An explosive confidential memorandum penned and published by the elected Los Angeles District Attorney, Steven Cooley was exposed by Los Angeles attorney, Sean Erenstoft following his dispute with a local prosecutor bent on denying his access to evidence which later proved to exonerate Sean Erenstoft’s client who stood accused of cyber-stalking.
Sean Erenstoft pushed back against D.A. refusals to provide the evidence the D.A. arbitrarily decided to withhold. His method. . . he filed a lawful civil suit against the D.A.’s witness and obtained the valuable IP data disproving the D.A.’s case. Sean Erenstoft also published the secretive “Special Directive 10-06” to the California State Bar, California’s Attorney General and to the A.C.L.U. who later sued the D.A.’s office to enjoin the future Brady violations.
Belatedly, the D.A.’s office dismissed the charges against Sean Erenstoft’s client and set him free but that didn’t end the story. The D.A. then took aim at Sean Erenstoft’s strategy of filing the concurrent civil litigation against the D.A.’s witness to obtain discovery. In dismissing the D.A.’s S.L.A.P.P. suit against Erenstoft, Judge Stephen Marcus cited that “Erenstoft was doing his job until you people [the L.A.D.A.] took issue.”
Since then, the L.A.D.A. has been under scrutiny for its sequestration of potentially exonerating evidence and Brady violations. Calls for the dismantling of traditional notions of “prosecutorial immunity” have ignited the debate about prosecutorial abuses across the nation. Just as suspect is the D.A.’s reliance on grand jury indictments to silence defense counsel who now must address one-sided criminal complaints by the D.A. which serve to sideline well-intended lawyers utilizing lawful civil procedures to obtain sequestered evidence.
A growing movement to stop the D.A.’s flouting of both its explicit statutory and constitutional duties and their inherent duties to see that justice is done is afoot. By sequestering evidence in criminal cases, the D.A. has undermined the reliability, fairness, and truth-seeking function of criminal trials. In too many cases, the sequestration efforts are rarely discovered by even the most zealous of lawyers. That is because prosecutors are typically the sole arbiter of what evidence is disclosed to defense counsel and what evidence never sees the light of day. On this day, Sean Erenstoft’s whistle blowing effort helped expose the systematic effort by Los Angeles’ prosecutors to deny the county’s accused simple Brady evidence.
Sean Erenstoft can be reached at (310) 613-8887.