In general, we like to think of our friendly government workers as harmless and trustworthy and we typically give them the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. So when a California appeals court publishes an opinion stating that a prosecutor used “reasoning [that] has been condemned as faulty since the time of ancient Greece” the public faith in the system has to be affected.
This is not the only reprimand the court leveled against Santa Clara Chief Assistant District Attorney Jay Boyarsky in an unanimous opinion that overturned the jury’s verdict against Dariel Shazier of San Jose. The court described the prosecutor’s actions and arguments “flagrant misconduct.”
Dariel Shazier originally pleaded guilty to three separate sex charges in 1994 and was sentenced to a 18 year prison sentence. According to the state of the law at the time of his conviction, he was supposed to be released after completing half the time. Mr. Shazier was instead committed to a state mental hospital and Santa Clara prosecutors looked to have him confined there for a lengthy period of time for treatment as a sex predator.
Under California law, someone convicted of sex crimes can be confined in a state hospital for an indefinite period of time after completing the original sentence. The person subject to the detention does have a right to have this matter heard by a jury and confinement can only be ordered if a the jury finds that he is more likely to engage in sexually violent behavior. This is referred to as the Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) law. A Santa Clara or San Mateo Sex Crimes attorney can explain this law in great detail.
In short, California’s SVP law is very complex and many criminal defense attorneys and even prosecutors don’t understand its intricacies. According to California’s Welfare and Institutions Case section 6600(a)(1) a sexually violent predator has been defined as:
“a person who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense against one or more victims and who has a diagnosed mental disorder that makes the person a danger to the health and safety of others in that it is likely that he or she will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior.”
In the current case, the appeals court blasted the Santa Clara prosecutor for engaging in egregious behavior when presenting and arguing to the jury in an effort to have Mr. Shazier committed to continuous custody in the state hospital. According to the written opinion his arguments included insinuations that if the jurors were going to set Mr. Shazier free, they would be condemned by friends and neighbors. Other egregious conduct and argument included references to a defense expert as often speaking up for sex offenders and references to defense witnesses as “serial rapists and child molesters.”
This, unfortunately, was not the first time a court of appeal slammed the Santa Clara DA for misconduct. Mr. Shazier’s first trial ended up in a hung jury. The prosecution prevailed in his second trial only to have the verdict overturned by the appeals court in 2006 for prosecutorial misconduct. To the public it just doesn’t look good. It really looks like the only way for the Santa Clara District Attorney’s office to win is to cheat – and that’s not what we expect from our friendly government employees.
If you or loved ones are ever accused of a sex crime in Santa Clara or San Mateo County, call our experienced Bay Area Sex Crimes Attorneys today. Call us even if formal charges have not yet been brought but law enforcement want to speak with you. Do not speak with a detective, investigator or police officer before speaking to one of our experienced attorneys.