Friday, March 6, 2015

Where are the handcuffs?

The New York Observer reports on an utterly outrageous case of prosecutorial misconduct.

... here’s another doozy: The People (of California) v. Efrain Velasco-Palacios ... Kern County prosecutor Robert Murray committed “outrageous government misconduct.” [Attorney General of California] Ms. Harris and her staff defended the indefensible—California State prosecutor Murray flat out falsified a transcript of a defendant’s confession.

Kern County prosecutor Robert Murray added two lines of transcript to “evidence” that the defendant confessed to an even more egregious offense than that with which he had been charged—the already hideous offense of molesting a child. With the two sentences that state’s attorney Murray perjuriously added, Murray was able to threaten charges that carried a term of life in prison.

Capitalizing to the maximum on his outright fabrication, state’s attorney Robert Murray committed his own crime against the defendant at the crucial time when defense counsel was consulting with the defendant on a possible plea.

Prosecutor Murray had ample time and opportunity to correct his lies and his falsification of the transcript, but instead, he let it go until defense counsel had encouraged his client to plead guilty based on this fabricated evidence. Not until after defense counsel requested the original tape recording from which the transcript was made did Mr. Murray admit that he had added the most incriminating statements to the transcript.

. . .

California Judge H.A. Staley got it right. He found that Mr. Murray’s fabrication of “evidence”—falsifying the transcript of a confession during discovery and plea negotiations—was “egregious, outrageous, and . . . shocked the conscience.”

The trial judge saw no laughing matter—and neither should the rest of us. He dismissed the indictment completely, and in a scathing opinion, also quoted by the appellate court, wrote that the prosecutor’s actions “diluted the protections accompanying the right to counsel and ran the risk of fraudulently inducing defendant to enter a plea and forfeit his right to a jury trial.” The court refused to “tolerate such outrageous conduct that results in the depravation of basic fundamental constitutional rights that are designed to provide basic fairness.”

Undaunted by the criminal conduct of a state prosecutor, or the district court’s opinion, Ms. Harris appealed the decision dismissing the indictment. According to the California attorney general, only abject physical brutality would warrant a finding of prosecutorial misconduct and the dismissal of an indictment. Fortunately for all of us—and the Constitution—she lost again.

There's more at the link.

Why is Mr. Murray still employed as a prosecutor?  Why is he not behind bars himself?  And why did the Attorney General of California try to defend his utterly outrageous, egregious, indefensible actions?

Quite frankly, this is the sort of outrage that can spawn community action against the individuals concerned when the law fails to act.  Think I'm joking?  I'm not.  I've seen it happen in other parts of the world, when citizens realize that 'the system' is so busy defending itself and its own interests and its members that it's lost sight that it exists to serve the people.  The result can be bloody - 'lynch law'.  It's not uncommon in parts of Africa, and I'm informed it happens to this day in parts of Latin America as well.  I can only hope and pray that we never see it here . . . but violations like this don't give me any great confidence that it won't.

By allowing Mr. Murray to get off scot-free, and leaving him in a position to abuse his authority again in future, the authorities in California are sowing the wind.  They may yet reap the whirlwind.



Rolf said...

I believe the saying is something like "when there is no more rule of law, that fact is a two-way street." I hope cretins like that prosecutor realize that.

TGreen said...


He is not "still a prosecutor". He
is still a county employee tho, reässigned to the crime lab, pending.
The the falsification was in 2013, the Bar filed its case in Jun '14, and there is still no hearing date set.

That being said, it gets worse:
The case is back in the news because the defendant, who was released because of the "joke" has reöffended and this 14 year old is 8 months pregnant.

BTW, Mr Murry is not behind bars because he sent the altered transcript to the defense attorney, not the court. ::shrugs::

Graybeard said...

Compiling both your piece and TGreen's comment, what this prosecutor apparently did was see someone who needed to be off the streets and "enhanced" the case against them to make sure the state won. I'm sure he saw himself doing good. The problem is he broke the law or "became the law" and if there's one bold, red line in a civilized society it's that the state Does Not Do That.

As we descend further and further into third world/banana republic status, expect this to become more common.

I'd be really less than surprised to see people who think the system is irreparably broken start taking individual action. Expect to see much of what you saw during the bad days in South Africa.

Mark Matis said...

Do you know where the Only Ones live in your neighborhood? Have you made plans to deal with them appropriately? Or do you STILL not understand that swill such as this stand behind the Blue Wall and laugh? And as long as that paycheck keeps coming in, the Praetorian Guard will do whatever they are told...