Thursday, May 31, 2012

"We've been understaffed for a long time..."

Misdemeanor prosecutions may fall prey to budget ax; DA warns law enforcement funding may prevent filing of most non-felony cases - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard

”We want to prosecute everything, but what I've let the chiefs know is that if we are not staffed adequately, we may have to reduce our cases,” Gallegos said. “We've been understaffed for a long time, and we've worked 100 ways to make it happen, but what's progressively happened is we've just gotten to the point where there is no more to cut.”

While Gallegos' proposal to drastically cut down on misdemeanor prosecutions if his budget isn't increased has been met with concern in law enforcement circles, he said he simply doesn't see any way around it, explaining that his office's expenses have been growing -- through personnel and supplies costs -- while its funding has shrunk.

The proposed 2012-2013 county budget holds the line of funding for the DA's Office from last year, but Gallegos said his office has seen some of its grants reduced, adding that grant money accounts for 62 percent of his budget.

If things don't change, Gallegos said, his office will be left with 11 attorneys -- including himself and Assistant District Attorney Kelly Neel, who handles charging of all the office's cases and, consequently, rarely sees a courtroom.

Gallegos said he has three attorneys that are tied to grants or funding sources -- one for environmental and consumer protection, one for worker's compensation and auto insurance fraud, and another to handle drug task force cases -- and the remaining six deputy district attorneys man the county's six courtrooms, which must be staffed with a prosecutor five days a week. And, Gallegos said, with attorneys spending hours in preparation for every hour in court, his staff is wearing thin.

”I'm breaking people,” Gallegos said. “We are at a critical staffing level, and we've gotten there not just in one year, but over years and years. A little reduction is now a big reduction because you get to that tipping point, that threshold.”

...Gallegos said he's not asking police not to arrest offenders -- he's just saying he won't prosecute them, meaning law enforcement can still pick people up and book them into the jail, but they'll be released by law after 48 hours without charges being filed against them. That's just what the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office will do if misdemeanor prosecutions do see a large drop off, said Lt. Steve Knight.
”We will still continue to do our job and will continue to submit cases and, obviously, the district attorney has to make his own charging decision,” Knight said. “We would still respond to calls and treat everything the same as we do now.”

MAYBE - MAYBE, Paul, "losing', firing, and driving off our county's top, seasoned prosecutors WASN'T SUCH A GOOD IDEA AFTER ALL. Only 11 DDAs left? Wow. You should be swimming in unallocated personnel dollars. Why have those vacant positions not been filled?

Funding is an excuse. Get real. Ask Law Enforcement. This has been going on already, for a long time. Now the budget provides cover.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Free speech?

#Occupiers have the right to free speech, and they take full advantage of it. The idea that it is being abridged because they can't homestead the Courthouse is ludicrous.

They have the right to petition their government, as do we all. They have the right to write letters to the editor, as do we all. They have the right to design and print all manner of printed materials including flyers, letters to fellow citizens and elected officials, ads in newspapers, magazines and other publications. They can even start their own publication. They can buy ads to get their message out on radio and TV.

They have cellphones, websites, email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and livestreaming, which #Occupy all over the world takes full advantage of.

In short - they have more free speech than anyone in the history of the world. Long gone are the days of having to xerox flyers. No one - no one - has done anything to take away their right to free speech.

The only thing the Board of Supervisors (including Mark Lovelace) has done is ask that they exercise some level of decorum and respect for others, and for public property.

The idea that being asked to go home at night infringes on their free speech - laughable. Get real.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bigleggins pleads in child murder case

Under a plea agreement reached with the district attorney's office and accepted by Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Timothy Cissna this afternoon, Leon Alyious Bigleggins pleaded guilty to manslaughter and felony child abuse charges in a deal that will see him sentenced to 18 years and four months in prison at a hearing next month. - Times-Standard

Arrested after the July 2010 death of 4-year-old Dylan Blount-Chambers, Bigleggins was preparing to stand trial on a murder charge that carried a potential sentence of 25 years to life in prison, if he was convicted. A training mixed-martial arts fighter, Bigleggins was the boyfriend of Dylan's grandmother and one of the boy's primary caregivers. Preliminary hearing testimony indicated he would discipline Dylan by whipping him with a broken clothes hanger, kicking him in the chest and forcing him to do squats and sit ups in the trailer they lived in on a property near Blue Lake.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The attacks on the messenger have begun.

Daniel Mintz, Kevin (Arcata Eye) and Jack (McKinleyville Press) are under fire for reporting on the purpose of the closed session meeting regarding the damage claim against the County.

Mitch - the new "Heraldo" leads the charge: ◼ DA employee files suit claim against Gallegos, other employees
Hey Kevin, The screeching partisans here at Heraldoland are waiting for you to report the facts, buddy. Did you already know what's in the T-S story when you printed the hit, or will you be using the Durham maneuver ("duh, nobody told me, it woudda been a scoop")?
Hey, Mitch. It's called an "evolving" story. The only crime is NOT to report out of fear of your braying hounds.

And "Jack Sherman" (aka (Jack Sherman) IP address: commented on DA employee files suit against Gallegos, other employees.
in response to Mitch:

More at Kevin Hoover’s Arcata Eye. The Daniel Mintz story hit job has everything but a response (or even an indication that a response was solicited) from any of the people against whom the allegations have been filed.

I tried to read the Eye a few times. It's design appears haphazard and chaotic, distracting to read, difficult to follow, with words in colored boxes jumbled so tightly together it's like deciphering a code, you have to be an idiot-savant or M.C. Escher for the layout to make sense. I'd hate to see it shut down, but newspapers have made themselves increasingly irrelevant. Journalists used to hunger and compete in search of the excesses and ironies of injustice and power, now they cower from them. Not much of a story here. There's literally hundreds of employee suits on file downtown against HSU, county, state, and federal officials, and soon, one of the largest employee lawsuit-generators in the world will arrive in Eureka's Bayshore Mall.

Kevin Hoover says:
May 9, 2012 at 9:48 am
Publishing public documents is a “hit job” in Heraldoland, always eager to defend the status quo/powers that be.

Surely you know that the accused have been advised not to speak about the pending litigation. But if they do, great. There will be a more elaborate story next week.

Were a different DA in office, you’d (prematurely) frame it a story about a whistleblower being harassed, as the DA’s opponents surely will prior to any actual fact-finding being done.

We’ll continue to report the facts and let the screeching partisans try and shoehorn it into their respective, funhouse mirror-image narratives.
Mitch says:
May 9, 2012 at 10:06 am
Right, Kevin. No need for a phrase like, “The Eye contacted so-and-so for a response. So-and-so replied that they were unable to comment on pending litigation.”

Everyone knows that, and besides, it might point out that we’re only hearing one side’s story. No need for that. Hey, got a good limerick?
jackdurham says:
May 9, 2012 at 11:10 am
District Attorney Paul Gallegos has been contacted and asked to respond. As soon as he responds, his response will be posted.

Regardless, we will continue to cover the news, without fear or favor. McKinleyville Press Editor Jack Durham has some thoughts on the matter. - Arcata Eye/Facebook
Our straight forward reporting was described as a "hit piece" and "yellow journalism" on the anonymous blogs. (Kevin Hoover and The Eye took most of the heat, even though we shared the same story.) - McKinleyville Press/Facebook

How dare you report on something that actually happened, is a matter of public record, and is serious enough to warrant a closed session discussion by the County Board of Supervisors. The nerve.

Claim alleges malfeasance in DA's Office; Gallegos: Allegations will be proven false

Claim alleges malfeasance in DA's Office; Gallegos: Allegations will be proven false - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard

The claim alleges that Duncan -- who has been with the DA's Office since December 2006 -- was retaliated against for complaining of sexual harassment, questioning the office's “unlawful polygraph practices” and questioning potentially improper uses of office resources, including “the use of county equipment, resources and employee time for Paul Gallegos' re-election campaign.”

Reached Wednesday, (Psul V.) Gallegos said he couldn't discuss Duncan's claim in detail but said he believes her allegations are without merit.

”I think they're false, and I think that will come out. I think that's all I can say,” he said. “At this point, we just have to let things proceed, and I think at the end of the day (the allegations) will be proven false.”

...Duncan's complaint lists 10 bulleted issues that she allegedly questioned or reported, including office officials claiming hours worked while on vacation, failure to report a “known thief” working in the Humboldt County Superior Court, Victim Witness showing “favoritism” in handling checks to crime victims, the possible misappropriation of grant money and “unlawful polygraph practices.” The bulleted points contain few specific allegations and simply list the issues about which Duncan reports to have inquired....

County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith-Hanes said Duncan's claim has been rejected by the county's Department of Risk Management, which typically accepts or rejects claims submitted to the county unless there is a particular reason to bring them before the board. Smith-Hanes said the first time supervisors have discussed the matter was Tuesday, when it came before them as a closed session item agendized as anticipated or potential litigation.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Lawsuit against DA Gallegos alleges corruption, discrimination & harrassment

The District Attorney’s Office’s Legal Services Manager has filed a damage claim against the county alleging that District Attorney Paul Gallegos, former Assistant DA Wes Keat, Chief Investigator Mike Hislop and other management-level employees subjected her to “discrimination, harassment and retaliation.” - Daniel Mintz/McKinleyville Press

...The claim states that Duncan questioned the use of the office’s resources for Gallegos’ re-election campaign, objected to “unlawful polygraph practices,” and questioned various activities of Hislop and Victim-Witness Supervisor Joyce Moser.... The Board of Supervisors went into closed session at its meeting today, May 8, to discuss the claim but took no action...

Lawsuit Against DA Alleges Corruption, Discrimination, Harassment - Daniel Mintz/Arcata Eye

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Gallegos said he respects the jury's decision and understands that the burden of proof for a crime rests with the prosecution.

Defendant acquitted in decade-old murder case; Miller released from Humboldt jail Tuesday - Megan Hansen/The Times-Standard
After spending nearly one year in jail, a man accused of stabbing a Eureka woman to death in 2002 was released Tuesday following his acquittal.

The jury serving on the case of Joseph Eugene Miller, 43, began deliberations Tuesday morning to decide whether Miller was guilty of murder in the death of Beverly Jean Jacob, 46. Miller was arrested May 19, 2011.

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said it took the jury less than three hours Tuesday to acquit Miller.

”They thought there was reasonable doubt,” Gallegos said.

On his own. No slam dunk.

Humboldt jury acquits Miller of murder
DA: DNA key evidence in 10-year-old murder case; defense in Miller trial says investigation haphazard in closing arguments Monday
While prosecutors of a 2002 murder case argued Monday that the man accused of stabbing a woman to death in Eureka is guilty because of DNA evidence, the defense points to a “haphazard investigation.”
Cold case heads to trial; jury selection under way in 2002 murder case - Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Deputy District Attorney Ben McLaughlin said the process of selecting a jury to hear Miller's trial began Monday, but he declined to comment further on the case.
Man arrested in connection with 2002 murder; officials say DNA 'cold hit' reopened stabbing death case - Kaci Poor/The Times-Standard 5/20/2011
For five years, the identity of Jacob's murderer remained a mystery. Her file grew cold in the

Eureka Police Department, but in 2007 a DNA “cold hit” warmed the case up. The hit, obtained by a criminalist from the Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services, revealed Miller's DNA on an item of clothing worn by Jacob at the time of her death, officials said.

According to the Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Sciences, or BFS, a “cold hit,” like the one used to implicate Miller, occurs once every day in California. According to the BFS, “A hit occurs when DNA evidence from an unsolved crime sample matches a DNA profile from evidence in another case or an offender's DNA profile in the CAL-DNA Convicted Felons database.”

The DNA evidence prompted a comprehensive investigation by the EPD and BII, which led to Miller's eventual arrest.

“The lab results opened the door for further investigation,” O'Neill said. “Homicide cases are never closed until we find an answer.”