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Judge Upholds Censure of 2 L.A. Prosecutors

They were reprimanded in June for failing to release a man wrongly convicted of murder.

August 24, 2004|Joy Buchanan | Times Staff Writer

A federal judge Monday reaffirmed his censure of two Los Angeles County prosecutors who delayed for months the release of a man wrongly convicted of murder.

U.S. District Court Judge Dickran Tevrizian maintained his censure of Patrick Connolly and Anne Ingalls, both deputy district attorneys, for failing to release Thomas Lee Goldstein earlier this year.

Goldstein served 24 years in prison, mainly on the evidence of an unreliable jailhouse informant and an eyewitness who later recanted, before his conviction was overturned by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ordered Goldstein's release in December, but Goldstein was not released until April.

In June, Tevrizian wrote that the court "condemns and censures" Connolly, who took over the case after the 9th Circuit reversed the conviction and sent the case back to Long Beach, and Ingalls, the court supervisor, for their "cavalier attitude, ethical amnesia and questionable conduct."

Sean K. Kennedy, the deputy federal public defender who represented Goldstein, said the judge's decision made sense.

"It was meant as a rebuke of the prosecutors," he said. "It appears that they believe that they have the right to ignore federal orders."

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley's office, in a written statement, blamed the delay on the 9th Circuit's failure "to provide sufficient notice and due process during the proceedings," which apparently led to "the misunderstanding of the laws of the state of California and the duty of a prosecutor to reevaluate the evidence in the event of a reversal of a criminal conviction."

The attorney general's office sent a letter to the court saying that Los Angeles County prosecutors planned to retry Goldstein, but in January, the appeals court demanded Goldstein's immediate release. Goldstein was ordered freed in April by Superior Court Judge James B. Pierce.

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