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ACLU sues Orange County officials over jailhouse informant program

[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint] in the Superior Court of California - Orange County Wednesday seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) and Orange County Sheriff (OCSD) [official websites] for operating secret jailhouse informant programs allegedly in violation of the US Constitution, California Constitution and California state laws.

The ACLU alleges that the "OCDA does not disclose anything about the Informant Program to the criminal defendants or their defense attorneys" despite the fact that the US Constitution requires prosecutors to provide material evidence to defendants. These violations of the federal constitution transfer to the California Constitution, which also requires prosecutors to provide material evidence to defendants. California's penal code also requires prosecutors to deliver any exculpatory evidence to defendants and their attorneys.

According to the ACLU, "Many of OCSD's attempts to shield the informant program arise from this basic fact: the program, at its core, is designed and orchestrated in order to violate inmates' constitutional rights and to cover up these violations."

Through this informant program, the ACLU claims that other inmates suffered due process violations when they were threatened with violence to reveal their involvements of crime. Moreover, the inmates considered informants allegedly received monetary payments or reduced sentence terms. Lastly, the complaint also suggests that the OCSD has lied under oath about the program, while the OCDA has suppressed or failed to request evidence that would expose the constitutional violations.

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