Law enforcement continues to get battered in the court of public opinion. In general, law enforcement could really use a boost of good press.
Well, don't look to California. As if the state didn't have enough of its plate already, the now infamous Orange County jailhouse informant scandal threatens to shake law enforcement even more. So much for good press.
Orange County's Snitch System
It's been about two years since noted public defender Scott Sanders exposed Orange County's expansive informant networking culture that has resulted in multiple overturned convictions by local sheriffs' and prosecutors' violations of inmates' constitutional rights. And since then, things have only gotten worse.
"Widespread Criminal Conspiracy"
It all came crashing down for the county in the beauty salon murder case of Scott Evans Dekraai. In the Dekraai case, Sanders successfully moved the court for the local DA recusal from the case after it was revealed that pretty much the entire DA's office was compromised in a well established jailhouse informants' scheme, prompting the granting judge Thomas Geothals to paraphrase the defense allegations of a "widespread criminal conspiracy."
Records of OC's Snitch Program
This time, more damaging disclosures threaten to delay a previously scheduled May 20 hearing for double-murder defendant Daniel Patrick Wozniak. It turns out, the Orange County PD had been hiding a pile of records related to OC's snitch program. By now, few people are surprised at the existence of such records.
Sanders, learning from his past experiences with the department, came prepared. Sanders recently filed a motion seeking even more evidence and disclosures from the sheriff's department following the revelation of the papers. Incidentally, the documents were actually part of yet another unrelated murder case, suggesting that lawyers and other civil rights advocates have only just scratched the surface of the scheme.
Attorney for the county have responded that the OCPD is being "canvassed" for all records in an attempt to comply with Sanders' request. Still, even if everything is shaken out, we're not sure we're going to like what we see.