Community Members Speak Out Against Brutal Beating of Galvan Brothers by the West Sac Police

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It was supposed to be a press conference and rally that asked District Attorney Jeff Reisig to drop the charges against Ernesto and Fermin Galvan.  However, late Tuesday afternoon the District Attorney’s Office announced that there would not be a fourth trial against the brothers, accused of resisting arrest and battery against several West Sacramento police officers in the early morning hours of June 14, 2005.

Instead, the group of twenty activists were seeking answers and a restoration of trust as they gathered on a cold morning in front of West Sacramento City Hall.

“We believe that there’s serious questions that we need to ask in relationship to the cost to the taxpayers with three court trials,” said Al Rojas, a labor activist and one of the organizers of the Wednesday press conference. 

He added, “There needs to be a thorough investigation of the whole question of the Galvan trial which had a brutal beating and why Jeff Reisig went to the extent to convict and charge these individuals when he couldn’t prove it in the end.”

The press conference also featured Frances Flores, who was the lone juror to hold out in the first trial.  She stood her ground, in the face of severe criticism and scorn from her fellow jurors, whom she thought seemed more interested in getting home for Thanksgiving than giving the case serious consideration.

“I am extremely elated that court proceedings are over for the Galvan brothers. I truly believe the fact that the brothers were minorities that was the main reason for such cruel treatment and judgment,” Ms. Flores said.

She described the court process as both “excruciating” as well as “very emotional.”galvan-press-03

“There were a lot of [jurors] wanting to convict at a very early part of the deliberations,” she said. 

Back in February, Jeff Austin was the lone hold out in the other 11-1 vote in favor of conviction, in the second trial.

“I was very happy to hear that the DA has decided to dismiss charges against the Galvan brothers,” Jeff Austin told the Vanguard this morning.

“As a juror in the second trial, I was concerned about the conflicting testimonies and that the evidence presented did not corroborate the stories told by the officers. This left me with a lot of doubts about the officers’ testimonies about what happened that night,” he continued.

“I felt very strongly that we could not convict because of that and I am glad I held to that decision,” he said. “Quite often we hear that one person cannot make a difference but in this case, having one lone dissenter who held to his/her beliefs in the first trial, resulted in the second trial.”

“And my doing the same in the second trial led the way to the third trial, and then ultimate acquittal. I am proud to have been part of the process and pleased that my actions ultimately influenced the outcome of the cases and the lives of the Galvan brothers. I am very sorry for all of the suffering the Galvan brothers have encountered because of this event and wish them all the best,” Mr. Austin concluded.

He expressed similar frustrations, as Ms. Flores did, about the attitudes of some jurors.

“My frustration was that several had already made up their minds as to the defendants being guilty and stated that nothing anyone else said would change their minds,” Mr. Austin, a Davis resident, wrote on the Vanguard in February.  “When I tried to point out inconsistencies, medical evidence/testimony etc that raised doubt in my mind, they were unwilling to even consider the possibility that my points had merit or that they were worth looking into further.”

“One of the jurors was very angry at me for not agreeing with the group and for thus wasting two weeks of his life because this was ending without a guilty verdict,” he continued.

However, he did note, “Several of the other jurors said they respected my convictions and for standing my ground even if they didn’t agree with me.”

“Ultimately, this came down to whether I was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the defendants’ guilt. I was not and thus could not in good conscience render a guilty verdict,” he concluded.

Without the actions of Frances Flores and Jeff Austin, in the face of strong pressure from their fellow members of the jury, the truth may not have come out in the case.  As time went on, the inconsistencies in the stories of the officers grew more pronounced.

This morning’s Sacramento Bee commended DA Jeff Reisig for doing the right thing, but criticized him for taking so long to do it.

“Finally, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig has thrown in the towel. He’s elected not to try Ernesto and Fermin Galvan a fourth time on charges of resisting arrest and battery on police officers. It took far too long, but ultimately it was the right decision,” the Bee’s editorial staff writes.

As they recount the facts of the case, one of the key points that arises is the disparity in the magnitude of injuries.  The officers maintained that they feared for their lives, and that Ernesto Galvan was under the influence of drugs and exhibiting “superhuman strength.”

And yet, as the Bee editorial points out, “Undisputed is the fact that Ernesto Galvan suffered a cracked skull, fractured face and permanent brain damage  in that early morning confrontation. He was in a coma for 1 1/2 months. His brother was beaten unconscious and lost several teeth. Officers suffered minor scrapes and bruises.”

They write, “Reisig still insists the Galvan brothers are guilty, but after five years and three hung juries he no longer believes his office can get a unanimous verdict, thus his grudging decision to drop the charges.”

galvan-press-02Their criticism is biting.

“In defending his overzealous but ultimately unsuccessful prosecution, Reisig ignores the obvious – the seriousness of the Galvan brothers’ injuries and the fact that there was no evidence whatsoever that the brothers were doing anything illegal the morning they encountered police,” they write.

They also note Public Defender Tracie Olson’s assessment, “No one expects for a citizen who is not committing a crime to have an interaction with police officers and leave it that horribly injured. That was hard for the district attorney to overcome.”

The DA can point out that 22 of the first 24 jurors voted to convict, but they could never get over that hurdle and as more evidence comes forth and the police continue to contradict themselves, it becomes more apparent that the police are simply lying in this case.

As the Bee notes, “Attorneys for the Galvans say not only are the brothers innocent of resisting arrest but they were victims of a gross overreaction by police.”

Wednesday at the rally, this case clearly touched a nerve.

“We believe that District Attorney Jeff Reisig has failed the public trust and in addition, he failed in the trust of the very people that were entrusted to carry out “Equal Justice” as jurors, in where the District Attorney’s Office was unable to prove that both defendants were Guilty “Beyond a reasonable doubt”. He failed to listen to all three Court Juries, in the end the District Attorney failed to listen to his community’s trust and outcry of Justice,” a release sent out late last night read.

“Jeff Reisig’s decision to carry on these lengthy (three) court trials are subject to question as to the enormous Taxpayers financial burden and costs at a time where Yolo County is in a 22-million budget deficit” the release continued.

Defense Attorney Anthony Palik issued a statement following the decision.

“We are very pleased that the District Attorney of Yolo County, Mr. Jeffery Reisig, has chosen to do the right thing and dismiss a case that should never have been brought in the first place,” said Mr. Palik who represented Ernesto Galvan in the first and third trials.  “We are very pleased that the District Attorney finally chose to scrutinize the facts alleged by the police officers and to do the right thing.”

“It is incumbent upon all prosecuting attorneys to maintain a quasi-judicial role in such matters,” Mr. Palik continued.  “They are not ordinary attorneys and they have a clear responsibility to the public to act with due diligence in ascertaining all the facts and verifying their consistency.”

Mr. Palik said, “I, personally, was very concerned during the third trial when one of the police officers claimed Mr. Ernesto Galvan was still wearing his boots at the time he was in restraints, and that being kicked by Mr. Galvan with his boots was the only way that officer could have torn his trousers during that incident.”

He continued, “This was especially concerning since the three officers who were actually involved in the altercation claimed steadfastly, through three trials, that Ernesto had kicked off his boots and took a barefoot ‘fighting stance’ prior to being subdued by the officers’ batons.”

Mr. Palik once again alluded to the fact that there was additional evidence that would have been introduced in the fourth trial.

He said, “We have our own theory as to what actually occurred, but that is a matter of attorney-client privilege and I am not at liberty to discuss it due to the pending civil lawsuit.”

According to the DA’s Office’s version of events, on June 14, 2005, at approximately 3:33am, Officer Schlie of the West Sacramento Police Department noticed a car parked on Riverbank Road in West Sacramento.

The release continued, describing that as Officer Schlie approached Riverbank Road, he noticed two men standing in the road.  Officer Schlie exited his patrol car and contacted the two subjects, later identified as Ernesto and Fermin Galvan.

Upon contacting the two men, Officer Schlie noticed Ernesto Galvan was sweating profusely, was fidgety, and would not look him in the eyes.  Officer Schlie suspected that Ernesto Galvan was under the influence of a controlled substance and attempted to detain him to conduct a further evaluation.

Ernesto Galvan failed to comply with his requests and Officer Schlie grabbed him by the wrist.

Ernesto Galvan pulled away, swung around and struck Officer Schlie in the chin.  Galvan fought Officer Schlie and another officer for nearly four minutes.  Officers were unable to stop the onslaught of kicks and punches from Ernesto Galvan. During this struggle, the officers attempted to gain control and compliance from Ernesto by verbal commands, take-down techniques, the Taser and the use of batons.

The DA’s version continues, stating that it was not until the officers used their batons that Ernesto Galvan stopped fighting.

Ernesto Galvan was charged with felony resisting arrest and obstructing Officers Schlie and Farrington by threats and violence, and misdemeanor battery on the same two police officers.  Fermin Galvan was charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest and obstruction by threats and violence against Officer Reeder, and misdemeanor obstructing/delaying of Officer Schlie, who was struggling with his brother.

In our view, evidence that came out during the third trial, as well as the second trial, clearly contradicts this reading of events.  Ultimately, we agree with the DA that this case was not winnable for them.  However, we differ in that we believe that the officer’s stories were becoming more and more contradictory as time went on.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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28 thoughts on “Community Members Speak Out Against Brutal Beating of Galvan Brothers by the West Sac Police”

  1. Iyah

    David, Thank you and the other new organizations for keeping this in the media. What a travesty. I’m glad the DA finally did the right thing. However, like so many others I want to repeat why we still have issues with him.

    “It is incumbent upon all prosecuting attorneys to maintain a quasi-judicial role in such matters,” Mr. Palik continued. “They are not ordinary attorneys and they have a clear responsibility to the public to act with due diligence in ascertaining all the facts and verifying their consistency.”

    The only way to gain the public’s trust and respect is to look for the truth and be public about it. Revisit each case when new information has come to light, not hide or overzealously persecute as the Yolo DA has done over and over again.

  2. Roger Rabbit

    lol, Now the lights are on, I would bet my last dollar that DA Reisig got wind of this protest. So in his normal attempts to out smart everyone else, he decided to do a press release about not going forward to try and stop the protest and media attention. What a weasel. Like I have said many times, nothing that comes from that guy is what it appears, he always has an ulterior motive.

    Now before someone starts ranting about how do I know what he knew and I was not in his mind and I can’t know what Reisig is thinking. I can connect the dots, the timing and the negative press forced Reisig to do what he did. Others may say good he finally did the right thing. This was not done for the right thing, it was done for the benefit and hidden agenda of DA Reisig.

    I am a simple guy, if I have a bird and a cat and the bird disappears and the cat has feathers in his mouth, I will say the cat ate the bird. Others will say maybe the bird flew away and the cat was just licking the bird good-bye and that is why the feathers are in the cat’s mouth.

    Reisig only decided to drop charges in an effort to stop this protest, good for them for not letting him manipulate their efforts.

  3. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: ” Ultimately, we agree with the DA that this case was not winnable for them. However, we differ in that we believe that the officer’s stories were becoming more and more contradictory as time went on.”

    But the contradictions did not appear until after the first trial and during the second and third trials. That is what trials are all about – truth finding. The problem I have with the DA’s handling of this case is it does not appear as if the DA did enough investigation of the officers’ story in the first place – in light of the differences in injuries of the defendants and the police. This reminds me too much of the Guitierrez case, where an innocent citizen seems to be minding his/her own business, the police stop the person for questioning, and things get out of hand quickly w the person questioned either seriously injured or dead. In neither case do the police come out looking pristine…

  4. Fight Against Injustice

    David: Thanks for adding Jeff Austin’s comments. I applaud both Jeff Austin and Frances Flores for sticking to their beliefs in the face of so much opposition. After seeing more conflicting testimony in the third trial now both these people are heroes in they eyes of many in the community.

    Hopefully this will encourage other jurors to look closely at the evidence with a critical eye.

  5. E Roberts Musser

    FAI: “Hopefully this will encourage other jurors to look closely at the evidence with a critical eye.”

    You make an important point here. The DA’s Office/police are not infallable, and do make mistakes. It is important for every jury member to look at the evidence as he/she sees it, and to speak out if s/he doesn’t agree w other jurors. Ultimately, it boils down to “to thine own self be true” – After all, one day it could be you or your loved one in the docket being accused. If you are innocent, you would want every juror to take a close look at the evidence and judge it fairly if you were the defendant on trial…

  6. roger bockrath

    Recently I received a jury duty summons from the Superior Court in Yolo County. I promptly gathered my notes from my own experiences within that court, prepared to read them aloud in front of the prospective juror pool when asked if there were any members who felt they had reason to be dismissed from jury duty.

    My particular pool was dismissed on the night before they were scheduled to appear, as often happens, so I never had a chance to regale the prospective jurrors with tales of prosecutorial misconduct and collusion on the part of judges. I was prepared to inform the court of my opinion that collusion between a corrupt district attorney’s office and highly prejudicial judges renders the Yolo Superior Court incapable of rendering justice, and that I am unwilling to participate in such a charade.

    However, todays Vanguard story about jurors Flores and Austin, each holding out for aquittal against a majority of jurors, each time moving the process along and providing the defendants another chance to disprove D.A. Reisig’s flimsy prosecution, has caused me to reconsider my refusal to serve on jury duty.

    It was recently retired Yolo County Public Defender Barry Melton who told me, that in his experience, the only people to lie on the witness stand more than criminal defendants, are cops. Maybe jurors like Mrs. Flores and Mr. Austin allowed those lies to come out by refusing to go along with the mob and find the Galvan brothers guilty with out proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Their jury duty did truly contribute to justice (albeit, much delayed) being administered by the Yolo County Superior Court.

    And many thanks are also in order for The Vanguard for keeping D.A. Reisig’s feet to the fire until he finally figured out that he was doing himself harm by continuing his preposterous counter offensive.

    So now the question remains, can the Galvan brothers successfully sue for the money needed to support a man whose life has been turned upside down by a rather clear case of police brutality? The Sac Bee this morning mentions a 32 million dollar civil rights trial forthcoming. It was my understanding, from what I have read in the Vanguard, that the statute of limitations had run out for such a trial and that the Galvan brothers were limited to attempting financial recovery only through civil litigation. Does anybody have information that can clear this up? Also, David, Where are Mr.Austin’s comments? I can’t seem to find them.

  7. highbeam

    No, the statute did not run out on the civil case. It was filed 7/27/2006 against the West Sac Police Dept, the City of West Sac, and Officers Schlie, Farrington and Reeder. The defendants filed an Answer to the Complaint 9/5/2006. The case has been basically on hold, pending the outcome of this criminal case. The statute did run, however, on prosecuting the officers, while an apparent investigation for such was suspended, again to trail the outcome of this criminal case.

    The additional comments from Mr.Austin are earlier [than his previous comments] in the article, next to the second photo, which is a photo of Frances Flores.

  8. roger bockrath

    Thanks highbeam,
    I realize now that the comments from Mr.Austin were already added by the time I first read the article.

    Regarding the” $32 million civil rights lawsuit” against the West Sac P.D. and officers mentioned in todays Sac Bee- it would appear to be a mis-statement that should have read “$32 million civil suit” It amazes and appalls me that law enforcement can crack up some flimsy assault against an officer charge and pursue it for five years until the statute of limitations runs out, and preclude a citizens right to file a civil rights suit against public officials who abuse their power. How can any fair minded person not conclude that the legal system is heavily prejudiced in favor of law enforcement and against the citizens?

  9. highbeam

    rb,

    The civil suit does actually allege violations of civil rights (as well as battery, gross negligence and infliction of emotional distress), hence it is in the federal (district) court system, Eastern District of California (because there are Constitutional issues). I think where the confusion may have been is that the government (whether local or not) is, as i understand it, now precluded from prosecuting, as crimes, the alleged civil rights violations.

  10. Superfluous Man

    From quoted statement by rally speaker,

    “He failed to listen to all three Court Juries…”

    One could argue that he ultimately did just that, listened to the juries. In the first two cases, the jurors agreed with the prosecution 22/24 times.

    Given the outcomes of the first two trials, if DA Reisig were truly listening to the juries, I think it’s reasonable for him to think the community (if a heavily slanted hung jury (11-1) in favor of guilt is any indication) believed in the brothers’ guilt and thus pursuing the charges a second and third time would be prudent…when considering what impact these jury splits had on the DA’s decisions to retry this case.

    The third trial ended in another hung jury, which had a guilt-innocent ratio (5-7) that was significantly less favorable for the prosecution. Despite the DA’s claims of pursuing the charges yet a fourth time, they eventually drop the charges against the Galvan brothers, which could be in response to the last juries numbers.

    Therefore, it could be argued that the DA did in fact listen to the juries each time: 1-only one holdout=think they have a pretty solid case, retry; 2-only one holdout=still think they have pretty strong case, so again retry; 3; exponential increase in holdouts, dropped charges.

  11. E Roberts Musser

    rb: “However, todays Vanguard story about jurors Flores and Austin, each holding out for aquittal against a majority of jurors, each time moving the process along and providing the defendants another chance to disprove D.A. Reisig’s flimsy prosecution, has caused me to reconsider my refusal to serve on jury duty.”

    I’m glad you’ve reconsidered your position. We need jurors who are willing to give the evidence a hard look; stand up for what they think is right no matter the pressure brought to bear. Refusing to serve on jury duty will not solve the problem of injustice – but just the opposite…

  12. Alphonso

    “Refusing to serve on jury duty will not solve the problem of injustice – but just the opposite… “

    Here is my issue.

    I know I can analyze evidence, I am a fair person, I am an honest person and I am certainly willing to serve my community. However, I am deeply troubled by the way DAs operate (not just in Yolo County)- essentially “the more you get to know the Justice System the worse it looks”. If I walk into court and tell the Court I am somewhat biased against DA’s I know I will never be asked to serve. So if I am honest I know I will be rejected and my perspective will never reach a jury room. Is the solution to be less than honest to improve my chances of serving? Perhaps I shouldn’t worry about being honest in Court – if the DA can not be relied on to be completely honest why should more be expected from the jury?

  13. Bill Ritter

    [quote]Sacramento Bee Editorial:

    Yolo’s DA accepts the obvious – at last

    Published: Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011 –

    Finally, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig has thrown in the towel. He’s elected not to try Ernesto and Fermin Galvan a fourth time on charges of resisting arrest and battery on police officers. It took far too long, but ultimately it was the right decision.

    The case has become something of a cause célèbre in Yolo County. It’s attracted the attention of labor and civil rights groups who allege that the brothers are victims of overzealous and racially biased law enforcement in Yolo County and West Sacramento. The Yolo County District Attorney’s office argued through three trials that police acted properly when they encountered the Galvan brothers on a West Sacramento street at 3:30 a.m. in 2005.

    The officer who first confronted the brothers testified that Ernesto was sweating profusely and refused to make eye contact and that he thought Ernesto was under the influence of drugs. When he tried to arrest him, Ernesto resisted, so the officer called for backup. What happened after that is in dispute. Undisputed is the fact that Ernesto Galvan suffered a cracked skull, fractured face and permanent brain damage in that early morning confrontation. He was in a coma for 1 1/2 months. His brother was beaten unconscious and lost several teeth. Officers suffered minor scrapes and bruises.

    In justifying his decision to try the brothers three times, Reisig points to the fact that the first two juries split overwhelmingly – 11 to 1 – in favor of conviction. But the third and last jury split 5 to 7 in favor of acquittal. Reisig still insists the Galvan brothers are guilty but after five years and three hung juries he no long believes his office can get a unanimous verdict, thus his grudging decision to drop the charges.

    In defending his overzealous but ultimately unsuccessful prosecution, Reisig ignores the obvious – the seriousness of the Galvan brothers’ injuries and the fact that there was no evidence whatsoever that the brothers were doing anything illegal the morning they encountered police. As Yolo County Public Defender Tracie Olson noted in her assessment of the case, “No one expects for a citizen who is not committing a crime to have an interaction with police officers and leave it that horribly injured. That was hard for the district attorney to overcome.”

    Attorneys for the Galvans say not only are the brothers innocent of resisting arrest but they were victims of a gross overreaction by police.

    Certainly their injuries suggest that may have been the case. They have filed a $12 million lawsuit against the city of West Sacramento charging its police officers with excessive force and violation of the Galvans’ civil rights.

    So even though Reisig has dropped criminal charges, the debate about what happened that fateful morning in West Sacramento will continue, as will the litigation.[/quote]

    © Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

  14. Superfluous Man

    Alphonso,

    “I am deeply troubled by the way DAs operate (not just in Yolo County)- essentially ‘the more you get to know the Justice System the worse it looks’. If I walk into court and tell the Court I am somewhat biased against DA’s I know I will never be asked to serve. So if I am honest I know I will be rejected and my perspective will never reach a jury room.”

    Probably won’t, if you admit outright your feelings regarding the Yolo County DA’s Office. Perhaps you believe that your personal bias can be kept in check as you weigh the evidence and arguments presented by both sides. Then again, maybe you, as the self-proclaimed biased prospective juror, are not the best judge of this. All they have is your word to go on and no one is going to risk allowing someone with an admitted bias against the DA’s Office to serve on a jury.

    “Is the solution to be less than honest to improve my chances of serving? Perhaps I shouldn’t worry about being honest in Court – if the DA can not be relied on to be completely honest why should more be expected from the jury?”

    I wouldn’t lie. I your feelings about prosecutors trouble you that much and your distrust in the way you believe they operate is that strong…maybe you just shouldn’t be on a jury. Have you considered the possibility that your preconceptions of the system and/or prosecutors may cloud your judgement as a juror?

  15. bachha

    22/24 and the percentage given is a joke. In fact, these 22 jurors are disgrace. They are the type of jurors the DA office loves to have. Blindly believe the law enforcement. The two jurors are the heroes here. Because of them tragedy was avoided.
    I witnessed in the case of Ajay Dev where the jurors were misled by the DA. They threw away plethora of evidence that would have exonerated Ajay. Only if one of them had the strength to really look at the evidence carefully and not jump to conclusions and not just give in, the result would have been eventual exoneration of Ajay. We know that some of the jurors were pressured and some even believed that he was guilty the day the trial started. Does not matter if they feel bad or think differently now. The damage was done. To correct it now is a big uphill battle. Meanwhile the family, friends, and yes other supporters have to suffer because of this injustice. The jurors convicted Ajay solely from the wrong interpretation given by the DA. Trust me..if I were the accuser and I were allowed to translate the conversation then I could prove anyone to be guilty. Especially if I get the support of the Cash for Convictions minded DA and the Detective. It is not just family and friends believing in Ajay’s innocence. There are hundreds of people now joining the group for justice. Look for yourself at http://www.advocatesforajay.com or facebook page or online petition.

  16. E Roberts Musser

    rb: “Recently I received a jury duty summons from the Superior Court in Yolo County. I promptly gathered my notes from my own experiences within that court, prepared to read them aloud in front of the prospective juror pool when asked if there were any members who felt they had reason to be dismissed from jury duty.

    My particular pool was dismissed on the night before they were scheduled to appear, as often happens, so I never had a chance to regale the prospective jurrors with tales of prosecutorial misconduct and collusion on the part of judges. I was prepared to inform the court of my opinion that collusion between a corrupt district attorney’s office and highly prejudicial judges renders the Yolo Superior Court incapable of rendering justice, and that I am unwilling to participate in such a charade…

    Alphonso: “I know I can analyze evidence, I am a fair person, I am an honest person and I am certainly willing to serve my community. However, I am deeply troubled by the way DAs operate (not just in Yolo County)- essentially “the more you get to know the Justice System the worse it looks”. If I walk into court and tell the Court I am somewhat biased against DA’s I know I will never be asked to serve. So if I am honest I know I will be rejected and my perspective will never reach a jury room. Is the solution to be less than honest to improve my chances of serving? Perhaps I shouldn’t worry about being honest in Court – if the DA can not be relied on to be completely honest why should more be expected from the jury?”

    First of all, were you ever asked the direct question “Do you have a bias against the DA’s Office”? It is not likely you would be directly addressed this particular question. The more likely question you would be asked is “Do you think you can render a fair and just verdict?” If your dislike of the DA is so profound, that you would consider voting to acquit someone who is clearly guilty from the evidence, just to make a point that you think the DA is corrupt, then no, you should not sit on the jury.

    But then if you are that biased against all DAs, I think you ought to take a good hard look at such an extreme position and your own biased thought processes. Trials are not about the DA, the judge, corruption – it is about finding the truth inre to the defendant charged. If jurors similar to you, who do not necessarily believe the DA is always right, and acknowledge a DA can be corrupt to some degree for political reasons/personal biases, don’t step forward to serve jury duty – then more innocent people will end up behind bars.

    I think you have some real soul searching to do…

    Every gov’t system, every entity has its bad apples – but that does not make everyone corrupt…

  17. David M. Greenwald

    “Trials are not about the DA, the judge, corruption – it is about finding the truth inre to the defendant charged.”

    This is partially true, but the other part of that is that DA’s decide which charges to make, put forth the evidence, and at times withhold evidence that may be used to exonerate individuals. They put forth evidence that scientifically may have no basis.

    So yes, the trial is ultimately about the truth about what the defendant did or did not do, but the truth is only seen through the less of a system that may be less accurate than we would like to believe.

  18. Alphonso

    “I wouldn’t lie. I your feelings about prosecutors trouble you that much and your distrust in the way you believe they operate is that strong…maybe you just shouldn’t be on a jury. Have you considered the possibility that your preconceptions of the system and/or prosecutors may cloud your judgement as a juror?

    Of Course!

    I could always offer to work on a Civil case and I will continue to be honest.

    I will say this about juror bias

    Most jurors generally believe in the honesty of the DA and the Police. They tend to focus on possible inconsistencies in the evidence presented by the defense. They will react to obvious holes in the prosecution evidence.

    My perspective would be different – the only honest person in the Court is the Judge. I would expect the DA and the Police to be less than honest and I would pay very close attention to the details of the prosecution “evidence”, looking for any inconsistencies. Any evidence of DA/Police dishonesty or manipulating evidence would trigger my “beyond the reasonble doubt” alarm. I would not give guilty people a free pass, but I would give them a pass if the DA/Police did not demonstrate an honest effort. Beyond that, the decision would be based on the evidence presented by both sides.

    Which perspective is worse?

  19. roger bockrath

    I believe that my opinion, that the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office is a corrupt organization, and that judges in The Superior Court in Yolo County are highly prejudiced in favor of law enforcement and against citizens, is based on facts and personal experience and observations. Knowing what I do does not necessarily render me incapable of making an intelligent, informed decision. In fact, I think that most jurors who get chosen are there because both the defense and prosecution believe them to be uninformed and easily manipulated. So, because I am slightly more informed and have experience with the kangaroo court in Yolo County, should I become a STEALTH JUROR in an attempt to point out to the other jurors, during deliberations, how the current regime manipulates jurors in their quest for Cash for Convictions?

    Not too long ago I mentioned to our recently retired public defender, Barry Melton, that I thought jury selection was about 50% of most trials. He responded that it was about 90 % !

    The point here is that jurors are manipulated by both defense and prosecution attorneys. In Yolo County, the vast majority of criminal defendants are Hispanics. If you sit through jury selection for a Hispanic defendant you will watch a Yolo County District Attorney Prosecutor use up their peremptory challenges (removal of a prospective juror without having to state a reason) almost entirely on individuals with Hispanic names. Prosecutors know that a non-Hispanic jury is more likely to convict a Hispanic defendant than one made up of mostly Hispanic peer citizens.

    Similarly, a defense attorney always asks if a prospective juror has any ties to law enforcement, knowing that such a person has a high probability to be prejudiced against a criminal defendant simply because they have been indicted (accused) of a crime. Such a person would most probably never be seated in the juror box.

    In my case, at the tender age of 20, I found myself on the witness stand as a prosecution witness in the Angela Davis murder conspiracy trial that resulted from the infamous Marin Civic Center Shootout. Angela Davis, a self proclaimed member of the American Communist Party (an intellectual group which mostly holds conversations about Marxist philosophy, and was never any threat to America) was the owner of legally registered weapons, which were stolen by an employee and used to perpetrate the Shootout, in which four people, including a Superior Court Judge were killed.

    The trial was a huge national spectacle in which my photos of the actual shootout and it’s aftermath were blown up to large posters and positioned between the witness stand and the lead juror.

    In the 13th week of the trial, when newspapers were announcing that, so far, with the jury sequestered, the bill for the trial had reached $ 1.3 million. While at the courthouse and waiting to testify I happened to bump into head prosecutor for the State Attorney General. His name was Albert Harris and he was the father of an employee of mine so I casually knew him. I walked into his office and mentioned that this trial was getting rather expensive and it’s getting nowhere. He then told me that there had never been evidence to indict Angela in the first place and that unless they discovered something during the remainder of the trial, Angela would walk. He then informed me that Evelle Younger, then State Attorney General, wanted to run for President of the United States and intended to” hang a Commie” right here in California as the cornerstone of his campaign.

    Evelle Younger’s strategy of using $3.2 million of taxpayers money to fund his presidential campaign failed. A couple of days later Angela Davis was acquitted. So at only 20 years of age I had learned an important lesson about the relationship between politics and justice in America.

    It is my opinion that the facts I have presented about one of my experiences with the courts, which influence my view of how the courts work, make me a better prospective juror than a person who’s life did not include those experiences. Some how I don’t think any prosecution attorney, knowledgeable of this history would agree!

  20. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “So yes, the trial is ultimately about the truth about what the defendant did or did not do, but the truth is only seen through the less of a system that may be less accurate than we would like to believe.”

    It is the jurors who decide innocence or guilt. If jurors refuse to serve who would be more objective, recognizing the DA and judges have their own biases, then trials are bound to be less fair. Ultimately trials SHOULD BE ABOUT FINDING THE TRUTH, period. Jurors are what stand between the innocent defendant being railroaded by a corrupt justice system, if that particular justice system is corrupt. The two holdouts against conviction in the Galven case perhaps illustrate this point…

    Alphonso: “My perspective would be different – the only honest person in the Court is the Judge.”

    Not necessarily…

    rb: “I believe that my opinion, that the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office is a corrupt organization, and that judges in The Superior Court in Yolo County are highly prejudiced in favor of law enforcement and against citizens, is based on facts and personal experience and observations. Knowing what I do does not necessarily render me incapable of making an intelligent, informed decision. In fact, I think that most jurors who get chosen are there because both the defense and prosecution believe them to be uninformed and easily manipulated. So, because I am slightly more informed and have experience with the kangaroo court in Yolo County, should I become a STEALTH JUROR in an attempt to point out to the other jurors, during deliberations, how the current regime manipulates jurors in their quest for Cash for Convictions?”

    Thanks for sharing your story, which does color your thinking, and understandably so. However, just answering the questions asked of you in an honest manner does not make you a “stealth juror”. It makes you an honest juror. If you are not chosen, for whatever reason, then so be it. But you will have done your duty to whatever extent you are able… but if jurors like you do not step forward, the justice system will be that much more unjust…

  21. Superfluous Man

    Alphonso,

    “Most jurors generally believe in the honesty of the DA and the Police. They tend to focus on possible inconsistencies in the evidence presented by the defense. They will react to obvious holes in the prosecution evidence.”

    True. Theoretically, those professions (law enforcement/prosecution) take the integrity and moral character of those they hire very seriously. They are held to a higher standard, both pre-employment and throughout their careers, than most professions. Conversely, you may have a defendant who has every reason to lie as I assume they don’t want to be found guilty in addition to (possibly) having a criminal background and/or exhibiting poor moral character.

    It’s understandable to me why most jurors/people are more inclined to believe the officers/prosecutors over someone who has a history of criminal behavior, dishonesty, low moral character, etc.. Now, this isn’t to say that I find this line of thinking great for the justice system, but it’s not an unreasonable presumption for jurors/people to make…doesn’t make it fair, though.

    Prosecutors build a house, which should have a pretty strong foundation. There may be some weak spots for which the defense can poke holes, but that doesn’t necessarily take down the entire structure…just weakens it a bit. The prosecution has it’s case and the defense attacks it. There’s a legal process from the moment the evidence is seized to the point in which the jurors are permitted to hear/view it.

    “Any evidence of DA/Police dishonesty or manipulating evidence would trigger my ‘beyond the reasonble doubt’ alarm. I would not give guilty people a free pass, but I would give them a pass if the DA/Police did not demonstrate an honest effort. Beyond that, the decision would be based on the evidence presented by both sides.”

    If a juror finds the evidence and testimony of a LEO/LE highly questionable, of which the case against a particular defendant is heavily relied upon, I wouldn’t blame a juror if they concluded that the prosecution didn’t sufficiently meet the standard of proof in their case.

    “Which perspective is worse?”

    Just as it is not good, in the interest of justice, to have a juror with a bias against LE/DDA’s, it’s just as undesirable (and more prevalent, IMO) to have jurors with a “presumption of guilt” and a failure to analyze the officers’ testimony/facts critically. A relevant example of this being the second Galvan Bros trial in which juror Jeff Austin describes a juror continuing to believe the brother(s) were under the influence of meth despite their being no evidence to corroborate that conclusion. Further, the presumption being two Hispanic men, in W. Sac, at 3:30 am officer’s testimony re: sweating/eye contact must translate to these guys being high.

  22. Alphonso

    SM

    I agree with your last comment. I will be perfectly satisfied if I can convince a few people to be better jurors – think about the process and be impartial.

  23. David M. Greenwald

    “It is the jurors who decide innocence or guilt. If jurors refuse to serve who would be more objective, recognizing the DA and judges have their own biases, then trials are bound to be less fair. Ultimately trials SHOULD BE ABOUT FINDING THE TRUTH, period. Jurors are what stand between the innocent defendant being railroaded by a corrupt justice system, if that particular justice system is corrupt. “

    Correct, the jurors do. But how can they do it properly if for instance, and I’m not saying that has happened here, the DA is withholding evidence that could exonerate the defendant?

  24. mercy for all

    The problem of continued prosecution after a mis trial is ultimeately left to the sound discretion of trial courts, as it should be. The standard is “reasonable possiblity of conviction” at a subsequent trial. As the first 2 trials failed to get a conviction only because one juror (in each trial) held out, the decision to re try was and should be the District Attorney’s. Ultimately, Judges must know if and when to not permit retrials. This power seems exercised not enough. At least there seems no undue pressure to sway the single hold out twice. To those of us who do criminal defense, thats very disturbing. As for Jeff’s ultimate decision not to go forward, don’t criticize to vehemently, and don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

  25. tiatujo

    Using Microscope all this technology over and also under, humanity still hunts straight down one another.Steady Microscope fingers, simply take the actual wheel. as well as every check will be killing me. Time for it to make one last lure . to the living I direct.

  26. tiatujo

    Sometimes ache Microscope gets this type of large part you will ever have which you expect that to be right now there, because you cant keep in mind a period in you life whenever it wasnt.

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