Lady  Justice

A defense attorney filed a motion Friday seeking to have the Orange County District Attorney’s Office removed from the prosecution of a double-murder defendant’s death penalty trial.

The motion was filed at the end of the day following chiding from Orange County Superior Court Judge James Stotler, who said he could not consider the attorney’s requests to compel prosecutors to turn over requested evidence without the recusal motion.

Stotler also said he viewed an expected 20,000-page motion alleging outrageous governmental misconduct in the case of Daniel Wozniak as a “nightmare” to read and consider.

Wozniak’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders, wants to postpone his client’s trial, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 13, so he can have evidentiary hearings to back up his claims that Orange County Sheriff’s officials illegally used jailhouse snitches to solicit incriminating statements from defendants, including Wozniak.

A hearing today on the issue featured multiple testy exchanges between Sanders and Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy as well as Stotler.

Stotler said he felt relieved Thursday when Sanders filed an 81-page motion summarizing his claims of governmental misconduct, thinking that was all that he would have to consider.

“Then I started to think I don’t know what this is and then my ultimate nightmare — this is a summary of the motion and I still might get 20,000 pages and 70 volumes” to rule on, Stotler said.

Sanders argued that Murphy’s dismissive attitude toward the defense attorney’s claims of misconduct guarantee that Wozniak can’t trust prosecutors to get a fair trial.

Sanders also doubts a claim by an MSNBC producer that she did not work with Wozniak’s jailers to put him on the network’s show, “Lockup,” so he would make damaging statements.

The producer told investigators she picked Wozniak out as a subject for the show based on an ill-fitting jailhouse jump suit and his “fake actor’s smile.”

Murphy said Sanders found out about the interview when the prosecutor told him about it as a courtesy. The father of one of the victims saw an ad for the show and called Murphy about it, the prosecutor said.

Murphy mocked Sanders’ proposed 20,000-page motion.

“If you took the ‘Illiad’ and the ‘Odyssey,’ ‘War and Peace,’ ‘Moby Dick,’ the U.S. Constitution, the Gettysburg Address, ‘The Communist Manifesto,’ ‘Mein Kampf,’ (the) Letter from Birmingham Jail, the Koran, the new King James Bible, a ‘Brief History of Time,’ that would leave you with less than 5,962 pages,” Murphy said.

“What possible intellectual concept needs 20,000 pages? This is delay and he’s dumping it on  you at the last minute… It’s obscene that he would dump 20,000 pages on you that has nothing to do with Daniel Wozniak.”

Sanders complained that Murphy “sandbagged” him at a December hearing with claims that the defense attorney is a serial accuser of prosecutors to make him look bad to Stotler.

Sanders argued that because Murphy brought up the subject he wants to see all correspondence between the prosecutor and others in his office about the Wozniak case, including two former prosecutors who are now judges.

Sanders, who also represents Scott Dekraai, the worst mass killer in Orange County history, filed a motion late Thursday seeking a delay in the trial.

In a motion filed this week, Murphy slammed Sanders’ tactics, accusing him of filing misconduct claims against nearly every prosecutor he has faced.

Those claims from Murphy has prompted Sanders to signal that he will ask all judges in the county to recuse themselves from overseeing Wozniak’s trial.

Sanders wants Stotler to schedule a pretrial hearing for Feb. 27, well past the scheduled Feb. 13 trial date, which has been postponed several times. Sanders wants to file his full motion alleging governmental misconduct on Feb. 27.

Stotler told the attorneys to return to court Monday when he may rule on Sanders’ recusal motion and other issues.

In the Dekraai case, Sanders’ motion was more than 500 pages and led to months of evidentiary hearings before another judge, who found misconduct occurred, but that it was due to negligence, not a criminal conspiracy.

However, Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals said he limited his analysis to just Dekraai’s case and will hold a Feb. 5 hearing based on newfound evidence that may contradict testimony from sheriff’s officials, who said they had nothing to do with placing Dekraai in a cell next to a government informant to collect damning information from the defendant, which would have violated Dekraai’s constitutional rights because he was by then represented by attorneys.

Informants can listen for incriminating statements but cannot elicit them.

Sanders is now arguing there’s a new tactic involving snitches lying to fellow inmates that they face retaliation against the Mexican Mafia unless they come clean about what they did.

Sanders has been pushing prosecutors to provide any correspondence between Murphy and his fellow prosecutors as well as the two judges.

Murphy argued in his response that Sanders’ request is overly broad, that he is not entitled to that information, and that there has been no correspondence anyway.

Murphy also contradicted Sanders’ arguments that his claims all had merit and that the attorney misrepresented what happened in each case.

“Mr. Sanders has accused 16 different prosecutors of misconduct in 13 separate cases,” Murphy said in his motion.

—City News Service

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