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.”