Cheating on LASD Sergeant’s Exams….27 Death Penalty Cases Reviewed for Errors…Hunger Strike Leaders Further IsolatedJuly 19th, 2013 by Celeste Fremon
On Thursday afternoon, Sheriff Lee Baca sent out a department wide email indicating that a few people may have attempted to cheat on the LASD’s Sergeant’s exam, and that the matter is being investigated.
The announcement that the department is being proactive on such matters is, of course, very good news.
We would like, however, to respectfully suggest that the barn door is being shut a bit on the late side, since credible accounts of certain favored groups of people receiving copies of either lieutenants’ exams or sergeants’ exams have been circulating for the past few years and beyond.
And, of course, since December of 2011, WitnessLA has been reporting on Undersheriff Paul Tanaka’s influence on promotions with a system that often scooted “in-the-car” acolytes to the head of the promotion’s queue with all manner of not-by-the-books methods, thus rewarding a pernicious form of loyalty, (which often demonstrated itself with monetary campaign donations), over competence.
So, yes, a bit of investigating and cracking down might be in order, however belatedly.
Better late than never. May the exam cheating perps be apprehended, ASAP.
We await progress reports. In the meantime, here’s a copy of the Sheriff’s statement:
SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT BROADCAST ANNOUNCEMENT
SHERIFF’S HEADQUARTERS BUREAU
TO: ALL CONCERNED PERSONNEL
SUBJECT: SERGEANTS EXAMINATION
REGRETTABLY, IT HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO THE DEPARTMENT’S ATTENTION THAT THERE
MAY HAVE BEEN SOME ISOLATED ATTEMPTS BY INDIVIDUALS TO GAIN AN UNFAIR
ADVANTAGE DURING THE WRITTEN EXAMINATION FOR SERGEANT WHICH WAS HELD ON
JULY 13, 2013. WE ARE TAKING THESE ALLEGATIONS VERY SERIOUSLY AND AN
INTERNAL AFFAIRS INVESTIGATION IS ALREADY WELL UNDERWAY. IT IS OUR INTENT
TO CONCLUDE THE INVESTIGATION AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. IN THE MEANTIME,
THE REMAINING COMPONENTS FOR THE SERGEANT PROMOTIONAL EXAMINATION WILL
MOVE FORWARD AS PLANNED.
ANYONE WITH INFORMATION THAT MAY ASSIST IN THE EXPEDITIOUS CONCLUSION OF
THIS INVESTIGATION IS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO CONTACT SERGEANT DAVID BLY
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. HIS DIRECT NUMBER IS (323) 890-5453.
LEROY D. BACA, SHERIFF
US REVIEWING 27 DEATH PENALTY CONVICTIONS FOR FAULTY FBI FORENSIC EVIDENCE
More than a year ago, the Washington Post wrote that US Justice Department officials has known for years that flawed FBI forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.
As a consequence of these admissions, a federal review of old criminal cases was launched and, in its first round of preliminary investigations, it has uncovered as many as 27 death penalty convictions, “in which FBI forensic experts may have mistakenly linked defendants to crimes with exaggerated scientific testimony, U.S. officials said.”
According to the Washington Post, the review led to an 11th-hour stay of execution in Mississippi in May.
Spencer Hsu of the Post has more on this story. Here’s a clip:
It is not known how many of the cases involve errors, how many led to wrongful convictions or how many mistakes may now jeopardize valid convictions. Those questions will be explored as the review continues.
The discovery of the more than two dozen capital cases promises that the examination could become a factor in the debate over the death penalty. Some opponents have long held that the execution of a person confirmed to be innocent would crystallize doubts about capital punishment. But if DNA or other testing confirms all convictions, it would strengthen proponents’ arguments that the system works.
FBI officials discussed the review’s scope as they prepare to disclose its first results later this summer. The death row cases are among the first 120 convictions identified as potentially problematic among more than 21,700 FBI Laboratory files being examined. The review was announced last July by the FBI and the Justice Department, in consultation with the Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
PRISON HUNGER STRIKE LEADERS PUNISHED WITH MORE EXTREME ISOLATION
This week, the CDCR appears to have decided to deal with the hunger strike in California prisons, which was launched to protest conditions in the system’s isolation units, by putting 14 of the strike’s organizers into even more isolated units, in which they are reportedly prevented from seeing one of their attorneys.
The LA Times’ Paige St. John has the best account of the issue. Here are a couple of clips:
California prison officials have moved 14 inmate leaders of a hunger strike over solitary confinement conditions to more isolated quarters, cutting off their access to broadcast news and seizing some of their legal papers, according to one of their lawyers.
Another inmates’ lawyer was banned from all state prisons.
Wednesday was the 10th day of the statewide protest, with 2,327 inmates refusing their meals and 229 skipping their prison jobs and classes.
Prison investigators took legal papers from some of the transferred inmates, said Anne Weills, an Oakland civil rights lawyer representing prisoners in a federal lawsuit over long-term solitary confinement. The documents included potential settlement terms that inmates had drawn up for a July 26 court appearance.
State officials confirmed that some protest leaders were moved but refused to identify the prison where they were located. All of the 14 strike leaders were signatories of protest-related documents, including a manifesto calling for unity among prison ethnic groups against the corrections system.
HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND, everyone. A pile of new stories coming next week.