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Jailhouse Informants

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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 9, 1992
The perverted nature of our justice system is revealed by jailhouse informants like Leslie Vernon White, who repeatedly get time off from sentences by reporting false confessions of murderers, and then when they finally report the truth they are punished by being indicted for perjury (March 4). The lie should be punished and the truth rewarded. JACK GERRITSEN, Bell
ARTICLES BY DATE
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 22, 2014 | By Paloma Esquivel
Orange County prosecutors have ended their quest to use recorded conversations between the suspect in the Seal Beach mass killing and a jailhouse informant, which they had hoped could put the man on death row. Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Howard Gundy told the court Tuesday he would concede a defense motion arguing that tapes of Scott Dekraai and informant Fernando Perez were obtained in violation of Dekraai's 6th Amendment rights. The recordings spurred a wide-ranging defense investigation into the use of jailhouse informants in Orange County.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 25, 1989 | ROBERT W. STEWART and TED ROHRLICH, Times Staff Writers
Jailhouse informants are often rewarded for their testimony in criminal cases, even if they are not explicitly promised special treatment, documents released Tuesday indicate. Memoranda written by Los Angeles County prosecutors on their use of jailhouse informants appear to support the argument advanced by some defense attorneys that informants testify with the implicit understanding that they will receive lenient treatment from authorities.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 22, 2014 | By Paloma Esquivel
Orange County prosecutors have ended their quest to use recorded conversations between the alleged Seal Beach mass killer and a jailhouse informant, which they had hoped could put the man on death row. Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Howard Gundy told the court Tuesday he would concede a defense motion which argued that tapes of alleged gunman Scott Dekraai and informant Fernando Perez were obtained in violation of Dekraai's 6th amendment rights. The recordings spurred a wide-ranging defense investigation into the use of jailhouse informants in Orange County.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 20, 2014 | By Paloma Esquivel
A legal fight over the use of jailhouse informants has thrown the emotionally charged trial of the man accused of committing the deadliest shooting in Orange County history into jeopardy and will probably have repercussions in other high-profile cases. The battle has shifted the spotlight from the case against Seal Beach shooting suspect Scott Dekraai to prosecutors and informants, who have testified for weeks in hearings over allegations by the defense that jailhouse snitches were unconstitutionally deployed to gather information, and their work was then routinely concealed from defense attorneys.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 18, 1988 | TED ROHRLICH, Times Staff Writer
Alarmed by the possibility that jailhouse informants may have perjured themselves about other inmates' confessions, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office issued strong new guidelines Thursday barring the use of such informants--unless their testimony is supported by "concrete evidence."
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 2, 1988 | SAMUEL H. PILLSBURY, Samuel H. Pillsbury is an associate professor of law at Loyola Law School.
A veteran jailhouse informant has demonstrated to officials how, by using the telephone at the Los Angeles County jail, he could concoct a confession by another inmate that prosecutors might believe. The demonstration has raised serious questions about the use of jailhouse informants by the district attorney's office in a number of major cases. To understand this controversy, we need to look at just why such jailhouse informants might be used and why their apparent misuse is so troubling.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 29, 2007 | Henry Weinstein, Times Staff Writer
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that prosecutors can be sued over allegations that they failed to develop policies for the use of jailhouse informants in criminal cases. The ruling came in a civil damages case filed by Thomas L. Goldstein, who spent 24 years in prison for a wrongful murder conviction based largely on the testimony of jailhouse informant Edward F. Fink. Goldstein was convicted in the 1979 shotgun slaying of John McGinest in Long Beach.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 6, 1989 | ROBERT W. STEWART, Times Staff Writer
An effort to catalogue the criminal cases in which jailhouse informants acted as witnesses has been complicated by a rift between prosecutors conducting an official inquiry and defense attorneys who are pursuing their own independent investigation.
NEWS
November 8, 1989 | TED ROHRLICH, TIMES LEGAL AFFAIRS WRITER
In a serious blow to lawyers challenging the use of jailhouse informants, a judge Tuesday refused to grant a new trial to a Compton man who was charged with murder only after informants claimed that he confessed. Despite evidence that the informants lied, Superior Court Judge Judith C. Chirlin said Kevin Dykes' conviction for second-degree murder was fairly obtained.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 20, 2014 | By Paloma Esquivel
A legal fight over the use of jailhouse informants has thrown the emotionally charged trial of the man accused of committing the deadliest shooting in Orange County history into jeopardy and will probably have repercussions in other high-profile cases. The battle has shifted the spotlight from the case against Seal Beach shooting suspect Scott Dekraai to prosecutors and informants, who have testified for weeks in hearings over allegations by the defense that jailhouse snitches were unconstitutionally deployed to gather information, and their work was then routinely concealed from defense attorneys.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 27, 2014 | By Paloma Esquivel
Attorneys for a man charged with killing eight people in a Seal Beach salon three years ago have accused Orange County prosecutors and sheriff's deputies of running an unconstitutional jailhouse informant operation that ensnared their client and other inmates. Scott Dekraai's public defenders say that the district attorney's office oversaw an "unchecked and lawless custodial informant program" which resulted in systemic constitutional violations and kept defense attorneys in the dark about the so-called jailhouse snitches.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 5, 2013 | By Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times
A man accused of being the notorious "Skid Row Stabber," linked to a series of killings in Los Angeles during the 1970s, has been indicted on murder charges involving the slayings of three men, according to court records unsealed Tuesday. Bobby Joe Maxwell, who has spent more than 30 years behind bars, was convicted of two murders in a 1984 trial involving 10 slayings. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the two convictions in 2010, finding that a jailhouse informant who was a key prosecution witness was a habitual liar with "a long and public history of dishonesty.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 29, 2012 | By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
Gigi Gordon, a crusading criminal defense lawyer who battled corrupt police and overzealous prosecutors to free dozens of prisoners who had been wrongfully convicted, committed suicide after struggling with multiple sclerosis and depression. She was 54. Gordon, who had been sinking deeper into despair over the last year as her debilitating illness eroded her intellect and medication failed to alleviate her pain, overdosed on pills and died Jan. 18 at a Brentwood park, her friends said.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 10, 2012 | By David Savage, Los Angeles Times
The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a ruling that overturned murder convictions in two slayings tied to the so-called "Skid Row Stabber," who was thought to be responsible for the killing of as many as 10 homeless men in downtown Los Angeles in the late 1970s. After a lengthy trial in 1984, Bobby Joe Maxwell was convicted of two murders and sentenced to life in prison. Last year, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals set aside his convictions because a key witness for the prosecution, a jailhouse informant named Sidney Storch, had been exposed as a "habitual liar.
OPINION
August 11, 2011
Starting next year, California prosecutors can no longer win convictions in cases that rely solely on the uncorroborated testimony of jailhouse informants. That requirement — imposed by a bill, SB 687, that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law this month — isn't groundbreaking, considering that more than a dozen other states already have similar laws. But it's an important step forward for California. A series of articles in The Times and a 1990 grand jury report revealed that jailhouse informants were routinely granted favors or given money by prosecutors for what turned out to be false testimony.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 31, 2011 | By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
No blood, fingerprints, weapon or other physical evidence was ever found to link Thomas L. Goldstein to the 1979 shotgun murder of John McGinest, a Long Beach neighbor he had never met. Goldstein, then a 28-year-old draftsman, former Marine and part-time engineering student, had moved into a garage apartment near the murder scene just two days earlier and had only a couple of minor run-ins with the law — for drunkenness and disturbing the peace...
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 16, 2011 | By Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times
A British national was found guilty Tuesday on two counts of murder in the stabbing death of a woman and the decapitation of her boyfriend in what a prosecution witness said was a drug-fueled, paranoid slaughter at a Tujunga condominium. Jurors deliberated for about a week before returning the guilty verdicts against Neil Revill, 38, a small-time drug dealer, nearly a decade after the October 2001 killings of Arthur Davodian and Kimberly Crayton. A jailhouse informant told jurors in the six-week trial that Revill confessed to murdering the pair, believing that Davodian was involved in a plot with Israeli organized crime figures who planned on killing him. Revill was convicted of second-degree murder for Davodian's death and first-degree murder for Crayton's slaying.
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