Credit should go to the Daily Democrat who at least attempted to balance the story on Wednesday with quotes from the statement I sent. The Davis Enterprise refused to print from my statement and also refused to print my letter to the editor. Apparently, the Enterprise did not even know that this was part of settlement agreement, which Debbie Davis, the editor, called “speculative.” The Enterprise printed a very short follow up yesterday using information confirmed by both Mr. Gore’s lawyer and the county.
The story begins on March 5, 2008, when DA Investigator Rick Gore fires off a letter to the District Attorney’s Office, the County, the State Bar, and the Attorney General’s office accusing District Attorney Jeff Reisig of multiple ethical violations. The Vanguard was leaked a copy of it and ran large excerpts from it on March 7, 2008.
In the article, Mr. Gore, who was the chief investigator for the gang injunction in West Sacramento, accused Mr. Reisig of failure to disclosure potentially exculpatory evidence, forcing false signatures in support of the West Sacramento Gang Injunction, attempts to mislead the court by noticing a single individual on the Gang Injunction, and improper invasion of privacy into District Attorney Candidate Pat Lenzi’s desk in the District Attorney’s office.
On May 21, 2008, Yolo County publicly released a summary of findings of an independent legal investigation into this matter. The findings determined that all of the allegations in the letter were unsubstantiated.
“Every material allegation made by Rick Gore was not substantiated. It was not substantiated that Jeff Reisig was or is engaging in unethical practices. There is no indication that Rick Gore was subjected to a hostile work environment, that he was retaliated against for exercising his rights, and/or that he was discriminated against on the basis of a legally protected category.”
In response District Attorney Jeff Reisig issued a lengthy statement claiming vindication.
“I am grateful that this matter is now closed and that all of the individuals who were wrongfully targeted have been vindicated and now afforded an opportunity to respond… I am looking forward to getting back to work for the citizens of Yolo County.”
Mr. Gore would be placed on administrative leave following his letter and subsequently fired. This week’s Sacramento News and Review this week references this:
“Later, an investigation by Yolo County legal counsel found no wrongdoing on Reisig’s part. And eventually Gore was fired. But the investigator may yet get his job back through an independent arbitration process, still pending.”
The case is no longer still pending obviously. The District Attorney’s Office this week reading:
“Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced District Attorney Investigator Rick Gore has voluntarily resigned his position with the District Attorney’s Office and has provided a signed letter apologizing for, and retracting certain accusations concerning Mr. Reisig and the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office that were contained in a letter written and made public by Mr. Gore on March 5, 2008.”
The question though that a lot of people have to ask is how a person goes from “fired” to “voluntarily resigned.” All sides acknowledged by Wednesday that a settlement exists. Daniel McMcNamara confirmed by phone to me that “they had reached agreement” and “all sides were happy.” He further elaborated to the Davis Enterprise on Wednesday, “A settlement exists, but I can’t get into the details of it.”
Mr. Reisig was quoted in the Enterprise as well saying:
“As is typical in these personnel situations for a public employer, this situation can be fairly characterized as a settlement.”
The Vanguard spoke briefly with Dan Cedarborg Assistant County Counsel who also confirmed that there was a settlement agreement reached with Mr. Gore and added “that is not unusual in these sorts of matters.”
The question that the average person should ask is, what are they settling if Mr. Gore was fired. And why would he then have to voluntarily resign?
The reader is free to reach their own conclusion, but it seems obvious that Mr. Gore won the arbitration hearing and then instead of going back to work at the District Attorney’s office, decided to take a settlement offer which included writing a letter of apology in exchange for.
Some have chosen to characterize this as inside baseball or the continuation of the District Attorney’s race from 2006. The problem with that theory is that Rick Gore supported Jeff Reisig in 2006, he even gave him $100 on September 16, 2005. Moreover, the issues such as the gang injunction and withholding evidence are not inside baseball issues, they are public issues.
For those who believe that Mr. Gore simply retracted his statement, understand two things here. In his retraction letter he never says the statements were inaccurate, only that they were “unfounded.” Unfounded in this sense, the legal sense, means unsubstantiated and they were unsubstantiated in the course of the County’s investigation which simply weighed Gore’s statements against the statements of others.
Gore has of course testified to the statements of the gang injunction under oath. And as I mentioned in the original Vanguard article, he stood by them in our on the record conversation and he has offered to take a lie detector test about them.
The most interesting charge is now the failure to disclosure exculpatory evidence that is the subject of Randy Skaggs lawsuit against the District Attorney.
A News and Review article published September 3 from Cosmo Garvin has a follow up on that story.
The article adds interesting new insight into that case with statements from Sean Howell, an attorney who represents Randy Skaggs. Incidentally, the same firm is also representing Rick Gore.
Mr. Garvin writes:
“In 2006, Reisig was prosecuting three alleged gang members in the shooting deaths of two other men on Halloween 2002. The killings were described by the prosecution as an “execution” of rival gang members.
The evidence in question was a report written by Skaggs which cast doubt on the testimony of one of Reisig’s witnesses. The witness claimed to see the flash from a .22-caliber gun, but Skaggs’ report suggested that was not possible under the conditions at the time of the crime. The report could have been helpful to the defense. The complaint goes on to say that “After Jeff Reisig was forced to turn the evidence over, the department began to treat [Skaggs] selectively.”
As it turned out, the evidence didn’t cost Reisig the case. He got three men convicted of first-degree murder and bolstered his gang-fighting credentials. He was elected Yolo County district attorney later that same year.
Skaggs is the second district attorney investigator to publicly accuse Reisig of trying to hide evidence in the case, and to allege retaliation over the incident.”
Sean Howell then says:
“It made Reisig look bad. And he decided when he got elected [district attorney] that he was going to get these guys.”
Among other charges, Skaggs accuses the department of “illegally and intentionally bringing frivolous administrative actions.”
Mr. Garvin suggests that Skaggs’ support for Gore also got him in trouble with the district attorney.
The question has been posed as to what the investigation consisted of and what misconduct Mr. Skaggs is accused of, but Mr. Howell would apparently not disclose that to the News and Review.
“Howell would not elaborate on what misconduct his client has been accused of, other than to say, “It’s something that would not traditionally get anywhere near termination.” He added he was confident that the independent arbitrator would give Skaggs his job back. But he said the actions of Skaggs’ superiors could make it tough for him to find work in another county district attorney’s office.”
From the lawsuit, we know that one of the things that Reisig is accused of is leaking confidential information about Skaggs to numerous other departments which would make it difficult for him to get hired in another location. That action is tantamount to an effort to black list.
I disagree that this constitutes inside baseball. On the contrary, I think this gives us insight into the workings of the District Attorney’s office that many consider to play fast and loose with the facts and have a reputation with many in this county of overcharging cases. The Skaggs case will probably not be resolved any time soon. The bigger question will be the extent to which these issues matter if and when there is an election battle in 2010.
—David M. Greenwald reporting