Attorney Gary Kaufman and his client Pasquale Rotella
Did the DA’s office commit prosecutorial misconduct in the EDC Three case….again?
Attorneys for defendant Pasquale Rotella will be in court tomorrow asking judge Kathleen Kennedy to sanction the LA District Attorney’s office for prosecutorial misconduct and dismiss the criminal case against Rotella and co-defendants Todd DeStefano and Reza Gerami.
The DA once more finds itself in hot water over the handling of evidence a year after the lead prosecutor Dana Aratani was pulled from the case for reading emails between Rotella and his attorney Gary Jay Kaufman, violating Rotella’s attorney-client privilege.
Tomorrow, an evidentiary hearing will determine if Deputy District Attorney Terrie Tengelsen (who replaced Aratani) improperly had access to an email that she admits in a sworn declaration “does appear to be a potentially attorney-client privilege communication.” The court will also examine whether Tengelsen had improper communications with Aratani after he was pulled from the case.
Kaufman is accusing the DA of failing to comply with a discovery order regarding evidence in the trial and asking Judge Kennedy to preclude the prosecution from calling certain witnesses or from making opening statements at the trial, which is slated to begin Aug. 15. Tomorrow’s evidentiary hearing begins at 8:30 a.m. in Department 109 of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown LA. Rotella and two others are being tried on public corruption charges tied to contracts for raves at the LA Memorial Coliseum, including the 2010 Electric Daisy Carnival.
Judge Kennedy said she was “shocked” that the DA office’s Public Integrity Unity didn’t realize it wasn’t supposed to read Rotella’s emails to his lawyer and told the DA’s office, “You simply can’t do what was done in this case.” Despite her outrage, she allowed the case to go forward.
Aratani claimed he accidentally read the emails because he used a “flawed” methodology to sort through 60,000 emails it seized in a raid. Judge Kennedy said she didn’t believe that “Mr. Aratani was purposefully trying to trample the rights of the defendants in this case. He hadn’t gotten the right training and right procedures.”
Kaufman, told the judge that the prosecutor’s conduct was “outrageous.” He said, “It sends the message to the DA and to the public that they can read attorney-client material – just don’t get caught. How is that a deterrent?”
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