JUDGE FINDS DA AND INVESTIGATOR GUILTY OF MISCONDUCT
By Warren Yates
These are my comments on November 19, 2015. I was absent from the court session yesterday afternoon but was furnished a copy of the transcript by defense attorneys Garcia and Rien. I read the transcript and was appalled at the conduct afforded Mr. Samra by the Dist. Atty. staff. I was in law enforcement for 27 years, 19 years here in Stanislaus County. I had never seen this type of fiasco when Donald Stahl or James Brazelton was the district attorney.
As a police officer during a traffic stop or personal contact with someone it is normal procedure to run a records check for wants and warrants on the person. There is no question that investigator bunch had knowledge of the warrant outstanding for Mr. Samra when they went to his residence and made contact with him. While interviewing him and telling him what he should do when defense attorney Forkner talks to him and then saying” I was never here and this never happened” smacks of egregious misconduct.
Demeanor like this is what brings disrepute to the law enforcement profession. This type of behavior belongs on the” Dukes of Hazard”. It was good to see that Judge Zuniga reprimanded the deputy district attorney and her investigator for their reprehensible conduct. As the judge noted the deputy district attorney and her staff repeatedly disregard the judge’s instructions.
Then when the witness’s testimony is not favorable to the prosecution, all of a sudden the deputy district attorney blurts out “you have a warrant don’t you?”. The judge brought everyone into chambers and admonished the district attorney. The district attorney’s conduct makes one think of the old saying” come into my parlor said the spider to the fly”. It seems on the surface as if the witness’s testimony was not what the deputy district attorney wanted, then she suddenly remembered about the warrant.
During the opening salvo this morning in court defense attorney Martinez reiterated the fact that investigator bunch told the witness” that this meeting never happened and I was never here”. Mr. Martinez also pointed out the fact that investigator bunch did not memorialize the meeting. District attorney didn’t consider this an interview that’s why there was no report written or audio made. But she said she would” take this to heart”.
The district attorney or staff should not have given advice to Mr. Samra because he is represented by an attorney and now the people are minimizing what they’re doing.
At this time defense attorney Forkner distributed the new motion that he filed morning because of outrageous police conduct. And he said he had another one that would be coming in soon from his secretary regarding further misconduct.
The district attorney stated the she is being distracted by the constant points and authorities that the attorneys are giving her almost daily. The district attorney then stated the she is not trying to minimize the issues and ” I just want to do it right”.
Detective Redd then testified regarding the confidential informant and the fact that if there were to be any leniencies regarding his case that the informant would have to provide corroborated information that would pay off. He then went into the informant buying controlled substances from Michael Cooley and then Cooley and Eula Keyes being arrested after the search warrant was served. They walked the short distance to the Turlock Police Department where investigator bunch magically appeared as if he were “Mandrake the Magician”. Some of you younger readers probably don’t know who that was.
It was then that Cooley and Keyes decided to become snitches trying to work their beef off. But after some time they failed to deliver and where arrested and booked.
The next witness was Jeffrey Laugero who was a deputy district attorney that was handling the Michael Cooley and Eula Keyes cases. Mr. Laugero’s duties consisted of reviewing drug cases and working on some gang cases. Then the questions again about the confidential informant that got Cooley and Keyes. The informant had been a victim of a drive-by shooting but also had two other cases pending against him at the same time. During the time this was going on Mr. Laguero had not heard of the Frank Carson case.
During cross-examination Mr. Forkner asked Mr. Laguero about minute notices in the file indicating that deputy district attorney Ferreira has handled this case before. Deputy district attorney Ferreira then objected soundly and there was a lot of back-and-forth banter regarding whether or not the court would take judicial notice of the minute orders and question.
Ms. Martha Carlton Magana then asked if it was unusual to not arrest people or file charges prior to determining if the suspects can provide information to work their case off. Mr. Laugero stated that it was not unusual to do that. He was asked if the confidential informant had two strikes. He said he didn’t know and he would like to review the file which he did. The confidential informant has convictions for kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon and three prison priors.
There was a little interchange and as the district attorney started to say something as Judge Zuniga started to say something, the judge said” wait; it’s my turn to talk”. Judge Zuniga is doing a great job of maintaining control over courtroom. At one point she also said the lawyers are not going to take over my court room. I think she’s doing a great job of remaining neutral. She did get upset when the district attorney failed to follow her instructions.
Mr. Forkner then asked Mr. Lageuro why there was a delay in resolving the Michael Cooley and Eula Keyes cases. Mr. Lageuro stated that they were having trouble getting a conflict attorney and that Judge Distaso told him to go out of County to get the conflict attorney. Mr. Lageuro stated that he believes that an attorney named Dustin Johnson from Sacramento is going to be handling the case.
I want to point out that Judge Zuniga has a great sense of humor and likes to banter mildly in the courtroom. She made quick work of Mr. Garcia’s comment about spaghetti and on another occasion a gallery member got up and went out while she wasn’t looking and said” who went out?”, thinking it was an attorney. When told it was a gallery member she laughed and took it in stride.
In watching this case develop I am reminded of the story of Gordius, the King of Phrygia who tied a knot that can only be untied by the future ruler of Asia. Instead when Alexander the Great saw it, he drew his great sword and cut it. The analogy is that the people’s case appears to be the Gordian knot and the defense attorneys are akin to Alexander the Great and cutting that knot. Just saying…