Criminal Defense Attorneys Consider on Wendy Segall's Strategy of Posting Corrupt Witnesses

By: John Fielder

There is an old legal axiom stating that "you are stuck with the witnesses who were on hand." Attorneys use that axiom to explain to juries that the witnesses they will observe at trial are not chosen or volunteered. Indeed, they are seldom the people we would want to stake our freedoms on or trust our lives to. But, too often, yesterday's strangers are today's heroes. This point is made poignant by the following article:

A prosecutor with the Los Angeles District Attorney's "Stalking and Threat Assessment Team" has been posting corrupt witnesses to prove feeble claims of "stalking" against Los Angeles men. Claims of stalking are usually hard to prove and rely upon hearsay evidence and the testimony of investigators who are funded by the same grants as the District Attorney's STAT team. (California Emergency Management Agency). Besides the obvious conflict of interest, hearsay evidence is typically relied upon to prove-up these cases. The she-said-he-said evidence is usually based on conjecture and un-sourced email which the District Attorney makes no attempt to authenticate properly.

First Amendment Advocates of Los Angeles observed abuse by the Los Angeles District Attorney when it called attention to the filing of a lawful civil suit that renowned Los Angeles trial attorney, Sean Erenstoft filed on behalf of his client against a so-called "victim of stalking." The gravamen of the complaint was based on his client's claim of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress his client suffered at the hands of the so-called "victim" of the stalking. The victim had been arrested for the crime; and pictures of his client told the story of a well-curbed client who stood idle while he was beat by his ex-girlfriend.

It was apparent that Erenstoft's client had been late to file the civil suit. The victim had run to the police department to affect a restraining order which resulted, ultimately, in the filing of a criminal complaint against Erenstoft's client. It proved to be a race to the courthouse.

After the civil suit was filed on behalf of his client, Wendy Segall unethically took aim at defense attorney, Sean Erenstoft to thwart his use of the First Amendment (the filing of the civil suit) for the redress of grievances. As stated earlier, attorneys don't have the luxury of picking eye-witnesses, but attorneys do have a duty to zealously defend their clients by citing the deficiencies of the witnesses who are called "victim" by the District Attorney.

The label "victim" (relied upon by the District Attorney) pervades motions to suppress that loaded reference at trial. While many defendants' activities are otherwise boorish and present poorly to a jury audience, it remains inviolate that defense attorneys insist on their clients' right to push back against naked allegations of wrong-doing. The filing of civil litigation is a valid mechanism for the redress of grievances. Civil litigation also provides a means (through the Code of Civil Procedure) to obtain information that may be relied upon to push-back against the momentum of a biased prosecutor. And of course, the validity of any civil litigation is subject to demurrer or similar procedure at virtually any stage of the litigation. Criminal Defense Lawyer

When a prosecutor tasks its investigators to investigate the criminal defense attorney, as Wendy Segall did in the case of People of California v. Chris Stewart, we must certainly question the ethics of the prosecutor. At the precise time in which Wendy Segall was tasked with responding to criminal discovery consisting of the source of any emails claimed to have been sent by Chris Stewart, Wendy Segall sent a D.A. investigator to investigate the attorney who filed a lawful civil action against her victim-witness.

Criminal defense attorneys exercising their client's First Amendment Right to petition the government for the redress of grievances (by the filing of civil suits against corrupt government witnesses) should be wary of Wendy Segall. Research on Wendy Segall by this organization also reveals that Wendy Segall prosecuted a man for crimes when she knew she had no evidence to prove a crucial element of the crime. In the matter of People v. Ghaffari, the 2nd Appellate District overturned a conviction Segall had obtained when she otherwise painted the defendant reprehensible with a comprehensive and repetitive recitation of unflattering allegations. The jury was said to have improperly confused Ghaffari's unsavory conduct with his relatively innocuous online speech. It was the unethical prosecutorial conduct which carried the case past the jury despite Wendy Segall's knowing lack of evidence. (See, Daily Journal, Friday, September 29, 2000 Court Reverses Jury in Cybersex-Chat Case. Click here to read more about Lawyer Information

First Amendment Advocates is an organization tasked with citing examples of heroic attorneys who have pushed back against prosecutorial misconduct. Sean Erenstoft was awarded with our Advocates Award in March, 2011 for his push-back against the Los Angeles District Attorney on behalf of his clients. In 2010, Erenstoft suffered a S.L.A.P.P. suit leveled against him by the L.A.D.A. The irony of that litigation is not lost on FAA nor is the fact that Sean Erenstoft worked for the Los Angeles District Attorney prosecuting crimes during the 90s and took his talents into private practice where he used the DA's playbook to help defend his clientele for the past 20 years. For those reasons, Sean Erenstoft is a Civil Rights Hero. Further reading on Houston Attorney

*Sean Erenstoft also served as a Los Angeles County Judge Pro-Temp; formed LA-VETS.COM; and now serves as a litigation and business consultant in California.