Attorney questions DA office’s failure to testify |

Attorney questions DA office’s failure to testify

A lawyer for a former prosecutor says that rather than worrying about e-mails by past employees, the District Attorney’s Office should be explaining why it didn’t testify in a recent hearing in which its ethics were questioned.”If it’s not true, why not get on the witness stand and testify that it’s not true?” attorney Sandy Karp said. “They’ve got a lot of nerve to be raising that stuff when they didn’t get on the witness stand to testify.”Karp represents Tony Hershey, a former deputy district attorney under DA Colleen Truden. According to Assistant DA Vince Felletter, Hershey and Katie Steers exchanged e-mails critical of the DA’s office while the two were still deputy DAs there. Felletter maintains those e-mails also showed Steers filed a state ethics complaint against the DA’s office for its courtroom use of interns even though she knew such use could be appropriate.The state also is investigating a complaint by Steers that Truden and Felletter made decisions on plea bargains based on whether defense attorneys had been critical of them. That allegation also was the subject of a recent hearing in which defense attorney Jeff Cheney asked for a special prosecutor in a felony case. Cheney is a former Truden employee and later helped lead a petition drive against her that will culminate in a recall election Dec. 13. He fears possible unfair treatment of him, and thus his client, by Truden.District Court Judge Dan Petre has yet to rule on Cheney’s request.In that hearing, the DA’s office subpoenaed Hershey to testify, and Felletter at times aggressively questioned his own witness.”I don’t understand why they’re going after Tony. Tony doesn’t have anything to do with Katie’s issues,” Karp said.Felletter said the DA’s office called Hershey to the stand to bring out his testimony that he never saw the DA’s office handle a single case inappropriately.Felletter said neither he nor Truden needed to testify because of Hershey’s testimony, and what Felletter considers to be weak testimony by Steers.”Katie has nothing, nothing at all, and Tony refuted what Katie was claiming,” Felletter said.Both Steers and Hershey testified the DA’s office has an enemies list of defense attorneys who had been critical of the office. Hershey said he was kept from speaking in person with certain attorneys, which made it harder for him to negotiate plea bargains.However, Felletter notes that Steers told of only one case of alleged favoritism regarding a plea bargain, and was asked by Felletter who the defense attorney was only after the deal already had been reached. In addition, the case was one that supposedly involved a defense attorney considered friendly to the DA’s office, resulting in a more lenient deal for the defendant rather than harsher treatment, Felletter said.E-mails and the failure of Felletter to testify also were an issue in the hearing. At one point, Petre warned Felletter against trying to “essentially testify without being subject to cross examination” based on the questions he was asking Hershey.Chief deputy DA Scott Turner also had tried to subpoena some of Steers’ personal e-mails. Steers’ attorney, Richard Dally, countered that the subpoena was a “fishing expedition” and an invasion of privacy. Turner later dropped the subpoena motion, saying he didn’t want to further delay the case.Felletter also tried to question Hershey about e-mails. But Petre put a stop to it after Karp argued that Felletter appeared to be attempting to pursue the legal process of discovery in connection with a separate case – Hershey’s lawsuit against the DA’s office for allegedly forcing him from his job earlier this year.In a later interview, Felletter explained his attempted line of questioning. Hershey had said Felletter yelled at him over having spoken with a defense attorney supposedly on the DA office’s enemies list. Yet according to an e-mail by Hershey, the next morning Felletter stopped in to ask how Hershey was doing, Felletter said.He said that showed the earlier discussion “wasn’t a big deal. At least it wasn’t a big deal from my perspective.”Karp said he thinks Felletter was outrageous in the way he questioned Hershey on the witness stand. Karp also doesn’t understand why Felletter is bringing up the e-mails between Hershey and Steers, saying Hershey had nothing to do with the ethics complaints she filed.”I think that Mr. Felletter operates on a level of grand paranoia,” he said. “If they (Truden and Felletter) did things in an appropriate fashion, why not get on the witness stand and say so instead of hiding behind all this crap,” Karp said.Felletter said the DA’s office may have differing views toward differing attorneys, but Hershey’s own testimony showed such views weren’t a consideration in plea bargain decisions.”If there was a policy, certainly Tony would have known about it,” he said.

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