Sunday, April 26, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Prosecutor, county attorney differ in coroner accounts

By
From page A1 | March 15, 2014 |

VALLEJO — A top attorney for Solano County took the witness stand Friday and described a very different version of a brief 2013 conversation than the version testified to Wednesday by one of District Attorney Donald A. du Bain’s chief deputy prosecutors, Jeff Kauffman.

The contradictory accounts cast blame on each other for who is responsible for the current coroner controversy that affects dozens of homicide cases. Prosecutors blame county lawyers and county lawyers say du Bain and Kauffman dropped the ball.

A county attorney, Azniv “Azi” Darbinian, testified that du Bain called her Oct. 10, 2013, and wanted to meet with her to discuss a completed investigation into the competency of Dr. Susan Hogan, the doctor who since 2008 performed almost all autopsies for the Solano County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office.

Du Bain went to Darbinian’s office, where they set up a telephone conference call with Kauffman. The subject of the conversation was their effort to figure what details of the investigation would need to be shared with defense attorneys in upcoming homicide cases in order to comply with legal requirements commonly referred to as Brady law. The meeting came after Darbinian said she would be unable to attend a larger meeting covering the same subject scheduled for later in the day.

Kauffman testified Wednesday about the conversation. His description of the circumstances of the three-person conversation was the same as Darbinian’s. Their accounts part company when they testified about what was said.

Kauffman testified that du Bain asked Darbinian if there were any Brady issues they would need to share with defense lawyers. Darbinian told du Bain “No,” then du Bain asked her, “Are you sure?” and she said “Yes.” Du Bain then canceled the larger meeting, Kauffman testified.

Darbinian disputes Kauffman’s account.

“I never told them there were no Brady issues to disclose,” Darbinian testified.

Darbinian testified that du Bain said he was going to cancel the larger meeting and then told Kauffman, “I will let you and Azi work out the Brady issues.” Darbinian testified she received an email from du Bain later in the day confirming that she and Kauffman would work it out.

Darbinian testified that the next time she heard from Kauffman or du Bain on the subject was more than two months later when Kauffman sent her an email Jan. 14 to follow-up on the Brady issue after Hogan had sent a prosecutor an email saying she had been fired.

The Sheriff’s Office had previously portrayed Hogan’s departure as a retirement.

In another email, Kauffman asked whether Hogan’s contract had just not been renewed, which Darbinian responded to by saying Hogan had been a county employee.

Darbinian provided copies of the emails for the court.

The Daily Republic asked du Bain on Friday to share his recollection of the conference call.

“I would welcome the opportunity to comment on my recollection of events, but my ethical duties prevent me from commenting on evidence during the course of a court hearing that has not yet been concluded,” du Bain said in an email. “My emails related to those events would also constitute evidence and, therefore, may only be released during the course of the hearing itself while it is still in progress.”

The investigation into the competency of Hogan was prompted by complaints from du Bain and some of his top prosecutors. Du Bain, his three chief deputies, all the top prosecutors in their Vallejo office and several prosecutors in the Fairfield office knew for months about the Hogan situation and the months-long secret investigation. None of them told any defense attorneys what was going on.

Between the October teleconference and the January emails, a probable cause hearing took place for Michael Daniels, who is accused of suffocating his girlfriend in a Vallejo motel room.

Daniels’ defense team claims if they had known about Hogan being fired and the secret investigation, a judge would never have ordered Daniels to stand trial because the evidence points to the possibility the girlfriend had passed out after drinking heavily and before suffocating on her own vomit. Defense attorneys accuse prosecutors of hiding the details about Hogan, saying it amounts to outrageous conduct that should result in murder charges being thrown out.

Judge Daniel Healy last month ordered more than 1,000 pages of county documents about the investigation and termination of Hogan be made available to defense attorneys and prosecutors. Witness testimony about those documents and Hogan’s termination got underway Tuesday after Healy rejected a prosecution effort to have him removed from the case.

Before Darbinian testified Friday, prosecutors said they had renewed their effort to remove Healy by appealing his ruling with the Court of Appeal. Friday afternoon, the Court of Appeal ordered the hearing to be put on hold, asking defense attorneys to respond to the prosecution effort by Thursday.

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

Emails track lawyers’ exchange

On Oct. 10, 2013, District Attorney Donald A. du Bain sent Assistant County Counsel Azniv Darbinian an email which he copied to Undersheriff Gary Elliott Jr. and to his three chief deputies, Jeff Kauffman, Terry Ray and John Dougherty:

  • “In consulting with Azi and Jeff Kauffman, Chair of our Brady Committee, I have decided to cancel my request for a meeting. Instead, Jeff and Azi will work together to ensure that both our offices are complying with our Brady obligations with respect to Dr. Hogan. I will ask Monica to cancel the meeting via Outlook.”

On Jan. 14, 2014, Kauffman sent an email to Darbinian:

  • “Can you confirm for me (at least prior to the January 7, 2014 email from Dr. Hogan to Karen Jensen) that there was no Brady disclosure that needed to be made as a result of Dr. Hogan’s separation from the Sheriff’s Department?”

On Jan. 14, 2014, Darbinian responded to Kauffman:

  • “Jeff: We were evaluating the issue with regard to Dr. Hogan but had not yet made a determination. Please let me know if you would like to discuss further.”

On Jan. 14, 2014, Kauffman responded to Darbinian:

  • “Thanks for that. One more thing: If Dr. Hogan said that her contract was not renewed with the SO, would that be accurate?”

Jess Sullivan

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

Discussion | 24 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • RobertMarch 15, 2014 - 4:06 am

    Whenever a person tries to do the right thing, those whom stand to be exposed for their dishonest and public deception resort to the coward's way, "Let's get rid of Healy". Wow! you guys at the DA and Sheriff's Office should be ashamed of yourselves! You were entrusted to protect the rights of people that YOU WORK FOR, get it????????? The residents of this county are still your boss.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • LeonardMarch 15, 2014 - 5:39 am

    Let's not forget that the actions depicted in recent news articles should always be kept in perspective as the actions of a few and not all. There are many honest and hardworking people at the Sheriff's Office. It's important that their handwork and commitment to the community not be overlooked as a result of the actions of some "Clowns," who bring embarrassment and shame to their profession.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The MisterMarch 15, 2014 - 7:52 am

    You are right there, Leonard. I'll bet most of those honest and hardworking people at the SO would appreciate a new Sheriff who was also honest and hardworking. I'm voting for Tom Toler to give them that opportunity.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • oboogie2March 16, 2014 - 12:51 pm

    But if those honest hardworking members don't step up and call out the "bad apples" then they are every bit as much a part of the problem.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • DeniseMarch 15, 2014 - 4:21 am

    It wasn't me....It was them! The Warriors did it, oh no it was the one legged man with three arms. I love it! When a ship starts to sink(in this case a Fleet) the first ones to run are the "RATS"

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • LeonardMarch 15, 2014 - 4:27 am

    Being truthful and doing what is right is not always easy, but it is NEVER complicated!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Robin KeeneyMarch 15, 2014 - 7:43 am

    Leonard, that is profound. What a perfect time for an election!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • TaylorMarch 15, 2014 - 9:11 am

    Why is du Bain not being made to testify in this? He was apart of the "three person conversation" and should be made to testify as to his recollection of events. even if he takes the cowards way out by pleading the 5th that would speak volumes about him and his character. That's not a trait that I want in a leader. Sad to say that there probably are good people that work in these county offices. however, since the higher ups are crooks themselves I can imagine how hard it would be as an honest employee to do what's right when you are up against this type of leadership, or lack there of.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mike (Former SO Deputy)March 18, 2014 - 4:44 pm

    Leonard, doing the right thing and standing up for yourself at the SO, got me, slammed by Sgt's, Lt.'s, Capt.'s and pissed off the sheriff. I was injured and I am still waiting to get treatment after 8 knee surgeries. I was arrested on sham charges by a dirty investigator, who was found in a similar case to have lied, withheld evidence and threatened witness but is still allowed to work and investigate cases at the SO against other employees, he has found to have lied and withheld evidence in my case along with a SO Sgt who has been allowed to lie at my prelim, and the dda knew he did and did not say a thing. I have court transcripts, da investigators reports, past court documents that show he was the reason the case was dismissed. The county and the SO failed to report this brady issue to the county where my case is going on. The dda in my case is just saying she has problems with the witness from Solano SO and evidence but is still trying to go to trial and make an example of me. This same investigator is also the campaign manger for the sheriff as he runs for election. What an honest man that is handling the sheriffs campaign? Why has there been no mention of the FBI/AFT investigation into Solano SO on the missing class III firearms? Yes I still have ears at the SO that believe I was screwed. Solano County even held up my medical retirement for 12 months, the longest they can even after there doctor said I could not return to work in my present condition. I lost my house, had to file for bankruptcy, they treatment me well. I am still waiting for medical treatment so that I can hopefully be able to return to some sort of work.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • LeonardMarch 18, 2014 - 5:06 pm

    Mike, you know me and what I am all about. I fought long and hard and also met a similar fate. But to this day, I don't once regret doing the right thing and I would do it all over again!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • tiredofthisDAMarch 15, 2014 - 8:34 am

    Why is it that everyone in the DA's office is telling their version of what duBain said. Why not just put duBain on and let him explain what he said. It appears to me that if the meetings were secret that he never planned on sharing any of this stuff. duBain keeps passing the buck by hiding behind, "my ethical obligation". It's his ethics that are being called into question. When Mike Mullins was DA of Sonoma County, he was involved in a coroner contraversy involving Dr. Tom Gil. Then, Gil comes to Solano and when Mullins lost his bid for reelection due to the contraversy he too was hired by Solano County as a DA. When Gil's competency was called into question, again mums the word and Mullins was well aware of the Gil issues. When Gil was exposed they hired Hogan to review Gils work. Do all of those autopsys she reviewed need to be reopened? Why did they hire Hogan, was it because she too would do as they asked? Through the testimony of the current proceedings its quite obvious she concluded some deaths were homicides even though she didn't eel they were and she was "bullied" by the DA into making her findings. All spells corruption and duBain refuses to talk about it and hasn't publicly denied it. HE MUST GO!!! And now lets get rid of the judge for exposing us and not being a team player. Classy Don, real classy. Your a toad

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • DeniseMarch 15, 2014 - 9:00 am

    Don't think for a second that the Sheriff is not as culpable in all this. The more I read and the more I hear about these guys, the more and more I am reminded of an Austin Powers movie starring," Dr. Evil and Mini Me." You decide which is which......

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • DeniseMarch 15, 2014 - 9:20 am

    Hey Leonard, sorry for all that these people put you through. Unfortunately sometimes we just have to see things for ourselves. "Semper Fidelis"

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksMarch 15, 2014 - 9:25 am

    Denise, wow Austin Powers? Seriously? So that explains where the majority of support will come from if your candidate should appear on the ballot? Between you and those two Suisun City activist's support this issue is closed in my book! ;) Have a really great day everybody!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • robertMarch 15, 2014 - 10:39 am

    This is supposed to be an informative forum, I don't get why some people are taking this so personally. Stick to issues people, and by the way I also like Austin Powers.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich GiddensMarch 15, 2014 - 10:41 am

    I hope you're not referring to me CD. I'm just an ordinary citizen.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • George Guynn, JrMarch 15, 2014 - 12:02 pm

    Robert is correct that this blog should be about the issues. I am sorry that doesn't seem to work for you CD.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksMarch 15, 2014 - 12:35 pm

    GGJ, whose issues, yours or theirs? I am simply pointing out the obvious, and that is a glaring disadvantage for Mr. Toler. That's my opinion and that is how it will go.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • RobertMarch 15, 2014 - 1:26 pm

    Humm!!!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • reneeMarch 15, 2014 - 12:16 pm

    I agree with taylor, the complications atr coming from trying to cover some behinds, the truth is always simple

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • It's even worseMarch 15, 2014 - 10:30 pm

    This Brady thing is even worse than what is being reported. There have been officers placed on the Brady List for no reason at all, meaning those cases were not prosecuted. There have been officers who belong on the Brady List who haven't been put on the list, meaning their cases were prosecuted without scrutiny. "Gold Standard"?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • RobertMarch 16, 2014 - 4:23 am

    It"s even worse, you couldn't be more accurate in your assessment. I clearly recall a newspaper article some time ago which reference the opinion of an Administrative Law Judge. This Judge in a nutshell stated, that a certain Deputy Sgt. was being deceptive on the stand(I think that this is the same one who harassed Toler). Cutting through the chase, the Judge basically said, that the Sgt. was a liar! But of course, after some discussion over the subject matter between Dubain and the recently retired Sheriff they both concluded that this Sgt. met the "Gold Star" standard with flying colors.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • RobertMarch 16, 2014 - 6:55 am

    Sorry about that, I didn't have my reading glasses on. It says, "Gold Plated" standard. Now, that makes since.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • RichBIxMarch 17, 2014 - 1:31 pm

    Somebody's lying. Unfortunately one of those possibilities is from the county legal department. Lets see how this plays out. Seems the County Council has email to support her claim.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Children enjoy day of fishing at Fairfield pond

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Solano cities celebrate Earth Day

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Hard-fought battle ends in victory

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Those addictive, terrible, wonderful smartphones

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
Expo shows Kroc Center fun for whole Framily

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Police, faith groups look to change troubled neighborhoods

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Edibles in your landscape

By Daily Republic | From Page: C4

CHP offers free class for senior drivers

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

 
Supervisors consider changes in various county fees

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A4

Suisun police execute tobacco sting

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4

 
Covered California offers Solano enrollment events

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Patrons raise a glass to toast a good cause

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Walk MS hits stride along Suisun waterfront

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Weather for Sunday, April 26, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B6

 
Be wary of next ‘big’ thing

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

Pay close attention to investment costs

By Mark Sievers | From Page: B7

 
.

US / World

With legalization, lawyers turn to business of pot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Spring storm delivers late rain, snow to Northern California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Remains of dismembered newborn found in South Los Angeles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Starbucks stores reopen Saturday after computer glitch

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Nearly 17 million watch Jenner interview

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
‘Operation Babylift’ kids, soldiers reunite 40 years later

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Aden hit by coalition airstrikes amid fierce street battles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Mother in custody dispute freed after 8 years behind bars

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

A dozen arrested as Freddie Gray protests turn violent

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Italy marks 70th anniversary of anti-Nazi uprising

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

European authorities stop illegal horse meat network

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Italian navy rescues 274 from migrant ship off Libyan coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Army shutting down wounded warrior transition care units

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Warrior pose: Yoga catching on as therapy for veterans’ PTSD

By The Washington Post | From Page: B10

Toll climbs after powerful quake hits Nepal: Things to Know

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
.

Opinion

How can we give them more?

By Brian Thiemer | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Primary challenge could force Harris’ hand

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

Sound off for April 26, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Corruption tarnishes values of our ancestors

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Obama sides with enemy

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Who’s asleep at the switch?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in history: Sunday, April 26

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Brides show short wedding gowns more of the love

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Community Calendar: April 26, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Vatican goes on offensive to defend US-Spanish saint

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
You get what you need with Jesus

By Noel Reese | From Page: C3

 
How can I trust my husband after he texted a younger woman behind my back?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

Horoscope: April 26, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
Veterinarians are too expensive, and it puts pets at risk

By The Washington Post | From Page: C5

Old standby body-weight training still has moves

By The Washington Post | From Page: C7

 
Milan spiffs up for Expo 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: C7

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
More copies of Laura Ingalls Wilder memoir being printed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Amber Tamblyn writes book of poetry about dead actresses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Giants beat Rockies 5-4 in 11 innings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors complete sweep with 109-98 win over Pelicans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Athletics drop 3rd straight game, 9-3 to Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Rain postpones NASCAR race at Richmond until Sunday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Bulldogs get 10-0 baseball win over Panthers

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Canadian teen Henderson has 1-shot lead in LPGA Tour event

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Klitschko outpoints Jennings to defend heavyweight titles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Michael Schumacher’s son makes strong Formula 4 debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
US routs Canada 7-2 in semifinal at under-18 hockey worlds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Watford back in Premier League after 8-year absence

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Several Kentucky Derby hopefuls get workouts in before rain

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Levy falters at Volvo China Open; 4 tied for lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Former Expos executive Jim Fanning dies at 87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam team to lead Legends of Golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Compton, Day top leaderboard in rain-plagued Zurich Classic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Suzuki breaks Oh’s record for runs by a Japanese player

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
A’s place Ben Zobrist on disabled list with knee injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

7 players from Royals, White Sox punished by MLB for brawl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Hometown report: Bicycle racing, youth track

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Bowling report for April 26, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

 
Bayless’ layup at buzzer gives Bucks 92-90 win over Bulls

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

Nets beat Hawks 91-83, pull within 2-1 in series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
Grizzlies hold off a late Trail Blazers rally to go up 3-0

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Sports on TV for Sunday, April 26, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B5

 
This date in sports history for April 26

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Business

Veggies take center plate as healthy fast food chains expand

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
What’s in a hotel name? Guests try to decipher the mystery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Is ice cream safe? Federal health officials say yes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
 
Don’t panic, college seniors: Jobs for grads likely to grow

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

Elizabeth Cepeda

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Janis Ruth (Sefzik) Skinner

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Nicole Herdia Spann

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Reginald Morris Davis

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Kirk Noonan

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Sandra King

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics