Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson accused of using illegal photos

Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson violated Marsy’s Law by reducing a death penalty case to manslaughter without notifying the victim’s family.

Alan Jackson is back in the media this week.  This time it isn’t for his violation of Marsy’s law, but  for alleged illegal use of photos used to make an attack video on the City Attorney Carmen Trutanich.  The Contra Costa Times reports on the covert attack operations going on in the District Attoreny’s office lead by Alan Jackson who fears Trutanich will officially enter the race for Los Angeles District Attorney in 2012 and give him competition for Republican votes.   

Contra Costa Times reports on Jackson's alleged illegal use of campaign photos to make an attack video against another potential candidate

Contra Costa Times
By Melissa Pamer, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/02/2011 10:24:58 PM PST
Updated: 12/02/2011 10:30:58 PM PST

A slick online video based on “The Hangover Part II” that targets City Attorney Carmen Trutanich’s still-undeclared candidacy for county district attorney is at the center of a new campaign legal spat. A photographer who worked for Trutanich is suggesting he may take legal action against district attorney candidate Alan Jackson for unauthorized use of photos of the city attorney in Jackson’s campaign video.

Jackson, whose campaign manager is convinced that Trutanich himself is behind the threat, defended the video, but declined to discuss the photographer’s copyright concerns. “It is a fair ad that is completely truthful,” Jackson said. “Censorship of First Amendment free-speech rights is not part of what I believe in and I don’t believe a campaign should be part of that.”  John Shallman, Trutanich’s campaign manager, said a lawyer’s letter to Jackson about the copyright issue was sent on behalf of a photographer who worked for the 2009 city attorney bid. Trutanich was not connected to the letter, said Shallman.

But, he added, “We certainly sympathize with any small business person who has intellectual property that’s being stolen by a politician for their personal political ambitions.” Jackson, a deputy district attorney best known as the prosecutor in the Phil Spector murder trial, is one of seven declared candidates in the June 2012 primary. His campaign manager, John Thomas, who helped produce the anti-Trutanich video, worked on Trutanich’s 2009 city attorney campaign.

Trutanich has raised nearly $500,000 for the primary but hasn’t yet said he’s running for D.A. He was elected as Los Angeles city attorney after promising voters he wouldn’t seek higher office – a pledge Jackson’s campaign hammered in its video spoof.

The video, released in July, includes pictures that Trutanich’s campaign manager said were taken by a private photographer in the course of the 2009 race. In October, Jackson received a letter from an attorney alleging “unauthorized use of various copyrighted photographs.” The letter on behalf of an unnamed client later disclosed as a Trutanich campaign photographer, mentioned the potential for damages of up to $150,000 for willful copyright infringements.

`Thin-skinned individual’

Jackson’s campaign cried foul, saying Trutanich was behind the missive. “There’s only one person in the world that would have a vested interest in having us tear down that video, and that is our opponent, and he is a very thin-skinned individual,” said Thomas.

“The joke of it is he’s given my video a second life-cycle. … It’s a gift,” added Thomas, who provided the letter to the Daily News.

Thomas worked on Trutanich’s 2009 city attorney race, which was won after a nasty runoff against then-Councilman Jack Weiss. Thomas said he was working for Jackson now partly because he was disappointed Trutanich might not honor his pledge not to seek higher office. At issue is a video posted at that attacks Trutanich’s record while mimicking the style of a movie trailer. About two-thirds of the way through the video, a series of photographs of Trutanich flash quickly on the screen.

Photographer Scott Redinger asked Jackson via email in July to stop using the images, Shallman said. (Thomas said the Jackson campaign has no record of that request.) The Oct. 14 letter to Jackson from Pasadena lawyer Nicholas Connon asked questions about the video that Connon said needed answering “before taking any legal action.”

In an interview, Connon said he was representing Redinger and accused the Jackson campaign of trying to “politicize” a copyright issue. Reached by phone and asked about the letter, Redinger said, “I was the definitely the photographer.”

But he said he couldn’t comment any further. “I was told not to talk to reporters,” Redinger said.

Experts divided on claim

Trutanich also did not return requests for comment. Experts who viewed the video were divided on whether a legitimate copyright claim could be made by the photographer. Frederic Woocher, a Los Angeles election law and First Amendment expert, said the case wasn’t “cut and dried.” A judge could decide use of photos in the video would not be subject to the “fair use” exemption of copyright law.

“I would think that the campaign here would be well advised to offer to pay for the photo or remove it from the ad, because apparently there is a substantial risk involved in losing the argument over fair use if it went to court,” Woocher said in an email. But Eugene Volokh, a constitutional and copyright law expert who teaches at UCLA, disagreed.

“There’s a pretty good fair-use claim,” Volokh said. “The defense could say, `We are indeed commenting on the campaign that had used this photo, and this photo, by being part of the campaign, becomes something we should be free to take.” The video also uses a snippet from a 2009 Trutanich campaign television ad. Shallman said the Trutanich campaign had no problem with that.

“We’re just choosing not to pursue it because it’s irrelevant. (Trutanich) might very well have a claim but it sinks below him. His focus is on putting gang members away,” Shallman said. Jackson declared his intent to run for district attorney last December, while Trutanich created a fundraising committee in April. Six other candidates, all prosecutors, have also begun raising funds for the race. The candidate filing period in the nonpartisan race begins Feb. 13 and ends March 9. “We’ll make a decision before then,” Shallman said. “(Trutanich) is not under any time frame. He’s not one of those traditional politicians.”


Violation of Marsy’s Law – Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson and Arnold Schwarzenegger have much in common

Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson and Arnold Schwarzenegger - Republicans Violate Marsy's Law and Give Secret Deals to Murderers. DA Jackson recently released a video saying how he advocates for victims.

Antelope Valley Press Reports ‘Cold Case’ Killer gets six years – This blatant violation of Marsy’s Law by Alan Jackson is similar to that of the former Governor Schwarzenegger who reduced a murder sentence to 7 years without consulting the family.   Shortly after Alan Jackson’s secret deal with a murderer, the Alan Jackson campaign released a video where he champions himself as a victim’s advocate.  We report this illegal and complete disregard for Marsy’s Law.   Justice was never sought nor served when Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson secretly plea bargained the potential death penalty murder case to manslaughter.  Also of note – the Alan Jackson campaign has already launched an attack on the city Attorney Carmen Trutanich who hasn’t yet officially declared his run for DA.  Carmen Trutanich has a special page on the City Attorney’s website that is dedicated to Marsy’s Law

Antelope Valley Press Reports - Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson Violates Marsy's Law and Gives a 6 Year Deal to Murderer. DA Jackson blames the detectives.

FROM AV PRESS ‘Cold Case Killer’ gets only six years

By Charles F. Bostwick
Managing Editor 

Relatives of a Lancaster aerospace worker whose 30-year-old murder was apparently solved last year with the arrest of anIndianatruck driver are dismayed that the ex-convict   apprehended was allowed to plead guilty to reduced charges and sentenced to fewer than 6 years in state prison.  

Joseph Azevedo’s sister and nephew said the family was not told about a June 7 hearing in Los Angeles at which Christopher Winter, 55, was sentenced after being allowed to plead no-contest to involuntary manslaughter and two counts of receiving stolen property.  A murder charge carrying a potential death sentence or life in prison was dismissed.  

“Where is the justice? I can’t believe it – after all these years,” Esmeralda Tirak of Palmdale said Friday.  “The guilty get away with murder, and the victims…,” she said, breaking into tears. “I can’t talk anymore.” 

Michael Tirak, Azevedo’s nephew, said: “There’s something wrong with our justice system.”  Esmeralda Tirak said the family was not invited to speak before the sentencing to give a so-called “victim impact statement,” which is standard practice in California court rooms.  

They had been told that a hearing had been postponed and would be rescheduled, but were never told a new date, she said.  Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson, a Major Crimes Division prosecutor who is running for District Attorney in 2012, didn’t return calls seeking comment.  

A District Attorney’s spokeswoman said she was told that Joseph Azevedo’s relatives had been informed by an investigator that Winter was expected to enter a plea to reduced charges that would let him avoid the death penalty, though she didn’t know if they had been told the hearing date.  She said the evidence against Winter turned out to be weaker than expected.  

Winter remains in custody in Men’s Central Jail inLos Angelespending his transfer to a state prison.  Joseph Azevedo was a 50-year-old Lockheed Aircraft worker and father of four sons. He had separated from his wife, who moved toPennsylvaniawith one of the boys, but the other three – ages 10 to 20 – were living with him.  Two of the boys found their father dead in their home’s family room after returning from camping at Littlerock Reservoir. 

Family said they had never heard of Winter and he wasn’t anyone Azevedo knew.  Sheriff’s homicide detectives said they believe Winter was burglarizing the Azevedos’ mobile home, in the 42000 block ofSixth Street East, when Winter was surprised to see Joseph Azevedo inside and killed him.  

At the time, Winter was a 25-year-old ex-convict who had been released from prison on parole six months earlier. Winter had been sent to prison in April 1980 on aLos AngelesCountyconviction for armed robbery and possession of a weapon by an ex-felon, state prison records show.  He was sentenced to three years in prison on the first charge and two years on the second, but he was paroled in less than seven months.  Winter was sent back to prison in August 1984 on a two-year sentence for aLos AngelesCountyconviction for burglary, prison records show.  He was released from prison on parole in June 1985 and was discharged from parole in June 1992. 

When Winter’s arrest was announced last November, sheriff’s officials said it was the result of fingerprint and DNA evidence that wasn’t available three decades ago.  Homicide detectives gathered forensic evidence in 1981 and interviewed residents and family members, but no leads were ever produced to identify a suspect, according to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department statement released after Winter’s arrest.

Sheriff’s Cold Case Homicide detectives reopened the case in 2006 and began following several leads that included new fingerprint and DNA analysis. They eventually identified a suspect. However, they did not have enough information to prosecute the case, and the trail ran cold.  The case was reopened in May 2010, and a review of statements made by the suspect and witnesses in addition to modern forensic analysis was able to produce sufficient evidence to charge Winter, sheriff’s officials said.  

Detectives learned that Winter had been working as a long-haul truck driver inOhio. Winter was spotted at a distribution center inTipp City,Ohio. FBI agents and Tipp City police arrested him without incident Nov. 6.  Nearly 30 years after a Lockheed Aircraft worker as found shot to death on his family room floor, sheriff’s officials announced that a suspect had been arrested.