EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE – WHITED OUT
March 13, 2012
By Donald Ray Young
The Tulare County District Attorney conspired with the Tulare Police Department to fabricate copious inculpatory evidence, for the sole purpose of sending me – an innocent man – to death row. Their train was bursting at the seams with lies. It eventually fell off the tracks on 16 November 2005, three-and-one-half months into the death penalty trial. The prosecution desperately needed to justify their contention that evidence could continually be in four remote locations at the same time, without ever being checked out of the Tulare Police Department’s ‘secure’ evidence locker, among other illusions. I could finally prove what I had been telling everyone who would listen from day one: the purported original evidence reports were forgeries, and the evidence chain-of-custody was non-existent. Those who held the power in court labeled what happened next as an Evidence Code 402 Hearing – a trial inside a trial – outside the presence of the jury. I called the entire process what it had always been: a farce and a sham!
It was a cold 16 November 2005 morning when the pro-prosecution, hanging Judge, Ronn M.Couillard, said this: “I’ve been with this case since August of 2000. Donald Ray Young was pro per (representing himself). This thing, as far as discovery and handing over items and documents and everything, has gotten to be a nightmare. I do know there were always problems with discovery being presented to the defense, even when Donald Ray Young was pro per, where items were copied, they weren’t copied properly, half a page was left off. That’s all just background, the point being is that discovery has been a nightmare in this case. It’s continuing to be.” After fourteen weeks of trial, we were still receiving discovery. Discovery is the method by which the defense learns, before trial, of the witnesses and evidence the opposition intends to offer at trial.
My trial attorney, Galatea DeLapp, saw this prosecutorial misconduct in a more egregious light. As she addressed the court, “In my opinion, it’s a Brady violation. I’m asking for a mistrial, a motion to dismiss with prejudice, on the basis of this Brady material not coming to us until this point, after substantial evidence has already been before the court.” In addition to the prosecution’s constitutional obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence, there are additional mandates: a statutory discovery obligation, and the duty, under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, to disclose to the defense “all substantial material evidence favorable to an accused.” Brady vs. Maryland (1963) is a legal case that illuminated the aforementioned obligations, ensuring rights for the accused.
When the trial judge ordered the prosecution to produce all original evidence reports and original evidence chain-of-custody records, the response from the Tulare Police Department (hereafter referred to as TPD) was that they needed the original court order signed by the judge. What?!! TPD was the prosecution, and had high-ranking officers in court when the order was made! As the original evidence reports and chain-of-custody records were grudgingly allowed to make their way into the trial court — in preparation of the Evidence Code 402 Hearing — … White-out! Whited out and written over? That to which the prosecution had been testifying under oath was nothing more than two binders of evidence report pages, painted over and fabricated, manufactured and rewritten. The prosecution also referred to these binders as original evidence reports and original evidence chain-of-custody logs. TPD’s own protocol precludes painting over original evidence reports. You can’t trust the evidence. You can’t trust the witnesses. The Evidence Code 402 Hearing will begin.
The first witness to take the stand attempted to minimize or explain away the whiteout, manufactured evidence and corruption. This person was…
To be continued…
YOUR VOICE HAS MEANING. I WILL ENJOY HEARING FROM YOU.