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Albuquerque prosecutor fired after evidence destroyed in rape case

Downtown Albuquerque
Wikimedia Commons

Albuquerque prosecutor fired after evidence destroyed in rape case

The Office of Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez has fired a prosecutor who allowed critical evidence to be destroyed in a rape case.

Torrez fired Jacqueline James because she authorized the destruction of evidence in a rape case — DNA, witness statements, photographs — that her office had decided not to prosecute. Only one month after that happened, the same suspect was accused of raping another woman.

As reported by KRQE News 13 in Albuquerque, in 2013, 17-year-old Amanda Bryand accused Eli Kronenaker of kidnapping her and raping her at gunpoint. According to KRQE, “Amanda handed over her clothing to investigators, text messages, interviewed with detectives, and was assigned a prosecutor under former District Attorney, Kari Brandenburg.”

Later that year, prosecutors chose not to go forward against Kronenaker and the charges were converted to nolle prosequi.

Less than two years later, on June 16, 2015, prosecutor James directed that the evidence be disposed of. One month later, a second woman reported a rape to police and Kronenaker was identified as the perpetrator.

But when Bryand met with prosecutors after Kronenaker was arrested for the second rape, she learned that most of the physical evidence she’d handed over had been destroyed. As was any real chance that the prosecution against Kronenaker for Bryand’s rape would be resurrected. As District Attorney Torrez explained: “[The destruction of evidence] eliminated the ability, for example, for the defense attorney to go and conduct their own independent DNA analysis. Because once that original fabric or garment is destroyed, they lost that ability.”

Around the time of her termination, Jones asserted in a written statementthat she had followed existing policies and procedures and the decision to destroy the evidence was approved by her supervisors.

Torrez has said that his office is reviewing how rape cases are handled to avoid having something like this happen again.

Dallas prosecutor suspended after seeking “a break” from law enforcement during DWI arrest

Dallas Police Cruise

Dallas prosecutor suspended after seeking “a break” from law enforcement during DWI arrest

The office of Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson has suspended Leah Lucius, an assistant district attorney, after she was arrested on suspicion of driving drunk. Lucius, who has has been working with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office since July of 2015, apparently made her situation even worse by asking the arresting officer “for a break.”

According to the Dallas Morning News, after she crashed her car into a tree and a fence in the early morning hours of July 8, Lucius said to the arresting officer: “Give me a break. We are Facebook friends.” Lucius also allegedly offered up her concealed handgun license when asked to produce her license and then declined to undergo field sobriety testing.

Johnson has suspended Lucius without pay pending an investigation. It will be up to the district attorney to decide whether Lucius abused her authority to the point where termination is appropriate.

According to NBC News in Dallas, police reported that “Lucius gave a partial, incorrect phone number and said she’d had a couple of glasses of wine over a five-hour period.” Lucius was taken to the hospital, where her blood was drawn to determine her alcohol level. A warrant was later issued for her arrest and Lucius turned herself in Tuesday morning.

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New Orleans D.A. ordered to reveal names of prosecutors who issued fake subpoenas

DA Leon Cannizzaro

New Orleans D.A. ordered to reveal names of prosecutors who issued fake subpoenas

Orleans County District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro has been ordered to disclose the names of all the prosecutors in his office who used “fake subpoenas” to compel witnesses to talk with them. Cannizzaro was given 20 days to produce the names of prosecutors who engaged in the practice during 2017. He then must provide the same information going back to 2013.

As In Justice Today previously reported, Cannizzaro sought to jail a domestic violence victim after she refused to respond to a fake subpoena his office sent her demanding that she meet with them. The documents had the word “subpoena” at the top of the page even though they had not been signed by a judge, meaning that disobeying them would not be a criminal offense.

The district attorney faced a substantial backlash about the fake subpoenas, with some calling for Cannizzaro to be removed from office. A spokesman for Cannizzaro said the fake subpoenas would no longer go out and would be replaced with documents that said “notice to appear.”

The ACLU of Louisiana asked Cannizzaro to provide information identifying the lawyers in his office who issued or authorized the fake subpoenas. When he refused, the organization sued under Louisiana’s open record laws.

Civil District Court Judge Nakisha Ervin-Knott agreed that the information was a public record and ordered Cannizzaro to comply.

The MacArthur Justice Center and The Lens, a non-profit news site that first reported on the fake subpoenas, have also sued Cannizzaro’s office asking for information.

The use of fake subpoenas is not the only controversy that Cannizzaro has generated concerning witnesses. The New Orleans Advocate recently profiled a shooting victim who was jailed after Cannizzaro’s office feared he would not testify against the man accused of shooting him at trial.

Cannizzaro has also jailed rape victims who refused to testify against their attacker. The New Orleans Advocate reported that in 2016 one woman was jailed for eight days after refusing to testify against the man who raped her.

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