TS - Police chief's wife feared he'd hurt her

Police chief's wife feared he'd hurt her

John Driscoll and Thadeus Greenson The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 04/25/2008 01:24:19 AM PDT

EUREKA -- Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen's wife testified at Gundersen's preliminary hearing Thursday that he threatened to “take her fishing” if she went to law enforcement with her allegations of rape.

”Did you think he was going to take you to catch some fish?” District Attorney Paul Gallegos asked Jane Doe 1.

”No,” she responded.

”What do you think he meant?” Gallegos asked.

”That he was going to take me fishing to hurt me,” Jane Doe 1 testified.

Gallegos continued Thursday to make his case to Humboldt County Superior Court Judge John Feeney that there is sufficient evidence for Gundersen to stand trial on 19 charges, including 12 counts of spousal rape, kidnapping a second victim with the intent to rape, violating a court order, dissuading a victim from reporting a crime, possessing a controlled substance without a prescription, and possessing a machine gun and a pistol with a silencer attached.

Gundersen pleaded not guilty to all counts and is being held on $1.25 million bail. The Blue Lake City Council recently voted to terminate his employment as chief of police effective May 5.

On Thursday, the fourth day of the preliminary hearing, Gallegos and Gundersen's attorney, Russell Clanton, continued questioning Jane Doe 1 and three investigators involved in the case.

Under cross examination, Jane Doe 1 testified that she never claimed to sheriff's department investigators that she didn't consent to sex with her husband on Feb. 7 -- the day before Gundersen's arrest. That's why she refused a sexual assault test the next day, she said.

Clanton thoroughly questioned Jane Doe 1 on whether she feared prosecution by the District Attorney's Office and if she had been promised any leniency in exchange for testifying. Investigators told her they believed she had committed multiple felonies, she said, but offered her no leniency in exchange for testifying in this case.

She maintained her testimony from the day before, that Gundersen had sex with her without her consent once a month in 2006 and 2007 while she was incapacitated by sleeping aids and/or other drugs. Clarifying her answer from Wednesday, Jane Doe 1 testified that while she had previously told Gundersen it was OK to have sex with her while she slept, she later told him to stop the practice.

She also testified that she “fears” her husband.

Gallegos also questioned Jane Doe 1 about a telephone conversation she had Wednesday night with Gundersen's brother, Gary Gundersen. He asked if she had assured Gary Gundersen that she was doing her best to help her husband, but she denied that was true. Clanton objected to the line of questioning, and it was stricken from the court record.

Jane Doe 1 also testified that she'd been called into a meeting with Gallegos and his investigator, Wayne Cox, on Wednesday afternoon. Clanton asked if they had “coached” her on responses to his questions, and Jane Doe 1 said she wouldn't use that term.

”They just said that I need to be more forthcoming -- not just simple yes or no. That I could elaborate on my answers,” she testified.

Gallegos and Cox hadn't made her any promises or threats with regard to her testimony in this case, she testified. They asked her to testify honestly and to be forthcoming, she said.

On the stand, Cox testified that he was part of the team that served a search warrant on Gundersen's McKinleyville home, which turned up 16 pill bottles prescribed to people other than residents of the home.

Other pill bottles at Gundersen's home were found in paper bags with Blue Lake Police Department evidence numbers on them, Cox testified.

Under cross examination, Cox testified the pill bottles were found in the master bathroom of Gundersen's home, which appeared to be used by both him and Jane Doe 1, who is a sergeant in the Blue Lake Police Department. Some were also found in a black bag in the bathroom, Cox testified, which also contained small baggies with pills and a bottle prescribed for Jane Doe 1. He also said Jane Doe 1 had informed investigators she was constructing a “drug kit” for educational and training purposes.

Gallegos showed Cox pictures of a submachine gun and a pistol with a silencer attached, and Cox confirmed the firearms had been seized from a gun safe in Gundersen's garage.

To buttress the charge that Gundersen had violated a court order, Gallegos called Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Detective Troy Garey to the stand. Garey testified that he served Gundersen with an emergency protective order while he was in custody that required him to refrain from any contact with Jane Doe 1.

Garey then testified that he monitored phone conversations made by Gundersen from jail, in which he told Jane Doe 1 to contact the District Attorney's Office to say she didn't want to testify and to ask that the charges against her husband be dropped.

The preliminary hearing is scheduled to continue Wednesday, when District Attorney's Office Chief Investigator Mike Hislop is expected to retake the stand.

Related coverage, with links

ER - Doe 1: ‘I don’t think I would have ever come forward’

Four witnesses testified today at David Gundersen’s preliminary hearing, where topics ranged from seized prescription drugs to what happened at the Eureka Police Department on March 26, 1999.

“Jane Doe 1” finished testimony today, clarifying why she didn’t report the alleged non-consensual sex by Gundersen.

Law enforcement also officials took the stand to talk about the results of a search warrant on Gundersen’s home and of contact between him and Doe 1 while in jail.

Gundersen, currently the police chief for the Blue Lake Police Department, may face trial on suspicion of 19 charges, including 12 counts of spousal rape with an intoxicant, one count of kidnapping to commit another crime and possession of a machine gun.

Gundersen is being held at the Humboldt County jail with a $1.25 million bail.

At the end of Wednesday’s session, Doe 1 made it clear that it was never her intention to press charges on Gundersen. She also said she “felt coerced” by the several people at Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office to make statements she would otherwise not have made during a seven-hour interview.

Doe 1 had fears about coming forward about alleged non-consensual sex that occurred while she and Gundersen dealt with marital problems, starting in late 2005.

“I don’t think I would have ever come forward,” she said, adding she didn’t want to be responsible for Gundersen losing his job, his kids and going to prison. She also didn’t want this in the press.

Because of their busy schedules, Doe 1 testified that she allowed Gundersen to have sex with her while she slept before they started having martial problems. At that point, she asked him to stop.

“He wasn’t being honest with me about some personal things,” she said.

Doe 1 testified that she feared for her safety when talking with HCSO, but her fears “became worse because of what was said to me during the interview.”

At one point, Doe 1 recalled being told that Gundersen would take her “fishing.”

Doe 1 said she interpreted it as “he was going to take me fishing and hurt me.”

During the second interview with investigators from the district attorney’s office, Doe 1 testified that they claimed she committed felonies that she hadn’t.

She said she feared prosecution and going to prison.

“You’d like to avoid going to prison wouldn’t you?” Gundersen’s attorney Russell Clanton said.

“Of course,” she said.

After the court excused Doe 1, Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos called three law enforcement officials to the stand for a variety of topics.

Investigator Wayne Cox of the district attorney’s office testified that 16 bottles of prescription drugs that were not in Gundersen or Doe 1’s name were found at their home after executing a search warrant.

Among them were drugs prescribed for Donna Chaffin, Ben Hoff and Elizabeth Pageant.

“There were so many bottles of pills seized,” Cox said.

On the topic of Chaffin, Cox testified that they investigated it further and found that when Chaffin died, Gundersen and Doe 1 were involved in a death investigation at her home. The pills disappeared from the home after that investigation.

HCSO Detective Troy Garey testified about contact between Gundersen and Doe 1 after an Emergency Protective Order was signed by Doe 1.

Doe 1 said in previous testimony that she didn’t realize what the order entailed until after she signed it, and wanted it reversed.

The order prohibited Gundersen from direct and third-party contact in any way with Doe 1, and is the source of two of the 19 charges against him.

Garey testified that on Feb. 9, Gundersen contacted Doe 1 and asked her not to testify and to contact Cox, Hislop and/or Gallegos to have the charges dropped.

Garey monitored phone conversations with Gundersen to make sure the EPO was enforced.

There were also three letters intercepted by Garey and jail staff in April.

Toward the end of the day, testimony by Chief DA Investigator Michael Hislop focused on why there wasn’t a report from EPD about Doe 2’s visit on March 26, 1999.

Hislop also located a private MySpace account under Gundersen’s name, called “Gundy Bros.,” which featured a picture of an assault rifle and “live, laugh … love, weapon systems/sales and services” on the main page.

Now, Lt. Len Johnson talked with Doe 2, according to court documents.

When interviewed by Hislop, Johnson vaguely recalled the encounter, but couldn’t remember specifics.

When asked what he would have done as a sergeant, Hislop, who was sergeant there at the time — testified that since it occurred outside EPD’s jurisdiction, he would file out a critical incident report and send it to EPD’s chief.

“I find it unusual that (Johnson) didn’t do that,” Hislop said of the strong allegations against a police chief.

Due to schedule conflicts, the hearing resumes April 29.

Doe 1: ‘I don’t think I would have ever come forward’
Karen Wilkinson contributed to this story.
By JOHN C. OSBORN , The Eureka Reporter
Published: Apr 24 2008, 10:38 PM

(For more coverage of David Gundersen’s hearing, along with more detailed testimony from witnesses, go to http://eurekareporter.com/article/080422-gundersens-hearing.)

Related coverage, with links


TS - Supreme Court won't reverse Palco case decision

The California Supreme Court has refused to hear Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos' major fraud case against the Pacific Lumber Co.

The court turned down the DA's request to review a scalding decision handed down in January by the California Court of Appeals' First District.

”Further, we conclude the state has failed to prove, on its third try, a reasonable possibility that the operative pleading's defect can be cured by amendment,” the three-judge panel wrote for the First District.

The Supreme Court ruled without comment. It also denied Gallegos' request that the First District decision be depublished, which would have prevented it from being a precedent-setting opinion.

The 2002 suit alleged that Palco secured a overly liberal long-term logging plan when it agreed to sell the 7,400-acre Headwaters Forest and other groves for $480 million. The company submitted false data on landslides in one watershed and didn't correct the record until the last minute -- which prompted the California Department of Forestry to adopt a less stringent logging strategy, the complaint held.

The suit was filed shortly before an effort was launched to recall Gallegos, a campaign that was largely funded by Palco. The recall failed.

Palco is now in bankruptcy.

”The trial court, the appellate court and now the California Supreme Court have all recognized this case to be more an exercise in spite and sloganeering than an action of any substance or legal merit,” said Palco Vice President and General Counsel Frank Bacik.

Gallegos did not return the Times-Standard's phone call by deadline.

Humboldt County Superior Court visiting Judge Richard Freeborn threw out an amended complaint in 2005, writing that Gallegos didn't prove that Palco had scammed the government to gain an advantage over a competitor.

The appellate court determined that Palco's lobbying efforts with the state during the 1999 Headwaters negotiations led CDF to drop a stricter logging plan and adopt a more liberal one.

The so-called Noerr-Pennington Doctrine protects anyone petitioning the government or government agencies against civil liability. That doctrine prevails unless the actions taken during lobbying are a “sham.” Since Palco's efforts weren't intended to affect a competitor's business relationship, the appellate court determined, it didn't meet the definition of a sham.

Palco's communications with the CDF during the Headwaters negotiations -- whether fraudulent or not -- are privileged under state unfair competition laws, the appeals ruling reads. California Environmental Quality Act proceedings at the time were the right means to ferret out any false evidence, the First District judges wrote.

Supreme Court won't reverse Palco case decision
John Driscoll The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 04/25/2008 01:15:42 AM PDT

ER - District Attorney Paul Gallegos' fraud lawsuit halted by California Supreme Court

Ending a five-year legal odyssey through the state’s court system, the California Supreme Court has refused to review Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos’ appeal of his fraud lawsuit against The Pacific Lumber Co.

The Supreme Court acted on Wednesday to deny the petition from Gallegos to review his appeal of the First District Court of Appeal’s ruling in January, which upheld a Humboldt County Superior Court ruling that tossed out his lawsuit.

The Supreme Court also denied his petition seeking depublication of the Appellate Court’s lengthy written ruling, which now becomes established case law.

With the high court’s ruling, Gallegos has no further ability to appeal.

Gallegos alleged in his original lawsuit filed in Humboldt County Superior Court in 2003 that PALCO intentionally committed fraud to increase timber harvesting when it manipulated reports during the environmental review phase of PALCO’s Sustained Yield Plan for the historic Headwaters Deal in 1999.

But in a 2005 decision, visiting Judge Richard Freeborn sustained a previous court ruling that Gallegos’ lawsuit had no legal basis and that PALCO’s submission of an allegedly erroneous report and the subsequent resubmission of corrected data were protected under California Civil Code “litigation privilege.”

Gallegos appealed Freeborn’s ruling to California’s First District Court of Appeals, which upheld the ruling that the fraud charges brought against PALCO under unfair competition laws weren’t legally sufficient to warrant a trial.

But going beyond just affirming the lower courts ruling, the appellate court justices published a rare and critical 23-page decision and opinion that stated Gallegos failed to prove that his case could be fixed to move forward and even if it did, the evidence presented “would not justify their prevailing at trial.”

Following that ruling, Gallegos held a news conference and adamantly defended his decision to pursue the lawsuit despite it being dismissed twice because the court found it had no legal merit.

Gallegos did not return a phone call to comment Thursday.

In a written statement Thursday, a PALCO official said Gallegos could not state a single valid legal claim even after the court gave him numerous opportunities to amend his complaint.

“The trial court, the appellate court and now the California Supreme Court have all recognized this case to be more an exercise in spite and sloganeering than an action of any substance or legal merit,” stated Frank Bacik, PALCO’s vice president and general counsel, who responded to the news in a statement Thursday.

“There’s nothing left now but to marvel at the truly irresponsible waste of public money, time and energy this case represents.”

District Attorney Paul Gallegos' fraud lawsuit halted by California Supreme Court
By NATHAN RUSHTON, The Eureka Reporter
Published: Apr 24 2008, 5:59 PM · Updated: Apr 25 2008, 12:31 AM

Last night Gallegos was on Channel 3 TV News saying that The Supreme Court didn't really reject his appeal, that they were just "too busy" to hear it. I'm not kidding.

McKP - Mintz on Code Enforcement

Capping a process that has been ongoing but was quickened by recent controversies, District Attorney Paul Gallegos has notified the county that he’s rescinded the deputy DA status of code enforcement officers.

Collaborations between the county’s two-man Code Enforcement Unit and police has triggered criticism and at a recent community meeting in Garberville and an April 8 Board of Supervisors hearing, it was loud and impassioned. Supervisors responded to it by ordering a 45-day stop to code inspections done under warrants, and Gallegos has informed the county he’s done something he says he’s been trying to do for awhile – remove code officers’ deputy DA status.

Members of the Code Enforcement Unit carry guns and have police authority under the deputization, which has been in place since 1994. The code unit operates as an arm of the County Counsel’s Office, however, not under Gallegos. It has become a conspicuous issue with dissatisfaction over the handling of recent warrant actions by code unit officers accompanied by Sheriff’s deputies.

At the April 4 Garberville meeting organized by the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project (CLMP), hundreds of residents vented and questioned a panel of law enforcers that included Gallegos and Jeff Conner, one of his deputies. Gallegos was pointedly asked about his office’s deputization of code officers, and he told a sometimes hostile crowd that it’s an arrangement he also has doubts about.

“It was suggested that since I do not have authority of the investigators, that I rescind my deputization authority. I said that was a fair request because I thought it was,” Gallegos said in an e-mail exchange. “Accordingly, after that meeting, I notified county counsel that I was rescinding my deputization of County Counsel’s Investigators.”

In an interview last week, Sheriff Gary Philp said he’s also concerned about how his deputies are supervised when they work with the code unit. The teaming of code officers and his deputies has become “more and more frequent,” he continued.

How Gallegos’s decision will be implemented is somewhat uncertain. Assistant County Administrative Officer Philip Smith Hanes said there has been internal discussion on it, but no resolution. “I believe where the issue was left is that (code officers) are just not going to carry guns under Paul’s authority until we get this straightened out,” he continued.

Gallegos said he has tried to change the way things are done and took action after a series of code unit/police encounters with residents of the Elk Ridge and Woods Ranch areas inflamed the issue. “There have been discussions about deputization being done by the Sheriff’s office instead of my office because if I am going to deputize them, I want them as my employees,” Gallegos said. “There was delay. Then there was delay. Then there were the incidents in Southern Humboldt.”

Gallegos explained why he took action. “I did not do because I believe they or anyone did anything wrong,” he said. “I am not in a position to say whether they did or did not. Nor should my action be seen as indicating that, if they became my employees, I would not deputize them to allow them to carry firearms. That would depend on the nature of their work and the need for such weapons. It was done because I felt I could not allow the arrangement which I perceived to be ill-conceived, at least as it related to my responsibility and authority, to continue any longer.”

Asked about the incidents people have complained about, he said, “I have done some cursory informal inquiries into some of the incidents but have not reviewed any report yet.”

County Counsel Wendy Chaitin was out of town and unavailable for comment. Members of the code unit have declined comment. Richard Hendry, a deputy county counsel and deputy DA who represents the county in code enforcement cases, said that he wasn’t at the Garberville meeting, but he did hear the public testimony at the April 8 supervisors hearing.

None of the departments involved were asked to respond to it, and Hendry questioned the accuracy of the portrayals. “I think there’s been misconception, to a great extent, on what happened and who was involved,” he said. “Some of the descriptions of what took place didn’t happen the way they were portrayed.”

The code unit’s actions and its cases are reviewed every month by an oversight committee made up of the county’s environmental health director, county counsel, the DA’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department and the chief building inspector. Hendry added that the code unit operates under a policies and procedures manual, whose contents have been under review for about a year. “We’ve been looking at it and thinking of ways to improve the program, and in light of recent public hearings, that’s something we need to continue to do,” he said.

Policy and procedure changes are likely to be recommended by the task force that will convene during the 45-day warrant inspection freeze. Made up of three members of CLMP, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jill Geist, Supervisors Roger Rodoni, the county’s administrative office and three “at large” members appointed by supervisors, the task force will be authorized at this week’s supervisors meeting. That action marks the start of the 45-day moratorium.

At the April 15 supervisors meeting, a previous approval of the moratorium was clarified as not being applicable to code inspections that are done under property owners’ consent. Roby Tenorio of CLMP told supervisors that the involvement of police – and guns – is the root of the controversy.

“Our main concern is the use of law enforcement and the lack coordinated supervision,” she said, adding that the situation opens “potential for a very, very serious problem.”

By Daniel Mintz
Press Staff Writer


ER - Jane Doe “felt coerced” into making statements

What a mess.

Testimony during David Gundersen’s preliminary hearing Wednesday revealed a different view on evidence that led to his arrest for spousal rape.

“Jane Doe 1” testified that she “felt coerced” by officials working in the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office into making a statement about non-consensual sex with Gundersen.

Testimony of “Jane Doe 2” concluded Wednesday and the issue of immunity agreements came before the court again when Judge John T. Feeney granted Doe 1 immunity.

Gundersen, currently the police chief for the Blue Lake Police Department, may face trial on suspicion of 19 charges, including 12 counts of spousal rape with an intoxicant, one count of kidnapping to commit another crime and possession of a machine gun.

The city of Blue Lake has announced it will terminate its contract with Gundersen on May 5.

Gundersen is being held at the Humboldt County jail with a $1.25 million bail.

At the end of Tuesday’s session, Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos questioned Doe 1 about nude photographs found on Gundersen’s computer hard drive taken without her consent while sleeping.

During examination, Doe 1 testified that Gundersen had non-consensual sex with her around once a month between 2005 and 2007.

She suspected that Gundersen had sex with her after she went to sleep, because she would wake up without her clothes on and would find semen in her genital area.

She testified that she used a light sleeping aid, Lunesta, to help fall asleep. She said she used it in the presence of her husband and would sometimes partially wake up to him having sex with her.

“I’d just be waiting for him to finish,” she said.

Before Gundersen’s arrest, she contacted HCSO because the two were having difficulties and she wanted to discuss a “proper police response” if something happened.

Jane 1 testified that she never filled out a report with the HCSO about the non-consensual sex, and felt “lured” by the HSCO to talk about it.

She said it was never her intention to have Gundersen prosecuted and the only reason she is testifying is because she is under subpoena by the District Attorney’s Office.

The meeting turned into a seven-hour interview with three officials from HCSO, she said, including Lt. Dave Morey, where Doe 1 testified they wanted to talk about the non-consensual sex, and that she felt coerced to do so.

Doe 1 also brought up Margaret Gundersen, David Gundersen’s former wife, who also works at the HCSO.

She felt Margaret Gundersen orchestrated the interview because of a custody battle she was engaged in with David Gundersen, and wanted the interview to end.

“I wasn’t comfortable,” Doe 1 said. “I wasn’t OK with it.”

Prior to their marital problems, Doe 1 testified that she allowed Gundersen to have sex with her if she was sleeping because an irregular work schedule caused difficulty in their sex life.

On the topic of photographs, Gundersen did take photos of her semi-nude but never completely nude, she testified. There were also videos of them engaging in sexual acts, but nothing graphic.

Asked if she confronted Gundersen about both the photographs and non-consensual sex, Doe 1 testified that he said “you’re my wife.” She also told him that the sex constituted rape.

Not long into Doe 1’s testimony, Gallegos asked her about firearms found in their home. After Doe 1 said she would plead the Fifth Amendment if asked about the firearms, Gallegos offered her immunity.

Gundersen’s attorney, Russell Clanton, objected to the use of immunity agreements during Tuesday’s session, and voiced similar concerns Wednesday.

An immunity agreement compels a witness to testify against other statements and not fear prosecution, he said.

Gallegos said immunity adds honesty since that fear of prosecution isn’t there.

“I believe the contrary,” Clanton replied.

Despite Clanton offering a case to argue his point, Judge Feeney said there was no evidence at this time to show that the witness is being compelled to testify a certain way.

Jane Doe 2 also finished her testimony, most of which revolved around her mental health prior to the alleged rape.

Doe 2 testified that her memory is “pretty much wiped” because of medication she took for post traumatic stress disorder following the alleged rape.

Prior to those events, she testified that she was admitted to the Sempervirens Psychiatric Health Facility in Eureka.

She added that she possibly may have been diagnosed with PTSD from a past relationship, but would have to look at records.

Gundersen’s hearing continues today.

(For more coverage of David Gundersen’s hearing, along with more detailed testimony from witnesses, go to http://eurekareporter.com/article/080422-gundersens-hearing.)

Jane Doe “felt coerced” into making statements
By JOHN C. OSBORN , The Eureka Reporter
Published: Apr 23 2008, 11:16 PM · Updated: Apr 24 2008, 12:08 AM

Complete Related Coverage, with links

ER - DA rescinds code enforcement officers’ police powers

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said he has rescinded the Code Enforcement Unit officers’ police powers granted under his authority, but county staff said the move doesn’t stick.

The county’s Code Enforcement Unit controversy has been broiling publicly since April 4 when the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project held a town hall meeting in Garberville to hear rural residents’ allegations of excessive police force to remedy building code violations.

While it is not directly in response to that meeting, Gallegos said Wednesday that he doesn’t want the “life-and-death” responsibility to deputize those officers who could shoot someone or may be shot if he has no authority over them.

“To ask me to deputize someone with those responsibilities and to have no oversight over them is wrong,” Gallegos said. “I refuse to participate in that.”

As he told hundreds of angry residents at the CLMP meeting, Gallegos said he’s been concerned for a long time about the arrangement he inherited when elected and has been in discussions for months with the County Counsel’s Office to find a solution.

Interim County Counsel Wendy Chaitin, whose office oversees the Code Enforcement Unit’s two armed officers, said Wednesday that Gallegos’ action isn’t so simple.

She and other county administrators don’t believe the officers’ police powers have been stripped because of Gallegos’ action to rescind his authority.

However, because the DA doesn’t want to participate in the current structure where he deputizes her employees, Chaitin said she voluntarily agreed last week to disarm Code Enforcement officers Jeff Conner and John Desadier while everything is being sorted out.

“We are all in discussions and are working on ways to best structure the unit,” Chaitin said.

Also in agreement that the DA’s action doesn’t rescind the officer’s deputized status is County Administrative Officer Loretta Nickolaus, who said she learned of Gallegos’ announcement in an e-mail circulated Wednesday.

Nickolaus said the DA can’t direct personnel actions for employees not under his control.

That’s not how Gallegos sees it and he said the intent of his action was to remove the Code Enforcement Unit officers’ weapons and badges under his authority, which he said he believes he’s effectively done.

Despite the apparent inter-department conflict, Gallegos said he supports Chaitin, the Code Enforcement Unit and the work they are trying to do, although he might not necessarily support everything they have done.

While he listened to residents’ complaints during the CLMP meeting, Gallegos said his reversal has nothing to do with the officers.

“I am not saying they have done anything wrong,” Gallegos said.

Code Enforcement Unit activity is under a limited 45-day moratorium and its officers cannot engage in actions where search warrants are needed.

The Board of Supervisors ordered the moratorium and directed a Code Enforcement Unit Task Force to be formed to investigate the unit’s use-of-force policies and procedures following a meeting April 8 where hundreds of residents turned out to repeat the concerns raised during the Garberville meeting the previous week.

Reached Wednesday in Redding, Board of Supervisors Chairperson Jill Geist said she was learning about the DA’s decision from media.

“To the best of my knowledge, there has been no formal request from the District Attorney’s Office to the board or the CAO’s Office regarding the code enforcement officers,” Geist said.

Geist said these were the issues she hoped would be the topics discussed by the task force, of which she and Supervisor Roger Rodoni are both members.

During their meeting Tuesday, the supervisors picked three at-large members to complete the nine-member task force, although no meetings have yet been held.

The code enforcement officers are moving forward with the more routine nuisance and cleanup abatement cases, which county officials say represent the majority of the code enforcement workload and don’t require armed officers.

All the county officials reached for this article agree the Code Enforcement Unit’s current cross-deputization structure between the DA and the County Counsel’s Office needs to be examined, which is expected to be done both internally and in the parallel process under the task force.

Just how the issue will be resolved is uncertain, but Gallegos offered his preference for where the code enforcement officers should end up.

Because the officers are armed and due to the nature of their work, Gallegos said he believes code enforcement might better fall under his direction.

“It’s a natural fit in this office,” Gallegos said.

If they were assigned to work under him as investigators, Gallegos said he would deputize them.

“But as it stands right now, the arrangement isn’t good for anyone,” Gallegos said.

DA rescinds code enforcement officers’ police powers
By NATHAN RUSHTON, The Eureka Reporter
Published: Apr 23 2008, 11:21 PM


TS - EPD reportedly didn't follow up on 1999 rape report

Jane Doe 2 testified Monday at Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen's preliminary hearing that she reported to the Eureka Police Department in 1999 that Gundersen raped her, but the department never followed up on the claims.

Under the questioning of District Attorney Paul Gallegos, Doe testified that Gundersen forcibly raped her in March 1999 while they were living together with plans of marrying. Doe said she reported the rape to both a local advocacy group and EPD.

Doe testified that she contacted EPD because she knew Gundersen's then wife worked at the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, which would have had jurisdiction over the alleged McKinleyville rape, and she consequently feared the department would not follow up on her report.

A Computer Aided Dispatch call record contained in Gundersen's court file, indicates that Doe called EPD at about 2:30 p.m. on March 26, 1999. Len Johnson, now a lieutenant with the department, spent about 45 minutes with Doe, according to the record, but did not file a report.

In testimony Monday, Doe said Johnson told her he would follow up on the matter.

”He said at the very least his chief would talk to then-Chief Gundersen, and they would investigate it,” Doe testified, adding that she never heard back from EPD on the matter.

A District Attorney's Office Investigation Report in Gundersen's file indicates that Chief Investigator Mike Hislop contacted Johnson and asked him about Doe's call.

”He reviewed the (Computer Aided Dispatch) report and could not recall any specifics or what (Doe) had contacted him about,” the report states.

Johnson declined to comment for this story, saying the subject is part of an ongoing case in which he expects to be subpoenaed to testify.

EPD reportedly didn't follow up on 1999 rape report
John Driscoll and Thadeus Greenson The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 04/22/2008 01:27:30 AM PDT

John Driscoll can be reached at 441-0504 or jdriscoll at times-standard.com and Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or tgreenson at times-standard.com.

Related coverage, with links

TS - 'Jane Doe 2' tells court of rape by Blue Lake chief

'Jane Doe 2' tells court of rape by Blue Lake chief

EUREKA -- District Attorney Paul Gallegos called an alleged rape victim to the stand in his case against Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen on Monday, asking her to reconstruct the alleged gun-point assault during the late 1990s.

The alleged victim, Jane Doe 2, testified at Gundersen's preliminary hearing in Superior Court that she and Gundersen were living together in McKinleyville and planning their wedding when she found out he was still legally married to his now-ex wife.

While they were arguing about it, she said, he grabbed her, pushed her into a back bedroom and attacked her, tearing her clothes.

Jane Doe 2 said she pleaded with Gundersen to close the door when she realized her son and Gundersen's two sons were watching and crying. He shut the door and then began raping her, she said. At one point Gundersen put his gun on the pillow or bedside table, which she testified she saw as a threat.

”I was fearful that he would use it on me and, or, the boys,” she said.

Jane Doe 2 said she filed a report with the Eureka Police Department, wary of reporting it to the Sheriff's Office where Gundersen's wife at the time worked. The department never followed up, she said.

Gundersen is accused of kidnapping the woman at gunpoint with intent to forcibly rape, which could carry a life sentence if he was found guilty. He's also accused of 12 counts of spousal rape against his current wife, Jane Doe 1 -- a sergeant at the Blue Lake Police Department -- as well as coercion of a witness and firearms charges.

The case landed in Judge John Feeney's court after being bumped from the first courtroom and encountering a potential conflict before a second judge Monday. Gundersen, who has been in jail since Feb. 8, appeared in a red jumpsuit used for inmates kept in an isolation unit. Gundersen was uncuffed at his attorney's request, but six bailiffs were on hand as testimony got under way.

When Jane Doe 1 was escorted into the courtroom to be ordered to appear today, DA investigators visually shielded her from Gundersen.

Jane Doe 2 testified she'd graduated from the police academy in the 1990s and worked for a time in Fort Bragg, then was fired from that job. She said that sometime in 1997 or 1998, she believed Gundersen -- then Trinidad police chief -- had offered her a job as an undercover officer. She said she went to the office one day to fill out paperwork, which she believed was the formal start of her employment.

It was, “As business-like as Trinidad ever gets, I suppose,” Jane Doe 2 said.

But she had difficulty recollecting when she was offered the Trinidad job, whether she was ever given a badge, how much she expected to be paid, or whether she'd told anyone she was employed at the department.

In an earlier interview with the Times-Standard, current Trinidad Police Chief Ken Thrailkill said he could find nothing to indicate that Jane Doe 2 ever worked for the department.

At some point, the two became romantically involved, she said.

When Gundersen's attorney Russell Clanton asked her if she'd ever been on assignment with Gundersen, she said she had.

But when Clanton asked her if she'd ever participated in an arrest while on one of those assignments, Jane Doe 2 said she would plead the Fifth Amendment. That prompted Feeney to stop the proceeding until a public defender could be summoned to counsel her.

As Feeney was about to order a break, Gallegos said that his office would offer use immunity to the alleged victim. Use immunity protects a witness from having their testimony used against them. Gallegos has also offered Jane Doe 1 use immunity in the case.

The hearing is set to continue today.

John Driscoll and Thadeus Greenson The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 04/22/2008 01:30:40 AM PDT

John Driscoll can be reached at 441-0504 or jdriscoll@times-standard.com Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or tgreenson at times-standard.com.

ER - Gundersen’s hearing

Below is ongoing coverage of testimony presented at the preliminary hearing for Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen. This log is meant to give readers more information about what witnesses are saying as the proceedings move forward.

The most recent testimony is at the top.

The Eureka Reporter will update the log after proceedings for the day are finished.

Day 1, Monday, April 21:
Witnesses: “Jane Doe No. 2”

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos called Jane Doe No. 2 to the stand and began asking her some background questions.

Jane Doe No. 2 said she first met Gundersen through some friends around December 1997.

“I was looking for law enforcement work,” she said. “He offered to train me.”

Gundersen was the police chief of the Trinidad Police Department at the time.

She testified Gundersen offered her employment. She was to do any undercover work where a person known to people living in Trinidad would be spotted.

She said she believed she was not only employed by the Trinidad Police Department, but was also a sworn peace officer.

She testified that she signed lots of paperwork for the Department of Justice and already owned her own weapon.

When asked how long she worked at the department, she testified that she worked there in 1998.

Although Jane Doe No. 2 couldn’t remember the date, she testified that at some point she and Gundersen started dating and eventually moved in together.

When asked if Gundersen ever forced her to have sex, she testified he did in March 1999.

It took place at their home in McKinleyville, she testified. The two were having an argument about his marital status in the living room.

Jane Doe No. 2 had become aware of the fact that Gundersen was still married even though they were planning to marry, she testified.

Gallegos asked if there were children in the house on a regular basis, to which Jane Doe No. 2 testified there were three.

She had a child around 8 or 9 years old at the time and Gundersen had two children – one around 3 years old and the other around 6 or 7 years old.

When asked where she and Gundersen placed their guns in the house, Jane Doe No. 2 testified they were kept either in the gun safe located in one of the closets (she couldn’t remember which) and Gundersen occasionally put a firearm on top of the fireplace mantle near the entrance to the home.

Gallegos asked if she was concerned about Gundersen carrying a weapon at the time of the argument, to which Jane Doe No. 2 testified she was because of the anger he exhibited.

At some point, she testified, Gundersen forced her into the bedroom by grabbing her upper arms and moving her backward toward the bed.

The three children watched from their bedroom doorway across the way, she testified.

When asked if it seemed forceful and if it hurt, she testified yes.

“What happened?” Gallegos asked.

“Along with the loud conversation we were having,” Jane Doe No. 2 said, “he proceeded to attack me,” adding that he tore up her clothes.

When she turned her head to the right, she testified, she saw the three children watching and crying.

“I asked him if he could please close the door so the kids didn’t have to watch,” she said.

When asked if Gundersen raped her, she testified yes.

Gundersen then took his gun out of its holster and placed it on a pillow or table beside the bed, where it entered her field of vision, she testified.

Gallegos apologized and asked how Gundersen raped her. She testified it was vaginal.

Gallegos asked if the presence of the gun added any more fear to the situation, to which she testified yes, adding she was fearful that Gundersen would use it on her and/or the children.

When asked if she moved out of the residence, she testified yes.

Jane Doe No. 2 testified she contacted either a rape crisis or domestic violence organization on the phone. She then went to the Eureka Police Department to make a report.

When asked why she didn’t go to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office to make the report, Jane Doe No. 2 testified that she didn’t know anybody there, but knew that Gundersen’s wife at the time worked there and was concerned that nobody would make a report.

At EPD, Jane Doe No. 2 testified she talked to a Sgt. Johnson, who told her that at the least their chief would talk to Gundersen, but said they would definitely investigate.

She testified that as far as she knew, nothing came of the report.

She also testified that Gundersen insisted that they go to counseling, but she didn’t want to talk with him.

When Gallegos asked if she authorized Gundersen to look her up on the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, which is used to check somebody’s background, Jane Doe No. 2 testified she didn’t.

Cross-examination of Jane Doe No. 2

Gundersen’s attorney, Russell Clanton, began his questioning by asking if Jane Doe No. 2 took any medications, to which she testified “hormones and whatnot.”

When asked for more information about her medications, she testified that she took something for panic attacks, as well as a pain reliever or muscle relaxer for neck problems.

When Clanton asked if she took any medication that morning, she testified she took an asthma pill and her hormones.

Clanton asked if she took a controlled substance or alcohol, to which she testified no.

“I’m just exhausted,” she said.

“Are you able to focus?” Clanton asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

Judge John T. Feeney told Jane Doe No. 2 that she could take a break if she needed it, but she said she didn’t need one.

Clanton asked Jane when she prepared her paperwork for the Department of Justice. She testified it was either before or after her first assignment.

She couldn’t remember what forms she signed, but said they were “standard forms.” She said she was a “newbie,” having worked for a short time in law enforcement in Fort Bragg, Calif., before being fired.

When Clanton asked why she was fired, Gallegos objected and asked for relevance. Clanton said the line of questioning might lead to something relevant. The objection was sustained.

When asked how long it was between her working in Fort Bragg and Trinidad, Jane Doe No. 2 testified that it was all a blur and wasn’t sure.

Clanton asked about how she came to meet Gundersen. Jane Doe No. 2 testified that friends she worked with in private security at the Bayshore Mall in Eureka introduced him to her.

When asked where they met, she testified at the mall.

Clanton asked her if she applied for the job. She testified that she had been filing paperwork for both the Trinidad Police Department and the Blue Lake Police Department.

She testified that she found out a position was available at Trinidad through Gundersen.

“The only thing I recall him saying is that they really need a second officer,” she said.

Jane Doe No. 2 was unsure if it was her first time at the TPD station when she talked to Gundersen about the job or whether there was anyone else in the room.

Clanton asked Jane Doe No. 2 to describe what the job entailed.

“I don’t recall him going into any great detail,” she said, adding that he wanted someone with a fresh face, somebody no one in Trinidad knew. She said the mayor at the time was aware of her working there.

Clanton asked if she knew her salary, which she didn’t, adding that as far as she knew, Gundersen was handling all of that.

Jane Doe No. 2 couldn’t recall how much time elapsed between working at the mall and the time she met with Gundersen at the TPD station. She also testified she couldn’t recall when they started dating.

At this point she was asked if she was OK, to which she replied, “It’s emotionally difficult.”

Clanton continued, asking her if she remembered the names of her friends at the mall. She testified that one guy’s name was Robert and someone’s name that started with a J. She said she had the names written down.

When Clanton asked if she gave the names to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, she wasn’t sure.

Clanton asked if she was offered the job.

“Yes, I believe I was,” she said, adding that the mayor gave approval for her to go undercover. “I could do things that an officer in uniform cannot.”

Jane Doe No. 2 testified her first assignment was the weekend of the fish fry in Trinidad in 1998.

She couldn’t recall how long it was between the time she became an officer and when she had her first assignment.

Jane Doe No. 2 testified that she wasn’t given a uniform.

“That was the point of the job,” she said.

She couldn’t recall if she was given a badge number. She didn’t get a gun, but did own one.

When asked if she told anyone about the job, she testified that she might have told her mother.

Clanton then asked if she ever went out with Gundersen on calls. She said she went out for minor things, usually in a vehicle. She testified that she didn’t wear a uniform, and couldn’t recall if she carried a gun.

When Clanton asked if she made any arrests with Gundersen, Jane Doe No. 2 pleaded the Fifth Amendment.
Feeney then asked if she had legal representation, and when Jane Doe No. 2 said she didn’t, he said he would contact the public defender’s office to appoint her an attorney.

Gallegos said that he would offer Jane Doe No. 2 use immunity for anything she might say on the stand, and have the paperwork ready today.

The hearing ended for the day and will continue with Jane Doe No. 2 in the morning.

Gundersen’s hearing
By JOHN C. OSBORN , The Eureka Reporter
Published: Apr 22 2008, 12:40 AM · Updated: Apr 22 2008, 12:41 AM

ER - First witness testifies at Gundersen’s hearing

The preliminary hearing for Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen began Monday – after being continued four times – marking the start of what could be a several-day process.

The hearing, scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m., didn’t see testimony until about 11 a.m. due to several courtroom changes and a request for a continuance by Gundersen’s attorney, Russell Clanton.

The first person to testify in the hearing was “Jane Doe No. 2,” who alleges that Gundersen raped her after forcing her into their bedroom in March 1999.

Preliminary hearings are held before a trial to weigh whether the evidence presented by the prosecution fits the charges against an individual and whether there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Gundersen may face trial on suspicion of 19 charges, including 12 counts of spousal rape with an intoxicant, one count of kidnapping to commit another crime and possession of a machine gun.

Gundersen is being held at the Humboldt County jail with a $1.25 million bail.

After the first courtroom change and the conclusion of another case, Gundersen – gray haired and wearing a red jumpsuit – entered the courtroom.

Clanton requested a continuance based on having received more evidence from the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office the day before.

That evidence included a recorded interview with Blue Lake City Manager Wiley Buck and a report of an inventory of evidence compiled by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

Clanton requested more time to discuss the new evidence with Gundersen.

“I don’t think this is too great of a request,” Clanton said during the hearing.

District Attorney Paul Gallegos argued against the continuance on the grounds that the additional evidence shouldn’t significantly increase the workload for the defense.

Buck’s recorded testimony pertained to both the possession of a machine gun and possession of a silencer charges, he said.

Gallegos also said that several witnesses were present and ready to testify, including “Jane Doe No. 1,” who was under a court order to appear.

Judge Dale A. Reinholtsen decided to take a brief recess before beginning testimony by both Jane Does.

After the recess, Reinholtsen said his presiding over the hearing might present a conflict of interest, since his brother is a member of the law firm representing Jane Doe No. 1.

“I wanted to raise that in the very beginning,” he said during the hearing.

During this announcement, Jane Doe No. 1 entered the courtroom surrounded by officials from the District Attorney’s Office, looked at Gundersen and let out several whimpers.

After moving to another courtroom presided over by Judge John T. Feeney, Gallegos called Jane Doe No. 2 to the stand.

Before testimony began, Feeney ordered Jane Doe No. 1 to return to court today, since there wasn’t enough time to put her on the stand Monday.

Gallegos began questioning Jane Doe No. 2, who testified that she met Gundersen in December 1997 through friends she worked with at a private security firm in the Bayshore Mall in Eureka.

She said Gundersen offered her an undercover job with the Trinidad Police Department, where he was chief at the time.

“I was looking for law enforcement work,” she said during the hearing. “He offered to train me.”

Jane Doe No. 2 said she then believed that she was an employee of the TPD.

Throughout the proceeding, Jane Doe No. 2 had problems recalling specifics like dates, her salary at the TPD and whether she was issued a badge.

Although Jane Doe No. 2 couldn’t remember the date that it occurred, she testified that at some point she and Gundersen started dating and eventually moved in together.

In March 1999, she testified, Gundersen forced her to have sex after an argument in their McKinleyville home about his marital status.

At the time, Gundersen was still married to his now ex-wife. Jane Doe No. 2 had just found out about that despite the two having made plans to get married.

Jane Doe No. 2 said that three children were in the house that night – her child and two of Gundersen’s children.

At some point, Jane Doe No. 2 testified, Gundersen grabbed her, forced her into the bedroom, tore up her clothes and raped her.

She said she reported the incident to the Eureka Police Department because she feared the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would do nothing – Gundersen’s ex-wife worked there at the time.

As far as she knew, she said, nothing happened regarding her report.

Toward the end of the hearing, Clanton asked Jane Doe No. 2 whether she made any arrests with Gundersen when she worked at the TPD. Jane Doe No. 2 pleaded the Fifth Amendment, which is invoked when someone doesn’t want to incriminate themselves.

After Feeney said he would appoint a public defender for Jane Doe No. 2, Gallegos offered her immunity for anything she might say on the stand and said he would bring paperwork to today’s hearing.

“That should enable her to testify,” he said.

After the proceeding, Gallegos said he didn’t know she was going to plead the Fifth, but added that it wasn’t unusual.

Gundersen’s hearing continues today at 8:30 a.m.

(For more detailed testimony from Gundersen’s ongoing preliminary hearing, go to The Eureka Reporter’s Web site at www.theeurekareporter.com.)

First witness testifies at Gundersen’s hearing
By JOHN C. OSBORN , The Eureka Reporter
Published: Apr 21 2008, 11:03 PM · Updated: Apr 22 2008, 12:01 AM


Eureka to study impacts of Waterfront Drive extension

Eureka to study impacts of Waterfront Drive extension


Nearly five years after it first floated the idea, the city of Eureka is beginning work in earnest on the controversial proposal to build a thoroughfare along the shore of Humboldt Bay between Old Town and the Bayshore Mall, while environmentalists are rallying to fight it.

City employees are preparing to do a study of the proposed road -- an extension of Waterfront Drive -- to determine its environmental impact. A meeting is scheduled Nov. 17 to lay the plans before the public.

Environmental Planner Lisa Shikany said last week that the city was looking at doing as broad a study as possible, in the hopes of identifying and mitigating environmental problems with the road extension, which is listed as one of the transportation priorities in the city General Plan.

"We have taken a very expansive approach to including everything we can in looking at the potential impacts," Shikany said. "We've left no stone unturned."

City traffic engineers believe that the road could significantly free up congested city streets, including the Highway 101 corridor. But opponents, including representatives from many local environmental organizations, are raising red flags about the road's potentially harmful effect on the city's revitalized waterfront -- particularly to the Palco (or Eureka) Marsh.

Representatives from the Northcoast Environmental Center, the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society recently wrote the city with a list of objections to what Jennifer Kalt, an EPIC consultant, recently called "that stupid road."

In particular, the organizations are concerned that the road, which will pass between the marsh and Humboldt Bay, will seriously harm concurrent city efforts to rehabilitate the marsh -- a saltwater wetlands area that Eureka acquired in 1985, thanks to a grant from the California Coastal Commission.

The groups charge that the exhaust and noise from an estimated 4,000 to 8,000 vehicles per day that the new Waterfront Drive is expected to carry will cause irreparable harm to the marsh wildlife and seriously detract from its value as a recreational facility.

Mike Buettner, founder of Humboldtwatch.org and a prominent activist when it comes to bay issues, said Monday that he believes the city is being shortsighted by going forward with the road, given the blossoming of commercial and recreational opportunities on the Eureka waterfront of late.

"I think the city has just begun to turn its face toward the bay," he said. "To put a divider between the people and the bay seems like an injustice. I don't know that this is the best solution, in light of all the compromises that will be made."

The California Coastal Conservancy, the agency which paid for the city's purchase of the marsh and provided funds for its long-delayed rehabilitation, has also expressed concerns that the road could violate the terms of its agreements with the city. Those agreements stipulate that the city must refrain from developing property it owns near the marsh if such development would "detract from the project's purposes."

"If extension of Waterfront Drive as proposed by the city were to interfere or inconvenience that Palco Marsh habitat or enhancement activities the Conservancy could be put in the position of having to evaluate its contractual, legal and equitable remedies," Conservancy Project Manager Moira McEnespy wrote in an Oct. 6 letter to the city.

Nevertheless, city staff members feel that the Waterfront Drive extension is the only feasible alternative to worsening traffic problems in Eureka. City Engineer Brent Siemer said last week that gridlock on the 101 corridor during peak hours is becoming an increasingly real threat. Frustrated drivers already detour into residential areas, Siemer said.

"We're getting neighborhoods having problems already," he said. "People are diverting all the way up at Herrick, people are trying Union -- they're all trying all different ways of avoiding 101 already. My thought is that Waterfront Drive gives us some time before 101 becomes a terrible problem."

The city's most recent documentation on the project -- a "notice of preparation" that lists details the plans to look at in its environmental study -- can be found online by going to www.eurekawebs.com/cityhall, then clicking on "City Departments," "Community Development" and "Waterfront Drive."

Shikany said that she hopes that the upcoming meeting will draw a wide cross-section of the community and that people will be encouraged to participate in the process. She reminded concerned residents that the process was still in its early stages.

"The workshop is an additional step that the city has chosen to take to bring the community Into the discussion," she said. "We want to make sure the community Is well informed as to what the project is and why were doing it -- and for the purposes of the EIR, to get input on substantive issues we should address. And we're certainly interested in hearing about potential solutions."

The workshop on the Waterfront Drive Extension Plan will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at Eureka's Wharfinger Building.

Polls and Ballots

The Weekly Wrap
BALLOT MORASS: "They told me a lizard was coming to town," said Elections Manager Lindsey McWilliams last week. "They didn't tell me it was going to be Godzilla." McWilliams and his crew remain swamped by a flood of last-minute absentee and provisional ballots from last week's election. The degree of chaos is such that on Tuesday, McWilliams didn't even have a rough guess as to how many ballots were left to be counted -- though he felt safe in saying that there were at least 5,000. McWilliams said that he hoped the final tally will be available before Thanksgiving. Until then, the outcome of several especially close contests will be left up in the air. Among them are the races for the city councils of Arcata, Rio Dell and Trinidad, the mayorship of Ferndale and representative for Division One of the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District.

FRAUD AT THE POLLS?: McWilliams added that he and his staff are looking into allegations of voter fraud at the polls last Tuesday. On that day, he and his staff received a call from Arcata resident Patrick Davis, who was told upon arriving at the polls that someone had already voted under his name. McWilliams went out to the site on election day and determined that someone else had indeed cast Davis' vote for him. McWilliams said that poll workers had a good description of the suspect and would soon forward all evidence to the district attorney for possible investigation and prosecution of a case of voter fraud. District Attorney Paul Gallegos said on Tuesday that his office, which would be responsible for prosecuting violation at the polls, was taking the allegations very seriously. "Certainly, taking someone's vote that's taking a big right away from someone," he said. "If we get credible evidence that can prove a violation, we will be prosecuting them."


If somebody ever looks back on this and conducts an investigation - there were rumors of large numbers of people moving into rentals in Fortuna - like 16 to a house - lived there for a week and left after the election. The kind of investigation it would take to look into this will likely never be conducted. What kind of indentification would be required if someone was a new voter - copies of water bills? Driver's Licenses? Nothing at all? I just don't know the answers. Nor do I know if the rumors have any paper trails to back them up.


TS - Team's mission: Ease young victims' trauma

Team's mission: Ease young victims' trauma

EUREKA -- It's clear upon entering the Child Abuse Services Team's K Street facility that this is a child-friendly place.

Primary colors abound. One wall hosts a shelf full of puzzles, stuffed animals and wood blocks. A middle-of-the-room child-size table beckons play. The receptionist's computer hides behind a lineup of colorful puppets, and a carpet with streets and city blocks covers the waiting-room floor. Plus, there are stuffed animals almost everywhere you look.

The business, however, is very serious for the adults and often more than a little nerve-wracking for the children involved.
On Friday, the Child Abuse Services Team (CAST) welcomed the community to an open house, and explained the interview process designed to gather necessary information but minimize further trauma to the young victims.

The multi-agency team works to set the victim at ease, informing the parents of the process and carefully recording the victim's interview -- all the while ensuring that the questions asked determine whether a legal case is appropriate.

Since its inception locally in 1996, CAST has interviewed 1,967 children -- an average of 16 a month. A total of 487 convictions for physical or sexual abuse of children have resulted.

The work begins when a young victim -- typically between the ages of 4 and 18 -- receives a law enforcement referral. CAST also has interviewed adults with developmental disabilities.

Prior to the interview, a member of the team explains the process and answers questions from the parents or the child, said CAST member and Department of Social Services social worker Jennifer Rose. “Most of the time, they come ready to go,” she said.

Typically, the interviews are scheduled within three or four days of initial contact with law enforcement, said Humboldt County District Attorney's Office Investigator Billy Honsal.

The interview room is equipped with a one-way mirror, allowing Honsal, Deputy District Attorney Kelly Neel, and a police officer from the referring agency observe from an adjoining room.

The room also includes all of the recording equipment to make a DVD of the interview, which is then turned over to the law enforcement agency and handled through strict rules of evidence, according to Donna Johnson, head of the CAST team.

Neel, who has worked with CAST full-time since last summer, is able to evaluate the case through observing the interview, identify the need for additional information and may be able to determine whether a criminal case is involved.

”Not every case that comes to the door ends up being a criminal prosecution,” she said.

The child being interviewed is told that observers are watching through the one-way mirror and that the interview is being recorded, Johnson said.

Each of the interviewers undergoes extensive training -- a minimum of 40 hours at the National Training Center in Huntsville, Ala. -- as well as more training on-site.

Among the CAST members is Jean LaPietra, who is fluent in Spanish and available for translation services, not only for Humboldt County but also Del Norte, Mendocino, Trinity and Siskiyou.

The first step is to make the victim feel comfortable through non-threatening questions. As the discussion progresses, Honsal can direct the process from the adjacent room, with specific questions that determine whether a crime has been committed or request more detail.

It's not an easy process for any of those involved, whether it's the child being questioned or the adult witnesses hearing the child's trauma.

”It's always hard to listen to what's happening to children,” Neel said. “But it's harder not to.”

Meanwhile, Deana Fewell, the District Attorney's Office's victim-witness representative, meets with the parents to explain the entire process. But her role as a member of CAST goes far beyond that.

She accompanies the child to any interview, acquaints the child with the courtroom, provides books and videos to explain the procedures and even sits with the child on the witness stand if necessary.

”Ideally, at its best,” said District Attorney Paul Gallegos, “it limits interaction with law enforcement and is a reliable way questions are asked.”

Jessie Faulkner/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 04/19/2008 01:24:09 AM PDT


ER - Molestation charges reduced

Molestation charges reduced

A church youth pastor and teacher’s aide was held over on lesser charges than were originally filed against him, a Humboldt County Superior Judge ruled Wednesday.

Andrew Brian Belant, who was 25 when he was arrested on felony charges of child molestation March 1, was held to answer on seven charges of child molestation. Belant, who worked at the Eureka First Presbyterian Church, Jacoby Creek Elementary School, Eureka’s Lafayette and Lincoln Elementary Schools and the Humboldt Child Care Council, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Judge Marilyn Miles reduced three counts of oral copulation, including one alleging Belant threatened to retaliate against the alleged victim, to lewd and lascivious acts upon a child younger than 14. She also said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to support a charge of forcible rape, as it didn’t occur on the date alleged in the complaint.

There is sufficient evidence to move forward on two counts of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child younger than 14, Miles said, but not enough evidence to support a similar charge alleged by a different victim.

Belant sat beside his attorney, Patrick Griego, in an orange jail jumpsuit and didn’t speak during the proceedings. He wore glasses, had short, balding hair and facial hair.

District Attorney Paul Gallegos said some of the children’s testimony regarding the charges of oral copulation were contradictory, and that he thinks the transcripts from the victims’ interviews may be inaccurate.

“The fault is on my shoulders,” he said, adding that the DA’s office recently switched to a different interview transcribing company that charged a less-expensive rate.

And though the oral copulation charges were reduced to charges of lewd and lascivious acts, the sentencing range for both are the same — three, six or eight years in prison.

“It really has no impact on what his prison sentence is likely to be,” Gallegos said.

The four male victims are between 9 and 13 years old and knew Belant through after-school programs and from his role as a junior youth pastor. Three witnesses from law enforcement testified, and parts of the children’s interviews were read and referenced in court.

District Attorney Investigator William Honsal, who served a search warrant on Belant’s home around the time of his arrest, testified that when he arrived, a program that erases software was running on one of two computers in Belant’s room.

Honsal said after conferring with another investigator with expertise in that area, he learned the program completely deletes the content of hard drives in emergency situations. Honsal photographed the screen before pulling the computer cord from the wall, he said.

Though the alleged victims didn’t testify in person during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing, they would have to if the case goes to trial, Gallegos said. Most cases are resolved before that point, he said, but at the same time “you always want to prepare for trial.”

Belant is scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment April 29.

By KAREN WILKINSON, The Eureka Reporter
Published: Apr 16 2008, 10:33 PM · Updated: Apr 16 2008, 11:52 PM

TS - Alleged child molestation case takes hit

TS Alleged child molestation case takes hit

Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Marilyn Miles held up charges of lewd behavior with a minor against accused child molester Andrew Belant Wednesday, but told the district attorney that the evidence didn't support felony charges of sexual assault on the dates outlined in the complaint.

The Humboldt County District Attorney's Office case against Belant didn't perfectly line up with testimony from the alleged victims outlined during the preliminary hearing, meaning prosecutors must try to rebolster some of their claims later.

Belant, 25, was a youth pastor at the Eureka First Presbyterian Church and an after school aide at Jacoby Creek School. He was arrested in March and charged with two counts of molesting a child under 14 years old, and was later charged with 15 additional counts stemming from alleged acts with a total of four children. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Miles said that District Attorney Paul Gallegos had evidence to hold up lesser charges of lewd and lascivious behavior -- but not the more serious felony charges. She threw out a second complaint of forcible rape against one of the alleged young male victims.

Miles made clear that she was making no finding on whether illicit behavior occurred on other dates. Statements made by four minors during previous interviews allege that repeated molestation did happen.

Belant was brought into the courtroom handcuffed and in an orange jumpsuit, was seated next to his attorney Patrik Griego, and then uncuffed. Humboldt County Sheriff's Deputy Ben Nord testified that he'd learned Belant had also been an aide at Lafayette Elementary School, where he met one alleged victim.

Nord said that the 11-year-old boy told the deputy in a March Child Abuse Services Team Interview that Belant had touched his genitals more than 10 times over an unspecified period of time, and also performed oral copulation on the alleged victim seven times. A second alleged 10-year-old victim from Lafayette, in another March interview, also told investigators that Belant had touched him inappropriately.

But under cross examination by Griego, and upon reviewing an interview transcript, Nord said the first victim never gave a specific time that the alleged oral copulation occurred.

”John Doe 2 was having a difficult time explaining these events,” Nord said.

Miles commented that the complaints she had before her didn't allege any crime occurred in 2007, as much of the evidence suggested, only in 2008. She stressed the importance of specific dates and events in her consideration of the complaints.

Humboldt County Sheriff's Detective Troy Garey, who arrested Belant, testified that another alleged 11-year-old victim had told him during a CAST interview that he'd been sexually abused twice by the man he'd gotten to know in his role as youth pastor.

”He said he was terrified, shocked,” Garey said.

Another boy told Garey in a separate interview that he'd been inappropriately touched by Belant more than 20 times, including at a movie theater and during overnight church-related trips.

But again, under questioning by Griego, Garey said that while his report said the boy had been orally copulated, the transcript of the interview did not contain that specific allegation.

DA Investigator William Honsal said that when a search warrant was served at Belant's house on March 1, investigators found a computer that was allegedly running a program to delete all material on the hard drive. Honsal said it was quickly shut down, but had already apparently performed five of seven sweeps over the disk, which may make any information extremely difficult to retrieve.

Outside the courtroom, Gallegos said that the case didn't align with the evidence presented Wednesday, possibly because of the inherent difficulty in compelling testimony from minors in sexual assault cases.

”That certainly requires me to go back to determine if there was a misrecollection of statements,” Gallegos said.
He said the prosecution will be allowed to present evidence to show crimes were committed on other dates.

John Driscoll/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 04/17/2008 01:24:09 AM PDT


TS - Home invasion reported in Garberville

Home invasion reported in Garberville

Humboldt County Sheriff's Office officials said today that an investigation is continuing into a reported home invasion robbery in Garberville.

The office said deputies responded at about 3:30 a.m. Monday to a residence on the 600 block of Fir Street, where the occupants said as many as three men forced their way into the house. The three residents said two men entered the house and at least one of the suspects had a handgun.

According to the residents, two suspects demanded money and threatened to kill them. One of the occupants was able to escape through a bedroom window and call 911, the Sheriff's Office said. The suspects reportedly bound the two others with duct tape and struck them in the face.

Before fleeing on foot, the suspects reportedly took a small, unknown amount of concentrated cannabis and loose marijuana, according to a release. Sheriff's deputies and CHP officers searched the area but were unable to locate the suspects, a release stated.

One suspect is described as a black male adult, with a “skinny” face, dressed in black, wearing a coat with a fur-lined hood. The second suspect is described as a black male adult with new white tennis shoes.

The victims believe there may have been a third suspect, but were unable to provide a description.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office at (707) 445-7251.

The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 04/15/2008 01:04:53 PM PDT


NCJ - What is a General Plan? Sept. 9, 2004

Planning Commission to choose growth model
County appears to shy away from sprawl
Planning Commission to choose growth model
County appears to shy away from sprawl

AFTER SEVERAL YEARS OF PREPARATION and months of lobbying from environmental and building interests, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is preparing to decide the shape of future development in unincorporated areas.

And despite heavy pressure from Humboldt Economic and Land Plan (HELP), a group made up of members of the building community, it appears that the county is moving away from the idea of significantly expanding residential construction into farmland or forests.

The board's upcoming choice among the county planning staff's "sketch plans" -- broad-stroke visions of the county's growth patterns over the coming 20 years -- will be a critical step in the county's general plan update. The choice will determine whether the county will focus on modest growth, largely confined to existing communities, or vast and rapid housing expansion designed for some 60,000 new residents.

At a meeting of the planning commission last Thursday, the county's Community Development Services director unveiled three new sketch plan options, all of which shied away from suburbanization of resource lands to one extent or another. Director Kirk Girard said that the public overwhelmingly endorses the idea that future growth should be accomplished through "infill" -- or denser development within already existing communities -- wherever possible.

"One of the major take-homes from this stage is that the alternatives that were on the table, which allowed for extension of water lines and rural residential subdivisions, were not supported by anybody," Girard said. "That finding was, in part, what led staff to overhaul the sketch plan alternatives."

The three new sketch plans, now called "A," "B," and "C" to distinguish them from their four numerical predecessors, all curtail the amount of development that can be done in rural regions. Plan A would essentially ban all residential building in areas not served by municipal water and sewer lines. It would likely involve "down-zoning" many properties in the outskirts of existing town, restricting existing landowners' rights to subdivide their parcels, while it would increase the allowable density of residences in already existing urban areas.

Sketch plan C meets one of HELP's goals in that it provides enough land to accommodate a growth rate of 2 percent per year -- 18,000 new homes over the next 20 years -- but it would tightly pack that large number of residences into a dense area in and around already existing communities. In short, it wouldn't seem to provide HELP advocates with anything close to the amount of raw land they have been demanding. (Plan B is a mid-point between the two extremes, but like plan A it is based on the state's official estimate of a 0.6 percent per year growth rate in Humboldt County.)

No members of HELP were available to comment on the new sketch plans when they were unveiled. The group's spokesperson, insurance agent Mike Harvey, was attending the Republican National Convention at the time. On Monday, Harvey said that the group would be meeting to discuss the new options over the coming days.

"We're in the process of regrouping a little bit with these things," he said, noting his preliminary approval of the fact that the county took HELP's preferred growth rate into consideration when developing the new sketch plan C. "We asked for a new sketch plan, which I guess they've kind of done."

In recent months, HELP has given public presentations, printed up full-color brochures and launched a Web site to present its message -- that the county needs to foster a friendlier business environment, and that the quickly rising cost of homes in the county can be tempered by opening up additional opportunities for residential development. In addition, the group commissioned a Portland, Ore., firm to conduct a poll of residents' attitudes toward development. The group says that the poll results back up their message.

Despite their apparent success in advocating infill, the Healthy Humboldt Coalition -- an organization comprised of the Humboldt Watershed Council, the local chapter of the Sierra Club and the Northcoast Environmental Center, along with support from allied groups such as the Alliance for Ethical Business -- is carefully watching the remainder of the process.

At last week's meeting of the Planning Commission, Mark Lovelace of the Humboldt Watershed Council expressed concern that the county would consider any expansion outside the boundaries of towns, which Healthy Humboldt believes is the most expensive, as well as the most environmentally unfriendly, option.

"We need to look at the fact that we can accommodate lots more within our existing areas," Lovelace told the commission. "Let's keep looking within our communities."

Healthy Humboldt's apparent success may be in part due to the fact that some groups not traditionally allied with the environmental movement -- the Humboldt County Farm Bureau, for example -- have also championed infill over expansion.

John LeBoyteaux, Farm Bureau vice president, told commissioners that agricultural interests believed in protecting agricultural lands from suburban-style development. He said new growth should be focused in areas that have municipal water and sewage systems available.

"The Farm Bureau has long advocated providing growth focused within and adjacent to existing serviced areas," he said.

Much work will still need to be done to flesh out the complete general plan after the supervisors pick a sketch plan alternative. It will likely take more than a year for county staff to finish the complete plan, develop a zoning ordinance to codify regulations envisioned by the plan and write and circulate and environmental impact report, which is required by law.

The Planning Commission is expected to pick its favorite among the new sketch plans at its regular meeting tonight (Sept. 9). The commission also is likely to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on additional "policy options" in the new general plan -- new regulations developed in tandem with the new general plan and designed to promote affordable housing, protect agricultural and timber land, support the Port of Humboldt Bay and address the export of county water, among other things.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hear the Planning Commission's recommendations and take further public comment at a special session Monday night. It may decide on the plan that evening or at a later meeting.

But both HELP and Healthy Humboldt are promising to stick around and follow the general planning process meticulously, even after the winning sketch plan is chosen.

Their mutually antagonistic advocacy may make mincemeat of Planning Commissioner Bruce Emad's hopeful words at the conclusion of last week's meeting.

"What we will come up with, at best, will disturb and make everyone unhappy -- within reason," Emad said. "Everyone will walk away and say `This is not what I want, this is not exactly what I had in mind.' But they won't be disturbed enough to come in here with pitchforks and throw tomatoes at the board."

Upcoming general plan hearings
Thursday, Sept. 9, 2004, 6 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 13, 2004, 6 p.m.
Both meetings will take place in the Supervisors' Chambers of the Humboldt County Courthouse, 825 5th St., Eureka.

What is a general plan?

One of the most important powers of cities and counties in California is broad control over land use within their jurisdictions. A general plan, often called a "constitution for development," is a state-mandated document, rewritten approximately every 20 years, in which local governments lay out their visions for their communities' future.

Humboldt County's general plan, which was last updated in 1984, covers all the land under county jurisdiction -- in other words, outside the limits of the county's seven incorporated cities, each of which has its own general plan. A little over half the county's population lives outside the cities, including residents of McKinleyville, Cutten, Willow Creek, Westhaven, Orick and Garberville/Redway.

General plans must address many issues in determining how to meet future needs of residents, including transportation, public safety, open space and even noise levels. Each of these topics, along with others that governments may wish to address, is covered by a separate chapter (or "element") in the plan.

The most important elements of a general plan, though -- the ones that set the pace for all other issues -- deal with land use and housing. The land use element of Humboldt County's plan defines what sorts of activities will be permitted on each parcel of land in the county's jurisdiction. Any piece of land may be designated for housing, industry, timber production or agriculture, for example, and owners of that parcel are subject to restrictions on what sort of development they may undertake on their properties. The land use element of the general plan is implemented through the county's zoning ordinance, which spells out those restrictions in detail.

The housing element of the general plan is subject to greater oversight by the state government than other elements of the plan and must be rewritten at least every five years. Local jurisdictions must demonstrate to the state government that they are adequately prepared for population growth.

If this test is not met, the state may reject a jurisdiction's housing element and send it back to the drawing board. The land use element of the general plan must set aside enough land for construction to meet the needs projected in the housing element. Humboldt County's last housing element update was passed in December of last year.

© Copyright 2004, North Coast Journal, Inc.


TS - Larry Wellman, Alderpoint Victim articles

Man involved in October shooting charged with homicide
Chris Durant The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 12/22/2007 01:25:37 AM PST

The man believed to be involved in the October shooting of Larry Ray Wellman, who died 10 days after the incident, was charged by the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office Friday with homicide.

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Department said James Franklin Harrison, 54, was already in custody at the Humboldt County Jail on unrelated warrants when he was charged.

Previous reports state that witnesses told investigators that Wellman, 57, repeatedly beat Harrison throughout the night of Oct. 13. For several days, officials were unsure of Wellman's identity, saying witnesses only knew him as “Tosh.”

About 4:30 a.m. Oct. 14, according to the Sheriff's Department, Harrison shot Wellman with a .22-caliber rifle.

Wellman was shot four times.

Both men were airlifted to a Redding Hospital for treatment of their injuries.

Wellman died at the hospital, Harrison was released a few days after the shooting.
The Sheriff's Department believes that Harrison will be arraigned on the charges Wednesday.

Chris Durant can be reached at 441-0506 or at cdurant@times-standard.com .

Alderpoint shooting victim dies
The Times-Standard Article Launched: 10/26/2007 01:15:17 AM PDT

Officials on Thursday said that the man shot multiple times at a house near Alderpoint on Oct. 14 died at a Redding hospital.

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Department said an autopsy for Larry Wellman, 57, is scheduled in Santa Rosa today. He died Wednesday night.

Investigators believe Wellman was shot four times with a .22-caliber rifle by James Franklin Harrison, 54, of Miranda.

Harrison was also hospitalized when he was found at the scene with injuries from being beaten a number of times.

He was released from the hospital last week.

”Witnesses stated that Wellman had assaulted Harrison several times during the night of Oct. 13.” stated a Sheriff Department press release.

The case has been sent to the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office where a decision on charges, if any, will be made.

No one has been arrested.

Man dies week after Alderpoint shooting
The Times-Standard Article Launched: 10/26/2007 01:15:56 AM PDT

The man shot multiple times after fighting with another man near Alderpoint has died, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department said Thursday.

Larry Ray Wellman, who was shot during an altercation on Oct. 14, died Wednesday at a Redding hospital where he had been since the shooting.

An autopsy is scheduled for today in Santa Rosa.

Sheriff's detectives have learned that James Franklin Harrison shot Wellman. Witnesses stated that Wellman had assaulted Harrison several times during the night of Oct. 13. Harrison was hospitalized for injuries suffered during the beating and later released.

No arrests have been made. The case will be forwarded to the District Attorney's Office to determine what, if any, charges will be filed.

Names released in Alderpoint shooting
The Times-Standard Article Launched: 10/23/2007 04:15:54 AM PDT

The name of the shooting victim in an Alderpoint altercation earlier this month and the alleged shooter were released Monday by the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department.

Larry Ray Wellman, 57, a transient was shot four times Oct. 14 and remains in critical condition in a Redding Hospital.

James Franklin Harrison, 54, of Miranda, was released from a Redding Hospital Friday, where he was treated for injuries from a severe beating.

The Sheriff's Department said witnesses stated Wellman repeatedly beat Harrison throughout the night of Oct. 13.

About 4:30 a.m., according to the Sheriff's Department, Harrison shot Wellman with a .22-caliber rifle.
The case has been sent to the District Attorney's Office where a decision on charges, if any, will be made.

TS - Gundersen's wife gets immunity

Gundersen's wife gets immunity

Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 04/11/2008 01:27:21 AM PDT

Statements made by Blue Lake Police Chief David Gundersen's wife during the District Attorney's Office investigation into allegations against her husband won't be used against her.

A court order filed April 7 states that the District Attorney's Office entered into an agreement of “use immunity” with Gundersen's wife, who the police chief stands accused of raping.

”It is hereby agreed by and between the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office and (Jane Doe), that statements made by (Jane Doe) to the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office as part of their investigation into the above case, and any information directly or indirectly derived from those statements shall not be used against her in any criminal case,” the order states.

It is the policy of the Times-Standard not to name victims in sexual assault cases.

Gundersen was arrested Feb. 8 and has since pleaded not guilty to 19 counts, including allegations of spousal rape, kidnapping a second victim for the purpose of committing forcible rape, possessing a submachine gun, possessing a pistol with a silencer and violating a court order.

He's being held in the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on $1.25 million bail.

The Blue Lake City Council voted in closed session Tuesday to terminate Gundersen's contract as police chief effective May 5.

The granting of use immunity to Gundersen's wife is the latest twist in a case that's seen several seemingly unusual turns.

Gundersen's wife initially made her allegations to Sheriff's and District Attorney's Office personnel Feb. 8, accusing her husband of repeatedly raping her over the course of a year while she was incapacitated. Later that same day, according to a District Attorney's Office Investigation Report, she called a Sheriff's Office detective and said the sex with Gundersen was consensual.

Shortly after the charges against Gundersen were announced, his attorney Russell Clanton called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and said Gundersen's wife wanted her husband released from jail, wasn't a victim and was prepared to testify on her husband's behalf.

At Gundersen's arraignment, District Attorney Paul Gallegos asked the judge to order Gundersen's wife to return for the preliminary hearing -- which has since been continued to today -- and later labeled her as a hostile witness.

This week, Gallegos said the immunity agreement doesn't necessarily change that label.

”What she told us was provided to the defense, and one would think she's going to be a cooperative witness, but you never know until you get to trial,” Gallegos said. “We never know until we actually hear the testimony of a witness. In a case like this, it's difficult, and it's evolutionary sometimes.”

Gallegos also said the use-immunity agreement only applies to the statements Gundersen's wife made during the investigation, and she maintains the option of invoking her Fifth Amendment rights on the stand. If she does so, Gallegos said it would be reasonable to assume his office would essentially attempt to enter into another use-immunity agreement with her that would cover her court testimony.

If Gundersen's wife is indeed still a hostile witness, and another immunity agreement is reached, that may make things more difficult for the defense, according to University of California Hastings College of Law professor David Levine.

”You could still end up being a hostile witness,” Levine said, adding that with another use immunity agreement, Gundersen's wife would give up her Fifth Amendment right. “Your choice at that point is to go ahead and testify or face contempt of court.”

There are two types of immunity recognized in California: Use and transactional. Transactional immunity is the highest form, and protects a witness from any prosecution for the offense involved, whereas use immunity simply means the witness' testimony won't be used against them.

”Use immunity does not mean we can't prosecute someone, it just means we don't prosecute them on what they told us,” Gallegos said.

Speaking in general terms and not about the Gundersen case, Gallegos said offering use immunity is a frequent practice with reluctant witnesses, and is often followed by polygraph tests.

”Essentially, we are seeking the truth and we want people to feel free to come in and talk to us,” Gallegos said.
The real question, Levine said, is why Gundersen's wife would feel the need for immunity.

An investigation report in Gundersen's case file mentions that “dozens of prescription pill bottles, some of which were issued to people other than Gundersen or 'Confidential Victim 1,' and some inscribed with Blue Lake Police Department case numbers” were seized from Gundersen's residence.

Levine said it's possible Gundersen's wife wanted immunity because of that or small indiscretions turned up during the investigation into her husband.

”(A lawyer) might be concerned that there could be some prosecution -- maybe failing a state law of integrity of evidence,” Levine said. “It just feels like something (a prosecutor) could give up pretty easily. Whatever concerns the lawyer for the wife might have, you could assuage them pretty easily with an offer of use immunity.”

Gundersen's wife's attorney, Patrik Griego, and Clanton were not immediately available for comment Thursday.

It's also possible, Levine said, there is something larger lurking under the surface that can't be pinned to Gundersen without the help of a witness somehow involved.

”Given that you are going to run up against a Fifth Amendment, this is their way around it,” Levine said. “At some point you get to the point where to crack into a group, you have to give something to somebody. So what do you do -- you give use immunity or you work with a plea bargain.”

But, with what is presently known about the case, Levine said the offer of immunity by the DA was likely just about easing the fears of Gundersen's wife.

”It seems to me it's more likely, with what little we know, that it's a small concession, not a big concession,” he said.

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