Prosecutors Break Atty-Client Privilege… Again MJEOL Bullet #201 In what can only be called a deliberate seizure of material covered by the attorney-client privilege, police raided Michael Jacksons personal assistant where they seized defense work product. This time it was blatant and obvious.
In the defenses Emergency Application, Jackson attorney Robert Sanger is requesting that items recently seized from Jacksons personal assistant on September 15 2004, be sealed precisely because they are protected by attorney-client privilege.
It is much more than a coincidence that this raid took place the day before a very important 2-day hearing in this case. This is outrageously disgusting behavior that wont be appeased with a simple I made a mistake.
It is common knowledge to sheriffs deputies and prosecutors who Jacksons personal assistant is. The defense says that from the sheriffs department Property Form, some items seized definitely pertain to Jacksons attorneys and their representation of him in this current case. Those items include a fax from Jackson to his attorney Tom Mesereau and 3 (three) folders labeled Mesereau. The big questions are what in the world are prosecutors and police doing raiding Jacksons personal assistant at this late date, and why in hell would folders labeled Mesereau and a fax to Mesereau be taken when it is CLEALY attorney-client privileged information? And why didnt they call in a special master this time instead of just taking the information, reading it and inventorying it? From the defenses motion:
It is known to the District Attorney and law enforcement that [redated name] is the personal assistant to Michael Jackson and that she maintains Mr. Jacksons personal papers and files. From the Sheriffs Department Property Form, it appears that some of the items seized relate to Mr. Jacksons attorneys representation of him in this matter. It is apparent from the inventories that some, if not all of the items seized, are covered by the attorney client privilege. At this point we believe that at least one of the items, specifically, was a fax sent on behalf of the client to his lawyer regarding possible trial witnesses. Other items seized include 3 folders labeled Mesereau. (see Emergency Application; stamped Sept 16 2004 || pg3)
The confidential legal documents essentially stolen by prosecutors are a complete violation of Jacksons and his attorneys rights. Most people who have been observing this case are outraged that prosecutors have yet again violated the attorney-client privilege. Some observers raise great points: 1) Why are prosecutors continuing to get search warrants in this case? 2) Why are they invading the defense camp and violating rights? 3) Do they honestly believe they wont get caught? 4) Are they this desperate as to essentially steal and cheat off the defenses paper? The defense writes:
Law enforcement and the District Attorney continue to attempt to use search warrants, after a case has been filed, and after a client has retained counsel, despite being aware that they run the risk of invading the defense camp. It is particularly peculiar that officers would seek a search warrant such as this; and that the District Attorney would approve of such a warrant, having been put on notice that their prior actions invaded the defense camp. (see Emergency Application; stamped Sept 16 2004 || pg3)
This blatantly illegal behavior is not and should not be tolerated. The only way prosecutors could get out of being held accountable for once again violating the defense camp is if Judge Rodney Melville is in their back pocket. There are already calls to the State Bar for an investigation into Sneddons tactics in two other situations: one with attorney Gary Dunlap and another with city Attorney Art Montandon. Dunlap is the attorney currently suing Sneddon, the Santa Barbara DAs office, and some of its investigators in federal court for $10M. It was reported in a May 28 2004 article from the Lompoc Record that Dunlaps attorneys had called for the State Bar and others to investigate Sneddons illegal tactics. The Lompoc Record reports:
“In my opinion, the matters to be investigated are the possible criminal violations of several felony and misdemeanor statutes, including conspiracy, illegal taping, deceiving a court and a prosecutor illegally assisting the defense of a case,” Freeman wrote. “I respectfully request that the U.S. Attorney, the California Attorney General, the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury and the State Bar open investigations and seek whatever sanctions are found to be warranted against Sneddon and his staff.” The complaint against the county named Assistant District Attorney Christie Schultz-Stanley; Deputy District Attorneys Kevin Duffy, Jerry McBeth, Gerald Franklin, John T. McKinnon, Josh Webb; and District Attorney Investigators Mary Brizzolara and Tim Rooney. (see Lawyers press for investigation of DA, staff)
As if he isnt in enough trouble alreadyunless hes paying off people left and rightSneddon & co. got into trouble recently regarding another case concerning City Attorney Art Montandon. The State Bar is currently investigating a complaint made by Santa Maria city attorney Art Montandon against Sneddon after Sneddon accused Montandon of interfering with a case he was prosecuting. From a article dated July 17 2004 by the Santa Maria Times:
Montandon has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the matter, and in his claim accuses the district attorney’s office of obstructing an investigation he was conducting for Santa Maria. He filed a claim June 28 against Santa Barbara County, alleging that staff at the district attorney’s office engaged in a “conspiracy” to harm his reputation by distributing copies of the court documents to his co-workers and the media. “We’re geared up to file a federal court lawsuit in the next two months,” said Montandon, who retired from Santa Maria June 30 and now works as legal counsel and assistant general manager for the Cambria Community Services District. (see State bar looks into complaint against D.A.)
Talk about prior bad acts! Looks like Sneddon likes to level conspiracy charges against people. The Jackson defense team seeks the immediate sealing of this information until they have a chance to see what prosecutors took and further deal with prosecutors breaking the law. The matter was supposed to be addressed at the Sept 17 hearing, but theres been no reported word as to whether it was or if the matter will be put off until a later hearing. Jacksons attorneys say they spoke to one of the prosecutors, Gordon Auchincloss, on September 16 regarding this matter. Auchincloss told Jackson attorney Robert Sanger that an officer told him (Auchincloss) that their appeared to be documents covered by the attorney-client privilege when they raided the personal assistant. You would have to be completely stupid to think that prosecutors or police somewhere didnt either see or make copies of this material anyway. Sanger writes in his motion:
On the afternoon of September 16 2004, I spoke with Deputy District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss and advised him of my concerns regarding the seizure of attorney-client privilege material. Mr. Auchincloss said that the officer told him during a briefing that they seized what appeared to be attorney-client privilege materials and that they had sealed the materials and deposited them with the Court. (see Emergency Application; stamped Sept 16 2004 || pg5)
This is beyond ridiculous and has crossed the line. Most people who hear this latest information have come down harshly on prosecutors actions. One observer is of the opinion, And you have got to ask yourself what kind of incriminating evidence was Sneddon hoping to find in this womans home this late in the game? Sneddon did not go there for evidence. He went there specifically to violate (attorney-client) privilege and get a peak into the defense strategy. Why in the world does he keep being allowed to obtain search warrants and essentially steal defense work product? Recent news reports set the number of search warrants close to 100 now, with 20 of them being approved just within the past 2 weeks. No, thats not a typo or exaggerated information. Again, the number of search warrants issued in this case is nearing 100 if it hasnt crossed that mark already. This disgustingly desperate flailing around looking for anything on Jackson has been the tactic for a long while. Some sources say that prosecutors have no evidence of molestation and thats why they tacked on the conspiracy charge. With the conspiracy charge about to fall by the wayside thanks partly to the stepfathers testimonywhich set the family at Neverland after the conspiracy was suppose to have ended and set them at home when they were supposedly being held hostage at Neverlandthey desperate measures are more than obvious now. It is unclear if Jacksons attorney will lodge a complain against the blatant behavior of prosecutors and police. At the very least, there should be sanctions against prosecutors and police. While I usually dont do this, heres a personal tip: when you see 3 boxes labeled Mesereau and a fax from Jackson to Mesereau, you dont seize that because its attorney-client privilege you idiots. If this isnt cause for internal affairs and/or the State Bar to start investigations, I dont know what is. The matter is scheduled to be heard in court on October 14 2004. Stay tuned. -MJEOL