Disorganized (or deliberately inept?) Humboldt DA's Office, Resulting In Systematic Threats to Civil Liberties

[The 32 names of people arrested have been omitted from the below message for the purpose of this website post]

Dec 22, 2011
To the Office of the District Attorney, with special attention to Paul Gallegos:

As you know, a record number of people (relative to the Occupy movement nationwide) have been arrested involved with or near the Occupy Eureka demonstration.  Redwood Curtain CopWatch has been diligently calling your office 1) to make sure we are privy to each persons' court dates and charges, and 2) to make sure we know whether there are any attorney conflicts wherein people arrested in the "same" police actions are not assigned to the same law office for their defense.  We began making such calls on December 6th, specifically regarding November 14, 2011 arrests, and have continued to follow up with phone calls and visits to your office.  Your office is utterly unaccountable to the public, and most notably, to persons' who's freedoms are threatened by your irresponsible prosecutions and your blatant violations of due process rights.

This email is to memorialize above-mentioned calls and visits, the information provided by your office, some of the attempts (that we are aware of) by the accused themselves to get accurate information and preserve their civil liberties, and the unacceptable discrepancies in the information put out by your office regarding peoples' obligations to appear in court. 



Please note that we do not believe that the District Attorney's Office receptionists should be held accountable for the egregious failures of your office.  It is the District Attorney's responsibility to make sure there is accurate and up-to-date information available to members of the public and is the District Attorney's legal duty to properly notice members of the public regarding charges against them brought by your office, court dates, and any action that your office takes (i.e. issue warrants) to restrict someone's civil liberties. Your office has a duty to notice personally the people being charged and scheduled with court dates.

December 5, 2011: Two people
*, in order to comply with the Agreements to Appear they had signed upon release from jail (from Nov 14 arrests), visited the Humboldt County Superior Clerk's Office and made court dates (earlier than the dates they had agreed to appear) so as not to have court interfere with holiday plans.  They were given arraignment dates for December 14, 2011.


December 6, 2011: Kimberly Starr of Redwood Curtain CopWatch spoke with Jennifer at your office. Jennifer informed her that the following listed people who were arrested (all arrested without a warrant) on November 14, 2011 had cases still "pending" on Deputy District Attorney Kelly Neel's desk. Jennifer provided the names (and the pending status information) after she was asked the status of one man from his arrest on November 14, 2011.  That man, as per Jennifer's information, was the only person from the November 14th protest-related arrests for whom the DA reviewed and rejected to charge due to insufficient evidence.

THIRTY ONE PEOPLES' CASES PENDING ACCORDING TO DEC 6TH CALL TO YOUR OFFICE:

December 8, 2011: One woman received a letter from your office dated December 5, 2011 (a day before the above phone call), informing her that she had a court date on December 28th at 8am and if she did not appear, a warrant would be issued.  This information conflicted with the (above-listed) information provided on the phone the day after the letter was put in the mail.

December 12, 2011: She called your office and was told the following:

She and one man are scheduled to appear in CrtRm # 3 at 8am on Dec. 28th.
Five people are scheduled to appear on Dec 27th at 8am in Ctrm.# 3.
One woman is scheduled to appear on Jan. 5th at 8am, no courtroom assigned yet.
No one else is set for arraignments from arrests on November 14, 2011.

December 14, 2011:  *Two people appeared in court, were arraigned on charges, reserved the right to demurrer, were assigned to Conflict Counsel and Public Defender respectively, and were set for January 23 trial on a no-time waiver basis.

December 16, 2011: Kimberly Starr called your office and was provided information as follows:

Eight People

All above listed as pending, no charges filed yet, "pended for follow-up, Kelly Neel apparently needs more information"
Eureka Police Department Report #3C11-8562-6
Submitting officer: Detective O'Neill

Four People

All above charged
Arraignment court date December 19, 2011
Eureka Police Department Report #3C11-8562-3
Submitting officer: Sgt Nova

 

Two People

Above charged and arraigned on Dec 14th
Jan 11, Trial Confirmation
Jan 23 Jury Trial
Both assigned to Public Defender
Submitting officer: Off. Luken

 

Eight People

All above charged
Arraignment court date January 5, 2011 at 8am
Eureka Police Department Report #3C11-8562-4
Submitting officer: Sgt. Guy

 

Three People

All above charged
Arraignment court date December 27, 2011 at 8am
Eureka Police Department Report #3C11-8562-5
Submitting officer: Off. Joshua Siipola

 

Four People

All above charged with PC 647(e); Richard Randolph charge dismissed on Dec 5, 2011
Arraignment court date December 27, 2011

Eureka Police Department Report #3C11-8562-7
Submitting officer: Sgt. Watson

 

Two People 

No charges filed yet for either above, pending status
Eureka Police Department Report #3C11-8562-1
Submitting officer: Off. Endsley

 

One Person

Deputy DA Max Cardosa declined to file charges for above.
Eureka Police Department Report #3C11-8562
Submitting officer: Off. Stelzig

 

December 19, 2011: Four people listed to be in court on December 19 were not on any docket in the courthouse.  All four of them has been listed (three days before) by your office as having arraignment court dates on Dec 19th.  Kimberly Starr went to District Attorney's office on at 8:45am.  The following was the information provided in writing regarding charges and court dates from your office:

Ten People - pending
Nine People - need to go to court ops to set date
Two People have court on 12/28 8am
One Person has court on 1/5 8am
One Person - already arraigned  1/12 next court
Five People have 12/27 8am arraignment
One Person - already had arraignment
One Person - charges rejected
One Person - two upcoming court dates in two cases
                  

The conflicting information provided in every above communication with your office (and the court clerk relying on info from you) shows how irresponsibly and unlawfully your office has been handling, or not handling, notice to each person.  Telling Kimberly Starr that several people should "show up to set their own court dates" is NOT proper notice for those individuals.

This problem costs people their freedoms as your office whimsically causes warrants to be issued for people who have been provided no notice.  They can show up to court on the date promised (and be turned away), they can call the DA's office and/or the court clerk and get bad information, they can adjust their lives and schedules to appear, and your office consistently gives false information and expects people to do things that they are unaware of and have made no legal promises to do.

Your office conducts its business with a complete lack of accountability to the public, while it claims to be in the role of making others accountable.  The public has a lawful expectation of accurate information from you and proper notice to the individuals whom you decide to prosecute.  

We know that this is not an isolated instance of your office failing to give proper legal notice to people regarding their charges and court dates.  Your office has informed us in the past that the prosecuting attorney unilaterally decides whether to notice a person of her/his charges or instead just have a warrant issued.  This practice violates peoples' rights to due process, systematically infringing on their civil liberties.  We hope that your office will begin to comply with the law, which includes taking action to correct your failures to provide accurate information and proper notice for the people arrested on November 14, 2011 as named here, to retract any warrants that have been issued as a result of your unlawful practice, and to audit your office's practices that violate peoples' rights. This is not the first time that Redwood Curtain CopWatch has communicated with you about this problem.

Please immediately tend to these due process issues, not only for people affected by the November 14 Occupy Eureka related arrests, but for all people your office investigates and/or prosecutes. 

Be accountable.

 

Sincerely,

Redwood Curtain CopWatch