Case # 14HF2203
Date: March 18, 2016
COURT REJECTS DEFENSE’S MOTION TO RECUSE OCDA OR DISMISS CASE OF MAN CHARGED WITH UNPROVOKED KNIFE ASSAULT OUTSIDE OF NIGHT CLUB
*Defense failed to meet prima facie case; no testimony taken
SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Honorable Patrick H. Donahue today denied a defense motion without taking testimony based on the strength of the People’s opposition brief to recuse the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) or dismiss the case of a man charged with the unprovoked assault of multiple victims with a knife outside a night club. The motion was not supported by any law or facts.
Circumstances of Case # 14HF2203
Adrian Arellano Arroyo, 29, Lake Forest, will face trial on four felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of seven years in state prison. He is scheduled for jury trial March 21, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Co-defendant Humberto Darqui Chupin Pelaez, 44, Lake Forest, was found guilty by a jury March 24, 2015, of four felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury. On June 12, 2015, Pelaez was sentenced to 11 years in state prison.
Co-defendant Jose Alfredo Hernandez Pacheco, 27, Lake Forest, is charged with four felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in state prison. He is scheduled for pre-trial on April 25, 2016, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-7, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.
On the night of Aug. 2, 2014, Pacheco was at a night club in Lake Forest. Pacheco is accused of becoming upset when his wife was accidentally hit by ice cubes thrown by one of the victims. Despite repeated apologies by all four of the victims, Pacheco is accused of contacting Arroyo and Pelaez and arranged for them to meet him at the club. When Arroyo and Pelaez arrived, the three defendants waited in the parking lot for the victims to exit the club.
Pacheco and Arroyo are accused of and Pelaez was convicted of being shown on video tape walking side-by-side across the parking lot and launching an unprovoked attack against the unsuspecting victims shortly after they exited the club. Pacheco is accused of wielding a knife and causing deep lacerations on the victims. Arroyo is accused of and Pelaez was convicted of aiding and abetting Pacheco’s attack and also inflicting additional injuries upon the victims. After the attack Arroyo and Pelaez are accused of fleeing the scene with Pacheco.
Deputy District Attorney Jeff Kirk of the Felony Panel is prosecuting this case.
Unrelated Courthouse Altercation
An OCDA Investigative Assistant was assigned to translate for OCDA Investigator Dillon Alley and was present during the altercation and signed a declaration under penalty of perjury which is summarized in part:
At approximately 9:55 a.m. on March 9, 2016, Alley was in court and began a conversation with a witness and her husband in the Arroyo case near the benches outside of the entrance to Department C-38. Two men then approached the OCDA Investigative Assistant and Alley. The first man asked the witness her name and Alley calmly asked who he was.
The second man, later identified as Attorney JAMES CRAWFORD, said something like, “What difference does it make? I was appointed by the judge to represent her; Crawford’s tone was needlessly confrontational and unprofessional; CRAWFORD did not give his name, but ESPINOZA introduced himself as a court interpreter;
Alley calmly informed Crawford that he was the OCDA Investigator on the case and was asking Crawford to identify himself because Alley believed the witness had been harassed by members of one of the defendant’s family. The witness and Crawford then went “down the hall away from us so they could talk.”
After talking for a few minutes, Crawford, the court interpreter, and the witness came back to where Alley, the witness’ husband, and the OCDA Investigative Assistant were.
CRAWFORD walked behind ALLEY and placed his face about three to six inches from ALLEY’s ear; I heard CRAWFORD call ALLEY a “f*****g a*****e”;
As Crawford was walking away, Alley asked Crawford what he had just said.
CRAWFORD stopped, looked at ALLEY, and said, ‘Look at you, you fat f**k’; ALLEY said to CRAWFORD, “F**k you”; The witness then stated, “Look at how he (CRAWFORD) is behaving. I don’t want him to be my lawyer.
Crawford then walked in front with the court interpreter to Department C-40 as Alley walked a short distance behind. Alley was walking approximately four to five feet behind Crawford when Alley flicked a mini binder clip at Crawford, which struck the lower part of the back of Crawford’s jacket. Crawford stopped, picked up the binder clip, and threw the clip forcefully at Alley. Alley raised his hand to block the binder clip.
CRAWFORD was infuriated; CRAWFORD struck ALLEY in the face with his hand; ALLEY and CRAWFORD began to fist fight, striking each other multiple times; As they fought, CRAWFORD ended up on the floor with his back against the edge of the bench; ALLEY and CRAWFORD continued to hit each other; ALLEY primarily struck CRAWFORD in the face; CRAWFORD’s punches were at ALLEY’s torso, which he hit multiple times;”
Another OCDA Investigator near Department C-40 attempted to pull Crawford and Alley apart as Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies and other law enforcement personnel arrived.
ALLEY attempted to back away from CRAWFORD; ALLEY raised his hands in the air and said, ‘I’m a DA investigator. He hit me first’; As ALLEY attempted to back away, CRAWFORD had both of his hands on ALLEY’S necktie; As ALLEY tried to back up, CRAWFORD pulled on ALLEY’s tie in a downward motion toward him (CRAWFORD); Law enforcement personnel surrounded CRAWFORD and ALLEY; CRAWFORD finally let go of ALLEY’s tie; CRAWFORD stood up and lunged at ALLEY again; CRAWFORD kicked ALLEY in the upper thigh; CRAWFORD attempted to punch ALLEY a few more times; ALLEY continued to back away from CRAWFORD during CRAWFORD’s attempts to revive the fight; OC Sheriff’s personnel had to hold CRAWFORD back to stop him from starting another fight with ALLEY; I saw a large red mark on ALLEY’s left cheek and injuries to his hand;”
Following the altercation, the OCDA Investigative Assistant accompanied the witness to Department C-40. The witness “told me she did not want CRAWFORD to represent her and later asked the court to give her a different lawyer.” The witness went on to say that, “she could not believe CRAWFORD’s behavior and that CRAWFORD had started the fight by hitting ALLEY first.”
The court relieved Crawford as the witness’ counsel and “CRAWFORD left the courtroom smiling and waving at someone seated behind me.”
On March 15, 2016, Arroyo filed a motion to recuse the OCDA from Arroyo’s case or that the case be dismissed claiming that the defense witnesses for the Arroyo case were present during an altercation involving an OCDA Investigator and an alternate defense attorney, and that those witnesses were now supposedly intimidated and afraid to testify.
The OCDA filed their response brief to a motion filed on March 17, 2016, with an introduction that stated, “Defendant claims he has been the victim of outrageous government conduct. He asserts that such conduct necessarily means that his case should be dismissed. Defendant plainly does not understand the doctrine. There are two things that must necessarily be present to warrant a dismissal of the case: 1) the conduct in question must “shock the conscience so as to violate the universal sense of justice”; and 2) the conduct must result in defendant’s not being able to receive a fair trial. Simply stated, the government conduct in this case – outrageous or not – is irrelevant absent a showing of a loss of a due process right belonging to defendant. Defendant fails to make a case as to both.”
The following are excerpts from the OCDA’s response brief filed on March 17, 2016:
- Defendant’s asserting that Adame’s refusal to testify is the product of outrageous government conduct fails for varied reasons. First, there was no misconduct by the government. The misconduct was Crawford’s, who battered a DA investigator, starting a fight between them. Sure, a member of the prosecution team was a part of the fight, but he has a right to defend himself against unjustifiable battery (page 14).
- However, even if it was misconduct for Investigator Alley to defend himself from an attack from a wild-eyed and enraged lawyer, cases are not dismissed to punish outrageous conduct. Recall, “the touchstone of due process analysis in cases of alleged prosecutorial misconduct is the fairness of the trial, not the culpability of the prosecutor.” (Smith v. Phillips, supra, 455 U.S. 209, 219.) …The remedy is not to overlook defendant’s unrelated criminal conduct (page 14).
- Moreover, it cannot be ignored that Adame’s claim she is now too scared to testify is more than a little dubious. Adame was part of a group assault with knives against four victims who were stabbed multiple times. Her husband, a co-defendant in this case, stabbed all four victims. Jaime Bautista stated that Adame walked across the parking lot with one of the assailants as he had a knife exposed. After the violence, Adame fled the scene with the perpetrators and had the presence of mind to hire an attorney to represent her for when the police came to ask her questions. …Now Adame is so traumatized by a fist fight between two people she doesn’t know, having nothing to do with her, that she can’t possibly see her way to the witness stand? Please (page 15).
- Let’s look at the facts: Adame clearly doesn’t have too much of a problem with violent behavior. She’s married to a knife-wielding man who stabbed four people. She’s good friends with defendant … who is also charged with a violent assault. This isn’t about PTSD. It’s about helping her friend get his case dismissed by feigning a sudden aversion to seeing a fight (page 15).
- Even if the court were to find outrageous government conduct in this case, defendant still must show he cannot get a fair trial because of it. He doesn’t come close (page 15).
- Moreover, she can now be compelled to testify. She has been granted immunity and therefore has no Fifth Amendment concerns (page 16).
- Unlike all the cases construing the doctrine, defendant has shown no conduct by the prosecution which intentionally interfered with his due process rights (page 19).
- Case law is replete with court’s rejection of imaginary and speculative claims of unfair treatment, even in instances of a relation between DA employees and parties involved inextricably in the cases (page 26).
The response brief and the declaration can be found on the OCDA’s website, under Reports, and is titled, “Opposition to Motion to Dismiss for Outrageous Government Conduct and to Recuse OCDA.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Lockhart of the Appellate & Training Unit litigated the motion on behalf of the OCDA.
Court Dismisses Motion
In denying the motion, Judge Donahue found that the defendant’s due process rights had not been violated as a result of the conduct that occurred in the court hallway on March 9, 2016. The court ruled that the defense failed to make a prima facie case of outrageous government conduct or a conflict of interest warranting recusal of the District Attorney’s office.