Book Review: “Rampart” Crossing the [Blue] Line

Sean Erenstoft Delivers a Biographic Delving Into Los Angeles’ Criminal Justice System Post-Rampart.

July 1, 2011  (edited on July 31, 2011)

Civil rights advocate, Sean Erenstoft has authored his first book, Rampart which details the scandal in which a cadre of anti-gang police officers in Los Angeles framed innocent individuals by planting evidence and committing perjury to obtain convictions. Stifled by an unwritten “code-of-silence” and a prosecutorial willingness to punish whistleblowers, Erenstoft outlines his harrowing tale of pushing back against a district attorney committed to undermining federal oversight and the federal consent decree which followed the Rampart scandal.

Few people understand the magnitude of the problems facing the Los Angeles justice system better than former prosecutor, Sean Erenstoft who left the L.A.D.A.’s office to handle police abuse matters and civil rights litigation.

Erenstoft’s story begins in March, 2000 after the L.A.P.D. issued a devastating report outlining wide-spread corruption in the Department. And whereas both police and prosecutors were complicit in seeking thousands of ill-gotten convictions, the U.S. Department of Justice only sued the L.A.P.D.  Civil rights advocates across the nation were outraged that the prosecutor’s office and its culture of evidence sequestration went unmolested.

Sean Erenstoft explores the dark efforts by the county’s elected prosecutor to undermine the criminal justice reforms set forth in the federal consent decree. Rampart reveals Steve Cooley’s written Special Directive that he secretly issued to his deputies advising them on how to avoid the obligation to turn over potentially exculpatory evidence to defendants. Rampart serves as an indictment and sets forth the continuing systematic due process violations and the concerted efforts by the L.A.D.A. to undermine the rule of law, Brady v. Maryland, and U.S. District Court Judge, Gary Feess’ court order.

Meanwhile, Erenstoft lobbies for greater protections for “whistleblowers” like himself who exposed the wrong-doing by L.A.’s top law enforcers. Erenstoft highlights the calls for structural changes that were promised but not realized after the federal oversight was prematurely truncated in 2009; and he repeats his calls for permanent oversight mechanisms to address the broader problems in the Los Angeles criminal justice system.

Rampart is being self-published by Sean Erenstoft and is due out in the Fall of 2011. Sean maintains a blog site at www.superiorcourtblog.com

 

*** On July 7, 2011, Erenstoft’s home was raided by the L.A.P.D. lead by a L.A.D.A. investigator who took possession of his personal files and the computer on which Rampart was contained.  Parts of the book were offered in court to suggest that Erenstoft “posed a danger” to the L.A.D.A.’s office.  Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, Stephen Marcus rejected the D.A.’s efforts to silence Erenstoft and stated that the missives offered to the court were protected by the 1st Amendment.  Efforts to retrieve the laptop are on-going.

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