An Orange County Superior Court judge Tuesday denied a defense attorney’s motion to recuse the District Attorney’s Office and order the Attorney General’s Office to turn over records related to its investigation of the improper use of jailhouse informants.
Scott Sanders of the Orange County Public Defender’s Office is seeking the recusal of Orange County prosecutors in the drug possession for sale case against Oscar Galeno Garcia.
Sanders, who won such a motion when he represented Scott Dekraai, the worst mass killer in the county’s history, also wants information on the sheriff’s deputies linked to a confidential informant program that was rocked by scandal in the Dekraai case, which ultimately led to an Orange County Superior Court judge to remove the death penalty as a punishment for the killer, who pleaded guilty to the Seal Beach beauty salon massacre and has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Sanders last week won a small battle in his struggle to obtain records of the Attorney General’s investigation of three deputies accused in the Dekraai evidential hearings of violating the rights of inmates through the use of snitches to wheedle confessions out of fellow inmates when a deputy attorney general admitted the internal investigation has been closed.
The Attorney General’s Office and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has not responded to requests for comment.
Judge James Rogan denied Sanders’ recusal motion and the attorney general records, Sanders said. His office is weighing an appeal of Rogan’s ruling.
Sanders said he has been rebuffed in his earlier attempts to obtain records on various sheriff’s deputies linked to the jailhouse informant program because of the attorney general’s probe.
“We know you’re not investigating anymore so just give us the records,” Sanders said, characterizing his argument before Rogan. “They can’t hide behind ongoing litigation anymore… They’re not going to use them for an investigation so at least turn them over to a defendant.”
Sanders wants the records because they could potentially be used to impeach the testimony of any deputies involved in the case against his client Garcia.
Sheriff Don Barnes recently announced he would begin an internal probe, which had been on hold during the attorney general’s investigation. Sanders is not impressed.
“The notion that the sheriff’s department is doing a legitimate investigation is ridiculous,” Sanders said. “They screamed for years that the informant scandal was fabricated, so they’re not going to punish the people who operated the informant program and who kept their mouth quiet when it came to the upper tier of the office.”