Part2: Sneddon has History of Prosecutorial Misconduct? MJEOL Bullet #190-B In part two of MJEOL Bullet #190, Sneddon has History of Prosecutorial Misconduct?, we pick up with the Gary Dunlap case and the massive documented prosecutorial misconduct by the same prosecutors now in charge of the Michael Jackson case.
To refresh, Dunlap is an attorney who was accused of crimes allegedly because prosecutors wanted to get him out of the way. He was winning too many excessive force cases against the police department. Dunlap was acquitted on all charges and is now suing Sneddon, including Deputy DAs and investigators, for $10M in federal court.
We have already learned of prior bad acts with prosecutors, including the current DA Sneddon. And, no, DA does not stand for dumb ass, although some who have had run-ins with him may argue such. There is a pattern of misconduct with the way prosecutors use the media to further their cause, with the way these prosecutors handle the grand jury process and with the way they investigate a case, if we look at the evidence from Dunlaps case. We also learned that there have been settlements made between the sheriffs department and citizens who have accused the police of excessive force, which will be discussed a bit later. As previously discussed, Dunlap reveals just what lengths these set of prosecutors went to, to try to win the case against him. We pick up with the Dunlap case and how prosecutors tried to get him disbarred with zero evidence and while the case against him was still pending. Dunlap says they instigated some kind of a complaint to the State Bar against him:
GARY DUNLAP, ATTORNEY: Well, thats what they did. They tried to get the State Bar to take action against me just based on their charges. SWEET, RADIO HOST: Their unsubstantiated charges? DUNLAP: Their unsubstantiated charges. And the State Bar essentially took a hands off position pending the outcome of the case I understand the charges have been filed now with the state bar for [the prosecutions] conduct for some of their conduct in my case—those against some deputies and the assistant district attorney who supervised my prosecution, but I havent had anything personally to do with that. SWEET: Sounds like the tables have been turned a little bit, though. DUNLAP: I think the tables have been turned. And, well, its not even the tables being turned. Its just a case of the light being shone where it needs to be illuminated. (see Gary Dunlap Interview || Listen Online)
So where are the checks and balances, and has anyone in authority gone on the record against the alleged illegal actions of Sneddon and his Deputy DAs? Yes. The judge in Dunlaps case, a retired judge from the Court of Appeals named Kenneth Andreen, concluded there was substantial governmental misconduct in the Dunlap case, reports Dunlap. So much misconduct that Dunlap says Judge Andreen likened the prosecutions behavior to a character in a John Grisham novel. He reports:
before my trial began, my lawyer made a motion to dismiss the case based on outrageous governmental misconduct and there was a three day hearing on a dismissal motion. At the conclusion of it, it was very interesting because Judge Andreen indicated that there was, in fact, governmental–substantial governmental misconduct. And, in fact, he said that their conduct, the district attorneys conduct was so bad that it read more like a John Grisham novel than it did a criminal prosecution.
The judge allowed the case to continue because the charges were so serious and because Dunlap was a member of the bar; and probably because it was important to get the information on public record. As you know, Dunlap went to trial and was acquitted of all 6 felony charges leveled against him by Sneddon & Co. Dunlap says Sneddon has a history of throwing everything at a defendant, including the kitchen-sink, in dire hopes that something will stick. He reports:
You know, I mean its one thing to be charged with one crime and have a trial and be acquitted on it, but the district attorney in Santa Barbara has a policy that if they throw enough charges at you, the jury is bound to convict you on something. (see Gary Dunlap Interview)
Hoping jurors convict on something, they stack on charges, source say. Because hey, if theyre being charged with all this, they must have done something, right? Right?? Wrong. ___Closer than Close___ What of the close relationship between the Santa Barbara DAs office and the Santa Barbara sheriffs department? What is known is that former Sheriff Jim Thomas and Tom Sneddon are extremely close. And if you havent noticed, Thomas has become a premier prosecution mouthpiece, is an analyst for MSNBC, and is pushing–if not outright being the source of–an alleged $2M payoff story for which he provides no documentation or evidence. Recently, Jacksons attorneys have pounced on the over-the-line story from Thomas and has asked the judge in the Jackson case to clarify the gag order to see if Thomas should also fall under it. Some observers say that he should definitely be gagged and questioned why the defense waiting so long to bring the issue up in court. Other observers say, though, that the defense has tried repeatedly to get information from the prosecution as to whether or not they are going to introduce anything from the 1993 investigation into the current case, but have been ignored by prosecutors. After all, Thomas was the sheriff at that time and conducted raids around the 1993 investigation. It would only make sense that he, too, should have long been gagged by the judge because most likely he will be a witness in the current case. Of course prosecutors may try to fight it so that they can keep Thomas out here pumping lies to the public about the decrepit case back then. It certainly wouldnt be the first time prosecutors have looked after their good ole boys in the sheriffs department. Dunlap comments to the radio show host that in order to get a number of excessive force cases against the sheriffs department reduced, the district attorney would stack charges above and beyond the normal set of charges to force defendants to cop-a-plea. What prosecutors do is threaten these complainers with a higher sentence term to force them to plea bargain down. Thus, no attorney is going to take an excessive force case against the police for any defendant who is sitting in jail after plea bargaining to any crime. Dunlap discusses what happens in such cases:
DUNLAP: Well, for instance, you have an uncorroborated informant, for instance who, to get out of trouble himself, tells the police that somebodys doing something wrong; that theyre selling drugs, or whatever, okay? They send a SWAT team in on an uncorroborated charge. They engage in all sorts of excessive force. They arrest the person and they dont find any drugs or any evidence of this criminal activity, but they arrest the person anyway. Then, rather than the district attorney reviewing the report from any kind of responsible position, instead they automatically file the charges. They file numerous charges, I mean, you know, in a case like that, resisting arrest. I mean, a guy gets beaten up by the police so they charge him with resisting arrest and obstructing justice, and because his 3 year old child is in the line of fire, between the SWAT team that has broken into the apartment illegally and the individual whos still in bed, they charge the individual with child endangerment. SWEET: Was that a real case that youre talking about? DUNLAP: Everything Im telling you is a real case .This happens on a regular basis. And they prosecute them and they threaten him that if he doesnt plead guilty to one of the charges and if they convict him on all of the charges, hes going to go to jail for 20 years So in most cases, he gets intimidated and he takes a plea.
Then, Dunlap discussed that relationship between agencies as hes experienced it:
DUNLAP: Because [the defendant] had ultimately pleaded guilty to something and so that basically lets the excessive force case go away because what lawyer is going to take an excessive forces case for a guy whos already in prison because he was convicted or plead guilty to a charge. Son in that matter they protect the law enforcement agency. SWEET: I see. DUNLAP: If they build up a lot of indebtedness in law enforcement to the district attorneys office for having protected them, and at the same time they save the county, you know, a lot of money on what would otherwise perhaps be excessive force cases, they do it at the expense of the people who are least able to defend themselves. The people who, for the most part, who have to go with an overworked, understaffed public defenders office that doesnt have the horsepower to fight these cases.
Indebtedness indeed. Maybe theyre so indebt that at least one may become an NBC analyst and systematically push unfounded prosecution leaks, theories, and lies onto the public. Dunlap reveals Jim Thomass crony status and the structure of the Santa Barbara sheriffs department left by him, which has been inherited by the current crybaby Sheriff, Jim Anderson. Thomas and Sneddon are as thick as thieves, says sources:
But you have to remember that [Anderson] is a new sheriff, newly elected sheriff. And the structure of his office is left over from his predecessor, who is Jim Thomas, who is a crony of Tom Sneddon. And he also is the one who is going out and doing the interviews with Diane Dimond He was sheriff for along time, and he and Sneddon were very tight.
This of course finally explains the unfounded reports as of late from Thomas, as well as Dimond, through Dateline NBC. He has claimed that there are other accusers, but again, never provides a shred of information confirming that this is true. And given the fact that he, too–like Sneddonhas tried and failed to convict Jackson of some imagined crime, he can hardly be called an objective analyst. He also said during an interview with the Today Show, which aired January 19 2004, he thinks Jackson is a pedophile and will be found guilty (see Today Show: January 19, 2004 – Thomas ). And he says it, again, without providing a single shred of evidence. Thus, everything out of his mouth is suspect. ___Similarities to Jackson case___ Dunlap isnt shy about expressing his opinions concerning the Jackson case. While he says he doesnt have an opinion one way or the other of Jacksons innocence, he admits that a number of things make him suspicious of the prosecutors. Just as many have claimed, Dunlap does confirm the history of vindictive prosecutions in Santa Barbara:
But what I will tell you, the very fact that hes being prosecuted by Sneddons office does not cause me to have any reason to believe that hes guilty in that, because of what I know about the district attorneys office, I know that they do vindictive prosecutions on a routine basis.
And I know that Sneddon has been, you know, chafing at the bit because he wasnt able to prosecute him ten years ago, says Dunlap. And so I dont think that theres any question that hes being over-targeted. His legal opinion concerning the caseand since hes tried cases similaris that Jacksons case simply doesnt ring true to normal cases of pedophilia, nor does he fit some imagined profile of a pedophile:
I mean, it does not fit in my experience, and I have defended some cases of similar, you know, of similar nature. And he does not fit the pedophile profile regardless of what Greta Van Susteren and Diane Dimond can talk about on their Court TV program, he does not fit the profile of a pedophile.
To illustrate his objectivity on Jacksons case, he admits that he once represented an employee who once sued Jackson for wrongful termination. His client, a female executive employee, has been in contact with Dunlap. Even though shes had her own adversarial relationship with Jackson, she says that she never believed the 1993 allegation nor does she believe this current one. Another similarity pointed out by Dunlap is the media. Dunlap says that prosecutors arent used to the media questioning their integrity. So, when it happened in his caseand now with Jacksons caseit has thrown everything into chaos. Recent examples include Sneddon initially seeming to thinking it was ok to joke at a press conference after they ransacked Jacksons Neverland Ranch; that it was ok to delay filing charges in order to set up a media website; that it was ok to release a Q&A packet to the press; and that it was ok to break the gag order by speaking at a DAs conference in Canada. The spotlight certainly is on the DAs office even moreso than in the Dunlap case. Dunlap says:
DUNLAP: Sneddon is used to having it his own way and for the media to fall right into line with him. And its always been that way, and I think that, all of a sudden, with my case and with Michael Jacksons case, people are beginning to question the integrity of his office. SWEET: So it could end up backfiring on him. DUNLAP: All of it could end up backfiring on him.
The media, and specifically tabloid reporter Diane Dimond, played a huge role in this current case as far as media coverage. If youve been reading the MJEOL Bullets, youll know that weve already spoken about Dimonds suspicious involvement and how she just somehow (yeah right) knew to be outside of Jacksons Neverland Ranch laying in wait with a camera crew for police to arrive. Dunlap reports that it is illegal for the police or prosecutors to leak information to the press before a property is to be searched. So, regardless of how you feel about the case, illegal activities have already taken place with the investigation because someone illegally leaked this information to Dimond, and did it in such a way as to allow her time to fly from New York to Santa Barbara to cover it. Of that, Dunlap says:
DUNLAP: Yes, it was at the search of his property. And I will tell you that it is against the law for information to be disseminated regarding a search warrant until after the search warrant has been executed and returned to the issuing magistrate. SWEET: We did talk about that and I was going to mention that. You mentioned your case. DUNLAP: In my case, I know that the district attorney, I know that the district attorneys office does leak that kind of information out, which is illegal. SWEET: To the press? DUNLAP: To the press, to certain members of the press. SWEET: To certain members of the press. DUNLAP: Right. SWEET: I see. DUNLAP: And they had a number of police cars surrounding my building and they had a member of the press and a photographer from the local paper taking pictures of breaking into my office. So that the next day there was a headline, Dunlaps Office Raided by FBI and Local Police.
So Jacksons case certainly wasnt the first time information was leaked to the press for maximum jury pool-tainting exposure. In part three of MJEOL Bullet #190, there will be further discussion about the case and the relationship between law enforcement agencies. In succeeding Parts, well discuss other cases where this type of behavior is routine including the Judge Diana Hall case, the controversy with former city attorney Art Montandon, and new details about the Druyan Byrne case. Talk about prior bad acts! Stay tuned. * You can read Part One of MJEOL Bullet #190 here: Sneddon has History of Prosecutorial Misconduct? MJEOL Bullet #190 -MJEOL