Saturday, January 26, 2013

Elvine-Kreis said understaffing wasn't a justification for the violation of a defendant's rights. ”Part of the reason this happens is they are overwhelmed,” he said. “If they are overwhelmed, they need to hire.”

And therein lies the problem - Gallegos can't. And it's NOT because of underfunding.

It's the chaos. It's the workload. "Weak leadership and poor managerial practices" have undermined the office... " to quote the Grand Jury, oh-so-many years ago, and it is still the case today.

Public defender cites police, DA misconduct in burglary case; Judge denies motion to dismiss - Grant Scott-Goforth/The Times-Standard

Judge Bruce Watson denied a motion to dismiss a burglary case Friday, amid accusations by a public defender that a former Humboldt County District Attorney's Office prosecutor committed misconduct by failing to report a police interview with his defendant, saying it was not warranted under the circumstances.

The district attorney's office had argued the non-disclosure was simply negligence, resulting from an over-burdened staff.

The case highlights the sometimes controversial practice of police officers attempting to gain information from inmates in exchange for leniency in sentencing.

A mistrial was declared in the case on Dec. 13, following opening statements. Judge Marilyn Miles, who was overseeing the trial, granted the defense request when it came out that a police interview had taken place with the defendant outside of the scope agreed upon by her defense attorney at the time, and that the information she gave about her pending case was not turned over to the defense until the trial had started....

In his ruling Friday, Watson said the accusation that former Deputy District Attorney Allan Dollison, who resigned earlier this month, knew the content of the interview without disclosing it to the defense was convoluted.

”There's different versions to what exactly was known and when,” he said. “It's unclear, quite frankly, whether he knew.”

...Deputy District Attorney Zachary Curtis said dismissing the case was a drastic measure.

”There are other remedies, other means of holding prosecutors and police accountable,” he said, adding that it is not “this court's task to punish police and prosecutors.”
In opposing the motion to dismiss, Curtis said Dollison had no reason not to disclose that he knew about the police interview.

”It just boggles the mind to think that the prosecutor would deliberately hide this information,” he said. “It just escaped Mr. Dollison entirely.”

Curtis said it amounted to “facts lost to an extremely busy prosecutor in an overloaded office.”

Elvine-Kreis said understaffing wasn't a justification for the violation of a defendant's rights. ”Part of the reason this happens is they are overwhelmed,” he said. “If they are overwhelmed, they need to hire.”

...Dollison took the stand on Wednesday, answering questions from Elvine-Kreis and Deputy District Attorney Zachary Curtis about when he was aware that an EPD detective had interviewed the defendant in February.

Dollison said he became aware of the interview in July, but was not aware of the content of the interview -- which Elvine-Kreis called a confession -- until Dec. 10, after the trial had begun.

Elvine-Kreis said that Dollison knew about the interview in March, when he offered a reduced plea deal to the defendant. Dollison said he offered the deal without knowing the content of the defendant's statement, but Elvine-Kreis took exception, arguing that it was “ludicrous” that Dollison reduced an offer without knowing the content of the interview.

Watson said in his ruling that it was “peculiar” that EPD never provided the interview to the district attorney's office, and that Dollison did not request or receive the contents of the interview before the trial began.

”None of that is flushed out,” Watson said. “It doesn't occur, and that's odd.”

Case highlights lack of safeguards during jail interviews; Judge: Inmates can't be expected to know the law - Grant Scott-Goforth/The Times-Standard

Friday, January 25, 2013

Humboldt County murderer killed in (Corcoran) prison cell

...King County officials are investigating the death of Delbert Miller, 69, as a homicide, a press release from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said. - Times-Standard

Miller was serving an 81-years-to-life sentence for the murder of Lori Ann Jones, whose decomposing body was found in Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park in 2004....

Miller's cellmate, Kyle Alexander Osborn, 20, has been identified as the suspect, the release said. Osborn was serving a 26-year sentence for lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 with force and violence, and burglary and robbery.

De facto Death Penalty. (And no, not related to Gallegos, just Humboldt news.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

No longer able to hide it (NOTATION ADDED)

Flowery words like "committed to making necessary adjustments to make sure offenders will be held accountable, victims will be heard, and the community will be protected as much as is possible under the law.” cannot paper over it. And more funding will not solve it.

Regular readers of Watchpaul KNOW. Paul Gallegos started with 19 DDAs. He has, in Hanks Sims' words, "'lost,' fired, or driven off" virtually all of them. The most significant losses of the experienced, seasoned prosecutors is devastating to 'the People's Office.' And, upon losing this talent, Gallegos remains incapable of attracting, and keeping, quality prosecutors. In fact, many who come to interview here talk about their experience, and it's not complimentary.

This has been laughed off, brushed aside and ignored in every election. Gallegos supporters sneer, "He won." Yes. He won. But the people have lost, and been cheated, time and time again.

This latest case, with Dollison, is just the unraveling coming to light.

Dollison may have his faults, I've certainly been critical, but he is also a man who was operating under impossible conditions. He was thrust into a senior prosecutor position out of necessity - there's no one qualified left to do the job - and he did what he could, even had his successes (as he details in a column for the TS).

Nothing can save this office. Short of a new DA. You all know it.

But it's too late. You're stuck with him.

Deputy DA's resignation follows December mistrial; Gallegos: Underfunding a major issue for his office - Grant Scott-Goforth and Kaci Poor/The Times-Standard

Allan Dollison deserves his say in this matter - I'm glad to see The Times Standard allow him to have it:

My record at the DA's Office - Allan Dollison/for the Times-Standard

Allan Dollison will join Eric V. Kirk on KHSU, this coming Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm (PST) to talk about Afghanistan and the way forward. ◼

My record at the DA's Office - Allan Dollison/My Word/Times-Standard

I write this in response to the recent story that was published in the Times-Standard on the fact that I had departed the District Attorney's office after 6 years and 4 months (”Deputy district attorney out after 6 years,” Times-Standard, Jan. 16, Page A3). It is true that I have left. Mr. Gallegos accepted my voluntary resignation effective Jan. 11, and this part of a chapter of my life is now complete. It was a difficult decision, but in the end, I felt it was best for my career and ultimately my family.

The article pointed out that I was trying serious and violent felonies. Most recently, I was known for the successful prosecution and conviction of Brian Fiore, one of the worst crime sprees that this county had ever seen. Mr. Fiore received 68 years and 8 months and then three consecutive life sentences on nine felony convictions. I was actually in Iraq, serving my country when I read about it online, and I said, “Whoa, I really need to get back.” Three months later after completing my mission in Iraq, I reported to work eight days after returning from war.

You don't just have one case that you handle in 6 years and 4 months. During my career, I negotiated two guilty pleas to murder. Guilty pleas to murder are rare, in that being convicted of murder carries what is called an indeterminate sentence, and the governor has to ultimately approve any parole, and being convicted of murder is generally the worst thing that can happen, yet I accomplished that twice.

Joaquin Fitzgerald murdered a homeless man who was celebrating his birthday, and he received a sentence of 15 years to life in prison for second degree murder. I also handled the James Stanko murder case, another terrible crime spree, where six robberies culminated in the murder of cancer survivor and Army veteran Andrew Pease. Mr. Stanko received a 26 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to first degree murder and the six robberies. I personally gave my Bronze Star Medal (awarded for combat in Afghanistan) with my card to Mr. Pease's widow, as I thought it was an appropriate thing to do. I still see her around town, and always give her a big hug, and get emotional about her husband's case.

In 2007, I successfully tried and prosecuted Robert Canfield in a home invasion robbery of a single mother and her child in their west Eureka apartment. He received a 14-year sentence. Later that year, Johnny Randall was held accountable for resisting arrest by the now-chief of Hoopa Tribal Police, Robert Kane, who was injured in the melee. Randall was convicted by a jury, and later sentenced to prison for 4 years and 8 months. I also successfully tried a sexually violent predator case, that of Jerome Franz Gonzales, who had twice been convicted of molestation incidents in El Dorado and Del Norte counties. He received an indefinite term at a state hospital until he is cured.

In 2010, I tried the very difficult Roy Stevens murder case, that of a blind man who had gotten in a fight with his brother. He reached a point of safety, but came back with a gun and killed his brother. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, even though one of the sheriff's detectives said that he thought the jury would never convict the man of anything.

Part of this process, what I always thought and believed was my duty, was to prove the cases to best of my ability beyond a reasonable doubt, which also insured the victims had their day in court, a process that some in the criminal justice field believe can be a cathartic process for victims of crime. This is not always true, and many victims never want to have to go through the court process at all, and see the defendants. I did my level best to achieve an appropriate balance of those competing interests.

During these times, in our local newspapers there is lots of coverage about the DA's Office. Admittedly, not all of it is positive. The basic overriding fact was spelled out last year in an excellent series of articles by Thaddeus Greenson -- that the office is woefully underfunded, and that this causes too many cases, in excess of the American Bar Association recommended guidelines. With my departure there are three attorneys who handle the four misdemeanor trial courts (and one of those handles special grant cases as well). There are now three attorneys who handle the four felony trial courts. (These are the same four courts; they just shuffle on a daily basis between felonies and misdemeanors.) We also have a Juvenile prosecutor, and a Fish and Game prosecutor, and then the assistant DA and finally Mr. Gallegos. We also have a retired prosecutor who works part time. Mr. Gallegos' own trial schedule has dramatically increased to help make up for this difference.

I used to run a contract Public Defender's office in a rural county called Amador in between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. That county's DA's Office is the same size as Humboldt's, but the population disparity is profound -- they have 38,091 people to Humboldt's 134,623. I can report to you that the staff of the Humboldt County DA's Office is dedicated, and are all really good lawyers, who all choose to work in what is obviously a difficult environment. I highlight my cases and my work to show that even amongst all of these impediments you can have success (and yes, I had my share of failures, too). However the elected leaders of Humboldt County together with its populace must have a discussion, and decide if they want this situation to continue, where the office is dramatically under-staffed and under-resourced. Mr. Gallegos was even quoted as saying (in Mr. Greenson's article), “I'm breaking people.” There has certainly been a large staff turnover over the years, and all people leave for different reasons, but no community should want their government servants to be “broken.” The stakes are too high, as the basic function of the District Attorney's office is to protect all of this community's citizens.

Allan Dollison resides in Eureka.

NOTATION: 7/13/2013 - It's an interesting aspect of this blog that other people often get caught in the net, based on their entrance into the Gallegos saga. And so their names live online, to be unearthed whenever they apply for a job. Sometimes the searches that lead people here are for other reasons, but it usually has to do with a job search.

And, so it is that Allan Dollison appears here. His time with the DA's office has come and gone, he rose through Gallegos' ranks, and was slated, some said, to become Assistant DA. He was a loyal player, and, I believe, a true believer.

Through my work here, I am often kept informed about cases, how they're handled, how the various Deputy DA's do their job, interact with victims, and so forth.

And I feel it necessary to say this. I have come to the conclusion, that, for all his past mistake, Allan Dollison turned out to be one of the best and most honest of the bunch, far surpassing his boss, Paul Gallegos.

He has since left the DA's office, and, as is often the case when people leave, I get the chance to talk to them. I have talked with Allan Dollison. And, to his credit, he never once asked me to remove any of this info, as damaging as it is to him. I respect that, and I think it's noteworthy.

If you're looking to hire him, it's worthy of consideration.

I'm not pulling anything down, as that would be a disservice to the facts as they have unfolded, but I am adding this, to mitigate that online-lives-forever reality.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Brain Drain. Bad situation gets worse: Allan Dollison out

The rumors prove true.

Deputy district attorney out after 6 years

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos confirmed Tuesday that Allan Dollison no longer works in his office as a deputy district attorney.

Gallegos said he could not comment on whether Dollison -- a United State Army veteran who served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq -- had resigned or was terminated on Friday. He was hired by the office in 2006.

”Certainly, I appreciate all of Allan's work with the District Attorney's Office and his commitment to his community and country,” Gallegos said Tuesday. “But other than that, I can't discuss the nature of his leaving.”

County Human Resources Department Director Dan Fulks said he could not immediately comment on the circumstances surrounding Dollison's departure....

Early in his career, Dollison was disciplined by the State Bar.

In August 2000, Dollison received a 60-day suspension of his law license and was placed on two years' probation after stipulating to 16 counts of misconduct in four consolidated cases, according to the State Bar.

Those included failing to perform legal services competently or respond to client inquires; improperly withdrawing from representation; failing to return client files and unearned fees; and two counts of failing to cooperate with the bar's investigation.

The State Bar report stated as a mitigating factor that Dollison started a solo law practice soon after passing the bar, but due to a lack of experience and business acumen, he accepted difficult cases for relatively low fees.

When he was hired by Humboldt County District Attorney's Office in 2006, Dollison said in an interview with the Times-Standard that he got in over his head as a new attorney and took on more than he could handle at the time.

Related - in over his head?:

Tim Stoen, Jeffrey "" Schwartz, and now this... - WP Oct 23, 2006
What're we talkin' about here? - WP Oct 24, 2006

The sad thing is - he probably was one of the best attorneys Gallegos had, once he "lost," fired or got rid of all the experienced DDAs.

And there were rumors he might be considering running for Psul's seat.

Question is - who - and what - is left.

Remember, Under Gallegos the DA's Office has "lost" all of Humboldt County's experienced prosecutors, and then some:

DDA Zach Bird
DDA Jose Mendez
DDA Ed Borg
DDA Worth Dikeman
DDA Frank Dunnick
DDA Eamon Fitzgerald
DDA Heather Gimle
DDA Paul Hagen
DDA Nicole Hansen
DDA Shane Hauschild
DDA Andrew Isaac
DDA Allison Jackson
DDA Harry Kassakian
DDA Elizabeth Norton
DDA Murat Ozgur
Patrick Pekin
DDA Amanda Penny
DDA Gloria Albin-Sheets
Jennifer Strona
DDA Andy Truitt
DDA Nandor Vadas
DDA Rob Wade
Bill Rodstrom
Investigator Chris Andrews
Investigator Chris Cook
Investigator Jim Dawson (retired)
Paul's secretary Gail Dias
Office Manager Linda Modell
Investigator Eric Olson
Investigator Kathy Philp (retired)
Investigator Dave Dave Rybarczyk
Investigator Dave Walker
Child Interview Specialist Laura Todd
Senior Legal Secretary Melissa Arnold
Alternate Child Interviewer Jennifer Maguire

And, of course: Schwartz and Stoen.

Question, still, is "Who's left?"

Maggie Fleming, Max Cardoza, Wes Keat, Stacey Eads (on leave),
Allan Dollison, Arnie Klein, Jeff Schwartz,
Mary McCarthy, Davina Smith and Randy Mailman (the newest hire)

Two deputies leave DA's Office 3/8/2007
Update: 6/12/2007
County Counsel Kim Kerr - Longtime employee of the county takes job in Ione

Like Stoen leaving, this is good news... "" Jeffrey Scwhartz is leaving the DA's Office, going in to private practice (No surprise since he has had his "practice" listed in the phone book for the better part of a year, while acting as a prosecutor, which should be a big no-no.) 8/31/07, is gone.

1/2008 Davina Smith moves to the County Counsel's Office.

9/25/08 Deputy District Attorney Kelly Neel, who has been handling the (Belant) case, will be leaving the office for another job at the County Counsel Office, Gallegos said.

1/5/10 Kathleen Bryson, hired and reputedly fired by Gallegos, is now running against him... ◼ Local attorney throws hat in the ring for DA

DDA Ben McLaughlin