Things are stating to intensify in the inquiry into the allegations against the District Attorney’s office and the Police Department. Interestingly the allegations have brought forth others relating stories of their own experiences with Jaime Esparza. It will be interesting to see if any new allegations are levied in the upcoming days as some individuals have stepped up and indicated that it was about time someone looked into the allegations of wrongdoing in our community’s judiciary. In the mean time, attorneys Stuart Leeds and Theresa Caballero have been busy securing the rights of their clients by filling new actions intended to secure the evidence needed to address the allegations brought forth by their client. On the other front, the District Attorney’s office and the Police Chief have been busy attempting to distort the public perception in their favor by raising unfounded innuendo seemingly intended to discredit the complainant before she’s had her day in court. On the other hand, the complainant continues to demand that she have her day in court, regardless of the consequences. On Monday, January 26, 2004, Judge Stephen Ables, Presiding Judge of the 6th Administrative Region issued an order setting a hearing in the 346th District Court here in our city in order for him to personally hear the District Attorney’s motion in Opposition to the Court of Inquiry requested by Caballero and Leeds. The judge’s order demands that attorneys Caballero and Leeds be present as well as Jaime Esparza, personally and on behalf of his office and employees. The Judge has also ordered that the Chief of Police, interim Chief Wiles be present to represent his department as well as his employees. Finally, the order also directs that officers Albert Machorro and Jose Garcia be present during the hearing. The hearing is set for Friday, January 30, 2004 at 9:00 am.
It will be interesting to see what intentions the judge has in regards to Esparza’s motion as it appears from a cursory look at the State’s Code that Judge Ables’ position on this issue should be the appointment of the case to a prosecutor and not to try the actual case itself or the merits of it, as a judge has already determined that there was probable cause to convene a Court of Inquiry. There is no doubt that the attorneys will make an attempt to point this out to him during the hearing. At the same time, the merits of Esparza’s arguments should, in regards to his notion that his office should have received notification merits some discussion. Unfortunately for Esparza, the question needs to be asked of him if he routinely notifies suspects of hearings before the Grand Jury in which he presents evidence before issuing arrest warrants against the suspects. As a potential criminal defendant, does Esparza have other rights not usually afforded regular citizens of the community? It will be interesting to see Judge Ables’ take on this, assuming he even bothers to address it.
At the same time, attorneys Caballero and Leeds filed their own motion before Judge Ables requesting stays against Esparza that request that he be compelled to not proceed further on any actions in regards to Grand Juries and to prevent him from the further use of his office and County resources in mounting a legal defense in benefit to himself. The motion also asks that the Judge issue an order preserving all evidence in regards to the allegations of sexual abuse and to have them safeguarded until the Court of Inquiry is convened. This latest request follows on the lack of trust the office of the District Attorney and the Police Department has developed in the community.
The motion uses as an example a letter of reprimand issued by then Mayor Carlos Ramirez to then Police Chief Carlos Leon where Leon is reprimanded by the Mayor for “backdating a document that addressed the removal of an officer from the Shooting Review Team”. Considering this reprimand, it is not far-fetched to question the integrity of the Police Department in dealing with evidence that can be used to the detriment of two police officers, especially when it has already being established that the highest ranking officer was capable of modifying documents to his benefit. This latest motion goes to the crux of the reason for convening a Court of Inquiry against the Police Department and the District Attorney’s office. Trust in the system, under these two agencies is severely hampered when their own actions appear to circumvent the established processes and the transparency of their actions is severely questioned. It is about time that this city got its day in court and that anyone proved to have committed a crime be dealt with by the system regardless of their stature in the community.