Civil rights advocate and whistleblower, Sean Erenstoft exposed a secret special directive that was penned by Los Angeles’ thrice elected top prosecutor which outlined the D.A.’s effort to sequester evidence from defense attorneys.
The revelations about the existence of the document followed Erenstoft’s push-back against a deputy prosecutor who had denied his client access to alibi evidence uniquely in the prosecutor’s possession. The matter involved a mundane cyber-stalking case but Erenstoft’s client’s alibi would have denied the prosecutor convictions for the multiple-strike felonies she alleged.
Erenstoft’s strategy to obtain the evidence utilizing civil procedures ultimately prevailed and the bulk of the charges against his client were dismissed. However, during the process of inquiring about the concerted effort to deny him access to the evidence, Erenstoft was confidentially provided the L.A.D.A.’s special directive outlining the methodology in which deputy prosecutors subjectively determine not to reveal exculpatory evidence in violation of the landmark case of Brady v. Maryland.
Erenstoft would later obtain a copy of a second document “Special Directive 10-06” and reveal both documents to the California State Bar, California’s Attorney General and to the A.C.L.U. who later sued the D.A.’s office to enjoin future Brady violations.
Erenstoft’s efforts to call attention to the special directives were not overlooked by the D.A.’s office who proceeded to challenge his strategy to obtain the alibi evidence through civil procedures. Later, when determined to dismiss the D.A.’s S.L.A.P.P. suit against Erenstoft, Judge Stephen Marcus stated that “Erenstoft was doing his job until you people [the L.A.D.A.] took issue.”
Since the filing of the civil lawsuit against the L.A.D.A., the organization has been under scrutiny for its sequestration of potentially exonerating evidence and Brady violations.
Sean Erenstoft continues to advocate for transparency in the exchange of evidence possessed by prosecutors that may contain exculpatory material. Erenstoft also lobbies California legislators to chip away at the centuries old protections afforded to prosecutors known as “prosecutorial immunity.” The lawsuit filed pursuant to Erenstoft’s whistleblowing activities will help ensure that future generations of prosecutors are held to the obligations set forth in Brady.