I have direct knowledge regarding one incident noted in your story [“The Steve and Bob Show,” August 18–24], which is grossly misreported. The article states that after several memoranda were written by former Deputy District Attorney Matthew Monforton suggesting Mr. Robert Philibosian and other Sheppard Mullin attorneys be referred to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution, “. . . nothing was ever done.” This is incorrect. I am the director responsible for handling all recusal issues. In that capacity I personally referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Office, and they declined to prosecute it.
Mr. Monforton’s memoranda relate to our 2001-2002 investigation into the acts of certain officials from the city of Cudahy. During the course of the investigation, we asked the court to disallow Sheppard Mullin’s joint representation of the targets due to a conflict of interest. Mr. Philibosian was employed by Sheppard Mullin and had some involvement in the representation of the targets. The court disagreed, and ruled against us on January 29, 2002.
In February of 2004, over two years after he was involved in the litigation of this matter, Mr. Monforton wrote a memo laying out a new theory of conflict, and requesting the matter be referred to the California Attorney General’s Office for prosecution of the Sheppard Mullin attorneys. While I believed we should consider prosecution under Mr. Monforton’s new theory of culpability, I did not see any legal justification to refer the matter to the Attorney General’s Office. Instead, I sent the case to our Justice System Integrity Division, as the matter involved potential criminality committed by lawyers. This apparently did not satisfy Mr. Monforton, as he wrote the second memorandum referenced in the article on February 7, 2005, demanding that the matter be referred to the Attorney General’s Office. So, in an abundance of caution, I did just that.
On February 25, 2005, I wrote a letter to Deputy Attorney General Ted Prim stating Mr. Monforton’s legal theory for recusal, and attached his first memorandum laying out his theory for prosecuting the attorneys. Although I did not believe recusal was required, I invited the Attorney General’s Office to take the case. I also provided them direct access to the Justice System Integrity Division deputy reviewing the matter if they had further concerns or questions, and pledged our full cooperation. On April 18, 2005, I received a letter from Deputy Attorney General Prim declining to take the case. Deputy Attorney General Prim found Mr. Monforton’s legal reasoning for recusal to be faulty. When the case was closed by the Justice System Integrity Division on November 16, 2005, I forwarded the closing memo to the Attorney General’s Office for their review. The Attorney General’s Office voiced no objection.
Director, Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Specialized Prosecutions
Image Is Everything
In “Reuter’s Image Problem” [August 11–17], Brendan Bernhard does a good job of showing how touched-up photos pass through major media outlets. His article, however, becomes a conspiracy piece by the end: The implication of Bernhard’s argument is that we cannot trust any news out of Lebanon, not even those reported by Western agencies. Therefore, the only legitimate version of events to be believed is Israel’s. I have a bridge to sell anyone who believes this last premise.
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
Bernhard replies: How fascinating to hear that you own a bridge. Is it pretty? Nicely situated? I’m looking for one in the south of France, myself.
Jonathan Gold did not mention [“Certifiable: Big organic versus the little guys,” June 23–29] that both Willow Creek Farm and Niman Ranch Pork Co. are approved by the Animal Welfare Institute, whose husbandry standards they employ on their farms. As farm-animal economics adviser to the AWI, I believe that being able to tell one’s customers his/her farm is approved by the Animal Welfare Institute is a stronger guarantee to the caring consumer that not only are sustainable practices being used but that the animals have a better and more natural life than organic certification guarantees them.