunderson and Leahy, and Barger, et. al.

What would you have happen to these guys? You have lots to say about how it's "botched" justice, so what do you think is appropriate?

red said...

This case is clearly an NHI (No Humans Involved) kind of caper; without knowing more about the facts I would have to say that a 245(a)(2) is probably a good outcome. I am assuming that he pled to the 245, TS just says assault with a firearm. I am confused about the TS story, says dipshit is looking at a 3 year lid, but 245(a)(2) is a 2-3-4. Also what was the gang enhancement? If it's a 186.22(a) then that's a 16-2-3 which means if the 245 is the base term, he would get 8 mos (one third the base term), assuming consecutive sentencing. If its 186.22(b)that's 5 years consecutive because 245 is a serious felony kind of strike. Either way he's looking at more then 3 years, unless the DDA bargained the sentence. He would only have to serve 50%, though, because 245 is a serious felony not a violent felony. Anyway, you up there in Humboldt have recently had a couple other NHI cases, Dowdy and that case where the guy was shot on a porch and the grower hid the body - and this case was worse then that, victim here is a complete POS, apparently had a firearm (BTW, a .22 is good enough to shoot someone in the back, which about what I would expect from this mook), how you gonna prove that it was not self-defense? NHI cases are tough. Course the DA knew that going in and charged it anyway. The problem is that this office has a history of bad decisions, so in that context one wonders whether this is a reasonable outcome or more of the same. Once a pattern develops it's hard to give someone the benefit of the doubt anymore. I wonder what the pre-prelim offer was? Did the 245 beat that? Looks like all the other dipshits pled to misdemeanor 32, that again may be a good outcome for the evidence but it's hard to say. As for giving LE tools to fight gang crime, that's utter drivel. How? In what manner? That's just nonsense. These guys have made certain decisions about their lives already, misdemeanor summary probation isn't going to scare them. As for dipshit going to prison with a strike, that is all well and good but remember, it's not the ruination of his life, it's a step on his chosen career path. For a guy like this a stretch in the pen is something he puts on his resume. He'll be out before the next election (assuming the HA don't shank him), PVG better hope he doesn't do something bad to a taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

OK

1st of all! Why did the plea bargain (AND IT WAS A BARGAIN FOR THE CRIMINALS) happen on the 3rd day of the preliminary hearing? If you're going to give up the whole case you might as well do it the first day and save veryone some time.

This plea bargain is B.S. pure and simple. The victim was a Hell's Angel, a convicted child molester, and a suspected murderer of two girls. The victim is (and will always be a horrible person). I don't feel sorry for him, the Hells Angels are gansters just more sophisticated than the Mongols. From reading the news there has been some kind of ongoing battle between the two gangs. I doubt if the Hells Angel dude was going to try and shoot it out with the 4 mongols with a 4 shot 22 mini revolver. That being said.

The issue that seems to be overlooked is that these gangsters started shooting in public on the city streets of Eureka !!! People should be outraged by that. On many of the gang drive by shootings in SoCal it's an innocent person that gets shot or killed by a stray bullet or one that misses the intended person. And it was just pure luck that no bystander or passerby didn't get hit with one of the 8 bullets that didn't hit the hells angel. Where did they go? Even the cops don't know.

The penal code has enhancements, extra charges and penalties, for using a firearm to commit a violent crime, and more for using a semiautomatic firearm. Plus the penal code section 186.22 allows all of them to be charged including the scumbag victim.

Bottom line, the DA's office performance in court on this case was nothing short of dismal. The charges were good but the deputy district attorney handling the case just folded like a cheap suitcase. This was a serious incident and should have been handled by the most experience or best DA in the office.

This makes it seem like shooting it out on a city street is not that big a deal in Humboldt County!

I don't think I'm the only person that has noticed that violent crime has gone up significantly in the past year or so.

Thank you Paul for your guidence and leadership. FMN.

Anonymous said...

It was a good outcome. Period. Juries do not convict in Humboldt County.

Rose said...

Interesting perspective.

We certainly have a bunch of young people who live in a different reality here than they meet when they go out into the real world - specifically when it comes to pot and drugs. Here, laissez-faire, out there, jail and prison time.

Thanks, Red. You always elevate the discussion.

Rose said...

I have to add that, I'm sorry, anon. I just don't buy the argument that the authorities have been unable to do anything about a 'very dangerous' gang because the gang is pretending to be a 501(c)(3) holding toy drives... until NOW.

That argument sounds good, sounds impressive actually, but it doesn't add up.

If getting someone to admit to being part of a gang is considered a win, we're in serious trouble.

And yes, I do apply that to BOTH gangs, both the victim/possible instigator and attempted murderer Hells Angel himself and the possible victim/attempted murderer Mongols.

Anonymous said...

Red - there is a three year cap because that was the plea bargain.

Yup, I agree - it was pathetic performance again by our Dumb Ass DA and his pathetic crew.

Anonymous said...

Almost all of the DA's current "pathetic crew" haven't been trained properly. Just because they graduated from a law school and passed the bar doesn't mean they're ready to go into court. PVG can't train them becaue he is and has been a marginal lawyer at best. Klien doesn't even try, he just takes plea deals to make everything a misdomeaner so he does as little work as possible.

Ben tries but he has little DA training and therefore little confidence. His lack of confidence shows and the defense lawyers eat him up.

But in reality the real problem is at the top. The buck stops at PVG./

Anonymous said...

The buck stops at PVG because that's where the voters left it. What else would you expect? Take a look around Humboldt. Where is the ambition? The discipline? The integrity? The can-do attitude? What positive steps are being taken for better jobs, better schools, better infrastructure, better, safer communities? Mediocrity, slackitude and victimhood are the values of Humboldt.

Rose said...

Mediocrity, slackitude and victimhood are the values of Humboldt.

You left out criminality and addiction. And a variety of phobias.