A report issued by the Orange County Grand Jury Tuesday said reports of a widespread conspiracy between the District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department to use jail informants in ways that violated the Constitutional rights of inmates awaiting trial – was a myth.
The report, issued after months of research, said while there was law-breaking by, “a few members,” of the OCDA and OCSD staffs, there was no structured informant program in the jails.
The Grand Jury said it began its investigation after a judge removed the District Attorney’s Office from prosecuting the penalty phase of the Seal Beach salon massacre case.
That happened when the defense attorney for Scott Dekraai discovered the improper use of a jail informant had been hidden from the court.
Dekraai pleaded guilty to murdering eight people at Salon Meritage in October, 2011, and prosecutors feared, according to the report, Dekraai would invoke an insanity defense at the penalty phase.
The Grand Jury said the misuse of informants appeared limited to a few employees of the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office, and it recommended new procedures and training.
“Although the use of in-custody informants does occur, it is generally organic in nature, case specific and does not represent a conspiracy between the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Orange County District Attorney’s Office,” the report concluded.