This letter was addressed to the Surfside News with a copy to The Malibu Times
Please refer to your July 16, 1998, article regarding the City Council meeting on July 13 and City Attorney Christi Hogin’s request (which she had withdrawn prior to the meeting), in her role as the city’s prosecutor in criminal matters (as distinguished from her civil role), to the City Council for authorization to employ an “Outside Attorney to investigate the alleged Municipal Code (Election Law) Violations,” a misdemeanor under the law. The complaint alleging the violations was filed by former Councilperson Jennings before the election and not after he had lost it. Space limitations dictate that I address only a limited number of the statements and allegations in your article. My failure to comment on many other statements and allegations made by you is not to be construed as an acknowledgment that I believe they are factual or accurate.
Preliminarily, I note that you have labeled me as a “Jennings activist” which in the context of your letter is apparently calculated to question my objectivity. As you know, I have in the past also supported Walt Keller and many other successful (and unsuccessful) council candidates. However, my support for a candidate did not constitute a pledge of allegiance to and blind support for such candidate on every issue regardless of his/her stance nor has it deterred me from opposing his/her policies if I think they are wrong and not in the best interests of all the people of Malibu. If labeling is appropriate, shouldn’t you have labeled all of the speakers at the July 13 council meeting, who engaged in a frenzy of Hogin bashing? Weren’t they all Keller and/or Van Horn and/or Haase “activists” and/or contributors to (“activists”?) the “Road Worriers,” the organization reportedly accused of violating the campaign laws?
As to the remarks you attributed to Frank Angel, who, if I recall correctly, acknowledged a modest contribution to the “Road Worriers” and for whom I have a high regard as an environmental lawyer, that he “challenged the wonderland of the bizarre secret prosecutoral system set up here,” (apparently by Ms. Hogin because she refused to publicly disclose any information about the matter at this time), his colorful rhetoric and personal attacks on Ms. Hogin and her motives are reminiscent of the traditional ploy by trial lawyers to divert attention away from the absence of factual and legal support for their positions.
Since the July 13 meeting, I have received further information from several expert sources regarding the law and procedure followed by prosecutors in matters of this nature, which completely supports Ms. Hogin’s position, as mandated by the California Rules of Professional Conduct, that a prosecutor does not and should not publicly disclose to the accused parties, or anyone else, any information about a case under investigation, until such time as the prosecutor has completed his/her investigation and files some form of a formal accusation which has not occurred in this matter. To do otherwise, as one expert put it, could result “in a lot of dead potential witnesses, the disappearance of evidence, the tailoring of testimony and the possible detriment to the reputation of the accused parties if the prosecutor decided not to pursue the case.”
Frankly, after listening to the orchestrated personal attacks on Ms. Hogin by the Keller, Van Horn, Hasse and “Road Worrier” “activists,” notwithstanding my belief that Ms. Hogin, if she remained as the prosecutor, along with her associates, independent or otherwise, could and would do a first class professional job, I am more convinced than ever, if the people of Malibu and the accused parties are to have a fair and impartial hearing of the alleged violation and minimize complaints from all sides about conflict of interest, undue influence, whitewash, political pressure, council pressure, etc. (and here I agree with Councilperson Keller, who suggested it at the July 13 Council meeting), that the entire matter should, if at all possible, be turned over immediately to the L.A. County District Attorney’s office.
A. David Kagon