Couzens Injects DA Race Politics into Ajay Dev Motion

Deputy DA Ryan Couzens attending a recent candidates forum

By Robert J. Hansen

Woodland, CA – A motion has been filed by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office ordering “devastating” testimony to be taken forthwith and without any further unreasonable delay in the habeas evidentiary hearing of Ajay Dev on Friday.

Dev is the former Davis resident who was sentenced to over 378 years for 76 felony counts of rape and sexual assault of his adopted daughter.

The motion, filed by Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens, makes a politically-charged argument that Dev is stalling the case in hopes that Cynthia Rodriguez will be elected Yolo DA on June 7 and would show favor to Dev.

“The People believe it is now Mr. Dev’s current strategy to delay the taking of any further evidence (or at least the damaging evidence) in the hope that DA candidate Cynthia Rodriguez wins the upcoming election occurring in three weeks,” the motion said.

Couzens’ belief is that Dev intends to delay this proceeding not only to avoid taking the testimony of Michael Rothschild but to take advantage of a possible election outcome for the current District Attorney’s race in which it is believed there has m been at least one communication with candidate Cynthia Rodriguez that raises serious ethical issues.

McGeorge law professor Mike Vitiello said this is very unusual.

“If legitimate, it suggests something negative about Jeff’s opponents,” Vitiello said. “If not legitimate, it suggests that Jeff’s office is going out of its way to embarrass his opponents.”

The ethical issue Couzens raises is campaign donations of $500 from Dev’s brother, Sanjay Dev, to the Rodriguez campaign.

“Incredibly, the Rodriguez campaign would randomly reach out and contact Sanjay Dev in Chico and, at the same time, be ignorant of who he is and what is going on with his brother’s case,” the motion said.

Rodriguez said in an earlier interview that no amount of campaign donations could compromise her integrity or buy favorable treatment.

“The idea that campaign donations could get me to give someone special treatment is ridiculous,” Rodriguez said. “No amount of money could get me to compromise the integrity of the Office and implying (that), for $500, is insulting.”

In an interview with KCRA, Rodriguez explained she didn’t personally reach out to Sanjay Dev even if her campaign may have. 

“I receive money from almost 700 people. I think, at this point, I don’t see all of the money and I don’t know everyone who has contributed,” Rodriguez told KCRA. “I did not take any money purposefully from anyone in particular. I took the money that people offered me, and I had no reason to suspect that things were going to come out like that.”

In an earlier interview with the Davis Vanguard, Sanjay Dev explained that it was the Rodriguez campaign that reached out to him and that he met with Ms. Rodriguez herself before donating.

Dev says he misspoke and only spoke with Rodriguez via telephone.

According to Couzens, the above facts create a grave ethical concern.

“A DA candidate soliciting and accepting a relatively large campaign donation from the brother of a man currently challenging a ‘highly controversial’ sex crime conviction …” the motion said.

The judge has yet to make a ruling on the motion.

About The Author

Robert J Hansen is an investigative journalist and economist. Robert is covering the Yolo County DA's race for the Vanguard.

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  1. Bill Marshall

    Listening to the candidates, and their supporters/detractors, wish I had the voting choice “None of the Above”… at least there would be a good clue that the ‘winner’ couldn’t claim a ‘mandate’…

    I find that in a large number of the races this year… so, I’ll tend to vote ‘anti-incumbent’, particularly if I realize the incumbent will likely win in any event… my sordid, cynical, Sunday observation, FWIW, which isn’t much…

    Old lyrics:  “Laugh about it, shout about it, any way you choose, every way you look at it you lose”.  Ku-Ku-Kachoo…  RIP Anne Bancroft/Mrs Robinson… I’ll try to graduate to more meaningful contributions, later…

    Seriously, if you’re eligible, please vote… but try to get informed, and think before you make your choice(s)…

  2. Patty Pursell

    Couzens is using “smoke and mirrors” to distract from the fact that he has no come back for the evidence Ajay’s case has brought forth.  Witnesses that have testified that the girl told them that the accusations were not true.  In addition, the tape where Ajay “supposedly admitted something” has been enhanced so you can now hear the words, and it proves that there was no admission.  The girl just made up what Ajay said.

    So…..Couzens has no come-back….so distraction is all he can do.

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