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Between the Iowa caucuses, the State of the Union and the impeachment trial this week, I don’t blame you if you missed this absolutely insane, bananas, batshit story about how Orange County’s previous district attorney lied about having a trove of video evidence showing a reality TV doctor and his girlfriend drugged and assaulted numerous women.

The previous DA said there were “thousands of videos” in evidence showing “hundreds” or “thousands” of victims, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The current DA said, “There is not a single piece of evidence or video or photo that shows an unconscious or incapacitated woman being sexually assaulted … Not one.”

The current DA is, rightly so, being praised for admitting his office was wrong and dropping the case. Yet aside from the apology, none of the coverage I’ve read has suggested the previous DA, Tony Rackauckas, will be charged criminally in the case. Nor has Rackauckas ever been held responsible for racking up years of prosecutorial misconduct complaints. In fact, just before he left office, he helped clear deputies who’d been found to have lied on the job.

Also this week, the years-long saga over the former San Diego DA’s pursuit of serious criminal charges against a group of young, black men appears to have come to an end. The city has agreed to pay Aaron Harvey and Brandon Duncan $1.5 million to settle a federal civil rights suit after both men were arrested and jailed in connection with a crime prosecutors admitted they did not carry out.

Before the case settled, U.S. District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz issued an August ruling in the case that included some blistering assessments of two SDPD officers’ conduct, and found they had violated the men’s constitutional rights. A few choice snippets from that ruling:

“After reviewing all of the alleged misleading statements and omitted facts, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs have sufficiently established a claim of judicial deception at this stage. As discussed above, the warrant applications in their original form already lack probable cause. Moreover, given that the declarations only contained a handful of factual allegations particular to Duncan and Harvey, these misrepresentations and omissions change the entire calculus. Thus, at this stage, Plaintiffs have made a substantial showing of either intentional or reckless deception.”

“Because the warrant declarations lack probable cause, as discussed above, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs have established a constitutional violation under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.”

“Plaintiffs have demonstrated that there is a chilling effect that these arrests have on the Lincoln Park community and its law-abiding residents who may engage in rap lyrics.”

The detectives named in the case both still appear on an SDPD roster from 2019. Dumanis is no longer in office – of her own volition – but last we checked, she was serving as a fill-in judge from time to time.

Neither the Orange County doctor nor Harvey and Duncan are sitting in a jail cell anymore, or facing the prospect of decades in prison. That’s something, I guess. Harvey and Duncan even got a monetary payment to acknowledge what they went through.

But that’s not the same as the people who orchestrated these cases being held accountable.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Nine years after making a bond deal so insane it inspired outrage, a new state law and a new slate of school officials, Poway is asking voters to OK another bond. As district officials make their pitch, they’re saying they get far less money per student from the state than other districts. We put that claim through the Fact Check ringer. And Ashly McGlone talked about it all on this week’s podcast.

By the way, our annual schools guide is out now.

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First, smart streetlights were sold as a tool for traffic and environmental mitigation. Then the police said they’d only access them to get information on the most serious crimes. Now, they’re using the footage they capture to help solve all kinds of crimes.

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Backers of Measure C are touting the money it will bring in to combat homelessness as a main selling point. Lisa Halverstadt delved into two big points of contention with that funding.

In other politics news: Scott Sherman wants to take on unions, and Lorena Gonzalez previewed big changes to AB 5.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“The trick to a good dad nap is releasing all worry about what’s happening to your kids while you’re asleep.” – May we all nap this weekend with the reckless abandon of a dad.

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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