OH WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE
By Warren Yates
March 3, 2015
Today was a somewhat interesting day in court. I was glad to see one of my fellow journalists there again today, Tom Jensen. Tom does a lot more detail on some things than I do and my writing consists of cutting to the chase right away. So here I go.
At the end of yesterday’s session there was a lot of discussion about something that happened criminally involving Detective Evers. The district attorney was to provide any and all information that she had on the Dist. Atty. database regarding an incident that happened involving a possible and I repeat possible, battery upon his separated or ex-wife and child. That’s all the information that was furnished and no one in the gallery has any idea of anything regarding that case.
Mr. Martinez had indicated that the defense needed those reports because it could contain Brady material and needed to be disclosed. Court recessed yesterday in anticipation of hearing more about the situation today.
I am not going to be real wordy in my commentary today. I am going to put in snippets of the proceedings I witnessed. In this morning’s testimony I heard something that lit a fire of revulsion within me when I heard it. You’ll be hearing about that later and because my attention was diverted to that I only picked up bits and pieces of the rest of the day’s proceedings. Please refer to Tom Jensen’s commentary.
I also want to once again go on record and state that I am a staunch supporter of the law enforcement community. The problem is that in law enforcement as is in other professions such as doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs there are members in each of their respective communities who do not always adhere to that particular professions code of ethics. It grieves me to say that in the last four years I have had the displeasure of investigating several police officers for excessive use of force or violation of civil rights. In those there were settlements negotiated on the basis that the city or County did not admit that the allegations were true and just paid money in the alleged battery case] person you hearing from you.
That being said I will elucidate further regarding today’s events. Ms. Ferreira opened the session this morning regarding the redaction of certain material in certain documents to preserve the privacy of some involved. Ms. Ferreira began by stating that in the police incident mentioned yesterday that Detective Evers was in fact a victim in that alleged battery case. There was quite a reaction from the persons in the gallery upon hearing that.
Someone near me was heard to say “Yeah they always take care of their own with that code of silence they have”. After everyone caught their breath Ms. Ferreira then continued stating that in her opinion the police reports and or information therein should not be disclosed because after reading them she was of the opinion that the police reports contain no Brady material. It appears as if Ms. Ferreira feels that Judge Zuniga needs her insight and expertise in making decisions regarding evidence.
Judge Zuniga was extrapolating (Thank you Webster’s :0) and researching case law and explaining the reasons for her possible decision one way or the other. While she was explaining Ms. Ferreira thought it would be a good time to interrupt the judge and say something. Judge Zuniga looked at her and said “I got this, just hang on “effectively shutting down Ms. Ferreira’s interruption much to the delight of the gallery.
Judge Zuniga went on to explain reasons for her decision and admitted that her decision is really troubling to her. When she said that some of the gallery felt that she was going to deny the defense request to obtain copies of the police reports involving Detective Evers. Over the objection of Ms. Ferreira Judge Zuniga ruled that under Brady the defense would get the police reports after redaction of certain information regarding names in the reports. The copies of the police reports were distributed to the defense attorneys.
And I’m sure they probably will because we all know that the District Attorney’s Office, their Special Agents and a huge part of the population of Modesto read the commentaries that are written and placed on the Back Story and Dawgsblog. We know the District Attorney’s Office reads these because Ms. Ferreira used my name in open court requesting a gag order because she was afraid that what was being said even though it is the truth, may taint a possible jury pool. That also makes it sound like she’s confident that defendants will be held to answer you know something we don’t?
As I mentioned in my response to that in a prior commentary any tainting of the jury pool would be a result of the quality of the witnesses Ms. Ferreira is parading into the courtroom.
I’m going to start a couple snippets here before I get into the real egregious misconduct that I want to get into. Detective Evers interviewed a person by the name of Scott Rollins and it was elicited from Detective Evers that Rollins had said that neither Baljit or Daljit were mean people. He also told Evers that Michael Cooley had pulled a knife on a person named Eric Collins and Collins had to throw a bike at Cooley to protect himself. Rollins stated that Cooley was very hotheaded and likes knives.
Due to the information contained in the police reports Ms. Ferreira suggested that Detective Evers should possibly speak to an attorney prior to him testifying any further. The judge agreed and he was taken off the stand to be able to call an attorney.
Ms. Ferreira then began to quote a section from the CCP- 2033.080 regarding certain privacy rights. Several spectators in the gallery questioned why if Detective Evers had done nothing wrong and in fact was a victim as alleged by Ms. Ferreira earlier, he would need an attorney. Ms. Ferreira continued to quote sections from the CCP until Judge Zuniga shut her down and indicated she knows the CCP.
Detective Evers came back on the stand and it was determined that nothing would be asked about police reports until he had time to consult with his attorney who was coming to the court.
Ms. Carlton Magana then stated that Evers was being treated differently than a prior witness, Steve Duden. After discussion with the defense attorneys it was determined that they would not reveal or disclose the information on the police reports. When the judge asked Ms. Magana if she wished to resume her cross-examination, Ms. Magana said not until we get the transcripts of the recording because many police reports have found to be different than what the actual recording transcripts said.
Detective Evers admitted that during the service of the search warrant at the PopNCork that several doors were broken and cables were cut. A reasonable person would say that the owner of the property should have been allowed to open the doors rather than have them damaged. And if cables were cut on the property, that would just seem like a malicious vindictive act. Sometimes some people let power go to their heads when they think there is no redress for their actions.
Listening to the audio of the interview by Special Agent Bunch and Detective Evers of Scott Rollins, the beginning in the audio sounds like Special Agent Bunch just opened the door and walked in and Mr. Rollins could be heard saying “hey that’s an unlawful entry”. Then some feeble excuses given for walking in. When Special Agent Bunch began with Mr. Rollins he is heard to say” We might help you if you help us”. I don’t know if Special Agent Bunch meant that they will help him move furniture into a Feng Shui position for good luck or, maybe Special Agent Bunch and Detective Evers will help Mr. Rollins change the oil in his car.
In checking Mr. Rollins on the Stanislaus County court index available to anyone free online it appears that a Scott Allen Rollins has the following case pending: 11377 H&S Possessing a Controlled Substance. In all of the excitement that was going on in court I was not able to hear what date that Special Agent Bunch and Detective Evers interviewed Mr. Rollins. The only thing I find strange is that Mr. Rollins had a pretrial hearing date of February 10, 2016. That hearing date is almost a month ago and there is no entry on the court index as to the findings future hearings or anything else about Mr. Rollins case.
Is it possible by any chance that the help that Special Agent Bunch and Detective Evers promised Mr. Rollins would have anything to do with consideration of his court case in exchange for his testimony? Golly darn, I just don’t know. Maybe someone reading this commentary may have an answer. We will just have to wait and see and possibly there was some furniture moved or an oil change done and maybe anything else that was done would just be my imagination. Just saying…
Then as testimony was continuing, once again Ms. Ferreira when Judge Zuniga is making a point up on the bench Ms. Ferreira began to tell the judge something. The judge looked at her and said “I’ll let you know if I need your help”. Well that shut Ms. Ferreira down once again to the enjoyment of the gallery. And when discussing the case Ms. Ferreira mentioned that this case is like a big puzzle that they’re trying to put together. Well when I was a kid building puzzles as I get ready to finish it, all of a sudden there were three pieces missing and I was never able to get the puzzle put together. Just saying…
Well that’s enough of what I was able to garner today from court while having this other thing bugging me. So here it is.
Earlier this morning when Detective Evers was testifying he mentioned a time when he and Special Agent Bunch went to the PopNCork to interview Baljit. I am not sure if it was Baljit Atwal or Baljit Athwal since the Dist. Atty. cannot get his name straight on their court paperwork. So we’ll just presume that it’s Mr. Athwal since he’s the one in custody now but not by that name.
As Detective Evers and Special Agent Bunch began to talk to Baljit, Baljit took out his telephone and began to record the interview. When Bunch and Evers saw that, Special Agent Bunch said “You know that’s illegal to do that?”. Being confronted by two law enforcement officers one being very large in stature and knowing if they had a badge they had guns, Baljit became intimidated by their authoritarian bearing. Baljit immediately turned his phone off and stopped recording not knowing what to expect from these two if he did not stop.
Baljit and his brother Daljit are in business here in the United States and English is their second language. Defense attorney Hans upon questioning Evers, asked him if he ever asked Baljit if he needed an interpreter. Evers stated they did not ask him that. Baljit had told them that he had an attorney and that they were going to be to investigators talking to them in a day or two and that he did not want to talk to them . There was some question as to whether or not Baljit had invoked his right not to give a statement but that issue is/was resolved in court.
Even though he stated he did not want to talk to them they continued to ask him questions against his will. In response to Hans question of whether or not they offered and interpreter, Ms. Ferreira stated that she did not feel they needed one because he continued to answer the questions of Special Agent Bunch and Detective Evers.
Her statement is a direct contradiction to what is going on in court. If it is Ms. Ferreira’s position that he did not need an interpreter, why in the He**do the two brothers each have their own interpreter in the court proceedings. Her position is asinine as evidenced by the presence of the two interpreters in court. It is obvious that there is some prevarication afoot by members of the District Attorney’s Office. Imagine that? Knock me over with a feather and if you know me you know that would be some task. Whoops!!! There I go again saying that four letter word task as in force. But we know the only person that can call the Multi Agency Investigation Team a “Task Force” is the district attorney herself. So for those who are offended please excuse my faux pas.
The strong-arm tactics used by Special Agent Bunch and Detective Evers in intimidating Baljit to stop recording the interview is malicious, egregious and jackbooted behavior by law enforcement personnel. Here we have a person that came to the United States in order to feel safe and secure and protected by the laws and the Constitution of United States. Special Agent Bunch and Detective Evers conduct is a slap in the face and embarrasses and degrades and brings repute and disdain upon all those dedicated law enforcement personnel that perform their duties according to the oath they took when they were sworn in.
It’s conduct like this that feeds the discontent and lack of respect that some people show when they come into contact with law enforcement personnel. Intimidating someone in an effort to get them to comply is strictly a power trip and an embarrassment to professional law enforcement personnel everywhere.
As I finish this commentary I will once again say that I am completely pro-law enforcement when it is performed according to the provisions of law and follows the rights and protections guaranteed to everyone in the United States by the Constitution of the United States. I am going to make a couple of comments which I think all citizens need to know.
I wish to tell you that if you are arrested or detained by the police, you need to understand that the police are NOT your friends. If you lie to the police you can be charged with anything from making a false statement to resisting delaying or obstructing an officer in the performance of his duties.
Now can the police lie to you while they are talking to you? If you answered no you are completely wrong. The police can lie to you or use any other deceptive practice in order to get information from you or a confession from you. I am attaching the case law that allows the police to lie to you.
The landmark decision regulating false statements made to a suspect is the U.S. Supreme Court case of Frazier v. Cupp, 394 U.S. 731, 1969. The case involved the interrogation of a homicide suspect who was falsely told that an accomplice had already implicated the suspect in the killing. This lie persuaded the suspect to confess to the homicide. The Supreme Court ruled that such use of trickery and deceit can be permissible (depending on the totality of circumstances) provided that it does not shock the conscience of the court or community.
If at some point if you are contacted by the police and they tell you that you are being detained you should say nothing and ask them if you’re free to leave. If you are told you are not free to leave and they ask you anything, you need to tell them that you want an attorney present before you give any statement. If they’re just working on a hunch and trying to scare you into admitting something and have no basis for a lawful arrest, they will let you go. Should they arrest you on some charge then once again you need to tell immediately that you want an attorney and are not going to make any statement.
If you are being talked to by the police you have every right to record that conversation you’re having with them. They cannot prevent you from either doing an audio recording or a video recording. They may try to bluff you and scare you as they did with Baljit but stand your ground and tell them you are going to record it. Do not resist physically in any way to be able to continue recording as you could be arrested then for any of a variety of charges. The minute they tell you to stop recording, stop talking. They might tell you that they are recording the interview but for some of you reading this in the older generation, I seem to remember a president a few decades ago who came up with about 20 or so minutes missing from a tape recording in the White House.
I am attaching below information and court citations regarding your constitutional right to record law enforcement as long as you don’t interfere with what they’re doing. Here are the citations.
First Amendment considerations arise when you are openly recording the activities of police officers (or other public officials) carrying out their duties in public places. A number of U.S. Courts of Appeals have held that, in such circumstances, the First Amendment protects the right to record audio and video regardless of whether the police/officials consent. This constitutional right would override any state or federal laws that would otherwise prohibit such recording.
Seventh Circuit (with jurisdiction over Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin): see ACLU v. Alvarez, 679 F.3d 583, 595 (7th Cir. 2012) (“The act of making an audio or audiovisual recording is necessarily included within the First Amendment’s guarantee of speech and press rights as a corollary of the right to disseminate the resulting recording.”).
Ninth Circuit (with jurisdiction over Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, the Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, and Washington): see Fordyce v. City of Seattle, 55 F.3d 436, 438 (9th Cir. 1995) (assuming a First Amendment right to record the police); see also Adkins v. Limtiaco, _ Fed. App’x _, No. 11-17543, 2013 WL 4046720 (9th Cir. Aug. 12, 2013) (recognizing First Amendment right to photograph police, citing Fordyce).
Well I’m wrapping this up for tonight it’s after 1 AM and I’m getting tired. I was just so completely irate this morning when hearing about the egregious, illegal, Constitution depriving, jackbooted conduct by people who are sworn to protect the public. I certainly have a whole new perspective since I’ve been working criminal defense investigations. If the police would conduct their investigations properly including obtaining any exculpatory evidence involved in the case, criminal defense investigators would be sitting in their office playing Nintendo.
Well we can dream can’t we.
FREE THE FRANK CARSON 8