Dean Martin Pritikin quoted on OC DA’s move to protect witnesses in death penalty case, October 16, 2015


Orange County prosecutors Thursday filed a motion demanding full redaction of personal identifying information of witnesses, victims and jailhouse informants in a lengthy legal document seeking to dismiss the death penalty for an accused double murderer.

Prosecutors have raised the issue in the case against Daniel Patrick Wozniak, who is seeking to have prosecutors thrown off the case and have the death penalty dismissed based on allegations of outrageous governmental misconduct in the use of jailhouse snitches.

The motion accuses Wozniak’s attorneys of exposing witnesses, victims and informants to danger by having their personal identifying information available in a 754-page motion with 26,000 pages of exhibits.

Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders defended the way the motion was filed on Aug. 26 in previous hearings, claiming he intended to file it under seal.

Whittier Law School professor Martin Pritikin said attorneys are required to file redacted and unredacted versions of a document when all or parts of it are to be considered for a seal. Only a judge can seal a document, so attorneys must also file a motion seeking to have it sealed.

“Until the motion is ruled on the public is not able to get access to it,” Pritikin said.

Murphy also argued that Sanders took some of the exhibits from the Dekraai case, which were ordered sealed by another judge, and filed them in unredacted form in the Wozniak motion.

Pritikin said an attorney cannot carry over an order to seal from one judge to another.

“It sounds like the unredacted versions of the documents were filed and for a brief period of time may have been publicly available,” Pritikin said. “And the better practice… is if you’re considering filing something under seal you should not make any unredacted version available to the public.”

Pritikin added “as a practical matter anyone getting access to these documents is probably very low.”

However, “as a theoretical matter” Marsy’s Law prevents the disclosure of “sensitive information,” Pritikin said.

“I understand why it happened the way it did — and the positions both parties have taken were reasonable at the time,” Pritikin said.

“And they promptly moved to remedy the problem. Now the haggling is over the scope of the redaction.”

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