California DA More Concerned About Privacy Rights for Sperm than a Man’s Life

by Josie Duffy 

Tony Rackauckas

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas

Just when you think nothing can surprise you, there’s a story like this one from OC Weekly. There’s prosecutorial misconduct and then there is this—something so malicious that it literally shocks the conscience.

The case began more than 30 years ago, when a 5-year-old boy watched his babysitter’s vicious murder. When the police asked him for a description he repeatedly described the killer as a white man. Kenneth Clair, described as a dark-skinned black man, is currently on death row for the murder.

The skin color discrepancy is just the tip of the iceberg. You must read the piece to understand the sheer amount of corruption and lies that got Clair where he is today. But suffice it to say: The prosecution lied and lied and lied. They flagrantly violated the law in order to secure this death row conviction.

The case has gotten even crazier in the past few years. In 2008, “nearly 21 years after the defendant landed on death row, forensic testing unavailable at the time of the trial came back with a startling conclusion: The DNA of the sperm recovered inside [the victim’s] vagina did not belong to Clair.” From OC Weekly:

In hopes of freeing Clair from his execution fate, his lawyers have repeatedly asked the government to provide them with the identity of the sperm contributor. The disclosure could enhance their cries of injustice. But [Orange County District Attorney Tony] Raukauckas and the OCDA insist confidentiality is required.

At a 2010 hearing … Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons claimed the match belonged to a person who had been too young to have committed the killing. John R. Grele, Clair’s San Francisco-based lawyer, argued the defense deserved to know the identity so it could explore if one of the person’s paternal relatives deposited the DNA in [the victim] and, more important, could have been the murderer.

An innocent man’s life is at stake, Grele reminded the judge. Simmons countered with what can be called the “trust us” explanation that OCDA would disclose the information if officials believed it would undermine the case against Clair. He also said that because prosecutors won’t concede they convicted the wrong man, privacy concerns for the sperm contributor’s relatives are now the paramount issue.

For seven years, the DNA evidence has remained a secret. [emphasis added]

Unbelievable! Seven years of the prosecution claiming that they can’t release information about a potential killer because of privacy reasons. Meanwhile, a man is on death row for something he likely didn’t even do. There is no other physical evidence linking him to the crime, but prosecutors want him to die by lethal injection. They have the actual evidence to find and convict another person, but not only will they not act on the new evidence, they won’t even hand over the DNA evidence to defense attorneys.

The Orange County District Attorney’s office has been in the media lately for its rampant misconduct. This story is yet another example of depraved conduct in that office. Read it. Seriously.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos