Saturday, August 08, 2009


I didn’t know of any other way to entitle this disgusting travesty of justice other than Fucked By The Feds! Here is the story by Bob Walsh, a regular contributor to PacoVilla's Corrections blog:

Not too subtle is it? I mean every syllable of it.

By Bob Walsh

PacoVilla’s Corrections blog
August 8, 2009

On May 9, 2002, nine Southern Hispanic inmates attacked an Officer and a Sergeant at Chino East facility. The officer was so badly hurt he was off work for almost a year. This was at a minimum a serious attempt to do great bodily harm to peace officers.

The nine inmates were gaffled up and kept in a tank at East from about 0730 until about 2200. All that time they were raw-jawing staff, insulting women who happened to walk by and in general being pains in the butt.

They were then transported in two separate loads on a van to Central facility for Ad Seg placement. Officer Rob McGowan was one of the officers at Central who received the nine. McGowan was in charge of exiting the inmates from the van. Since their paperwork did not come with them and the staff did not know who was who, the Ad Seg staff, including McGowan, handled all of the inmates with an appropriate level of caution and care.

Two of the inmates made formal complaints of brutality three hours AFTER they had been placed in the Ad Seg cells. They stated that approximately 24 staff members stomped them, beat them with batons and kicked them. This is all on the record. None of it happened and it was proven it didn't happen. Their statements were fully discredited. The San Bernardino County D. A. examined the case. The Department I. G. (Inspector General) examined the case. The A. G. examined the case. They all agreed there was no case.

Two members of the Office of Internal Affairs, for reasons of their own, took the material to the Feds. The Feds ran it by three or four different Grand Juries. (There is some difference of opinion on the exact number but either way Rob McGowan was never called to testify.) Finally, after the last Grand Jury, and with only about 80 days left on the statute of limitations, indictments were handed down against Officer McGowan and Sgt. Ramos for conspiracy and assault under color of law. Officer Flores was charged with conspiracy.

The case went to trial in October of 2007, in front of federal district judge Manuel Real. The trial took only a few days after which Judge Real had to travel back East for a judicial conference. Another judge handled the verdict. Sgt. Ramos and Officer Flores were found guilty of conspiracy. Officer McGowan was found guilty of conspiracy and assault under color of law.

Officer Flores originally stated that he saw Officer McGowan assault an inmate. Later (after the statute of limitations had run out on his case) Officer Flores said that as McGowan handed the inmate over to Flores, he (Flores) began to escort the inmate up the steps and the inmate got tangled up in his own leg irons. Flores then allowed the inmate to fall to the ground because he was angry with the inmate over the earlier attack on staff. Officer Flores then assisted the inmate to his feet and continued his escort. (It has been said that a religious conversion had something to do with Officer Flores' change of testimony.)

All nine of the inmates were escorted through the control sallyport by the control Sergeant and taken to Ad Seg. The Ad Seg Sergeant saw nothing noteworthy about the inmates at that time. The two inmates who claimed to have been beaten were photographed, three hours AFTER they were celled, promptly after they made their complaint. At that time one inmate was noted to have FRESH scratches on his forehead and the other was noted to have FRESH scratches on his face, which were still dripping blood. This apparently was the sole actual evidence to support the inmate's claims of brutality. To this day, none of the nine inmates has received any additional time for the original assault. If one had a suspicious mind, one might conclude that the inmates used a phony staff brutality complaint and minor, possibly self-inflicted wounds, to (successfully) avoid penalty for their vicious and unprovoked assault on staff.

In November of 2008 Judge Real was back in town. He threw out the charges in spite of the guilty verdict, stating that there was insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict. One of the inmates had admitted to hurting himself to get relocated from one facility to another. Judge Real upbraided the prosecutors, at some length and on the record, for even bringing the case to trial. Among other things, one of the alleged beating victims stated his assailant had been at both East and Central facilities that day and was a 5-7 150 # Hispanic or Italian officer. McGowan is a 6-5 300 # Mick and had never been to Central facility that entire day. Something of an I. D. problem, don't you think? Additionally, none of the defendants, including McGowan, had ever appeared before any of the Grand Juries involved, which makes it difficult to me to understand how they were supposed to have obstructed the Grand Jury.

Another somewhat odd thing is that the jury was not allowed to take notes during the trial.Conspiracy, especially at the federal level, is a complicated matter. There is a whole list of things, ALL of which must be present for the charge to be sustained. An actual checklist is commonly used for this sort of thing. Additionally, the jury was never at any time given written instructions. You therefore had a complex case with a somewhat inattentive jury (three members of which slept off and on during the trial) with the jury relying solely on their memory during deliberations.

On literally the last hour of the last possible day, the feds filed an appeal of Judge Real's ruling. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit, meeting in Pasadena, reinstated the conviction against McGowan (though not against the other staff). It is worth noting that, the 9th Circuit has, within the last year or so, overturned 5 out of 8 of Judge Real's rulings that came to it.

Judge Alex Kozinsky is the chief judge of the 9th Circuit. He is the one who made the news recently when he was formally admonished for, among other things, having a lot of rather bizarre pornography on his personal computer and web site. I should point out that bestiality is not illegal in California and looking at it is not a violation of the law. It is, however, interesting to note that the judicial panel that looked into this matter wrote that this situation "can reasonably be seen as having resulted in embarrassment to the institution of the federal judiciary." Judge Kozinsky has been a primary force in the actions to overturn Judge Real.

In any event that's where it sits. McGowan's lawyer has requested a hearing of the matter in front of the full 9th Circuit. If that is not granted, or is not successful, the matter will be returned to the trial court for sentencing unless a further appeal is made. It is also worth noting that Judge Kozinsky ordered that Judge Real NOT handle the sentencing, in violation of the courts own rules.

So we have an eleven-year officer with ZERO sustained complaints against him in all that time being railroaded, apparently over a personality dispute between the trial judge and the chief judge of the circuit. These are the people, by the way, who just ordered the Department to kick out 22% of it's clientele.

With luck, the full panel will acknowledge this travesty and hand out some actual justice here. If not, I hope Rob is successful in his further appeal. the fact of the matter is, THIS JUST AIN'T RIGHT. We have a good man and a good cop (who incidentally has a wife and two kids who are also being shafted by this idiocy) on the wrong end of a demonstrably bogus complaint. It's not slightly bogus, it's not a maybe yes / maybe no / there MIGHT be something here. It's just plain ludicrous. If it can happen to him, it can happen to you.

EDITOR'S NOTE: According to a correctional officer's comments at the end of Bob Walsh's post, it appears that after an extensive review and determination that nothing wrong had occurred, two Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) agents took confidential California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation documents to the U.S. Department of Justice. The justifiably pissed-off officer wrote, "what is happening to the OIA Agents? Is this part of OIA Policy that if you do not like the determination made you can take it upon yourself to further your cause by going to the FEDS?"

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