SANTA ANA – Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has appointed an outside lawyer to hear any complaints of possible ethical violations witnessed by employees within his office.
Rackauckas selected his longtime friend, criminal defense attorney Ronald Brower, to fill the unpaid ethics officer role, a post recommended by the district attorney’s handpicked investigatory committee 18 months ago.
That panel was created after county prosecutors were accused of misusing jailhouse informants and withholding evidence to illegally obtain convictions.
“This newly created position … will provide prosecutors in the OCDA (Orange County District Attorney’s Office) with the ability to report and/or seek advice from Mr. Brower regarding any perceived ethical violations by any member of the OCDA,” Rackauckas wrote in an internal memo.
“Mr. Brower will be able, at his discretion, to either provide confidential advice to the OCDA prosecutor, or to make recommendations to the OCDA regarding any improprieties by any member of the OCDA.”
Brower is a former Orange County prosecutor who later started a private practice. Earlier this month, Brower and family members co-sponsored, along with many others, the district attorney’s first re-election fundraiser.
Brower’s hire comes a month after the District Attorney Office’s former chief detective, Craig Hunter, accused Rackauckas of suppressing investigations against political allies. Last month, two investigators for the office also accused Rackauckas and other prosecutors of covering up criminal conduct by police and hiding evidence in several high-profile cases.
The District Attorney’s Office denied any wrongdoing in response to Hunter’s allegations but did not comment on the other assertions.
Establishing an ethics officer position was one of 10 recommendations in a December 2015 report released by Rackauckas’s Informant Policies and Practices Evaluation Committee to help improve oversight. The…