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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Rick Gore completes Testimony on Gang Injunction

It was likely not the kind of testimony that those seeking to avoid a temporary gang injunction were looking for. Under very strict guidance from Judge Kathy White, Rick Gore completed his testimony yesterday about an affidavit he signed in support of the gang injunction.

The gist of what we learned from this is that in late 2004 Rick Gore was working in conjunction with West Sacramento Detective Villanueva. While he was not working specifically on the anti-gang unit, as there was no such unit until Jeff Reisig became District Attorney in 2007, he nevertheless was familiar with the situation in West Sacramento and worked on a number of gang cases.

In late 2004 until sometime prior to 2007 he worked on this and sent forth an affidavit in 2004 attesting to his support for the gang injunction. Last year the gang injunction was thrown out. In May of 2007, he was asked to sign the same gang affidavit that he signed in 2004, but he refused citing the fact that he did not believe in it. He told them that he would not sign it again until ordered. He was given the order by District Attorney Jeff Reisig through Deputy District Attorney Linden to sign it.

He had language removed from the affidavit that he did not agree with before signing the document under the penalty of perjury. By the time he signed the document it was simply a statement of some facts from prior to 2004, there was no opinion expressed on support for the gang injunction.

Throughout the entire hearing, there was a question as to whether or not this was relevant to their proceedings. Rick Gore testified that everything that he signed in the original affidavit was accurate as was everything he eventually signed in 2007.

In his letter from March 5, 2008 which was discussed but not entered into evidence during the course of this hearing, Gore stated:

"I think this injunction is being used for your political benefit and not for what it was intended. It is no longer a tool for law enforcement and public safety."

When asked about whether he believed this as of May 2007 when he signed the affidavit, Rick Gore said repeatedly he was unsure of what he thought at that time. His reason for not wanting to sign it was that he was not involved in the process and did not therefore have direct knowledge of the situation.

He had two reasons for not wanting to sign it, the first was that he was no longer involved in the process. The second was based on his experience with the first gang injunction, he felt that Jeff Reisig had turned it into a political benchmark. And his dealings with DA Jeff Reisig over the past year led him to be skeptical about the process. He therefore did not want to be involved in signing anything unless ordered to do so by DA Jeff Reisig.

He also described this as an unusual request. Deputy District Attorney Ann Hurd went to great lengths to show that signing documents under the penalty of perjury was part of his job descriptions, but under cross examination, Rick Gore suggested that this was really not part of his job descriptions. The process of being asked to sign an affidavit in support of a policy was neither usual nor part of his job description.

At the end of the day, it is not clear that any of this matters for the gang injunction. As the Deputy DA Hurd demonstrated, the actual affidavit is devoid of personal opinion, it is not clear that Gore had opposition to the Gang Injunction back in May of 2007 and even if he did, it was based largely on his opinion rather than his expertise.

From a political standpoint, the testimony is a bit more interesting, however, because of the narrow parameters laid out by Judge White--intentionally to avoid the political aspect that transcends the courtroom--very little of this came out.

Rick Gore wrote in his letter:
"As for the current and past Gang Injunction, when gathering intelligence, contacting active members and working with Detective Villanueva, I fully supported these efforts. However, after seeing this become your political benchmark, I have watched this injunction grow into something I did not want to be associated with or a part of, since I felt it had lost its original intent and purpose. As a Peace Officer and a public servant, I feel I should be doing the right thing and standing up against dishonest behavior. You make this very difficult."
What became clear yesterday is that this is an opinion that has evolved over time and was not necessary one that was held in 2007. Moreover, as Gore suggested in his own testimony, he had not intended the letter to be a legal document.

In the end, the county investigators will have to tease apart what did and did not happen. From the standpoint of the political system outside of the courtroom, it was interesting because Gore did put under oath some of what was written in the letter.

The most interesting facet of the letter remains the intent to conceal discoverable evidence about a material witness in the Halloween Homicide case.

As an aside, there was an interesting piece of information that came out of the proceedings is that there was no gang unit prior to Jeff Reisig becoming District Attorney. At which time, Reisig got a grant for gang money which carries with it enough money to hire individual investigators who are specifically assigned to prosecuting gangs. How much money is it? Enough to hire additional people and also for law enforcement in local jurisdictions as well. There are few avenues for additional money going to a prosecutor's office and gangs are one of them. It would seem in their best interest to have a concerted effort to crack down on gangs and to make it look like there is a bigger gang problem perhaps than actually exists.

The Vanguard will continue to follow this matter and report on any updates.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting