Monday, October 5, 2009

Big Brother Wants to Know More About YOU, Everything About YOU!

   The Los Angeles Times this morning published an article about Tony Rackauckas' latest scheme and power grab. Tony, the man who in past years has organized poltical campaigns that resulted in the removal from office of a California Chief Justice and several associate justices of the Supreme Court and who was rewarded for his efforts by being appointed to a vacant judgeship in Orange County and who subsequently ran for District Attorney and was elected to that office  has come up with a new scheme.  Under this new scheme, which is really a scam, a person charged with a misdemeanor (a public offense which is punishable by no more than a year in the county jail) or a 'personal use' drug felony (punishable by imprisonment in State Prison) can have his or her criminal case dismissed with absolutely no personal consequences upon payment of a $75 processing fee and the 'contribution' of a sample of the person's DNA to a database maintained not by the FBI or the California Department of Justice but rather by the District Attorney himself.  Tony's database is completely independent  of the ones created by law and controlled by law.  The lawful databases have restrictions on how those databases can be used and controlling access to the use of the information contatined in those databases.  There are no such restrictions on Tony's database.  Conceivably Tony or any successor could sell the information, license it, patent new therapies developed from it or just plain old use it for nefarious poltitical purposes.  Not only that but the source of this 'wealth' is any citizen who is charged by Tony, since he and he alone decides who is charged with crimes.  After almost 40 years as a street lawyer, handling a large number of misdemeanor criminal cases over that period of time, I know that most people being dragged into the criminal justice system, deservedly or not, are terrified of what might happen to them, their families and even their careers. For example the conviction of any person of a marijuana offense, renders them ineligible for any federally guaranteed student financial aid.  This ineligibility follows that person for the reminder of their lives.  It is a classic bill of attainder. Conviction of certain misdemeanors, rightly or wrongly, disqualify a citizen from certain professional licenses.  Citizens charged with such crimes are rightfully fearful of their futures and their careers.  So what happens when a young deputy DA summons a person charged with such a crime into a conference room and offers to dismiss the case for a mere $75, their signature on a waiver, and a swab of their mouth?  Let me guess, the overwhelming number of such people pay the money, sign t he paper and open their mouths.  From that day forward each such person has given up his or her essence, the code which describes them as a member of homo sapiens and which differentiates them from every other person on the planet.  It is the essence of who YOU  are.   This Essence is now under the direct and unsupervised control of a politician.
There are other evils associated with that.  Currently a prosecutor's duty is not to ensure convictions of crime, but rather to use his or her best efforts to ensure that justice is done.  That means a prosecutor is obligated to dismiss a criminal case if he or she has evidence of the innocence of a defendant that puts in serious doubt that person's guilt of the offense charged.  This scam  is destructive of that end, the prosecutor is now willy nilly dismissing cases in order to build this database.  Justice be damned!  We have a database to build!  Not only that but it places the prosecutor in the untenable position of being a witness against the defendant in the person of the witness who testifies to the identity of the perpetrator based upon the DA's database.  That witness is an employee not of an accredited, licensed and independent crime lab but of the DA's own office.  That is unprofessional and unethical.
While I am certain that Tony is possessed of some modicum of good faith, a locally controlled database within the prosecutor's office is just too much of a temptation to be waived in front of a politician.

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