Saturday, December 8, 2018
[Sutter County] Sutter County DA's Office seeks rejection to grand jury subpoena
The Sutter County District Attorney’s Office is seeking court rejection of an attorney’s subpoena on the county counsel for information connected to the unpublished 2017-18 Sutter County Grand Jury report.
A court appearance Wednesday to decide on the motion was continued to Dec. 19.
Private defense attorney Jesse Santana served the subpoena for production of evidence on Sutter County Counsel Jean Jordan Nov. 8, requesting she attend the Wednesday hearing and supply 56 items, including “any and all” emails, voicemails, text messages or writing to and from Jordan and District Attorney Amanda Hopper pertaining to the grand jury report, court documents show.
The report prepared by the 2017-18 grand jury was withheld from publication, though advanced copies went to some offices. The 17 grand jurors resigned in protest in June, stating they were “prevented from fulfilling our duty as watchdog for Sutter County,” in a letter to Superior Court Judges Brian Aronson and Sarah Heckman.
In October, Santana filed a petition with the Appellate Court, requesting Judge David Ashby conduct a private review of the report and provide Santana with any “Brady” material – which refers to the 1963 Brady v. Maryland court case which established that prosecutors must turn over to defense teams all evidence that may exonerate the defendant.
In the petition, Santana wrote that he believes the report contains information that would exonerate or provide evidence that would cast doubt on the criminal charges against his client, Danelle Stylos. She is the former Sutter County Development Services director who was arrested in March 2017 on suspicion of perjury, voter fraud, petty theft and filing false information on a concealed carry permit.
In August, Ashby denied Santana’s two motions seeking the unpublished report. The state Attorney General’s Office recommended that the Third Appellate District Court of Appeal reject the petition.
On Nov. 20, the District Attorney’s Office submitted a motion to quash the subpoena served on Jordan on the grounds that it “lacks good cause, plausible justification, specificity and violated legitimate governmental interest.” It argued that any information contained in the report was absolutely privileged with disclosure prohibited by state statute. It also called the subpoena an “unreasonable search of a private party’s phone without justification.”
“This is the defendant’s third attempt to access information which may be contained in the report. The defendant has been denied access to the report from the Sutter County Superior Court as well as the Court of Appeals,” the District Attorney’s Office motion reads. “The defendant now seeks to access information contained in the report through the backdoor under the guise of an (subpoena duces tecum) regarding communication to and from Ms. Jordan and DA Hopper.”
Santana submitted an opposition to the motion to quash on Nov. 26 arguing that the information he seeks is relevant and includes Brady evidence.
Jordan declined to comment on pending litigation. Deputy District Attorney Adam McBride and Santana did not respond to a request for comment.
December 6, 2018
By Rachel Rosenbaum