Another email surfaces in autopsies controversy

By From page A1 | April 11, 2014

FAIRFIELD — Suspicions by defense attorneys that the District Attorney’s Office might somehow have colluded with the doctor who performed most of the homicide autopsies for the Solano County Sheriff’s Office in recent years were ratcheted up Thursday by an email that was made public.

The brief email from Dr. Susan Hogan was sent to a deputy district attorney handling the case of Ryan J. Moore, who fatally shot Bettina Brown in 2012 at his Suisun City home. While the cause of Brown’s death was undisputed, the email, and the fact that it was never shared with Moore’s deputy public defender, spurred a request Thursday to throw out Moore’s second-degree murder conviction.

August, 22, 2013 – 12:34 p.m.

To: DDA Haroon Khan

From: Dr. Hogan

Subject: Public defender called

If it’s OK with you, I’m going to ignore?

The ignored public defender referenced in the email, Meenha Lee, told Judge Wendy G. Getty on Thursday morning she obtained the email the previous night, eight months after it was written, in response to a subpoena issued last month to county officials seeking all of Hogan’s emails to the District Attorney’s Office.

Getty put off any response to Lee’s request until May 12 when she may also rule on a request for a new jury trial, because during deliberations jurors talked about Moore not testifying. Lee said she wanted Khan to testify at that hearing about how he responded to Hogan’s email.

Two other emails from Hogan to prosecutors have already fueled a controversy about how the District Attorney’s Office has implemented a policy of sharing all information about pending criminal cases with defense attorneys as required by law.

One Hogan email from February 2013, kept secret by prosecutors for seven months, included a “just between you and me” admonition before saying she believed the rape and strangulation of 13-year-old Genelle Conway-Allen may have been an accident during consensual sex.

Another Hogan email in January 2014 said she had been fired by the Sheriff’s Office. Hogan later claimed she knew nothing about a months-long 2013 secret investigation into her competency after District Attorney Donald A. du Bain and Sheriff Thomas Ferrara met with their top staff. Defense attorneys in more than 30 homicide cases knew nothing about the questions concerning Hogan’s competency or her firing until a few months ago.

The subpoena for the Hogan emails was issued last month in the case of a Vallejo man standing trial on a murder charge for the suffocation death of his girlfriend in 2012. Before that trial got underway, several days of hearings took place to flesh out the details about Hogan, the District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Ferrara testified, as did two of du Bain’s chief deputies, Jeff Kauffman and Terry Ray.

Both Kauffman and Ray had been subpoenaed to testify Thursday at a hearing for Conway-Allen’s accused killer, Anthony L. Jones. That hearing was postponed by prosecutors, who filed a request with Judge E. Bradley Nelson, seeking a court order to block Kauffman and Ray from testifying.

Nelson postponed the hearing until after an April 23 hearing about the prosecution request.

Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.

Jess Sullivan

Jess has covered the criminal justice system in Solano County for several years. He was an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2003.

Discussion | 14 comments

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  • Rich GiddensApril 10, 2014 - 6:59 pm

    This has gone too far and the Federal Authorities in Washington must be notified if the US Attorney in Sacramento doesn't act and soon. ''Donald DuBain, you are under arrest for conspiracy to deny civil rights, you have the right to remain silent pending indictment by a federal grand jury''......

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  • The MisterApril 11, 2014 - 6:30 am

    Certainly sounds like collusion between Sheriff Ferrara's coroner and the DA's office to thwart justice. It's not just du Bain whose failures and corruption needs to be exposed... the Sheriff and his office are neck-deep in it as well.

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  • my2centsApril 11, 2014 - 7:44 am

    I say come election time "fire" everyone at the DA's office, the PDs, office, and the sheriff and clean house. The newly elected officials need to go in and get rid of staff that are more interested in their own political aspirations than in doing their jobs. (Then Jess Sullivan can actually report legal news and stop working on political campaigns)

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  • Rich GiddensApril 11, 2014 - 12:17 pm

    hahah---I would love to know who you are. Saying the evidence against DuBain and the Sheriff is "just political" is like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson playing the race card to defend Tawana Brawley or Mumia Jamal. In other words, you have no credibility because of the weight of the evidence against DuBain and the Sheriff. Next, you will be carping that this is all "yellow journalism": and finally "racism". You must work for the corrupt DA!

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  • Blind JusticeApril 11, 2014 - 8:22 am

    Why bag on Jess. He's not the one who is screwing up the justice system, the District Attorney is. Frankly, if this is the way the district attorney runs his office I think he should be disbarred. Not only is he interfering with the administration of justice, but he's costing the tax payers of this county a fortune, unneccesarily. If a person is guilty, let the evidence be presented and a jury decide. The only reason to hide evidence, cover up and fabricate is if the evidence points to a person's innocense, and that's scary. Then to have supervisors like Kauffman and Ray lie to protect the district attorney, that tells me their is more going on in that office then is actually being reported. Two top lawyers are willing to sacrifice thier credibility to protect their boss. Why would the pathologist want to ignore the defense attorney? just answer the questions honestly. The question is going to be asked in court anyway, why not expain it before court. And why would a prosecutr tell a pathologist to ignore a defense attorney, unless there is something to hide. And if there is something to hide, the accused may not be guilty. The evidence should tell the story and the witness should just explain the evidence, truthfully. It is not the job of the experts, the prosecutors or the police to tamper with the evidence so it proves only what they want it to prove because then it's no onger evidence!! For a detective to tell an expert what he thinks the evidence shows tells me there is no need for the expert, just have the detective testify.

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  • Really?April 11, 2014 - 8:47 am

    Blind justice- nowhere in that article does it say the prosecutor told Hogan to ignore the defense. I'm sue this article is lacking all the facts as usual with this reporter.

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  • MDSApril 11, 2014 - 6:34 pm

    If the defense has questions of witnesses for the prosecution who are government employees, then the defense attorney should ask those questions through the prosecution. There is no rule that says a defense attorney can't ask the questions directly of the government employee, but there also is no rule that says that employee must answer them. If a defense attorney was to call the detective on the case and try and ask questions, the detective would refer them to the prosecutor. Generally, no good can come out of talking to a defense attorney like this unless you make sure any conversation is recorded. They will twist your words all around if you agree to speak with them. Best only to speak with the defense attorney when it's on the record.

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  • MoveOnApril 11, 2014 - 8:25 am

    Wow. I can see why the defense attorney is upset. This email definitely proves the defendant is innocent. Come on. You know who needs to go. These judges who allow this nonsense to go on. Vote these judges out. This man was found guilty and now justice is being delayed because the defense attorney wasn't shown this. Unacceptable. This seems to be a common theme. When the defendant is guilty, blame the DA. What I see is this Hogan woman was clearly unprofessional and not very bright. I think the DA's office did this county a favor by asking for an investigation.

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  • Mr.RApril 11, 2014 - 9:43 am

    MoveOn,I hope that your not on trail someday and the D.A. hides evidence or even a simple e-mail.Has it ever accured to you that yes,these defendants could be guity but, of a lesser crime and the D.A. is trying to railroad them for his own political goals.

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  • Rich GiddensApril 11, 2014 - 12:13 pm

    Let's sum it up--DuBain and his thugs have 1) coached witness testimony 2) committed perjury on the stand endlessly 3) suborned perjury 4) withheld exculpatory evidence 5) withheld evidence until trial started 5) altered previously concluded scientific forensic findings ) met ex parte with judges and the sheriff without any defense attorney present. CALL THE US ATTORNEY AND THE FBI. FILE COMPLAINTS WITH THE STATE BAR AND CONFRONT LOCAL ELECTED REPS----THE SUPES AND FRASIER.

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  • CarmiApril 11, 2014 - 4:15 pm

    Really everyone?? Really? Look at the email again. Anyone that works for this county knows that the above quoted email is not county email format. That email was doctored up and altered to another's benefit. It is so ridiculous to assume a person's innocence is based on an email especially when it is said "the cause of Brown’s death was undisputed". The cause of death was a gun shot wound and that gun was shot by that defendant. The cause of death was not an email!

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  • RalphApril 11, 2014 - 4:15 pm

    "family members have came up to me who were hurt in the massacre, some didn't know I was hurting too."-

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  • Blind JusticeApril 11, 2014 - 4:19 pm

    Really : if the prosecutor authorized the conversation then the email wouldn't be an issue. That's just common sense. And think about it, why would she even have to ask unless it's their policy.

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  • MDSApril 11, 2014 - 6:28 pm

    This is the biggest NON-ISSUE of all these articles. This email is not part of the case and is not discoverable. The prosecutors communicate with witnesses all the time like this. This defense attorney is graspbing at straws and Jess Sullivan took the bait on this one.

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