A major scandal over the apparent misuse of jailhouse informants is unfolding in the Orange County district attorney’s office. What could it mean for dozens of convictions that relied on informant testimony? Also, even when informants are used appropriately, is the practice ethical? Next, we hear from the filmmakers behind the gritty, ripped-from-real-life junkie film Heaven Knows What. And finally, in this week’s Friday film segment our critics weigh in on the new L.A. disaster movie San Andreas.
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A major scandal is unfolding in the Orange County District Attorney’s office. For decades, prosecutors have apparently been misusing jailhouse informants to win convictions. D.A. officials allegedly planted informants with suspects to get confessions, then withheld information from defense attorneys. All of this was exposed by a defense lawyer during the death penalty trial of Scott Derkaai. Derkaai is the Huntington Beach man who shot his ex-wife and seven others in a beauty salon four years ago. The judge ended up throwing the entire D.A.’s office off the case, so what should’ve been a straightforward prosecution is now in limbo -- and so are dozens, maybe hundreds, of past convictions. What happens next?
The use of jailhouse informants is legal. So is offering informants plea deals in return for testimony. It’s even legal to pay informants for their testimony. It happens all over the country. But is it ethical?
Alexandra Natapoff, Professor at Loyola Law School and author of the book “Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice.”
A tough new cinema-veritéfilm opened this past weekend. Heaven Knows What is about a young heroin addict trying to survive on the streets of New York. The film is fiction, but just barely. It stars a young woman named Arielle Holmes, who was homeless and an addict in real life. We hear from the filmmakers who discovered Holmes on the streets when she was 19.
Los Angeles is doomed to be swallowed up by the Pacific. At least, that’s what disaster movies would have you believe. The latest in the genre comes out in theaters this weekend, which is where we start this week’s Friday film roundup. Also, Point Break is getting a remake.