Court of Appeal Addresses O.C. D.A.’s Hiding Exculpatory Evidence

According to the Orange County Register’s article, Court considers censuring D.A. in ‘enemies’ list case, the state Court of Appeal will soon decide whether the Orange County District Attorney’s Office should be censured for what appears to be prosecutorial misconduct in a case where indicted ex-Capistrano Unified administrator Susan McGill went before the grand jury for her purported role in the creation of political “enemies” lists of district parents. Ms. McGill’s sole charge of lying to a grand jury under oath may also be dismissed as the Court tentatively ruled that the D.A. withheld exonerating evidence.

Ms. McGill testified in 2006 before the grand jury that she had no idea how the lists were used after they were obtained. The appeals court said prosecutors appeared to have “deliberately tried to mislead this court” when they withheld the fact that another Capistrano Unified official at the time told investigators that he prepared the lists and gave themn to the former Superintendant. This was exonerating evidence because it tended to show that Ms. McGill may have not prepared the memo that became the basis of her charge.

The D.A.’s office has countered that the Court of Appeals appears to “misunderstand” what they believe Ms. McGill did. Yet, the D.A.’s office has maintained they were unaware of this evidence, despite an obligation under law to present it.

The Appeal’s Court’s final ruling is pending.

Lauren K Johnson practices criminal law in Orange County, CA.