Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Bocanegra v. Jakubowski (Cal. Ct. App. - Oct. 27, 2015)

Boy, this isn't a good fact pattern.  Indeed, it's somewhat scary:

"On July 16, 2011, Palm Springs police officers conducted a traffic stop of a car that Bocanegra was driving. He was cooperative. He produced his driver’s license, showing his name as “Jose M. Gonzalezbocanegra.” The officers then arrested him on the theory that he was Jose Gonzalez (with no middle initial), the person named in an outstanding arrest warrant for a misdemeanor parole violation.

Bocanegra was booked into a Palm Springs holding facility, then transferred into and booked again at the Banning Sheriff’s Station, then transferred into and booked yet again at the Riverside County Jail, and finally transferred into and booked at the Los Angeles County Jail. He was repeatedly subjected to harmful and offensive touchings, in the form of painful and/or prolonged handcuffing. Throughout this process, Bocanegra protested that he was not the Jose Gonzalez named in the warrant, and that his driver’s license, social security number, fingerprints, and booking photos would prove this, but to no avail.

Jakubowski was a deputy district attorney for the County of Los Angeles. Starting on July 20, 2011, Jakubowski had the opportunity to free Bocanegra. Jakubowski had a file that included Bocanegra’s driver’s license, social security number, fingerprints, and booking photos, as well as fingerprints and booking photos of the person named in the warrant. Thus, Jakubowski was on notice that Bocanegra was wrongfully imprisoned, in that a reasonable person in his position would have inquired into the validity of the imprisonment. Meanwhile, Jakubowski did not promptly turn over these exculpatory items to Bocanegra’s defense counsel.

Bocanegra had a court date scheduled for July 21, 2011. His attorney was going to be there and could have secured his release. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies, however, did not let him attend the hearing. Bocanegra “vociferously complained” about this.

That night, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies placed Bocanegra in a cell with a violent sexual predator, who proceeded to forcibly sodomize him. These deputies were retaliating against Bocanegra for his complaints; they intended “that some unwanted sexual attack take place in the manner that it did.”

On July 25, 2011, Bocanegra finally had his first court appearance. Jakubowski was present; he argued to the court that Bocanegra was, in fact, the person named in the warrant and should not be released. The judge, however, examined Bocanegra’s booking photographs and fingerprints, realized he was not the person named in the warrant, and released him. The judge even apologized to Bocanegra from the bench."

If even half of those allegations are true, it sounds like a darn good complaint.

Not against the prosecutor, mind you.  Since, as the Court of Appeal says, "we will hold that Bocanegra adequately alleged that Jakubowski was liable for false imprisonment; we will also hold that statutory prosecutorial immunity (Gov. Code, § 821.6) did not apply to the false imprisonment claim. However, the demurrer had to be sustained based on common law prosecutorial immunity."

Still.  A very bad set of facts.