Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc.

Study Condemns Prosecutors of 2003 16:1 Murder Trial - Mountain Messenger

SANTA CLARA–The legal outrage perpetrated against Mike Miller of the 
Sixteen to One Mine has finally been recognized in legal circles. 
Sierra County DA Larry Allen forwarded to us a recent report on 
prosecutorial misconduct by the Northern California Innocence Project 
at the Santa Clara University. That study identified the Sierra 
County case as one of 707 examples of such malfeasance; in this case 
withholding evidence from the Grand Jury.
For reasons almost certainly political, Governor Gray Davis’ 
desperate attempt to curry favor with organized labor, the California 
District Attorneys Association circuit prosecutors had no trouble 
getting the incompetent rookie Sierra County District Attorney Sharon 
O’Sullivan to swear them in as deputies. The deputies, Gale Filter, 
Kyle Hedum, Anthony Patchett and Denise Mejlszenkier then exploited a 
tragic mine accident, claiming it negligent homicide.
As the evidence would not convince a judge, they side-stepped the 
process by convening the grand jury. They then lied by omission, 
misleading that panel, violating their oaths of office and the ethics 
of jurisprudence.
Although the State Bar Association is reviewing the records of 130 
prosecutors named in the study, there is little likelihood it will 
discipline the quartet involved in the Sixteen case, if history is 
the precedent. Only seven of 707, found by courts to have committed 
multiple misdeeds, have been disciplined.
This journal, and the trial court judge, were critical of attorneys 
Filter, Hedum, Patchett and Mejlszenkier at the time. Charges were 
subsequently dismissed by Plumas County Superior Court Judge Spike 
Young.
Not surprisingly, Scott Thorpe, director of the California District 
Attorneys Association, faulted the study for exaggerating the problem 
of prosecutorial misconduct.
“It dramatically overstates the problem,” Thorpe said.
Of course, Thorpe has not been on the receiving end of his 
colleagues’ misdeeds.
“This report takes a dynamic new approach to prosecutorial misconduct 
by naming names,” said Gerald Uelmen, a professor at Santa Clara 
University's law school. “For years and years, this has been swept 
under the rug.”
The study of cases from 1997 to 2009 found courts routinely fail to 
report prosecutorial misconduct to the State Bar, as they are 
required to do in harmful error cases.
The Misconduct Study shows that those empowered to address the problem
—California state and federal courts, prosecutors and the California 
State Bar—repeatedly fail to take meaningful action. Courts fail to 
report prosecutorial misconduct (despite having a statutory 
obligation to do so), prosecutors deny that it occurred, and the 
California State Bar almost never disciplines it.
“The failure of judges, prosecutors and the California State Bar to 
live up to their responsibilities to report, monitor and discipline 
prosecutorial misconduct fosters misconduct, undercuts public trust 
and casts a cloud over those prosecutors who do their jobs properly,” 
the report reads.
Another example cited by the study is Tulare County D.A. Phillip 
Cline, who withheld evidence he had personally gathered indicating 
the innocence of a man he tried, and convicted of murder. The man had 
died in prison before the appeals court vindicated him.
Cline, the study notes “has never been held responsible for his 
actions, and it is virtually certain that he never will. He has 
absolute immunity from any civil liability for his conduct as a 
prosecutor.”
The study summarized CDAA’s local misconduct: “Michael Miller was 
charged with manslaughter after a fatal mining accident killed a 
miner who was employed by Miller. The prosecution claimed that 
Miller’s gross neglect for safety precautions was a direct cause of 
the miner's death. However, the trial court dismissed the charges 
after it found that prosecutors failed to inform the grand jury that 
a state regulator had visited the mine a week before the accident and 
had not seen any hazards.”
The names of cases and prosecutors can be found at:  http://
www.veritasinitiative.org/our-work/cases/
A summary of the study can be found at:  http://
www.veritasinitiative.org/downloads/
ProsecutorialMisconduct_Exec_Sum.pdf.=

 
2017 Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc.