HUNTINGTON BEACH – Yesterday, the ACLU of Southern and Northern California published a comprehensive report titled “IN(JUSTICE) in ORANGE COUNTY: A Case for Change and Accountability.” The report studied the practices of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office finding a complete lack of transparency, severe racial disparities, absent police accountability, and the continued prioritization of low-level charges. A summary of the report can be found here.
“Transparency, equity, and accountability are integral to a functioning criminal justice system; their absence in Orange County under current District Attorney Todd Spitzer is frightening and detrimental to public safety,” said former Marine Judge Advocate Pete Hardin. “This report makes it clear that Todd Spitzer’s policies are making our communities less safe and exacerbating homelessness, all while failing to protect our most vulnerable communities from prejudice and injustice.”
“As DA Spitzer’s personal racism scandal widens, the ACLU report found that, ‘Black people were more likely to be charged with a crime, more likely to be charged with a felony, and more likely to be negatively impacted by discretionary charging practices related to wobblers, enhancements, and diversion than white people.’
“At a time when homicides have reached a 22-year high, hate crimes are skyrocketing, and other violent crimes are up double digits, DA Spitzer continues to prioritize low-level offenses that increase recidivism and lead to stark racial disparities. The racial disparities are especially concerning considering Spitzer’s record of racism including making unsolicited, derogatory comments about Black people when discussing high-profile cases with colleagues. Spitzer’s racism undermines public trust in our criminal justice system which reduces the likelihood that crimes will be reported to law enforcement. That presents a danger to us all.”
While Todd Spitzer ran on ending the “win-at-all-costs mentality” and ensuring the fair administration of justice, the ACLU report further found that, “All available evidence suggests that the office’s policies and practices have not shifted substantially under the current OCDA.” Furthermore, in contradiction to his campaign promises to clean up the practices that led to the informant scandal, DA Spitzer’s recent “cover up” of his racist remarks showcase his inability to turn over exculpatory evidence as required by the U.S. Constitution.
About Pete Hardin
Current Orange County District Attorney Republican Todd Spitzer’s tenure has been defined by scandal. Most recently, Spitzer made racist remarks when discussing whether or not to seek the death penalty against a Black man. Four women in Spitzer’s office have filed claims asserting Spitzer promoted an employee and close friend despite having been made aware of the sexual harassment complaints against him. Spitzer later allowed the employee, who was the best man at his wedding, to retire with top flight benefits. Spitzer also attempted to drop sexual assault charges against high-profile defendants, leading a judge to remove him from the case. Survivors of the sexual assault survivors were “dragged through the mud” and “grossly mistreated” by Spitzer for two and a half years, leading two of them to abandon their case.
Spitzer has been involved in an evidence booking scandal, a jailhouse informant scandal, and has defamed a victim of OC’s deadliest mass shooting as retaliation for peaceful protest. Spitzer has also defended a DNA collection program known informally as “Spit and Acquit” that coerces defendants to give up their DNA to law enforcement, a practice the ACLU has called “unconstitutional.”
Pete Hardin is a former Judge Advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps, Deputy District Attorney, Special Assistant United States Attorney, and one of Southern California’s leading litigators running for Orange County District Attorney. Pete entered public service when, in 2005, he earned his commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. A combat veteran, Pete served in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012 as a member of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. Pete is a member of the Democratic Party.
Orange County’s rapidly changing electorate has led Democrats to now outnumber Republicans in Orange County holding a 4.1% voter registration advantage.