Saturday, August 22, 2009

Orange County's mickey-mouse court system

I just like this story for its goofiness. It's about a shooting victim who was put in jail to ensure he would show up to court to testify against the guy on trial for shooting him, and not just put in any jail but the same housing unit as the shooter! 

Prosecutors found this out and had them separated — to adjacent housing units where the victim and the shooter were still able to communicate. This had the potential to turn very tragic very quickly, but in the end the victim said the shooter had apologized to him, saying the shooting was an accident.

In response, the prosecutor started treating the guy who had been shot in the neck as a hostile witness in their case against the shooter:
So Froeberg took the unusual step on Aug. 12 of ordering Khalil held in custody as a material witness, to make sure he would be available for the Hampton trial.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals made an identical ruling at a separate review – as required by law after the “witness” had been in custody for 72 hours – on Friday.

But by then, Khalil had been incarcerated for several days in the Orange County Central Men’s Jail, apparently in the same housing unit as Hampton, the man who was on trial for attempting to kill him.

And that surprised Hasan, who said she and her investigator made several phone calls to the Sheriff’s Department beforehand, advising jailers that Khalil was a witness in an ongoing criminal case against Hampton.

Hasan said that when her office learned over the weekend that Khalil was being held with Hampton, they made another emergency phone call to the jail and Khalil was transferred to another facility.

John McDonald, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, reported on Wednesday that prosecutors did request that Hampton and Khalil be kept apart after Khalil was taken into custody.

The inmates, McDonald said, were then classified as “total separation” by sheriff’s personnel, meaning that they were to separated from all others.

They were then housed in separate tanks, but in an adjacent housing unit, McDonald said, separated from any physical contact.

But, he added, “the inmates could hear each other and were communicating via reflective glass. When the DA made us aware of this, we immediately housed them in separate facilities.”

When Khalil was finally called to testify this week against Hampton, he was in a Theo Lacy branch jail uniform.

He testified that while he was in custody, Hampton had engaged him several times in conversation, and had actually apologized for shooting him.

Khalil was also by then more sympathetic to Hampton’s position than he had been in previous discussions with law enforcement about the shooting, according to Hasan.

He testified, according to defense attorney Roger Sheaks, that the shooting was probably an accident caused when he tired to accelerate out of a parking lot after a misunderstanding. Sheaks is contending that the shooting was an accident.

Because of Khalil’s change in tone, Hasan then treated Khalil — her victim — as a hostile witness.
And Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to cut the prison budget.

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