Sheriff Alex Villanueva will have to appear before the Office of Inspector General and answer questions about deputy gangs while under oath and with his testimony transcribed by a court reporter, a judge ruled Monday.
“He should testify under oath and I’m ordering him to do so,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Malcolm Mackey said in denying a motion by Villanueva’s attorney, Linda C. Miller Savitt, to quash the subpoena.
Savitt argued the sheriff has always been willing to voluntarily appear before the OIG, but was challenging the magnitude of the OIG’s subpoena power. Savitt said Villanueva does not believe Inspector General Max Huntsman should be “whipping out subpoenas because he thinks he can so he can grandstand.”
The judge disagreed with her argument.
“It doesn’t make sense, let’s get it out,” Mackey said in ordering that a date be set for Villanueva’s appearance within 21 days.
In a sworn declaration, Huntsman said Villanueva appeared virtually before him last summer, but that the sheriff said he was voluntarily doing so and refused to be sworn. An attorney for Villanueva also said Huntsman could tape-record the session, but that the sheriff would not consent to his testimony being transcribed by a court reporter, according to Huntsman.
Huntsman said he subsequently suspended the proceeding so that the county could seek the relief sought in the current petition. In his court papers, Harvinder S. Anand, an attorney representing the county, said the OIG issued a subpoena to Villanueva in February 2021 to testify regarding the “important topic of deputy secret societies” in the sheriffs department.
“Instead of complying with his obligation to submit to this valid exercise of the OIG’s subpoena authority, Sheriff Villanueva delayed for months with a baseless writ to quash the subpoena,” Anand wrote in his court papers.
Anand was referring to a petition Villanueva filed previously challenging the OIG’s subpoena that was dismissed by Judge James C. Chalfant last August. The OIG then demanded that Villanueva appear and abide by the subpoena on the mutually agreed-upon date of last Sept. 7, but the sheriff “insisted that he would appear only informally and voluntarily — not pursuant to the subpoena — and that he would not agree to be sworn by a certified reporter or to have his testimony transcribed,” Anand wrote in his court papers.
“By unjustifiably declining to provide under-oath transcribed testimony, even after his initial challenges to the subpoena were rejected, the sheriff continued to flout his legal obligation to submit to OIG oversight,” Anand wrote in his court papers.
The mission of the OIG is to promote “transparency, constitutional policing and the fair and impartial administration of justice,” according to its website.
UPDATE: Sheriff Villanueva has issued a statement regarding the ruling. He said: “These subpoenas are political theater and, if successful, I will be the first elected official subjected to this heavy-handed abuse of power. I seek a remedy in the appellate court to establish a fair process going forward where the rules and standards are clear for all sheriffs and boards of supervisors throughout the state in dealing with the new transparency laws should they find themselves in similar disagreement.”
8 comments for "Judge rules Sheriff Villanueva must testify under oath about deputy gangs [UPDATED]"
Back in the 70s when I was in law enforcement in L. A. County during the time of Peter Pitchess tenure as sheriff, none of these extraordinary measures to get the sheriff to testify as to an important matter would have been necessary, and the thought of having to resort to a subpoena to force the elected sheriff to testify under oath, truthfully, would have seemed ridiculous on its face! Whether the current sheriff believes the OIG has the proper authority to subpoena him or not, just the fact that he has been fighting AGAINST the subpoena gives the impression that he is reluctant to offer testimony and answer questions from the OIG about the sheriff’s knowledge of the existence of and membership of LASD deputy “gangs”. That discredits the sheriff’s ethical responsibility as the chief law enforcement official in the county to be transparent and honest about a well known problem that has roots within LASD going back decades. The sheriff would be well advised to drop his reluctance and wrongheaded legal fights, and just do the right thing and speak the truth if he really did care about transparency and public accountability to the taxpayers, as he is sworn to abide by due to the position he holds. Let’s just get it done!
Nicely put, sir.
America's Most Loves Skiing says
Remember how much snow nature provided us to play on back in the late 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s? I used to drive through walls of snow piled 15 feet high on 395 to get to Mammoth. Lift tickets were $12 bucks ($8 locally). There is much less snow now and skiing is so costly. We were fortunate.
What a POS this clown is….there absolutely are cop gangs…everyone knows it and this dummy is now going to try and hide..fuck him….the rotten asshole.
The guy just can’t seem to keep from making himself look guilty as sin.
Tim Scott says
When a cop says “I don’t care what judges have to say” it is a pretty big red flag.
Indeed. The only bigger red flag is when a sitting judge says, “I don’t care what the law says…”, such as I have run across here in the AV Courthouse before.
Tim Scott says
Under oath? That will make “are you in one yourself, or were you?” an interesting question.