What’s Taking So Long: The Motion Commotion

When I visited Daniel on Friday,  September 11,  he had a large folder with him inside his “visiting cell.”

I knew what it was as soon as I saw it.  We’d talked about it… I’d read about it…

This was the 754-page motion that Daniel’s lawyer, public defender Scott Sanders, had filed on Wednesday, August 26, 2015.

I hadn’t been able to get hold of the motion myself.  Most of my information about it came from Daniel.  He even held up some of the pages — items he found particularly important — to the glass so I could read them.

It’s difficult to get a full picture that way.

I still thought I should write a post about the motion… as much as I knew.  And when I was searching the net to confirm the exact number of pages, lo and behold, I came across a Voice of OC article  with a link to the entire document!

I won’t lie to you and say that I have read all 754 pages.  Not yet, anyway. However, I did go through the table of contents and found all the “chapters” that specifically mentioned Daniel and his case.

Even though every page has “Motion to dismiss – Wozniak” at the bottom, there really wasn’t that much relating specifically to his case.  Don’t quote me on this, but I’d say only about 20% of the over 700 pages mentioned his case specifically.

Scott Sanders’ Claims

Here is an “idiot’s guide” to this motion (from my understanding):

  • There has been corruption in the Orange County Judicial system for the past 30 years.
  • The motion gives NUMEROUS examples of such corruption.
  • The accusations state that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Orange County Sheriffs Department have surreptitiously engaged certain inmates to work as jail informants to learn information about other inmates.  Therefore, inmates are being questioned without their knowledge or the assistance of their lawyers.
  • Daniel was purposefully placed in an area of the jail so that an informant would have access to him.
  • The informant was asking specific questions and working directly with police in order to reduce his own sentence (a third strike).
  • This informant had been working with the police for years and had been used in numerous other cases.
  • Daniel’s rights, and the rights of numerous other accused, have been violated by the OCDA and the police.
  • It also goes into a bunch of stuff about Daniel’s appearance on the MSNBC show LockUp.
  • The OCSD is accused of leading the show’s producers toward Daniel specifically and that Daniel’s appearance on the show could negatively influence how he will be seen by future jurors.
  • Mostly the motion contains copious amounts of documentation supporting the many accusations of corruption

This might all sound a bit monotonous, but it’s causing huge ripples in Orange County, where deals are being made and sentences are being shortened in order for the DA’s office keep its bad behavior swept under a rug.

Public defender Scott Sanders actually managed to get the entire Orange County District Attorney’s Office removed from another one of his high profile cases, that of Scott Evans Dekraai, who pleaded guilty to the deadliest mass killing in Orange County history.  Dekraai gunned down eight people in a Seal Beach hair salon.

The Attorney General’s Office has appealed the ruling, and the eventual decision could decide if Dekraai will be sentenced to the death penalty.

So, what’s the point of all this?  What does it have to do specifically with Daniel’s case?

If you ask DA Matt Murphy or victim’s father, Steve Herr, they will say that none of this should be holding up Daniel’s trial.   Murphy claims that the jailhouse informant’s testimony won’t be used against Daniel, so that part is a moot point.

If that’s the case, why has Daniel been in and out of the courtroom repeatedly in the past five years, but still no trial?

What do you think? Do you see this as a violation of Daniel’s basic rights?

How does Daniel himself feel about this massive motion and how it relates to his own future?

I’ll have more information for you, and some quotes and thoughts on the matter from Daniel, in the next post.

8 thoughts on “What’s Taking So Long: The Motion Commotion”

  1. You said, “If that’s the case, why has Daniel been in and out of the courtroom repeatedly in the past five years, but still no trial?” The context of your comment suggests that you allege the prosecution has done something to delay the trial. This is not the case, Sanders has delayed the trial. And he has secured another delay last Friday. http://mynewsla.com/orange-county/2015/09/25/new-info-favors-bid-to-yank-judge-in-double-murder-wozniak-reps-say/

    While it is true Sanders has no evidence to support any claims of prosecutorial misconduct in Wozniak’s case, it is also true that the filibuster delays Sanders is causing do help Wozniak in the penalty phase, as one of the person’s who was set to give a victim impact statement in the penalty phase has died of cancer. Another person also has cancer. The fewer people there are to give victim impact statements, the better chance Daniel has to avoid the death penalty. I believe that waiting for people to die is one a tactic for Sanders.

    1. Thank you for the comments. I appreciate that you have strong opinions about the topic. Just to clarify, when I asked that question, I was not intending to sound like I was “taking a side” either way. It was meant as a “hey reader, are you wondering this?” question.
      You aren’t the first person to argue that the misconduct allegations are being used as a stalling tactic. What are your thoughts on keeping the death penalty on the table?

      1. Hello, Murder Musings. Your response to my comment addressed the two points from my comment and added another. I will address each of the three points (your position on the case, Sanders’ handling of the case, and the death penalty) in separate comments. This comment is in response to your position on the case.

        You said, “Thank you for the comments. I appreciate that you have strong opinions about the topic.”

        You are welcome and “strong opinions” are how most people recognize me. My sarcastic humor is what stands out for everyone else. See what I mean?

        You said, “Just to clarify, when I asked that question, I was not intending to sound like I was “taking a side” either way. It was meant as a “hey reader, are you wondering this?” question.”

        I have read all of your posts on this blog and I know that you were not trying to sound like you were taking a side, as you say. I have been a business writing consultant for longer than my fake age, so I read with a critical eye. I worked in retail prior to my business writing career, so I also “face” store shelves and racks. To “face” is to turn all of the labels forward and straighten merchandise. Suffice it say, shopping trips sometimes take longer than necessary. Reading the work of others also inspires some work habits.

        When reading another person’s work I often look for two things – interest and purpose. My autocorrect is also always on. Your blog does have interesting content, so I read it. From reading your work, the purpose of your blog is to take a neutral stance on the case against Daniel Wozniak. There is little on the internet that supports Daniel with the exception of a few comments in various articles. You have mentioned that Daniel asked his parents to not attend his court dates and I have seen no mention that anyone attends court to support him. You mentioned in another post that a producer from 20/20 took you to lunch. This suggests that you will draw more attention to yourself as this case comes closer to a trial date, now scheduled for October 30. You may want to be mindful of the perception people will get about you from what you say on your blog, from what they see in your support of Daniel, and from what major media may say about you.

        My point in drawing your attention to the context of your comment that reads as though it “suggests that you allege the prosecution has done something to delay the trial” was to draw your attention the context you presented. Had you prefaced your statement with the context you provided in your comment that your statement “was meant as a “hey reader, are you wondering this?” question,” then I would not read it as an allegation against the prosecution.

        My opinion is not that important in this but the opinions of others may be important. You could draw many readers who may not read through your blog as I have. They may only read posts that they happen to find in a search or feed. If they read this post with the suggestion of an allegation, they may ask you about your position or just assume your position and present you to the world as “Daniel Wozniak’s biggest supporter, a blogger who attends many of his hearings.” Media interest in you will increase the greater the perception of your support of Daniel. You may not be able to back out of the potential claim that you are an aggressive supporter of Daniel.

        I provided my objective view. As a critical reader, if that was the first post I read, I would have assumed you believed the prosecution was delaying the trial. I would have also looked for more articles to get a better picture of your position. Many blogs contain a list of post titles and sometimes summaries that make article searching easy. Your blog provides some search tools but no hierarchy for finding posts. You are using WordPress and there are plugins that provide lists of titles and perhaps your theme already has one. One example is List category posts, https://wordpress.org/plugins/list-category-posts/. Making your blog easier to navigate will help your readers. Since you could get popular from this, you may want to consider ads to help pay for dog toys and whatnot.

      2. Hello, Friend. You did nothing to invite my next “opinion.” Scott Sanders is annoying and where else can I register a complaint? (Again with my opinions and sarcasm? Will I ever stop?)

        You said, “You aren’t the first person to argue that the misconduct allegations are being used as a stalling tactic.”

        True. Some time ago, I read that Sanders was complaining he did not have enough time to prepare his motions and Matt Murphy said, “That’s what weekends are for.”

        I thought the comment was in poor taste, so naturally, for my inquisitive mind, I had to learn more. I learned how Sanders for years has targeted nearly everyone in the Orange County District Attorney’s office for misconduct of some sort. Sanders was the Keynote Speaker at an event last November for the Vanguard Court Watch of Yolo County.

        I am sure that Sanders is loved by criminal defendants and defense attorneys. I have read his motions. He is a good teller of stories without substance. He alludes to facts without stating any relevant facts. Judge Conley said of Sanders’ latest motion that it was a repeat of a prior motion. This version of the motion to dismiss the death penalty for Daniel contains about 250 pages more than the motion to dismiss the death penalty for Dekraii. As lengthy as it is, Sanders has provided relevant no facts to support his motion. My opinion (there’s that word again) is that no matter how much manure Scott Sanders shoves in his motion, a pony will not appear.

        1. Hello again. You asked a good question.

          You asked, “What are your thoughts on keeping the death penalty on the table?”

          I think the death penalty is necessary for the worst offenders of the most heinous crimes. Criminal defendants and murderers go to prison and we cannot stop them from engaging in criminal enterprise and murder outside the prison. They organize and use people on the outside to carry out their crimes. The only way to keep the worst offenders from harming people, as they continue to do, is to lock them away in a supermax prison that is so restrictive that it is a cruel and unusual punishment worse than the death penalty.

          Any statute in the United States that authorizes the use of death as a punishment must be held to the strictest constitutional standard. Life is the first inalienable right granted by the United States Constitution to all persons in the United States and other rights also protect life, so for that and other reasons life is the most protected of all constitutional rights.

          The California statute that authorizes the use of the death penalty is found in PEN 190 and its sub-sections.

          As I understand it, there are three primary considerations to impose the death penalty: 1) the crime must be appropriate for the penalty, 2) the defendant must not fall under an exception to the death penalty, and 3) criminal procedure to impose the death penalty must be proper.

          The murders of Samuel Herr and Julie Kibuishi are appropriate for the death penalty. PEN 190.2 requires that one or more certain special circumstances be present. Several circumstances may be present but three have been alleged in this case and they “include multiple murders, murder for financial gain, and the personal discharge of a firearm causing death.” (It is easier to read this in the linked OC Register article than in Sanders’ motion.)

          For Daniel to be sentenced to the death penalty he must first be found guilty of the special circumstances first degree murder and there must not be a reason he should not receive the death penalty, like if he was not guilty by reason of insanity. Daniel said to police when he was arrested that “I’m crazy and I did it.” Sanders has not said anything about Daniel’s sanity. The grand jury testimony shows that Daniel was sober and aware of his situation when he confessed. He really does not have anything shown in the media that he can use as an insanity defense, so I doubt he has one.

          Sanders is raising issues about criminal procedure and he is not using any facts to support a finding of misconduct. In his previous short novel motion to dismiss the death penalty in the Dekraii case, a scant 505 pages, he rambles on about various cases, and he tells a story of Dekraii like he was a long-time domestic violence abuser who should have been imprisoned in the last century. Sanders describes benign events with so much emotional detail that I almost want to cry when I read about a misplaced memo.

          In the latest motion to dismiss the death penalty for Wozniak, Sanders played with fonts and typefaces, sometimes several in the same word, he added pleading numbers to all pages and not just the first and last, as he did in the Dekraii motion, he provided hyperlinks because they print so well, and, like clay litter frosting on a poop cake, Sanders added a 60-page non sequitur introduction of case law without any facts to support why he was discussing those cases.

          Sanders’ “introduction” rambles on with a treatise about his philosophy of the criminal justice system, he laments about Orange County’s various agencies in criminal justice, and his overall tone is reminiscent of a baby crying about sitting in a soggy diaper. In his statements of the case and facts, Sanders proceeds to describe every subtle nuance and detail about the progress of Daniel’s case. He really seems to be offended that Daniel was charged by a grand jury indictment and that Sanders was not allowed to purge word soup upon the court with his motion confetti. On most pages, Sanders names someone from the District Attorney’s office and complains about them, presumably because they win cases. His “writing” reeks of jealousy. In reading his “work” I wonder if maybe he needs a medical check-up or perhaps he would find some joy in his life if he bought his wife some flowers.

          Sanders’ motions are mind-numbing reads and make cleaning dog poop in the backyard on a hot day after a hard rain seem pleasant. I pity the judges that have to pore over that diatribe. Sanders, as an attorney must be an aggressive advocate for his client, and he is doing that. Sanders must also be respectful of the court and the law, among other things, and he is not doing that. Scott Sanders has not shown that there is any sort of misconduct that should prevent Daniel Wozniak from receiving the death penalty.

          I do not support handing out the death penalty to every killer nor do I support any sort of theory that California rarely imposes the death penalty, so the death penalty is not that serious and is really only a life sentence in a restrictive prison. I think the death penalty should fit the crime and the criminal. I look at the sadness within this case against Daniel Wozniak. The loss of the victims is tragic. They were both beautiful people and their families have endured deep pain that most people will never feel or comprehend. A jury must determine if Daniel caused enough pain to deserve death. I think he did.

          In addition to the murders, I look at why Daniel killed two innocent people. You mentioned that he did not have a criminal history and you also mentioned that he used various drugs that include crystal (methamphetamine) and heroin. Possession of these drugs is a crime, so Daniel did commit a crime. Methamphetamine (meth) is also a poison in that it destroys parts of the brain. There is not a full recovery from the brain damage caused by meth and people who use meth often engage in crime that sometimes involves cold acts against people and other living things.

          Daniel made a voluntary confession to police before the police knew that Sam was killed. He said it was “100 percent about the money.” Daniel was two months behind in rent and had many other bills. His wedding was approaching within days, he needed cash. Money is never a good reason for murder but sometimes financial desperation can provide insight as to why a person would commit that terrible act. It would not change the consequences but it could provide a needed why.

          There is nothing in Daniel’s story that would suggest he was desperate. If he could not afford the wedding, then he could postpone it. If he could not afford rent, then he could have asked to stay with Sam or another friend until he could afford rent. If he could not afford his bachelor party and cruise, then he could ask for friends to help him pay for those things. Daniel did nothing that a good person would do.

          What sickens me so much is that Daniel and Rachel had options to pay for their wedding and other expenses. They could have used crowd-funding. They were both actors; Rachel was once a Disney princess and she was working at Medieval Times. A simple crowd-funding campaign could have elicited donations of cash and services from people who work with weddings and who would love to get their names on the wedding of a Disney princess. As actors, wedding planners could script a few events to make a special day that could get these two actors face-time in front of camera. They could have boosted their acting careers. …But instead, Daniel killed two people to slowly siphon a bank account of only $50,000. Rachel is accused of lying to the police on his behalf. There is no social utility in either of these people and I am sickened by what they have done.

          Rachel and her family sicken me almost as much as Daniel. At least Daniel can use the excuse that meth ruined his brain. Neither Daniel nor Rachel has shown any emotion, empathy, or compassion for the victims and their families. Rachel has had time to reflect and to overcome any sort of personal feelings to see what the victims’ families are enduring but she remains cold. When she was arrested, her family organized a crowd-funding campaign to get her bail. That family has not shown in public or the media any interest in helping the families of the victims. The families of the victims are suffering. They had to pay for funeral expenses, cancer treatments, and various other expenses, I am sure, but there is no public support of these suffering families from the Buffet family. The Buffets have shown selfishness, cold selfishness.

          1. Very interesting and informative comments Lauren… But how in the world can you even have an opinion of Rachel or her family or any knowledge of their donations or feelings? Do you know them? Have you seen their suffering or experience through this awful tragedy??

  2. I visited Daniel with Rachel………and what Rachel told me and what she reported on Dr Phil…well, let me put it this way I am glad this trial is taking place….please let the truth come out as to “who knew what and when”…

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