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Grand Jury Probe of D.A. Office

January 06, 2002

As director of administrative services for the district attorney's office from 1969 to 1992, I prepared responses to several grand jury audits for the D.A.'s review and signature. Never was anyone subpoenaed for these audits, and the only ones asking questions and reviewing files were nonlegal staff from the contracted consulting firms performing the audit.

Your Dec. 29 story quoted Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas' spokesman describing the recently announced grand jury investigation as a "routine audit." My 23 years' experience dealing with audits completely refutes that statement. Another Rackauckas spokesman stated that the challenger, Wally Wade, is mischaracterizing the audit "to feed his negative campaign." Spinmeisters par excellence!

By the way, this inquiry should have been initiated several years ago if for no other reason than to examine Rackauckas' outrageous, petty and sometimes draconian personnel practices shortly after he took office.

The grand jury report must be published well before the March election so the electorate can save this once honest, effective and proud office from further humiliation.

W.J. Morison

San Clemente

*

The Orange County district attorney is now himself under a grand jury probe. It appears that while he likes to squash vocational teachers for participation in local ballot measures that are not popular with his friends, he instead grants political favoritism with the rich and powerful. Is this true Republicanism? There is no doubt the Democrats will have a celebration over this. The question is what about the Republican Party? Has the party of Lincoln sold its soul?

William A. Wetzel

Assistant professor,

Santa Ana College

Orange

*

I'm not sure who is telling the truth about the grand jury's investigation of Rackauckas, but one thing is pretty clear. Something is rotten in the district attorney's office when your newspaper can't find an official willing to give his or her name to the paper. How are we supposed to believe anything Rackauckas or his representatives say when they won't tell us who they are?

These people have salaries paid with the taxpayer money and are supposed to be accountable. Do they remain anonymous when they go to court or investigate crimes? I'll bet they don't refuse to give their names when they line up for their paychecks.

Bernard Recinella

Laguna Niguel

*

On Dec. 28, The Times printed a story that purports to describe a grand jury inquiry into the district attorney's office. The story was more of a campaign hit piece than a legitimate news story. It is important to understand something about the workings of the grand jury in order to put this story into proper perspective.

In California, the grand jury has the function of reviewing the workings of county agencies and of making findings and recommendations concerning the agencies that it reviews. This civil function of the grand jury is often referred to as its watchdog function.

In order for the grand jury to do its job effectively, the investigations are confidential. It is a crime for a grand juror or any witness before the grand jury to reveal anything about the inquiry, including the nature or subject of the grand jury's investigation. A major purpose of this confidentiality is to ensure that items of testimony or evidence are not given meaning that is false or misleading.

Now, there are some political interests at work in Orange County that are in competition with the grand jury's interest in putting out true findings and valuable recommendations.

It's no secret that there are a number of current and former employees of the district attorney's office who want to take over. They are conducting a campaign against me that has consisted of continuously claiming that I am guilty of all types of wrongdoing. It is a classic smear campaign, and there appears to be no prospect for this to change.

It is very clear that these people were the sources for The Times article. Their method is to constantly fabricate things to complain about, then comment on their own complaints as though they were neutral and removed from the whole thing. It's really quite remarkable. It seems that by sending unsubstantiated complaints to the grand jury, they may have made themselves witnesses. But rather than let the grand jury sort things out in a lawful fashion, they appear to have gone straight from the grand jury room to the newsroom.

Tony Rackauckas

Orange County district attorney

Santa Ana

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