Monday Morning Thoughts: Couzens Weaves Full Election Conspiracy into Ajay Dev Court Motion

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Deputy DA Ryan Couzens Attending a recent candidates forum

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Woodland, CA – A few weeks ago the Ajay Dev evidentiary hearing appeared finally to be ready for a new witness after a series of delays from the fall of 2019 and a change of counsel.  Dev’s team was going to put on Michael Rothschild, who was Dev’s counsel at his 2009 trial, but attorney Jennifer Mouzis decided at the lost moment to pull back the witness.

As she told the court, she did not believe it to be in her client’s best interest to go forward at this time with Rothschild.  Judge Janene Beronio granted her request, but Assistant Chief Deputy DA Ryan Couzens announced his intent to subpoena the witness and have him testify.

On Friday, it was announced that Mouzis was ill and the petitioners asked for and were granted a continuance.

Couzens filed a motion on Friday that can only be described as a full conspiracy theory.

He writes, “the People believe the Petitioner, Ajay 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 Attorneys race, in which the undersigned believes there has already been at least one communication with candidate Cynthia Rodriguez that raises serious ethical issues.”

Couzens continues: “The People feel compelled to accept counsel’s statement regarding illness but it is, at the very least, convenient given Petitioner’s desire to not have Mr. Rothschild examined.”

Couzens said he believes that the “this habeas has not been going well for Mr. Dev.”  He writes, “Mr. Dev needs a new plan. The People believe it is now Mr. Dev’s current strategy to delay the taking of any further evidence (or at least the apparently damaging evidence) in the hope that DA candidate Cynthia Rodriguez wins the upcoming election occurring in three weeks.”

He then crosses into election politics in his taxpayer supported court motion.

He writes, “Communications that apparently occurred between Ajay Dev’s brother, Sanjay Dev, and Ms. Rodriguez cause us grave concerns about how Ms. Rodriguez would handle this habeas—in the face of clear ethical conflicts of interest—should she win her election and, thus, gain prosecutorial control over this case.”

Couzens argues that Rodriguez “accepted a campaign donation from Sanjay Dev” and maintained, “even though it would have been obvious to anyone {i.e., anyone not living under a rock for the last 12 years) that she was taking a donation from the brother of a man with a pending habeas proceeding on likely the single largest and high-profile sexual assault conviction in this County in decades.”

He then quotes him talking to both KCRA and the Vanguard.  He noted, “in an earlier interview with the Davis Vanguard, Sanjay Dev explained that it was the Rodriguez campaign who reached out to him, and that he met with Ms. Rodriguez herself before donating…”

Couzens argues, “it is incredible that 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.”

Couzens thus alleges, “The People feel that the above facts create a grave ethical concern, that is, a DA candidate (and thus possible, imminent future DA) apparently soliciting and accepting a relatively large campaign donation from the brother of a man currently challenging a “highly controversial” sex crime conviction, which brother has submitted fabricated evidence to the court. The People ask that the Court order that Mr. Rothschild’s testimony be taken forthwith and without any further unreasonable delay.”

As long-time readers are probably aware, the 2009 Dev conviction was a catalyst for the Vanguard creating the court watch program that began in Yolo County in early 2010.  Among the first people encountered was Ryan Couzens when he took over as lead counsel on the Gang Injunction hearing that lasted for much of 2010.

Now having covered court trials and hearings in well over 15 counties in California and sat in numerous courthouses and courtrooms across the state, I can say categorically that I have never encountered any attorney like Ryan Couzens.

Talk to attorneys that have encountered Couzens and you will get some interesting stories for sure.

The one that stands out most to me was the Kalah case from 2011.  This was of all the cases I have covered, the most overblown I have ever seen.  It was the prosecution of five members of a West Sacramento Asian Family.

From the start, the prosecution argued that the properties at 481 and 501 Walnut Street in West Sacramento were a hotbed of Asian gangster activity over the years.

The police and Prosecutor Ryan Couzens had conducted six months of surveillance on the property, however when they raided it there were pills that turned out to be caffeine pills, powder that turned out to be Ibuprofen, and 1.4 grams of meth.

The raid featured SWAT, helicopters, the whole nine yards.  This was a major raid as described during the testimony of the trial.  But the authorities found no evidence of a big time operation, only enough meth to be packaged up to be worth about $40.

The charges were dismissed against one of the defendants.  The jury acquitted most of the rest.

But not before Couzens launched into what I have referred to as a manifesto.

He called this a gang, selling drugs.  He said that it was irrelevant that Sacramento or Stockton would charge this crime as a misdemeanor.  He said that it is on them, and their problem.  He said this is Yolo County and “we do things differently here.”

He admits that he is very aggressive about gangs and crimes.  He said the same for his office.

He admitted that they did not find evidence of a huge drug operation.  That they only found 1.4 grams of meth.

But he said that if he allow “specks of methamphetamine” to go unchecked, if we allow a fledgling gang to go unchecked, just because it is a fledgling operation, that “that’s throwing in the towel.”

That’s the enduring memory I have of Ryan Couzens.

People get sick, I have spoken to a number of people over the last week who have been very sick for extended periods for non-COVID illnesses.  To use taxpayer money to allege a vast election conspiracy theory seems a bit over the top.

This latest motion may have a bit more tin foil in it than usual, but it is simply Couzens being his theatrical self.

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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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One thought on “Monday Morning Thoughts: Couzens Weaves Full Election Conspiracy into Ajay Dev Court Motion”

  1. PhillipColeman

    “This latest motion may have a bit more tin foil in it than usual, but it is simply Couzens being his theatrical self.”

    Grateful for the simplification. We readers often have difficulty tying our shoes.

    No doubt about it. Persons who manipulate the legal system to fulfill their own political agenda should be publicly condemned.

    Why would anybody offer partial renditions of past court actions, unattributed summations of flawed personal character, or cite geographically remote and irrelevant prior examples as evidence of sinister intent? Shame, shame.

    Fortunately, Couzens, the great thespian, is a one-man act in Yolo County. He alone is the only person who would even think of politicizing the county’s legal system in a public forum, be it a courtroom, or elsewhere.

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