Thursday, July 21, 2016

Attorneys: Fortuna Mom Standing by to Surrender in Fatal Hit and Run Case

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 8:56 PM

Just hours after the California Highway Patrol sent out a press release asking for the public’s assistance in locating a Fortuna woman named a person of interest in last week’s hit and run crash that left two teenage girls dead — including her own daughter — her attorneys sent a letter to the CHP maintaining that she is standing by, ready to surrender when asked.

“I am troubled by the nature of CHP’s continuing press releases that state that [Marcia] Kitchen is ‘in hiding’ and, especially now, that … CHP has asked for the public’s aid to find/contact her (and Josh Pearlston),” reads the letter, penned by local attorney Ben Okin on behalf of he and Patrik Griego. “This misinformation has the potential of misleading the public and unnecessarily endangering people. … We have consistently indicated that if you desired to arrest Ms. Kitchen … we would make her immediately available for arrest. I am also aware that you had in person contacts with Josh Pearlston just yesterday and chose not to detain or arrest him.”

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Arrest Video Can't be Kept Confidential, Appellate Court Rules

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 2:58 PM

The dash camera in a Eureka Police Department patrol car. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • The dash camera in a Eureka Police Department patrol car.

A Eureka police video depicting the arrest of a 14-year-old suspect can’t be considered a confidential personnel record and must be released to the public, an appellate court has ruled.

The court’s unanimous decision upholds a May 21, 2015 ruling by Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wilson, who granted a Journal petition seeking release of the video, finding the public’s interest in seeing the video outweighed any privacy concerns.

The city of Eureka, which objected to the video’s release, along with Humboldt County counsel, appealed Wilson’s ruling, arguing that he erred by not affording the video the protections granted to police officer personnel records. Because the Dec. 6, 2012 arrest led to a citizen complaint and was used as a part of an internal affairs investigation into one of the arresting officer’s conduct, the city argued the video was a part of the officer’s personnel file and should consequently be barred from release.

But in its 12-page ruling authored by Presiding Justice Barbara Jones, the court dismissed that argument, finding the video was not generated as a part of an internal affairs investigation or a record relating specifically to an officer’s advancement, appraisal or discipline.

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