WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) —
The U.S. Justice Department announced Dec. 15 that it has opened a civil
pattern-or-practice case against the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Orange
County Sheriff’s Department.
Allegations against the
district attorney’s office and sheriff's department state that they used jailhouse
informants to elicit incriminating statements from select inmates that had been
charged with a crime and were represented by counsel. Alleged conduct of this
nature is a violation of the Sixth Amendment.
Orange County District
Attorney Tony Rackauckas has offered unrestricted access to documents and personnel
to the Justice Department.
“A systematic failure to
protect the right to counsel and to a fair trial makes criminal proceedings
fundamentally unfair and diminishes the public’s faith in the integrity of the
justice system,” said principal deputy assistant attorney general Vanita Gupta,
head of the Civil Rights Division. “Our investigation will examine the
facts and evidence to determine whether the district attorney’s office and
sheriff’s department engaged in a pattern or practice of violating these
rights. We are grateful to District Attorney Rackauckas for the
unrestricted access he has offered to provide.”