Saturday, April 2, 2011

Riverside DA's Decision Not To File Charges In Lohan Battery Case - An Exit Strategy for LA District Attorney?


(Credit: Los Angeles Times)

The LA Times reports  'insufficient evidence' as the reason why Lindsay Lohan will not face battery charges arising from an incident at the Betty Ford Center where Lohan was receiving court-approved treatment. “We are not filing charges in the Lindsay Lohan case due to insufficient evidence," John Hall, a Riverside County district attorney spokesman said. “We have to believe we can prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

According to the LA Times, one reason why the evidence was 'insufficient' was that the testimony of the alleged victim, Dawn Holland, "was first thrown into doubt after she was paid by a tabloid media site for items related to her version of events."

It's rarely a good thing for the prosecution when an alleged victim sells their story to the tabloid press, and that certainly seems to have been a 'deal breaker' for the Riverside DA where Holland sold her story before charges were filed.

But in the case of Lohan's alleged theft of a necklace from a Venice jewelers, it appears that the alleged victim sold their story after theft charges were filed. According to ABC News, the jewelers recently received $35,000 from Entertainment Tonight and other celebrity news shows for video surveillance footage showing Lohan inside the store at the time the alleged theft occurred.

(Credit: Entertainment Tonight AP/ UK Daily Mail)
(Credit: Entertainment Tonight AP/ UK Daily Mail)

KGO AM810 Newstalk is reporting that a website is now offering the general public the chance to view the surveillance footage for $2.99.   The website, features video from the Venice Beach jewelry store Kamofie & Company, and promises new content every day so people can make up their own minds “about what really happened.”

The preliminary hearing for Lohan's alleged theft case is currently set for April 22, 2011, and if it should go forward as currently scheduled, it is likely that the defense will make efforts to call into question the motives of the alleged victim in an attempt to persuade the judge to dismiss the case.

The point may well be made that had Kamofie & Company sold their video before the Los Angeles DA's Office filed charges, Danette Meyers, the Deputy District Attorney prosecuting Lohan, would have declined to file charges for the same reason as the Riverside DA; insufficient evidence.

Of course, the standard of proof at a preliminary hearing is substantially different from that at a trial, and affirmative defenses are rarely successful. The judge could rule that while there may be issues regarding the victim's credibility and motives, those are questions for a jury to decide.

However, in this case, such a move by the defense may provide Meyers with an "exit strategy" from an embarrassing defeat at trial where a jury may feel that Lohan is the victim of the jewelry store's desire to promote themselves and profit; there can be little doubt that the value of their surveillance video shot up after the Los Angeles DA's Office filed theft charges.

Let's just hope that we don't start hearing comments like there was a "rush to judgment" in this case because it does look like Meyers was completely blindsided by the jewelry store's decision to sell the video.  Given the recent decision by the Riverside DA, there is little doubt that Meyers would not have approved of the sale, and most likely would not have filed charges had the jewelry store already sold their video.

While each case stands and falls on its own particular facts, the credibility of a victim/witness is always an critical factor. In view of all the above, it may well be that Lindsay Lohan's lawyers won't have to say or do anything. Meyers could simply say "The people are unable to proceed" when, on April 22, the judge asks both sides if they are ready.

In view of the the way the jewelry store has appeared to behave, few would criticize Meyers for reevaluating the sufficiency of the evidence.


Anonymous said...

Hey 'Windscale' aka David Berger who was fired from the City Attorney's Office for spending all day blogging and fundraising for Trutanich on the City's dime, and then had to beg Cooley to get his job back, why don't you keep your stinking opinions to yourself, or are you working for Lohan's defense team?

We don't need to hear from a loudmouthed cockney Brit about how to try cases, so take your opinion and shove it where the sun don't shine.

Anonymous said...

12:44pm aka ADDA troll, your answer to everything is to attack anyone who doesn't agree with you. Whoever 'Windscale' is, the points he or she makes are good. This case is falling apart day by day as the flakey people on both sides (Lohan and the jewelry store) undermine their credibility. Meyers should dismiss the case and let it go to Judge Judy's show where everyone can earn a dollar openly and people can see it for what it is - a massive publicity stunt.

Anonymous said...

Nobody's said anything but it's pretty obvious that Danette is benefitting from the publicity too. she is running for DA and this case is giving her a lot of coverage. She might not want to dismiss the case so soon.

Anonymous said...

If you watch the ABC news report, it shows Judge Schwartz saying "this case definitely involves jail time" but he said that BEFORE anyone knew that the so-called victim was profiteering from the case by selling the video. I wonder what he would say now?

Anonymous said...

12;44 is a moron.

Anonymous said...

If you look back at the history of debacles that have haunted the LA DA's office, there are of course a number of factors that have lead to those results. But to me, the most devastating is the failure of the law enforcement (especially the DA's Office) to lay everything on the table and view EVERYTHING with an open mind, as adults and professionals. This doesn't mean you don't support the case, it just means your being honest.

It's a relief this blog appears to have learned that lesson. It is profoundly disappointing that that posters like "12:44pm" haven't.

Anonymous said...

For me seeing the video would answer a lot of questions like did LL secretly hide the necklace in some way, did she walk out of the store real quick like she was trying to avoid being seen taking the necklace, and most important, what the the people in the store do. did they run out to get there necklace back. I clicked the link to the website and was going to pay the 2.99, but there was something about the website that I did not trust. like what garantee is that I could see the whole video. if you cant truts the video people how can you trust anything in this case.

Anonymous said...

2;06pm - I don't know Judge Schwartz but he seems like a decent judge who made a statement based on the fact that were known at the time.

That said, it was probably a mistake to say what he said. There's an admonition that he is supposed to read to the jury in every case, something like "do not form an opinion until all you have heard all the evidence and the case has been submitted to you."

I guess he would say he thought he had all the evidence, and how was he to know that the the victim was selling the video to celebrity shows?

It's a game changer in my book, and Danette should dump the case and go after the jewelry store for wasting the court and the DA's time.

Anonymous said...

Just because the store is selling the video doesn't mean she didn't do it. How many times did we see the video of OJ and his buddies heading in and out of that Vegas hotel.

One case does not make a prosecutor. Danette will be judged on her professionalism. And she's got Gil Garcetti's endorsement behind her. That's gotta be worth something.

Anonymous said...

8:51PM Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing Danette, and I agree she's a professional with a solid record.

I also agree that Lohan could have stolen the necklace, it's just that the way the victim has behaved now makes it look more likely that she did have permission to take the necklace and wear it for a while - that kind of thing goes on all the time with celebrities.

But the jewelry store, when they claim it was a theft, are basically saying that Lohan did not have permission to take the necklace. The way they have behaved in trying to profit from this incident makes this look less like a theft and more like a civil dispute about how long Lohan could wear the necklace.

It's all about credibility, and selling the video makes them look less credible when they say Lohan did not have permission - because if Lohan did have permission there's no story to sell.

The Riverside DA got it right in not charging Lohan because of the victim's conduct, and now that we know that the jeweler also did the same thing, the right thing to do would be to drop the case. I think we all know that, and it's no disrespect to Danette either, I'm sure she had no idea that the jeweler was going to sell the video or she would never had charged Lohan for exactly the same reason.

Anonymous said...

She either bought the jewelry or she didn't. If they were truly loaning it to her, she would've signed papers to that effect.

They don't just let celebrities walk out the door with expensive merchandise and tell them "Bring it back in a week."

After the last posters explanation this is starting to look like another celebrity case about to go south.

I think it will hurt Danette becasue this was the only thing keeping her name in the Press, and after all the media hype, the
D.A' s office will look like they didn't properly investigate this case.

Why didn't they take possession of the Master video as evidence?

Where's Steve Cooley in this whole mess? Or is he going to just let his Deputies take all the heat?

Anonymous said...

"the D.A' s office will look like they didn't properly investigate this case"
That's right, they didn't. It was LAPD's handle and they do the whole investigation.

"Why didn't they take possession of the Master video as evidence?"
I think that's LAPD's problem, but it's not that simple. This so-called theft wasn't reported for some time, so at first LAPD probably didn't think it was a crime. You know how it goes, the store waited a little too long to go to the cops, which makes it look like a business deal gone bad, rather than a crime.

"Where's Steve Cooley in this whole mess? Or is he going to just let his Deputies take all the heat?"
I'd say Cooley's between a rock and a hard place really. If he steps in and tells Danette to drop the case, then he'll be accused of ruining her campaign. If he doesn't step in, he's accused of not protecting Danette. A real no-win situation.

IMHO the way the store is now selling the video for $2.99 a view really means their testimony is tainted by self-promotion and greed. This case needs to go away, it's a cluster.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can blame not taking the video into custody on LAPD. Everyone knows that once the D.A. files charges, they're in charge.

Why don't you post a blog on the story out today about the Report that details 31 cases of prosecutorial misconduct in
Los Angeles County, in which prosecutors engaged in misconduct.

What are the candidates going to do to address all this corruption that appears to be running rampant in the D.A.'s office?

Anonymous said...

8:44am - LAPD/LADA got the master video from the store who said there were no copies. So how is it LAPD/LADA's fault if the store lied?

Anonymous said...

8:44 - the report about prosecutorial misconduct comes from, wait for it, the Innocence Project. Now, that's a fair and balanced source isn't it?

Why don't you ask Steve Ipsen about prosecutorial misconduct if it's such a big deal to you ADDA trolls? Didn't he have a little problem with arguing two different theories of gult to two different juries in a two defendant murder case a while back?

Ask him about how reliable the Innocence Project is, after all, he's going to run for DA as well, at least that's according to the pathetic anti-administration YouTube videos going around that he's probably behind.