Statements by OCDA Tony Rackauckas: Jail Death Report from the 2007 Special Criminal Grand Jury

Statements by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas
Jail Death Report from the 2007 Special Criminal Grand Jury

April 7, 2008



On March 7th, I had a chance to speak to you after the court unsealed the Grand Jury indictments against the last three defendants of the murder of John Chamberlain.  The indictments and this Report are the work of 19 citizens who volunteered and dedicated nine months to public service.  Not many of us are willing to do that.  During the nine months of service by the Special Grand Jury, 79 witnesses were called, and 335 documents were examined.  A few of these Grand Jurors are here with us today.  On behalf of the citizens of Orange County, I would like to express our sincere gratitude.


I also want to acknowledge the hard work of the career prosecutors and investigators in my Office who conducted the Grand Jury hearing and this Report.  This Report is a direct reflection of their hard work.

Three people in particular that deserve the credit are Assistant District Attorney Mike Lubinski, Deputy District Attorney Keith Bogardus, and Supervising Investigator Clint McCall. 


Because of the voluminous nature of the transcripts – some 8,000 pages – I predicted that it might take eight weeks to produce the documents for the public.  Thanks to hard work by the court reporters and my staff, today we are able to bring the transcripts and The Investigative Report From The 2007 Special Criminal Grand Jury Inquiry Into The Death Of John Derek Chamberlain.    


The Special Criminal Grand Jury was empaneled on May 17, 2007.  The purpose of this grand jury was to investigate whether any Orange County Sheriff personnel were criminally liable for their failure to properly perform their assigned duties, as well as whether there were additional inmates responsible for the murder. 


If we could have proven a case that any member of the Sheriff’s Department from the lowest to the highest rank, was criminally responsible for the death of Mr. Chamberlain, there is no question that indictments would have been issued.  Frankly, going into this process, I thought there would be charges filed based on some of the initial information I received.  At the end of the investigation, there was insufficient evidence to support any charges against Sheriff’s officials.


The first issue I have is with some of the deputies that ran the Theo Lacy detention facility.  I would like to express my disappointment and frustration in the conduct of certain members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.  Their conduct is shocking and unacceptable. 


We cannot tolerate a penal system that allows criminals to run the jail. The only punishment that should be received in the jail is that which was specifically handed down by a judge.


You have had a chance to read the District Attorney’s Report.  The 90 plus page document summarizes all of the evidence uncovered by this Grand Jury during their nine months of investigation.  The Report will be posted on our Website at the end of this press conference.