Sunday Commentary: Did the District Attorney Inappropriately Leak Files to Victims Group?

DA Jeff Reisig

Ultimately voters will have to decide for themselves whether an 11-year-old police report which alleges that district attorney challenger Dean Johansson abused his kids is accurate or if it should be a reason not to vote for him.  Mr. Johansson has denied the allegations, they were apparently never criminally filed by the district attorney’s office at the time, and they are quite old.

Whether this was appropriate to become a campaign issue is another aspect that the voters will have to decide.  For those who argue that a third party, Crime Victims United, raised the issue, Jeff Reisig issued a statement this week that in effect means he endorsed the attack piece.  He used the piece to argue: “Mr. Johansson is simply not remotely qualified to be the Yolo County District Attorney.”

But let us not pretend that the group Crime Victims United is a neutral party in this.  They are both a 501(c)(3) non-profit as well as a 501(c)(4) lobbying group and some have charged that their activities have been blended together.

In 2006, the group made co-endorsements in the DA’s race with both Pat Lenzi and Jeff Reisig receiving the endorsement.  That was unusual because, at the time, Ms. Lenzi sat on their board.  She sent out a statement on Saturday, disavowing herself from the group, where her name still appears.  But Mr. Reisig is listed as a member of their advisory board.  And he lists the group as endorsers of his campaign.

In the statement from Jeff Reisig, he ends by stating: “In the spirit of transparency, read the police reports, which have been legally acquired and published by Crime Victims United, for yourself.”

That leads us to another critical question – just how did the group find out about the 11-year-old police report that was apparently never filed by the district attorney’s office as a criminal complaint against Mr. Johansson?

This is a question that Mr. Johansson himself raised in his interview with the Vanguard.

“Where did they get this information?  It had to be given to them by some internal source in the district attorney’s office to even know what this evidence is,” he said.

“I would like to know where this report even came from in the first place,” he stated.  “Where did this report come from?  Reisig’s using power to create falsehoods to demean his opponent.”

There are actually multiple levels to this to consider.

First, someone with inside knowledge would have to alert the group in the first place that these police reports existed.  Police reports, unlike other documents, are not in general publicly available.

The First Amendment Coalition writes: “The California Supreme Court has held that the general public does not have a right of access to the actual physical copies of police reports.”

Under the California Public Records Act, section 6254(f), the department is required to provide to the public the following information: “the time, substance, and location of all complaints or requests for assistance received by the agency and the time and nature of the response thereto, including, to the extent the information regarding crimes alleged or committed or any other incident investigated is recorded, the time, date, and location of occurrence, [and] the time and date of the report, the name, age, and current address of the victim ….”

Agencies must also disclose to the public “[t]he full name, current address, and occupation of every individual arrested by the agency, the individual’s physical description including date of birth, color of eyes and hair, sex, height and weight, the time and date of arrest, the time and date of booking, the location of the arrest, the factual circumstances surrounding the arrest, the amount of bail set, the time and manner of release or the location where the individual is currently being held, and all charges the individual is being held upon, including any outstanding
warrants from other jurisdictions and parole or probation holds.”

But what agencies do not do is release a physical copy of the report.

So the question is, who has the report?  The alleged victim could get it – but in this case, we have been told that this did not happen.  A defense attorney could get it – but this was never a filed case and thus there was no defense attorney.  Dean Johansson himself could probably get a copy of it, but, again, why would he do that?

The police reports that were posted suggest there are two possible sources – one is from inside the Davis Police Department where the report and supplements were created, and the other is the district attorney’s office where they were forwarded.

Mr. Reisig states that the report was legally acquired, but he doesn’t explain how they acquired it and from whom.  Given what we know about this matter, it seems very likely that the organization had to have learned about this case from an inside source and received these materials from someone who did not have legal authorization to provide them.

The report is stamped: “This document contains restricted information.  Distribution to unauthorized persons is prohibited.  Davis Police Department.”

The report that is posted indicates it’s a “Records Controlled Document” sent to the “DA” on 11-6-07.

This raises the troubling possibility that the district attorney himself leaked this material, which we believe would represent an abuse of governmental power.  There has to be a strict separation between one’s official authority and a political campaign.  The district attorney cannot use his power to investigate individuals as a means to attack his opponent politically with a matter handled by his office.

If Mr. Reisig’s office investigated this matter and then turned over the records to Crime Victims United, that would represent an abuse of power.

Again, Mr. Reisig claims “in the interest of transparency” and then asserts that the documents were “legally acquired” – I think in the interest of full transparency, we need to know just how those police reports were “legally acquired” by the group that just happens to be supporting Mr. Reisig, with the DA just happening to be on their advisory board.

—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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  1. PhilColeman

    “The police reports that were posted suggest there are two possible sources – one is from inside the Davis Police Department where the reports were created and the other is the District Attorney’s office where the reports were forwarded.”

    I’m the “suggestive” part of this narrative, and this interpretation is incorrect. My comments said there could be more than just two, noting other elements of the criminal justice system.

    At least one other government agency was investigating this complaint, and may have possibly been given a copy of the police investigation. That said, they being party to this recent revelation is virtually impossible for me to imagine.

    With photo-copy machines in great abundance, and photo-taking cell phones in even greater abundance, anybody could have copied a legitimately possessed (or obtained) copy of the report.

    The conclusion and the reality is this: Numerous persons in, or out, of the system could have released that 11-year old report. We can suspect, but proof is needed to persuade the masses. We’ll probably never find out who was specifically responsible. This is the darker side of the First Amendment.

    A final constructive and helpful suggestion to the elements of the Johannson Campaign. “thou doth protest too much.” You’re playing into the hands of the unscrupulous person who  posted this report, giving it even more public exposure and discussion unfavorable to your candidate.


    1. David Greenwald

      I actually (A) have experience trying to get police reports and usually unsuccessfully and (B) spoke to some police and prosecutor friends from outside of the area to confirm it.

      To make this point: no one has actually released/ posted the picnic day police reports for example.

      Second, point out again, I’m not part of any campaign, I’m simply giving my opinion of it here. If they got it legitimately, that should be put on the table.

      1. PhilColeman

        Points taken, and the sincerity expressed is duly noted.

        It will never happen, First Amendment zealots would never allow it to get off the ground. But if police reports are now restricted access for good and worthy reasons, publication of same should be a criminal offense. “Fruit of the poison tree,” and such.


        1. Howard P

          Points taken, Phil… reportedly, there are consequnces from eating of the purloined fruit of the tree of the knowlege of good and evil… key word being ‘purloined’…

          I filed a police report once (not seeking “charges”), on what might be considered ‘domestic violence’ … one son hauled off and hit a 6 yr younger son, giving him a pretty good shiner… I promised to report it, primarily to document, in case there was a future incident… there wasn’t.

          22 years ago… good thing neither I, nor my sons, will probably never run for elective office.

          This whole issue is ludicrous…

  2. Jeff M

    Leaks are always welcome a righteous when they serve a righteous agenda, right?

    Hypocrites should not complain.

    Johansson messed up here.  His reaction was basically anger that the public was made aware of something in his past.  Begs the question what else is he hiding?

    1. Howard P

      Somebody gets a traffic ticket… “what else are they hiding?”  Bad analogy… no “ticket” was issued here…

      You grasping at straws or pasta?

      Perhaps the incumbent did worse, and cowered his family not to ‘report’… [not bloody likely]

      Again, this is getting ludicrous…

      Am sorely tempted to use the criteria, of BS’ers endorsing a candidate, to vote opposite…

      1. Craig Ross

        So you think it’s okay for a DA to use his official powers to investigate someone and then leak the information to a third party for the purposes of a political attack piece?

        1. Jim Hoch

          Most, if not all, leaks are an attempt by one party to embarrass, attack, or otherwise harm another party.

          David prints all sorts of non-public information and never explains where it come from or what the motivation was of the leaker. I do find it disingenuous for him to criticize others for doing the same thing.


    2. Victoria Lopez


      If you Google Reisig a few articles come up that accusing him of hiding evidence.. This was actually a case of a whistleblower that exposed the corruptiin Where are the reports that prove that he didn’t, besides the acuser who got a settlement and retiredretired.


  3. Tia Will


    Certainly does not “beg the issue” that you want there to be more and implied in a post yesterday that you felt there was more. Innuendo is not “objective”. A trait you hold in great esteem until it does not suit your purposes.

  4. Tia Will

    I have a question which may or may not be semantic.

    Reisig is quoted as saying only that the police report was “legally obtained”. What he has not stated is that it was legally used.

     “This document contains restricted information.  Distribution to unauthorized persons is prohibited.  Davis Police Department.”

    I am inferring that the general public would be amongst the list of “unauthorized persons” referred to. Correct?

    It would appear that there are only two people here who truly know what happened. Johansson & Reisig with regard to the events of 11 years ago, and Reisig with regard to how this report became public. Johansson has denied the event which set off the investigation. Now I feel it is upon Reisig to reveal the truth surrounding the events release of this information. His unwillingness to be transparent about this issue is telling of how he views his job, his role, and his responsibility to the community.

    You’re playing into the hands of the unscrupulous person who  posted this report, giving it even more public exposure and discussion unfavorable to your candidate.”

    This would be a damned if you do and damned if you do not situation. If the Johansson camp said nothing, they would be hounded for not having a response. They responded and are told the “protest too much”. Hmmm….




  5. Ken A

    I’m sure that David and Tia are bummed that it now look like their guy “kicks his kids”, just like the right wing bible thumpers were upset when a tape came out that makes it sound like their guy “grabs women”.  Like so many people that find out stuff they don’t want to hear David is trying to blame the DA for a leak without any evidence grasping at straws to help far left leaning guy that never really had any chance of winning in Yolo County.

  6. Tia Will

     it now look like their guy “kicks his kids””

    I do not see this report as evidence that my “guy kicks his kids”. I see it as evidence that this was brought up at one point in time and not pursued for reasons it appears only DA Reisig knows and is not revealing. DA Reisig has been accused of  both over and undercharging. Does that make the accusations objectively true? Obviously not. It is a matter of interpretation.

    I  am only “bummed” about the nasty turn of the campaigns. I would rather there had been no mention of “bullying” over campaign signs and I would rather there had been no mention of the investigation of Johansson. I would prefer that campaigns focus on the differences in perspective and policy not on questionably true accusations from either side.


    1. Howard P

      And I’d prefer that folk don’t “feed” gremlins (or, dare I say, ‘trollls’?)

      I say again, this is all ludicrous… and “partisan”, not logical… not “real”…

      And yes, I lay this all (issue) at the feet of BOTH candidates, and their partisans…

      Still wish I had a ‘none of the above’ option, based primarily on the ‘arguments’ of the partisans…

      We’re in danger of running out of spaghetti…

    2. Ruth PaganoTrn

      Just curious— you would rather not know about whether or not the candidate you support for DA of Yolo County abused his children? WOW


      1. Craig Ross

        You raise an interesting question – which is the biggest threat – a DA willing to unlawfully use his office for political gain or a man who may possibly have kicked his child 11 years ago.  I would answer that the former is the bigger threat as it directly impacts our freedom whereas Dean’s actions – if they occurred – happened a long time ago and don’t impact his ability to carry out his official duties (Reisig’s do impact his ability to carry out his official duties).

        1. Ruth PaganoTrn


          How again is the Crime Victim’s United report equate to an unlawful use of his office? Confused…please explain with fact, not assumptions…

      2. Tia Will

        I would feel the same way about knowing that as I feel about knowing that our DA let a known meth dealer remain in the community for months if it had happened. However, we don’t know that anyone abused his children. We know there was an investigation and report. That is all we know.

  7. Matt Rexroad

    Only one side continues to be advanced on this “news” site.  That leads me to conclude…..

    Paid for by Johansson for District Attorney 2018 FPPC Committee ID #1401524

    Matt Rexroad




    1. David Greenwald

      I have offered to run your piece several times, you have declined, that leads me to believe this is a political point rather than a serious one.

      1. Ron

        David:  ” . . . that leads me to believe this is a political point rather than a serious one.”

        The irony of that statement, considering its source.  🙂

    2. Tia Will


      Only one side continues to be advanced on this “news” site. “

      Excuse me, but space has been given to both the negative campaign tactics of calling out “bullying” on the sign issue from the Johansson side and the release of the police report from the Reisig side. If what is being called into question is negative campaigning, I would call it even.

  8. Ruth PaganoTrn

    Interesting article— now the vanguard and Dean Johansson’s supporters are upset that WE all have learned that Dean assaulted his kids…

    and  wondering why a group- that is dedicated to Victims rights, is concerned about it.

    Its one thing to question whether it happened but the fact that someone running for DA would not disclose this happened or be transparent with the subsequent CPS investigation then that is of REAL concern. Yes, when cases such as this occur, CPS is involved— why doesn’t the Vanguard actually look into that.

    Why is the vanguard blindly following this candidate— maybe you are friends, maybe you are close and connected to this campaign in undisclosed ways.

    Bottom line everyone who is running for public office is and should be transparent— the fact that you are deflecting from this, shows your opaqueness.

    Note: personal attacks or questions about what my intentions are just scare tactics being used by the Dean campaign… my sole purpose for being involved is because I care about victims and kids and I want to #keepYOLOsafe.

    1. Craig Ross

      “with the subsequent CPS investigation ”

      Since CPS investigations are supposedly confidential, I wonder the propriety of this comment as well

      1. Ruth PaganoTrn

        Disrtaction again– I am sure Dean has a copy of his CPS report…why not disclose it? If you have nothing to hid then stop hiding.

        Most child abuse cases have CPS involved, doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure that out. I just figure if Dean wants to put this to rest and PROVE that his kids were lying then CPS, an impartial report may be able to do that.


        1. Craig Ross

          That doesn’t mean there’s a report.  I asked a friend what they got when CPS looked into them, and it was just a one-line message that the case was closed.

    2. Tia Will


      We have not all learned that Dean assaulted his kids. We have learned that there was a single complaint and an investigation. You do not seem to understand that we have a court system designed to judge these cases if the DA chooses to charge, which he did not for reasons we do  not know because he is not saying. Neither you, nor I, nor the DA get to decide on guilt or innocence but that point seems to be eluding you.

  9. Ruth PaganoTrn

    Well Dean should release his ONE LINE report then– if you aren’t asking these transparency questions, youobviously don’t care. For me, harming a child or multiple children truly matters– especially as the top cop in a County. As far as CVU getting the report– maybe there are others that knew about it? Maybe the Vangard should ask his exwife or the reporting party…I guess no one on this site really cares about the depths of Johnasson’s character or the darkness of it.


    1. Tia Will


      I consider Jeff Reisig to have harmed a child. He allowed Frank Rees to walk free in exchange for testimony (my opinion). Frank was, at the time a known methamphetamine dealer and the father of Baby Justice who had died on the levee when in the care of Frank Rees and the mother. The outcome of this decision was the impregnation of yet another methamphetamine addicted woman by Frank Rees who has already fathered 5 children ( including Baby Justice) &  well known to Yolo County for dependency and child neglect.

      Are you not the least bit interested in this case or other cases that have ended in adverse consequences due to the “discretion” of Jeff Reisig?. Have you not considered that if Dean Johansson had indeed abused his child, then Reisig was derelict in his duty to prosecute? I don’t see any curiosity about these less than “tough on crime” decisions by Reisig.

      1. Ken A

        I’m wondering if  Dean Johansson has told Tia that he plans to lock up all the meth addicted losers like Frank Rees in Yolo County before they can have more kids.  If this is the case I know a lot of people who are not planning to vote for the guy that will change their vote to support him (if this is not the case why mention that fact that the current DA didn’t lock the guy up?)

        1. Tia Will

          why mention that fact that the current DA didn’t lock the guy up?”

          Because it was an error in judgement, in my opinion, on the part of DA Reisig that resulted in very serious consequences. I did indeed ask Dean Johansson regarding his opinion on the case. He stated honestly that he did not have enough information on the case to speculate. That is an honest response and one I would expect from a lawyer who had not followed a case closely.

          What you are doing is trying to equate speculation with the factual handling of a case. I do not see them as equivalent.

  10. Sharla C.

    I had a neighbor once who called and reported me to the police multiple times – 6 or 7 times over 3 weeks.  She was doing this to harrass me, get me in trouble.  The allegations were unfounded and I had proof that I was not at home when she was saying I was doing illegal activity.  A police report is only information collected by the police and never a determination of guilt.   It is a cause of concern that someone who had access would release a police report without authorization, but moreso that the D.A. would promote it publicly and employees of the D.A.’s office would comment publicly on it.  This shows a lack of good judgement, a “win at all costs” mindset, and an abuse of power.

  11. Howard P

    Although I think this whole thing (after reading the “report twice”) is ludicrous (and off-point as to qualifications/character), if people are looking for conspiracies, who redacted the account of the report?  When?  For what purpose?  Was exculpatory information redacted?

    If we’re going to play the “conspiracy game”, I go “all in”… call (answer my questions) or fold…

    Can we get back to substantive issues? Policies, visions, etc.?

  12. Tia Will


    I think the issue is murder, not meth”

    I see both as valid issues due to the following :

    1. Methamphetamine sales are criminal acts. – Frank Rees, known to sell, was allowed to walk free for months.

    2. Child neglect resulting in death  is a criminal act – the father, Frank Rees was allowed to walk free for months.

    3. Frank Rees already had four children, known by CPS to be neglected – allowed to walk free for months.

    4. Frank Rees had signed an agreement to accept equal responsibility with the mother for the care of Baby Justice. He left the home knowing ( by his own testimony she was incapable of child care) – Frank Rees was allowed to walk free for months.

    There is more, but I am bound by HIPAA and believe the above are sufficient. The point for me is what Jeff Reisig ( the proclaimed law and order candidate) chose to do/not do in this case, not some hypothetical case that might come before Johansson and being hypothetical cannot be judged identically.

    1. Howard P

      There is more, but I am bound by HIPAA…

      That is disingeneous… why say “there is more”, then hide… innuendo? No way you needed to add that sentence, except perhaps as a ‘partisan’… you even said yourself,

      “… I believe the above are sufficient…”…

      Reminded me of

      Makes me lean towards ….

      1. Tia Will

        That is disingeneous… why say “there is more”, then hide… innuendo?”

        Nope. I have commented on this case before with the same limitation long before it became an issue in this campaign. I stated it then in the same way when there was no campaign in progress. For consistency and to head off further questions on the issue, I said it again. That is verifiable on the Vanguard.

    2. Ken A

      If we locked up every guy that left a kid with a drug using baby mamma we will need a lot more prisons.  I’m wondering if Tia wants EVERY guy that leaves a kid with someone using drugs in jail or just Mr. Rees (since she can keep bringing up the guys name and the name of a dead baby to make the current DA look bad)….

      1. David Greenwald

        “If we locked up every guy that left a kid with a drug using baby mamma we will need a lot more prisons. ”

        What do you mean? We did lock him up, the question here was the timing of that decision.

      2. Tia Will


        I would indeed lock up every guy who sells methamphetamine and who provides it to the women he has sex with, fathers babies with, and who promises to care for an infant and then chooses not to do so even though he knows the babies mother is incapable of caring for it. That is what Frank Rees did. So, my answer is “Yes. Absolutely, I would”.

        I am not “making the DA look bad”. The DA’s own actions in this case make him look bad. The reality of the situation makes it “look bad”. My repeating it does not change by one iota what he chose to do.

  13. Ron

    Howard:  “Can we get back to substantive issues? Policies, visions, etc.?”

    Not sure that “back to” is the right phrase.  How about “begin to”?  🙂

  14. CTherese Benoit

    Pretty terrible IF true. Kicking a kid in the stomach can kill them…

    But, it sounds like the current DA has facilitated worse outcomes for a lot of children. Their child abduction/custody enforcement unit is awful and I suspect partially to blame for the recent murder of Amy Hunter’s children. And I still don’t believe Nan Hui Jo’s motherless child is thriving.

    Then we can only speculate what life is like for a kid who loses their parents to a lengthy prison sentence due to unethical/overzealous prosecutions. Many foster homes are full of kicks to the stomach, and a myriad of other unwanted touches.

    So I guess voters will need to pick the lesser evil. Kinda like last Pres election.

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