Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Judge Manuel Real will preside over what is called a Daubert hearing.
The purpose of the hearing is to evaluate whether or not LAPD Detective Frank Flores will be permitted to be an expert witness in the RICO Case under which Alex Sanchez will be tried this October. The hearing will allow Judge Real to explore the criteria that would qualify Detective Flores as an expert on the Mara Salvatrucha gang (MS-13).
A press release from the Sanchez camp cites three reasons why Flores should be knocked out as an expert witness although he has long positioned himself as an authority on MS-13. (For the record, I don’t have an opinion on the depth or lack thereof of his expertise.)
1. Flores translated wiretap conversations that included Alex Sanchez, and his translation of the Spanish plus his interpretation of slang and verbal nuance in the wiretapped exchanges was very much at odds with the translations and interpretation of the same material done by Father Gregory Boyle, who listened to the recordings and provided an alternate analysis of the calls. Boyle’s translations suggest very different conclusions vis-a-vis Sanchez’ guilt or innocence, than did those of Flores. Furthermore, Flores left out certain significant sentences altogether from his characterizations of the translations.
2. The defense contends that Detective Flores has misidentified a certain crucial participant in one of the wiretap calls, although the ID was easily checkable. Furthermore, as with the wiretap translations, the ID that the defense contends is demonstrably wrong pointed to Sanchez’ guilt, whereas the “correct” ID, would suggest innocence.
3. The defense also claims a monster conflict of interest on the part of Flores. Another part of the RICO case (a part that does not involve Sanchez) alleges a conspiracy by MS-13 gang members to kill Detective Flores. “Given that he is a supposed target,” states the release from Sanchez supporters, “how is it possible that he is an objective, credible source in making the case for this indictment as an investigator and the main ‘expert’ and interpreter?”
I have long wondered about this last point. If Flores was a target—AKA a potential victim—of one part of the conspiracy, how is it possible that he could be any kind of “objective” expert witness on another part of the same Rico case—much less the primary expert witness on whom great chunks of that case may hang? If a judge or a prosecutor was in a like situation, surely the petitions for recusal would be flying. Why then, has Detective Flores been allowed to stay on?
In any case, today we’ll find out what Judge Real thinks.
NOTE: As I have stated in the past, I know Alex Sanchez and have strong defense leanings in this case, thus for a balancing view I recommend that you keep an eye out for what Tom Diaz has to say on this same hearing, as he is also covering the case with great interest but leans toward the government’s side of the street.
FOR BACK STORY ON THE CASE go here and read from the bottom up.