The first woman to run for California Attorney General and Los Angeles County District Attorney is my good friend and mentor Marguerite “Marge” Buckley. Having been involved with those pioneering campaigns, I’m glad to see that Jackie Lacey is likely to become Los Angeles County’s first woman elected District Attorney, not to mention the first African American. There are four main issues as to why I voted for her over Alan Jackson.
First and easiest, she’s got all the right endorsements from people, organizations, and politicians that I respect and trust, like Congressman Brad Sherman, former Senator Sheila Kuehl, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Civil Rights lawyer Connie Rice, the late Willis Edwards of the NAACP, forrmer Los Angeles Sheriffs Crime Lab Chief Barry A.J. Fisher, the Stonewall Democratic Club, and many others. Of course, nobody’s perfect so I’m not happy that Richard Loa — an apostate former Marxist Leninist turned Mitt Romney Republican — is listed as her endorser. C’est la Vie.
When it comes to Lacey’s opponent, Alan Jackson, I’m downright horrified that he sports the endorsement of former Superior Court Judge William Pounders. The proverb “Birds of a feather flock together” has been around at least since 1545 when William Turner published his critique of the papacy entitled The Rescuing of Romish Fox where he wrote, “Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.” In essence it means that people of the same ilk hang out and coalesce with each other.
Pounders was the perennial head until he retired of the judge’s committee which oversees the appointment panel of Los Angeles County court appointed criminal defense investigators. Pounders personally threatened retaliation against members of the Los Angeles County Criminal Defense Investigators Association (LACCDIA) if they attempted to act as a union for collective bargaining and representation of their members’ interests. This was in spite of the fact that any objective reading of the panel rules and the actual procedures of the office which approves or disapproves payments for their work are clearly in violation of IRS Publication 15a criteria. By Publication 15a standards, appointed defense investigators are plainly common law employees who should be protected by the Public Employees Relations Act with the right to unionize and bargain collectively.
Furthermore, by keeping up the pretense that court appointed investigators–who do essentially the same job as Public Defender and Alternate Public Defender Investigators who are union represented by the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS)– should be defined as “independent contractors,” Pounders insured that they would have to pay to make use of data bases of companies that he owned stock in, according to his Form 700 Statement of Economic Interest filings. Alan Jackson has pledged to crack down on public corruption: I wonder if he might start by re-examining his own supporter’s actions when he was judge?
Next, I have a real problem with the way that gang prosecutions take place in Los Angeles County. Alan Jackson touts his credentials as gang prosecutor. To illustrate some of the problems with gang prosecution and its reliance on so-called law enforcement experts to prove gang affiliation, here is an excerpt from a declaration I recently executed concerning the prosecution of an alleged member of the Mara Salvatrucha organization:
5. Based upon the testimony of the People’s expert witnesses, I believe that their methodology, expertise, and the conclusions that they have drawn from the evidence they testified to reviewing are subject to scrutiny and attack based upon criteria which the Justice Alex Kozinski laid out in the 9th Circuit laid out in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 43 F.3d 1311 (9th Cir. 1995), i.e.:
(a) Has the technique been tested in actual field conditions (and not just in a laboratory)?
(b) Has the technique been subject to peer review and publication?
(c) What is the known or potential rate of error?
(d) Do standards exist for the control of the technique’s operation?
(e) Has the technique been generally accepted within the relevant scientific community? [this test was earlier the only relevant criterion under Frye]
6. Examples of where law enforcement gang expertise deviate from a normal scientific inquiry environment include:
(a) Problems with peer review–Active duty law enforcement peer review and training organizations tend to be insular in nature and separate themselves, for both legitimate and potentially illegitimate reasons, from the larger communities of expert and scientific communities which are inherently necessary for full and free scientific discussion. For example, the California Gang Investigators Association (CGIA) does not permit membership for non-active duty law enforcement personnel. A more stark and illustrative example is within the forensic computer examiners field, where rival organizations for certification of computer examiners (CFCE, Certified Forensic Computer Examiner) exist, some of which admit only law enforcement personnel to membership and others which incorporate amongst their members any CFCE. The limitation of membership in professional organizations to law enforcement personnel and the exclusion of non-law enforcement academics, researchers and private sector experts whether engaged in defense or prosecution work or both creates an inherent bias that runs counter to the normal scientific concern for methodology which minimizes the problems posed by both the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the Mathematical Impossibility Theorem (See attachment, The Relationship of Epistemology & Logic to Private Investigation, incorporated herein by reference).
(b) Acceptance by the relevant scientific community—because the law enforcement oriented peer organizations limit their membership to active duty law enforcement, by definition they do not subject their exchange of knowledge to the relevant academic and scientific scrutiny that normal expertise and science invites. In the case of gang expertise, bodies of knowledge taught in colleges and universities that are of inherent value include but are not limited to criminology, sociology, and various ethnic studies interdisciplinary programs and departments.
(c) Standards of Control—In theory, law enforcement disciplinary procedures, e.g., “internal affairs” departments, exist to prevent perjury and other offense against public justice, but they lack the knowledge to judge and dispute so-called expert testimony in which subjective conclusions must be second guessed. Within the professional associations of law enforcement gang investigators, there is no effective discipline or control to prevent deviation from scientific standards in the larger bodies of knowledge in criminology, sociology and other disciplines since those organizations inherently exclude outside influences.
7. In addition to interviewing the People’s witnesses in connection with the above delineated methodological problems with their opinions and conclusions, I have specific problems with the knowledge which they lacked or which they claimed to be true which render their opinions to be invalid and unsound as those terms are formally used in logic.
8. During the preliminary hearing, neither of the People’s experts had ever heard of the term “consafos” or the use of the symbol “c/s” in connection with gang graffiti. By itself, this indicates that they have little if any knowledge of gangs outside of what law enforcement has taught them to believe and that their knowledge is restricted to the minimum necessary to promote prosecutors’ crime theories. This lack of knowledge is indicative of a lack of interest in the history of gangs, the culture of gangs, an ignorance of the implications of the use of “consafos” for the existence of “veterano” leadership of particular gangs in particular geographical areas, and an ignorance of the source of animosity between rival gangs that could and would be likely to lead to violence. Whether their knowledge in light to this failing inherently calls into question if it is appropriate to even call them experts, let alone to admit their testimony.
9. The People’s experts’ testimony concerning the culture and propensities of Mara Salvatrucha runs counter to knowledge which is or ought to be intuitively obvious to anybody who speaks on a regular or even intermittent basis to people who come into contact with MS-13 members and/or who live in neighborhoods affected by MS-13. Their testimony, at best, tended to obfuscate that which is intuitively obvious, especially in light of the United States Treasury Department’s subsequent designation of MS-13 as an international criminal gang organization.
Finally, Jackie Lacy supports Proposition 36 and Alan Jackson opposes it. Proposition 36 isn’t exactly what I’d like to see. It’s not as simple and direct as limiting the application of the “Three Strikes” law to serious and violent felonies only–as the California Three Strikes Project initiative proposed in 2000 (co-authored by myself and my then-significant other, Attorney Valerie Monroe, and coordinated by the mother of my Godson, Malinda Rosell), but it’s a big step in the right direction and the best we’re going to get.