San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón is adding three judges to the blue ribbon task force investigating bias within the San Francisco Police Department, the San Francisco Examiner reports. The task force was established in the wake of revelations about racist text messages exchanged by police officers, mishandling of evidence in the DNA lab, and allegations of sheriff's deputies forcing prisoners to engage in fights in the county jail.
The three judges, LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, Cruz Reynoso and Dickran Tevrizian, will be focused specifically on the text message inquiry. They will look at the 3,000 arrests made by the officers who exchanged the text messages to attempt to see whether bias on the part of the officers affected arrest decisions or resulted in wrongful convictions.
The judges will also “evaluate whether there is a culture of bias at the SFPD, and what the impact of such bias may be on prosecutions made by the District Attorney’s Office,” according to a statement from the DA's office.
At last week's San Francisco Justice Summit, Public Defender Jeff Adachi questioned whether the DA's office was able to investigate SFPD, given the close relationship between prosecutors and police.
[jump] The Examiner reports on the background of the three judges:
LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, a former Santa Clara County Superior Court judge and former Palo Alto City Council member, is currently San Jose’s independent police auditor. In 2011, she won the Defender of the Constitution award from the Santa Clara Valley chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. She was the first black woman to sit on the Superior Court in Northern California.
Former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He also sat on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and was a member of the Select Commission on Immigration and Human Rights.
Judge Dickran Tevrizian was a U.S. District Court judge for the Central District until he retired in 2007. Before that he was a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge. He was the first Armenian-American to serve as a federal judge and in 1999 was the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.