Both the ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a complaint in Orange County Superior Court against Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchins and District Attorney Tony Rakauckas. The two are accused of an running an illegal jail informant scheme that spans over three decades and has, in turn, violated the rights of countless people.
Hutchis and Rakauckas found themselves in the middle of a bombshell lawsuit recently where they stand accused of a massive corruptive scandal that has thus far led to the upending of more than 20 very famous cases with more still on the line. The pair stand accused of working together to plant informants within jail cells to garner dooming evidence against some defendants who were waiting for their pending court cases. This type of scheme gives the prosecutorial team an unfair advantage to information that the defendants lawyer is not privy to. This also is a violation of the sixth amendment which guarantees the defendant to the right to a speedy and impartial trial.
The lawsuit specifically states that the informants were frequently able to gain knowledge and confessions from the inmates via threats of violence, which included threatening murder. In return for the information these informants obtained, they were awarded with payments and reductions in their sentences. Once in court, the prosecutors did not inform anyone of how they were able to garner this information, which they are required by law to do. Not only do these two face losing their jobs, but the acts were criminal and could land the two in very hot legal water.
One of the most prolific cases involved is that of Scott Dekraai who was convicted of massacring eight people in Seal Beach. During the time of his trial, Dekraai was placed in a cell with a known jail informant. The informant had been used in a recent trial where he had also gained knowledge during his time in jail. It was this informant that began to make people stop and think and eventually led to the unravelling of the entire scheme. Last year, Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals removed the death penalty option for Dekraai because he believed there was misconduct happening on the part of the prosecutor and their team who were either not able to or refused to provide the necessary documentation to provide Dekraai with a fair trial.
While the hope of the legal system in the United States is always to seek justice, that must be done in a fair manner that follows the laws of the nation. In this case, these defendants were not awarded the opportunity to have a fair trial and that goes against the very fabric of what this nation stands for. For more information on this topic, click here.