County citizen cries foul after the Orange County CA Grand Jury started an investigation into countywide code enforcement problems and alleged misconduct involving the Office of County Counsel only to quickly stop the investigation after alleged wrongful instruction and interference by the Office of County Counsel.
Orange County, CA (PRWEB) July 30, 2004 -- An Orange County CA man confronts
the County of Orange Board of Supervisors with accusations of alleged wrongful
interference and obstruction of a Grand Jury investigation looking into matters
involving County Counsel and the Office of Risk Management.
For over two years Andrew Brooks has been requesting that the County of Orange properly enforce provisions established by the 1974 Orange County Planning Commission to protect neighborhood environmental safety and highly valued Pacific Ocean/Catalina Island views enjoyed from his property and others on his block in the hills of North Tustin. In a 104 page, 4.5 million dollar lawsuit filed by Mr. Brooks on July 13, 2004, Mr. Brooks details how the County allegedly has failed to properly enforce codified ordinances, Environmental Impact Report mitigation measures and other land use agreements. The lawsuit also suggests that several departments within the County including County Counsel have been engaged in a campaign of misinterpreting facts and agreements to mislead elected officials and shield the County from liabilities. According to the lawsuit, liabilities include the County negligently allowing a single story home established as a height restricted property by the 1974 Planning Commission to be remodeled into a large, ocean view obstructing two-story just prior to the year 2000 purchase of Mr. Brooks’ hilltop property.
In addition to the lawsuit, Mr. Brooks sent a citizen concern letter to the newly seated 2004-2005 Orange County Grand Jury requesting that the Grand Jury look into County wide code enforcement problems and alleged County staff and department misconduct.
California is one of a few states in which a County Grand Jury is charged with the constitutional civil duty and powers to independently watchdog local government. At their sole discretion a California County Grand Jury is empowered to conduct investigations into any department of county or city government in order to monitor efficiency or explore matters of possible misconduct.
In a letter dated July 23, 2004 from the Orange County Grand Jury, Mr. Brooks received notification from the Jury that an investigation was started, however the letter also suggested that the investigation was abruptly stopped in a manner that Mr. Brooks believes was wrongfully influenced by County Counsel and the County Office of Risk Management. The letter signed by B. Lewis Avera, Jr., Foreperson for the 2004-2005 Orange County Grand Jury reads; “During our investigation of your request, the office of Risk Management and Orange County Counsel informed us that since your claim is now in litigation, the Grand Jury could no longer be involved in the process.”
On July 27, 2004, after researching California law governing the Grand Jury, Mr. Brooks confronted the Orange County Board of Supervisors during the Public Comment portion of the Board’s regular meeting with allegations that the County Office of Risk Management and County Counsel may have wrongfully directed and interfered with a Grand Jury investigation. After Mr. Brooks short presentation, Orange County Supervisor and Chairman of the Board Thomas Wilson inquired of County Counsel Benjamin P. de Mayo as to the allegations at which time County Counsel declined to publicly answer. Mr. Brooks states that there appears to be no legal restrictions on Grand Jury inquiries or investigations into County matters in the event the County was being sued for related issues as long as any Grand Jury investigation was fully independent of the civil action. He also says that the Grand Jury was fully aware of his lawsuit from the onset of their investigation. Mr. Brooks intends on pursuing the issue and make inquiries of the California State Bar and State Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s office regarding what laws or codes of conduct may have been violated.
In a related event, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6, Orange County Counsel has filed a motion to disqualify the Honorable David C. Velasquez in the Pro Se case of Andrew Brooks v. Charter Point Community Association, Inc. and County of Orange, Case #04CC00606, Superior Court of California, County of Orange. In the motion to disqualify Judge Velasquez, County Counsel claims Judge Velasquez is prejudiced against the County or the Office of County Counsel, or the interest of the County or of the Office of County Counsel and believes that the County cannot have a fair and impartial trial or hearing before Judge Velasquez.
A copy of the July 23, 2004 Grand Jury letter and the entire Brooks lawsuit with exhibits is being posted at the new citizen advocacy resource site of “Citizens For Responsible Open Government” – http://www.cfrog.org/
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Source : http://www.prweb.com/releases/2004/7/prweb145265.htm