Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
July 22, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
THE ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY (OCDA) ISSUES STATEMENT REGARDINGTESTIMONY OF KEY WITNESS JASON RYU IN PEOPLE V. YOUN BUM LEE MANSLAUGHTER CASE
*Plaintiffs’ attorneys suing Hyundai for money issues misleading statements
SANTA ANA – Youn Bum Lee, 42, formerly of Irvine, is charged with one felony count of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence while intoxicated, one felony count of gross vehicular manslaughter, one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury, and one felony count of hit and run causing death. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison if convicted on all counts. Lee was arrested on a $1 million warrant. He was extradited from South Korea on Jan. 30, 2009. The jury trial date will be set on Sept. 11, 2009.
To ensure justice is served in this case, the OCDA requested Hyundai Motor America to assist the People in locating a key witness, Jason Ryu, who was believed to be living in South Korea, and convince him to provide truthful testimony during a conditional examination. The OCDA could not subpoena Ryu because he lives in South Korea. The OCDA recognized that Hyundai Motor America was under no legal obligation to produce this witness, but hoped that as good corporate citizens conducting business in this County, they would rise to the occasion to do so.
In June 2009, the OCDA was informed by Hyundai Motor America that through the assistance of their sister company Hyundai Motor Corporation, they would produce Ryu. Hyundai Motor America, although they had no legal obligation to do so, paid for the travel expenses of witness Ryu. The OCDA is grateful to Hyundai Motor America for their efforts in securing the presence of a crucial witness.
During their talks with the OCDA prior to Ryu appearing for the examination, Hyundai Motor America expressed to the OCDA that they did not want plaintiffs’ attorneys to interfere with the criminal conditional examination. The OCDA was assured by the plaintiffs’ attorneys that they did not need to interview Ryu and they would agree to stay away from the conditional examination. Consequently, the OCDA did not need to take legal steps to keep the plaintiffs’ attorneys away from the courtroom, nor did the OCDA subpoena Ryu in a way that would have immunized Ryu from service of process by the plaintiffs’ attorneys. The OCDA always insisted that the victim’s family must be allowed to attend the examination under the victims’ rights provisions in Marsy’s Law.
Yesterday, Ryu testified for approximately three hours during the conditional examination.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys’ press statements released today are misleading. The OCDA finds it disappointing and frustrating that after the OCDA has kept in communication with the plaintiffs’ attorneys, providing all of the facts as they developed, they released press statements with inaccurate information.