Grand Jury Faults DA Office, Gallegos Responds – October 2, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Daniel Mintz

Eye Correspondent

HUMBOLDT – The county’s Grand Jury has found that problems continue to “plague” the District Attorney’s Office, including poor management, failure to claim grant reimbursements and nepotism.

District Attorney Paul Gallegos has responded extensively to the findings, asserting that management of his office has actually improved and that members of the Grand Jury do not understand how grant reimbursements work.

Responses to the latest installment of the Grand Jury report were recently filed and among them are Gallegos’ retorts to another critical investigation of his office.

The Grand Jury found that “poor office management practices and communication continue to plague the District Attorney’s Office, after first being noted in the 2004-05 Grand Jury report” and that “these ongoing problems have been corroborated by the testimony of several witnesses.”

The witness testimony described “job-related frustrations,” including “needing to re-do tasks previously completed,” “delays in the timely completion of routine tasks” and “failures in communications between office staff.”

District Attorney’s Office staff also complained about “nepotism and favoritism toward relatives of supervisors,” according to the report, which described nepotism as a “problem” in the DA’s Office.

“Current county policy that nepotism occurs only when there exists a direct line of supervision is ineffective,” the report states. It adds that “favoritism can transcend multiple levels of supervision” and nepotism “creates tension” and “becomes a source of morale and retention issues.”

The Grand Jury also found that the DA’s Office failed to file for at least two quarters of grant fund reimbursements for the Victim-Witness program in the 2006-07 fiscal year, resulting in “substantial funds being reverted to the state.” Problems with timely submission of grant reimbursement claims “resulted in the loss of revenue for the county,” which had to cover the program’s expenses with General Fund money, according to the report.

It also states that personnel evaluations of DA’s Office staff are “not being done routinely” as required. Interviews with DA’s Office staff revealed that “evaluations were either done sporadically or not at all.”

The report also points out that this year’s investigation picked up unfinished work from the previous Grand Jury. “That Grand jury could not bring the case to a conclusion before its term expired, largely because the principals from the District Attorney’s Office delayed responding to the Grand Jury requests for information,” the report states.

The Grand Jury’s recommendations to fix the alleged problems include creating a grant management committee, implementing revision of the county’s nepotism policy, establishing an ordinance that sets a definite schedule for employee evaluations and demanding that Gallegos “recognize the ongoing responsibility of his department to abide by the administrative, finance and personnel policies of the county.”

On Dec. 8, 2009, using a metal detector in the woods outside Blue Lake, citizen Danny Walker located the remains of Curtis Huntzinger, a 14-year-old who went missing in 1990. Last week, Walker was rewarded with a $5,000 check from the FBI Reward Fund. Left to right, DA Investigator Mike Hislop, Curtis’ mother Nancy Huntzinger, Walker and District Attorney Paul Gallegos.

DA: ‘Effective leadership’

Gallegos disagrees with most of the findings. He states that the alleged delays in getting responses to Grand Jury inquiries are due to their being simultaneously submitted to the County Counsel’s Office. Another problem, Gallegos continues, is that the inquiries were submitted to DA’s staff instead of Gallegos himself.

On the finding of poor office management – an allegation that has persisted throughout Gallegos’ two-term tenure – the DA states that the opposite is true. Management of the office has “improved substantially,” he responds, due to his “effective leadership.”

Gallegos describes the improvements he refers to. “The District Attorney has strived to bring the current office into the 21st century, has established departmental policy and procedures that had been lacking, revamped the criminal division by establishing felony/misdemeanor mentorship, developed more efficient and effective procedures for getting work accomplished within budget constraints and developed partnerships with local organizations to maximize our services to the people in our community,” he states.

According to Gallegos’ response, his office reviewed over 11,000 new incident reports each year and over 67 percent have resulted in criminal charges. But Gallegos allows that “as with all organizations, there are occasions when work must be redone due to the receipt of new information.” Delays in completing routine tasks are “caused by increases in the work flow.” He adds, “There are also times when there are failures in communications between office staff.”

On the allegation of failing to capture Victim-Witness program reimbursements, Gallegos says that the Grand Jury has got it wrong. “All quarters were submitted,” he states, adding that documentation was provided to Grand Jury on June 2, 2009, along with copies of cancelled checks from the state and revenue deposits into the Victim-Witness account.

He does agree with the recommendation to establish a county grant management committee, however.

On the nepotism finding, Gallegos describes the situations he believes the Grand Jury is referring to. Drew Duncan, the DA’s archives clerk, is the son of Jeannie Duncan, the office’s legal business manager. But Gallegos states that Duncan works under another supervisor and not his mother.

Jim Dawson, an Auto Insurance Fraud Investigator for the office, is supervised by his son-in-law, Chief Investigator Mike Hislop. But he “takes most of his direction from the State Insurance Fund, since the agency sends him their investigations,” Gallegos states. “While he is not a ‘relative’ as defined by county policy, his employment and assignment was approved by the personnel director in compliance with county policy.”

The county’s nepotism policy does not include in-laws in its definition of “relatives.” It also allows exceptions, as approved by the personnel director, if a position requires extraordinary qualifications.

Dawson is paid through an annual $50,000 State Auto Fraud Grant and works three days a week. Gallegos emphasizes Dawson’s “40 years of experience as a law enforcement officer,” including 10 years of work as a chief investigator in the DA’s Office.

“Neither position is a permanent position,” Gallegos states. “Neither of them is seeking permanent employment or advancement. Neither is afforded favoritism.”

The DA “agrees, in part” with the finding on personnel evaluations, however. Personnel evaluations have not been done “consistently and systematically” since 1991, he states. Evaluations of administrative and Victim-Witness staffers was done in 2009, but “there have been gaps between 1991 and present and some employees did not receive consistent employee evaluations or there is not record in the employee file to differ,” Gallegos adds.

He points out that verbal evaluations are given, and “attorneys get regular feedback.”

The County Administrative Office responded to some of the recommendations, stating that a grant management committee can’t be implemented because it would require additional staffing, and that the revision of the nepotism policy and establishment of a personnel evaluation ordinance are not necessary because current policies suffice.

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18 Responses to “Grand Jury Faults DA Office, Gallegos Responds – October 2, 2010”

  1. Uh, excuse me, Mr. Gallegos; DA stand for District Attorney, not Defense Attorney. As evidenced by the failure of Mr. Gallegos’s office in responding to seven plus Personnel Complaints that I have filed against his staff and Mr Gallegos, himself; dereliction of duty is a culture that Gallegos has ushered into local law enforcement. If Gallegos spent half the wit he spends on circumventing complaints, criticisms and duty; on prosecuting real criminals, Humboldt would be a safe place to live in. Criminals are emboldened by Gallegos’ defense attorney approach to administering justice. From my experiences, he appears to be involved in organized crime; as do various other local law enforcement departments and offices.

    #8457
  2. RangerX

    Gallegos says he didn’t respond in a timely manner because the GJ report went to his staff, not to him directly. In the very next paragraph he says that office management has “improved substantially” due to his “effective leadership”.

    He’s such a leader that his office staff can’t pass him the envelope from the GJ? Outstanding. Good job, Paul. Enjoy private practice.

    Oh yeah, be sure to vote for Robert Benson for Arcata City Council. It’s time to put someone with demonstrable mental illness in charge. Again, outstanding.

    #8501
  3. Jedger

    RB if you have some evidence of the OC connections, please forward them to the FBI. They will (should) investigate.

    #8505
  4. Ranger X- “demonstrative mental illness”: perhaps, you would care to discuss this libel in the Superior Court. If you wish to avoid said rendevous, I suggest you explain the demonstrations of mental illness that I have made. The label, “you’re crazy” seems to be the only viable defense to “conflict of interest” around here.

    #9886
  5. Jedger- Quite contrary, the FBI has a distinct “hand off Humboldt” attitude. Other curiosities being, what is the cause for the Attorney General and the Grand Jury not responded? Where is the check on authority? The DA perjured himself in case CP100272 to assist a crime and that’s only a hint of it. I just call em’ like I see them. The First Amendment Right to redress of grievances is unavailable to those who can not afford it. Those who can afford it, know this well. Enjoy.

    #9888
  6. Robert Benson says “Ranger X” has 10 days to respond to the libel accusation.

    #9987
  7. Happy Pills

    Could it be your self-proclaimed Kingship?

    #9992
  8. We, the People, proclaimed Our sovereignty with the Declaration of Independence, i.e.-”The people, or sovereign are not bound by general words in statutes, restrictive of prerogative right, title or interest, unless expressly named. Acts of limitation do not bind the King or the people. The people have been ceded all the rights of the King, the former sovereign … It is a maxim of the common law, that when an act is made for the common good and to prevent injury, the King shall be bound, though not named, but when a statute is general and prerogative right would be divested or taken from the King [or the people] he shall not be bound.” — The People v. Herkimer, 4 Cowen (NY) 345, 348 (1825)

    #10008
  9. Would any of the above slanderers care to cease hiding behind their anonymity? Are all the readers of this publication this ignorant? Really, The Arcata Eye may behoove themselves by identifying those who post here. Perhaps, sabotage and propaganda is the house special.

    #10012
  10. Robert, you benefit in innumerable ways by being a citizen in this country. You enjoy public parks, streets, sidewalks, public safety, to name just a few. It doesn’t appear that you’re willing to forfeit any of these benefits. In fact, you are asking to be made a part of the government decisionmaking process – the ruling class, as it were. What, really, does this “sovereign citizen” rhetoric really amount to? It all sounds noble and majestic, but is it anything more than irrelevant, high-flown flummery?

    #10013
  11. kevpod,
    Greeting and health. I thank you, for your inquiries. You are quite correct in that I benefit in innumerable ways by being a citizen of this country, that I enjoy all manner of public property, that I am unwilling to forfeit any of these benefits and that I am willing to lay down my crown of Citizenship to serve the People. However, your misconceptions of the architecture of America government are apparent. The government is not the ruling class (see People v Herkimer, supra), the People are. The “sovereign citizen” rhetoric amounts to informed People exercising the First Amendment in order to protect their rights and warn their fellows Citizens of gross encroachments by supernational banksters (Fed) on the Rights of the People. I am continually amazed at the media’s deliberate indifference in reporting government fraud and ridiculing those who do (see War is a Racket, by the Great Major General Smedley Butler of the US Marines). I concur that it all sounds noble and majestic, explainable by the fact that God has given Us these inalienable rights. Yet, I fail to perceive the irrelevance of government by the People. The alternative is for us to be subjects of government, and not it’s masters; history proves this to be intolerable. Traditional British flummeries like porridge; a sustaining substance, you may be on to something. Enjoy!

    #10017
  12. You know, that makes more sense than I would have anticipated. Now for the next challenge.

    I have been told that you imagine yourself to be some sort of ruling entity – a king or mayor or something – of some imaginary dominion. Perhaps you can clarify and demythologize this, or shed some light on any seed of truth it may contain.

    #10018
  13. I am a king, or Chief, if you will, of the American dominion; it is real, not imaginary. The government are my subjects, or public servants. I do not think I am a Mayor, in any respect. The People are sovereign, perhaps you may behoove yourself to do some research into the matter. I am here for you, if you have any more questions. Enjoy!

    #10020
  14. OK. What does this mean?

    “I am a king, or Chief, if you will, of the American dominion.”

    That’s not something one hears a lot.

    #10022
  15. Please, take notice that the “kingship” discussion was advanced by an anonymous third party above. I do not advise others to, nor do others, call me king of chief. I employ the term, when necessary, to remind my public servants whom is boss. If you look up “dominion”, you will see that the definition is applicable in the context that it was employed; though it is not language that I typically use. I would typically consider myself a Sovereign American Citizen, an American Citizen, an American Chief, or Chief. I am a king -as a King is defined by English Common Law- and a Chief -as Chief is defined by American Common Law; they are synonymous. In order to explain the contrasts between sovereign and subject, and People and government, I provide the following:
    “The United States, as a whole, emanates from the people … The people, in their capacity as sovereigns, made and adopted the Constitution …” –supreme Court, 4 Wheat 402
    “People of a state are entitled to all rights which formerly belong to the King, by his prerogative.” –supreme Court, Lansing v. Smith, 1829.
    “Our government is founded upon compact. Sovereignty was, and is, in the people” –Glass v. Sloop Betsey, supreme Court, 1794.
    “The sovereignty of a state does not reside in the persons who fill the different departments of its government, but in the People, from whom the government emanated; and they may change it at their discretion. Sovereignty, then in this country, abides with the constituency, and not with the agent; and this remark is true, both in reference to the federal and state government.” –Spooner v. McConnell, 22 F 939, 943
    “A Sovereign is exempt from suit, not because of any formal conception or obsolete theory, but on the logical and practical ground that there can be no legal Right as against the authority that makes the law on which the Right depends.”
    –Kawananakoa v. Polyblank, 205 U.S. 349, 353, 27 S. Ct. 526, 527, 51 L. Ed. 834 (1907)
    Civil process, under common law, is the law of the sovereign. Statutory law, unless the sovereign is explicitly mention therein, is the law of government and commerce. We have been tricked into accepting commercial contracts, “voluntarily”, in a pledge system; and the statutory liability that goes with it. This is how the “voluntary” income tax gets enforced. When one accepts the contract, even though they are unwitting participants, it is binding; until one claims fraud and challenges the validity of said contract, or gets his life threatened for trying. Enjoy!

    #10036
  16. Happy Pills

    King of Thelema?

    #10049
  17. Robert,

    Once and for all, what does “King of Thelema” mean? In standard English.

    #10068
  18. It shall suffice to say, under God and American Common Law, I am a king. I will not expound upon such delicate religious matters, any further. My campaign is political. Enjoy!

    #10086

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