Second Smoking Gun Of Prosecutorial Team Cheating Emerges In Death Penalty Case

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R. Scott Moxley
DA Rackaukas addresses reporters in March
We reported earlier this week ("Dial Eme For Murder," April 15) that the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) won a 2007 death penalty case after hiding a key piece of evidence that would have undermined the government's trial position. Prosecutor Dan Wagner argued defendant Anthony R. Navarro, a Mexican Mafia associate and a prolific FBI informant, ordered three gang soldiers to carry out an October 2002 hit near Knott's Berry Farm. Navarro said he couldn't have commanded the soldiers because the gang wanted him dead for being a snitch, an assertion Wagner mocked as a "ridiculous" lie.

The prosecutor wasn't just wrong; law enforcement possessed evidence proving the error. Nearly two months before successfully asking jurors to impose death, government agents recovered the Mexican Mafia's secret "hard candy" list, which recorded the names of individuals the gang wanted murdered on sight, including Navarro, a.k.a. "Droopy." In a flagrant violation of ethics, officials hid that document from the defense, Judge Francisco P. Briseno and a jury of seven men and four woman. The 48-year-old defendant now lives on San Quentin State Prison's death row hoping the state Supreme Court will someday overturn his conviction.

But the Weekly has learned Wagner's prosecution of Navarro, his only death penalty victory before taking over the OCDA's homicide unit, cheated the defense of a second piece of critical exculpatory evidence: a letter written by Armando Macias, one of the gang soldiers that killed victim David Montemayor and months later used shanks in a murder attempt on Navarro inside a Fullerton courthouse holding cell.

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DA Tony Rackauckas Once Again Milks A Pedophile Case

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Courtesy: Jack Lindsay / City of Vancouver archives
Milking it
It's not often when Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas conducts a press conference. It's exceptionally rare when Rackauckas calls the media to his office to announce he's filing an appeal. But the DA has suffered huge public relations setbacks this year involving alarming prosecutorial team incompetence and cheating in death penalty cases.

So, this morning, Rackauckas issued his third "media advisory" in two weeks to draw attention away from the messes and to a no-lose PR stunt: Attacking Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly's decision to go relatively soft on 19-year-old Kevin Jonas Rojano-Nieto, a pedophile who sodomized a three-year-old female relative and received a 10-year prison sentence instead of a 25 years to life term sought by prosecutors.

Or, more accurately: Renewing his re-attacks on Kelly, who--by the way--is, like the DA, an ultra-conservative Republican.

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Are "Orange County" and "Ethics Reform" Mutually Exclusive? Kick It Around Wednesday

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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Would you buy an ethics commission from this board chairman?
Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Todd Spitzer hosts a roundtable discussion in Irvine Wednesday afternoon that is either part of genuine, much needed ethics reform or a continuation of a charade pulled on county voters last year.

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Scott Steiner, OC Judge Censured for Courtroom Sex, Already Fundraising for 2016 Reelection

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Illustration by Bob Aul
Steiner: Likes 'em...

Last time we heard about OC Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner, the California Commission on Judicial Performance censured him for banging ex-students of his inside the courtroom (a story our own Moxley broke in 2013). It was an embarrassing moment for the former prosecutor and son of former OC Supervisor Bill Steiner, especially given Scott has a wife, a kid, and always tried to portray himself as a conservative type of guy.

But Hizzoner must be scared of not winning his reelection campaign, which ain't happening until the fall 2016 elections. Because Steiner and his favorite defense attorneys are already organizing a fundraiser for him next week.


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Santa Ana's Miguel Pulido Rides Alone in Orange County as Immigration Reform Signee

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OC Weekly archives
Lone horseman Don Papi Pulido
Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido is the only Orange County official who has joined 70 mayors and state representatives across the country in signing a statement released Monday calling for an end to the delay in implementation of President Barack Obama's executive order on immigration.

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Orly Taitz "Consistent" in Claiming Ted Cruz Can't Be President for Same Reason as Obama

Categories: Politics

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Fox News (left), CNN
Ted Cruz gets no slack from Orly Taitz even though she says they are of like political minds.
Since we've poked a stick at "Queen of the Birfers" Orly Taitz over the years due to her quixotic quest to have Barack Obama declared ineligible to be president (because his birthplace was not where she wills it to be), it is only fair that we point out the Rancho Santa Margarita lawyer/dentist/real estate saleslady/Putin love child is consistent when it comes to Ted Cruz. That is, she vows to file her legal funny papers against the declared Republican presidential hopeful should he become the nominee on grounds he is not a natural born U.S. citizen.

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OCDA #2 Susan Kang Schroeder Responds to OC Bar Association Slamming OCDA: UPDATE

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Media pool photo by the Los Angeles Times
Judge Goethals

UPDATE #1, MARCH 31, 3:31 P.M.: OCDA spokesperson Susan Kang Schroeder issued the following statement regarding the Orange County Bar Association's public rebuke yesterday of her boss, Tony Rackauckas. Roll the tape!

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Mike Huckabee Spreads the, uh, Word at the Nixon Library SATURDAY

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Photo by Gage Skidmore
Mike Huckabee speaks at the 2014 CPAC Convention.
Possible 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will be at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum Saturday morning to talk about and sign his New York Times bestseller God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy. It'd be a good idea to purchase a copy from the museum bookstore rather than picking one up on a remainder table on the way to Yorba Linda (manners, folks). But you might also want to bring along a copy of the Huckster's 2005 work of fiction, Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork.

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How Tony Rackauckas Took A Slam Dunk Death Penalty Case And Turned It Into His Worst Crisis

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Kevin McVeigh
DA Rackauckas: If I only had a brain . . . I'd unravel every riddle for any individ'le, in trouble or in pain

Orange County's worst mass shooting, the so-called 2011 Seal Beach hair-salon massacre, began as a traumatizing event for all, but it has devolved into one of the most polarizing legal struggles to hit our legal system. The question isn't about Scott Dekraai's guilt. Dekraai admitted to police that he was the killer within minutes of the shooting. Controversy swirls, however, around the tactics of prosecutors and sheriff's deputies trying to impose a death-penalty punishment rather than a 200-plus-year prison sentence without the possibility for parole. With one embarrassing revelation after another, the battle has grown painful, especially for the baffled families of the victims. To help understand why Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals, himself an accomplished former prosecutor, this month made a historic decision to recuse Tony Rackauckas and his district attorney's office (OCDA), we are providing a chronology of events:


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Ex-County Assessor Webster J. Guillory Has Felony Count Nixed, 2 More Now Misdemeanors

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County of Orange
The felony case helped sweep Webster J. Guillory out of office.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Gassia Apkarian on Tuesday dismissed a felony count of filing false nomination papers against ex-county Assessor Webster J. Guillory and reduced two other felony counts to misdemeanors.

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