Tuesday, August 2, 2011
No on Ipsen
A candidate for the office of Los Angeles County district attorney who repeatedly demonstrates unworthiness for that post is Steve Ipsen.
We do not know which candidate we will endorse in the race.
We do know that it won’t be Ipsen.
ESTERDAY’S LOS ANGELES TIMES contains an article about a man charged with felony resisting arrest. It says that defendant Chad Brian Scott’s parole officer and the sheriff’s detective investigating the case were not averse to a dropping of the charges.
That information comes from a July 7 confidential internal memo Ipsen sent to the head of the DA’s Antelope Valley Office. The article provides this snippet from the memo:
“Given the defendant’s documented mental illness, his repeated requests for assistance in getting medication, and the objective behavior of the defendant consistent with his paranoia, there is a reasonable doubt as to any actual criminality.”
Higher-ups saw it differently. Ipsen was taken off the case and a prosecution was commenced.
The article goes on to say:
“Ipsen, who agreed to speak in his capacity as a candidate for L.A. County district attorney in 2012, acknowledged that ‘on paper’ Scott could be viewed as ‘a concern.’
“ ‘He has two strikes, he’s a white supremacist, he’s been in prison, he’s tattooed up,’ Ipsen said. But that shouldn’t be the basis for closing the book on him, he said.”
PSEN HAS THUS PUBLICLY taken a position in a pending case contrary to that of his office—in effect, acting as a spokesperson for the defense. Moreover, it is doubtful that the confidential memo would have been supplied to the Times by anyone other than Ipsen. An e-mail was sent to Ipsen by this newspaper yesterday asking if he denied doing so; there was no response.
Ipsen apparently seeks to justify what is clearly a betrayal by him of his duties to his department by specifying that he is speaking in his capacity as a candidate.
What eludes him is that he obtained information about the case, and wrote the memo, in his capacity as a deputy district attorney. Candidacy is hardly a license for revealing confidential information and for trying a case in the press—on behalf of the other side.
Once again, Ipsen has evinced gross irresponsibility.
HIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME Ipsen has gone to bat for the defense while a deputy district attorney. In 2000, he vouched for the character of a twice-convicted sex offender, doing so at a sentencing hearing in Glendale. The man had been prosecuted for his third offense, lewd conduct, by the Office of the District Attorney.
In his testimony, Ipsen termed the defendant “one of my closest friends.”
He testified that “[i]t is possible” that the man lived in his house for a short time. “I’d allow—as a single guy, I had a bunch of different people staying with me,” he explained.
(Ipsen is now married.)
The man, when arrested in Ipsen’s car, had Ipsen’s DA identification badge.
N 2004, AS PRESIDENT of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, Ipsen spearheaded efforts to recruit lawyers to run against Los Angeles Superior Court Judges David Wesley and Dan Oki. He succeeded in his recruiting efforts, but the two judges—opposed for a lame reason—prevailed at the polls. Wesley is now the court’s assistant presiding judge.
A man accused of carjacking was released at the end of a court day on May 28 because there was not time to arraign him. He was ordered to return, but failed to do so, and committed a killing a month later. Ipsen blamed Oki, then supervising judge of the criminal courts, and Wesley, assistant supervising judge, for not authorizing over-time.
Ipsen urged that homicide charges be instituted against the two judges, according to testimony by District Attorney Steve Cooley at an Employee Relations Commission hearing.
It came out at the hearing that Ipsen’s ranch was, in essence, a junk yard with numerous old automobiles being maintained there, allegedly in violation of the zoning code, and that in 1995, Ipsen had tried to persuade his office to prosecute a man who had assaulted a friend of his on a felony charge, rather than for a misdemeanor.
HIS IS THE SAME IPSEN who committed gross misconduct in the course of successfully prosecuting two defendants, at separate trials, for a hatchet-killing. A 2005 California Supreme Court opinion recites:
“[T]he prosecutor, Ipsen, did not argue at either trial the version of the attack best supported by all the evidence. Instead, at each defendant’s trial he maintained the defendant on trial had inflicted all the chopping wounds.”
The high court found, in granting a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by one of the two convicted men, that substantial evidence supported a referee’s findings. This included the conclusion that Ipsen’s testimony that he did not deliberately use divergent theories at the two trials was false.
The 6-1 majority opinion quotes a law review article as observing: “In extreme cases, the prosecutorial inconsistency signals intentional manipulation by the prosecution and is readily characterized as a violation of due process.” The opinion remarks that “Ipsen’s deliberate omission of evidence for the purpose of making possible his use of inconsistent and irreconcilable theories” rendered the case an “extreme” one.
It accuses him of “bad faith” and “deliberate manipulation of the evidence.”
PSEN RAN FOR DA in 2008 and received only 15.54 per cent of the vote in a three-man primary. Cooley won easy election to a third term.
This, year, there are, so far six candidates. Cooley is not among them. Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is mulling a possible run, in contravention of a Nov. 24, 2008, pledge he signed not to seek another office during his term as city attorney.
Who, in the end, will be in the race and who won’t be is, of course, unknown.
What is known, well known—and reaffirmed by his stunt in jeopardizing a prosecution by publicly assailing it—is that Ipsen is woefully unqualified to be district attorney.
There are three credible candidates presently in the race. We have no choice, at this early stage, among Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson and Deputy District Attorney Mario Trujillo.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company