Defendants’ Lost Voices
San Diego Reader
By Dorian Hargrove
May 26, 2010
On March 23, after deliberating for 40 minutes, a jury emerged from the jury room inside the courthouse in Vista. The 12 members had reached a verdict. As they filed into the jury box, the defendant, Michael Shields, stood beside his attorney, David Boertje. Shields’s heart pounded as the foreman announced the verdict: not guilty of assault with a deadly weapon. It was a quick and easy end to a long and difficult year.
It started on the evening of February 25, 2009, when Shields, a licensed mortgage broker and full-time college student, was driving his red Jeep Liberty southeast on Barnard Drive in Oceanside after attending guitar class at MiraCosta College.
...“I almost took the plea to avoid a very scary prison sentence,” said Shields. “I stuck to my guns against the advice of my parents and attorney. They all said the risk is too great. I knew I was innocent.”
Two days before the trial began, Boertje said, he received news from deputy district attorney Elisabeth Silva that a notation in an evidence log saying “audio CD” had been discovered. Silva told Boertje that she didn’t know what was on the audio CD.
“The recorded statement should have been something that was disclosed immediately,” Boertje said. “In the report, there was no mention of a recorded statement, no mention that they had the tape.”
“Before they released the recording, it was basically my word against the Oceanside police,” interjected Shields. “Who is the jury going to believe, the police officer or the ‘baby punching’ criminal?”
At 8:30 on the morning of March 15, the first day of the trial, Boertje went to the district attorney’s office, located one floor above the courtroom in the North County Regional Center, to listen to the audio CD. He confirmed that it was Shields’s missing statement. Silva asked Boertje if his client would like to reschedule the trial. He said no.
On the second day of trial, Officer Dominique took the stand. During cross-examination, Boertje asked him about the audio statement. Deputy district attorney Silva objected. The lawyers and judge met in a sidebar. Silva indicated that she was filing a motion to exclude the recorded statement from evidence.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Boertje. “I said, ‘First off, you didn’t give [the recorded statement] to me until yesterday, and now you don’t want the jury to hear what my client said right after the incident?’ There was no basis to exclude it.”
The judge allowed the statement to be used in court. A week later, Shields was exonerated.
“The judge in my case was completely outraged at the district attorney,” Shields wrote to the Reader on March 23, the day of his acquittal. “[He] scolded the District Attorney and asked her why the audio statement was disclosed the day of trial. [Silva] claimed that she ‘read the police officer the riot act.’… My audio statement was crucial evidence that proved I was innocent.”
Shields, however, is not the only person arrested in Oceanside whose recorded interview has disappeared...
...The cops, while not all bad guys, have tacit permission to conduct these phony arrests, perpetrate the most heinously violent brutality on innocent, law-abiding citizens, falsify police reports and tamper with evidence, and the DA's are corrupt as hell.
...Threatening the falsely accused victims with long jail sentences, and talking them out of their right to a fair trial is the terrorism the DAs use to put innocent people away and ruin their lives with criminal records that will never be allowed to be cleared, which is a Constitutional right.
Because this is big government at the highest levels, Woody Higdon's attempts to apply justice to the misconduct and corruption within the Oceanside Police Department via complaints to the FBI, etc., will also nowhere. Most complaints of this nature go nowhere, not even with the ACLU.
The ACLU will spend hundreds of thousands to defend someone whose Islamic religious rights are violated because someone looked at them sideways, but innocent people being grossly victimized every day are s*** out of luck.
What kills me is that the police had NO EVIDENCE against Mr. Shields, and yet he was going to be CONVICTED???