The Vanguard has a new home, please update your bookmarks to

Friday, March 28, 2008

Rick Gore Appears in Court in Gang Injunction Challenge

On Tuesday, we learned in the local media that attorneys opposing the implementation of the second gang injunction including Mark Merin were seeking to call Senior Investigators for the Yolo County District Attorney's, Rick Gore as a material witness.

At issue is an affidavit signed by Rick Gore attesting to his support for the gang injunction.

In his letter to the District Attorney, Jeff Reisig on March 5, 2008, he argues that he no longer agrees with the current gang injunction nor does he think it is needed. However, he was compelled to sign "an affidavit in support of the injunction under penalty of perjury. I did not want to sign it as written since it was not prepared by me and I thought portions of my affidavit were untrue." He signed an affidavit of support for the second gang injunction that is currently in the process of being challenged.

He continues:
"I was called in by DDA Linden a few days later, and was told [Reisig] had ordered me to sign this injunction and I had no choice. Knowing I could be fired for not following this order, I signed it after changing some of the language."
The fact that Deputy District Attorney Linden was named in the letter forced him to disqualify himself from conducting the cross-examination of Rick Gore who was called by the defense as a hostile witness. This postponed the hearing until the afternoon when Deputy District Attorney Ann Hurd would be available.

Judge Kathleen White once again warned both sides that this was a hearing about law, she understands that there are outside politics in play on this issue, but she was only interested in Mr. Gore's testimony as far as the law went.

From our standpoint however, Mr. Gore got up and under oath and penalty of perjury he told the court yesterday that he was compelled to sign an affidavit that he did not believe. In other words, he confirmed under oath what he had said in that portion of the letter.

However, at the point in which he was directly questioned about the letter he sent off, he asked to consult his attorney and was granted a recess for him to make a call to his attorney who was not present. Upon return, he expressed a desire not to address the issue of the letter until court returns on April 8, 2008.

The attorney's for the defense and the District Attorney's office disagree over whether his expertise on the matter of the gang injunction is relevant. DDA Hurd argued that he was no longer working on the gang injunction and therefore he was not an expert on the matter. However, the defense argued that he only stopped working on the gang injunction a month prior to sending the letter and therefore he knew as much as anyone. This is a disputed issue that will be taken up on April 8, 2008.

It is interesting to note that there was a good deal of dispute between the two sides as to whether Rick Gore could even testify. It was pointed out by the defense that he was a listed witness for the people by virtue of the fact that his declaration was on file. And if they chose to pull his declaration, this could all end.

However, the District Attorney's office declined to do so. So Rick Gore was able to speak on the record.

The defense obviously sees Mr. Gore as a key material witness corroborating their claims that the gang injunction is not needed. But in terms of an overall impact on the case itself, the bigger intrigue was having Rick Gore basically confirm aspects of the letter under oath.

If we look at this objectively--when the letter came out, the District Attorney's office claimed that Rick Gore wrote his letter at the behest of Former Deputy District Attorney and Candidate for DA Pat Lenzi. Mr. Gore responded questioning why he would put his career in grave jeopardy for someone else's agenda. And we can now extend that further--why would he make claims under penalty of oath to help Pat Lenzi.

From that standpoint he testimony in court yesterday and any future testimony he offers flies in the face of that logic.

It seems to me however, that in terms of the impact on the gang injunction, this will be minimal unless at the April 8, 2008 hearing he offers very compelling evidence to suggest that the gang injunction is not needed.

Overall Rick Gore seemed to be an impressive and compelling witness. Perhaps a straight shooter to a fault. There was one exchange with Judge White right after he reported on his conversation with his attorney where the Judge was trying to clarify Mr. Gore's remarks, Mr. Gore said he did not say that, and the Judge laughed and commented on how straight he was shooting.

In terms of the overall gang injunction, while I see the approach the defense is trying to take, and from a political standpoint it may be a good approach. From a legal standpoint it would seem better to go after this case on constitutional grounds--the notion of due process of law still applies here. While it can be argued certainly that the District Attorney's office made a greater effort to notice the affected community than on the first gang injunction, it still seems rather lacking.

On this point, I think Gore's letter is actually far more compelling because it gives us insight into the motivation of Jeff Reisig to really stack the deck against those who would be impacted by the injunction and to prevent them from being able to challenge it.

The Vanguard will continue covering and following the injunction and future court appearances by Rick Gore very closely.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting