Yes, this is one huge, disastrous consequence of bad cops, bad prosecutors, and otherwise tainted evidence, and it is another reason for YOU to raise hell about it!
Excerpts from the Article:
Disastrous. That’s what one attorney is calling the rapidly growing evidence scandal that has swept the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and that threatens to alter the criminal justice landscape in one of California’s largest counties.
The ramifications are real: Orange County’s guilty could go free; the innocent wrongly jailed on convictions built on tainted evidence – or evidence that was never filed at all. Thousands of criminal cases in this Southern California megalopolis of more than 3.2 million people are now potentially tainted after a week of back-to-back bombshells: internal reports revealing that hundreds of sheriff’s deputies sat on evidence and dozens of others lied about filing it.
Now Orange County Sheriff’s officials are blasting assertions by the county’s assistant public defender, Scott Sanders, that deputies failed to book evidence in as many as 9,000 cases and are fielding terse demands from the county’s district attorney for more information in the wake of the audits that showed two years of nearly department-wide evidence mishandling.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department in 2018 undertook a pair of evidence audits. The first one looked at almost 99,000 police reports over a two-year period. It showed evidence in 30 percent of the reports was mishandled in some way, and the department did not retain evidence in nearly 72,000 cases.
The internal audit randomly sampled 450 reports out of the nearly 72,000 cases flagged in the first report. Of those, deputies filed 121 reports stating they collected and booked evidence. The auditor’s findings: no evidence was booked in nearly half of the sampled reports — 57 — in which deputies said they had, or about 13 percent of the 450 cases reviewed, according to the audit.
Sanders’ projection that 9,000 cases were mishandled over two years stems from the numbers in the second audit. The Sheriff’s Department argues Sanders is exaggerating.
“The department should forever be prohibited from using the word ‘disingenuous.’ Their exact figures are the figures to use. We’re looking at 450 cases out of 72,000. We’re going to stand by their numbers: it’s more likely to be 9,000 than 57,” Sanders said on Nov. 26. “We do the calibrations and they call us ‘disingenuous.’ That’s absurd.”
“We’ve been ripped off on thousands of cases. We had no idea,” Sanders said. “This is the sixth-largest county in the nation. There’s an enormous amount of cases they touch here.”
“As of yet, we still do not have the audit nor have we received a response to the (Nov. 21) letter we sent to the Sheriff’s Department requesting additional information about cases where evidence was not properly booked,” Orange County Chief Assistant District Attorney Shawn Nelson said in a Monday statement.
“This is not a dispute between departments. This is a sheriff’s issue,” Nelson’s statement began. “Now our office is fully apprised of the scope, we know what our duty is and it is unquestionable,” he said, calling the sheriff’s department’s failure to turn over or disclose the audits “mystifying.”
“The defense relied on these statements that were not true,” he said. “Under these circumstances, courts would reverse convictions. Some courts would have to see whether the evidence was material, but others might say it’s so outrageous, we have to deter others from doing it again. “Either way,” Feldman concluded, “anybody convicted by this would have a heck of a civil suit.”