Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, September 26, 2011

DA's Office to Appeal Judge's Order Unsealing DNA Lab Memo

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 3:05 PM

George Gascón
  • George Gascón

Prosecutors in the office of District Attorney George Gascón have decided to appeal a judge's order that they release an internal memo detailing problems with DNA analysis in the San Francisco Police Department crime lab.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Saturday that the DA's office plans to appeal San Francisco Superior Court Judge Charles Haines' ruling last week that the memo constitutes exculpatory evidence in a murder case, and thus must be handed over to defense lawyers.

DA's office spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman said today that the appeal -- which will be made in the form of a writ before the state appeals court -- has not yet been filed. Haines stayed his order until Oct. 4 to allow prosecutors time to appeal his decision if they chose.

The memo has come to dominate proceedings in the case of James Mayfield, a 65-year-old Bayview church deacon charged with the brutal rape and murder of 29-year-old sculptor Jenny Read in 1976. The case against Mayfield rests primarily on DNA found at the crime scene and tested by SFPD forensics analyst Cherisse Boland, who is reportedly criticized in the internal memo.

The suppression of the memo has also become an issue in the district

attorney's race, with Gascón's opponents criticizing him for a lack of

transparency because of his refusal to release the document to the defense bar or public.

Haines had initially ruled that the memo did not constitute exculpatory evidence, but changed his mind after an extensive interview in chambers with its author, Rockne Harmon. A former Alameda County prosecutor renowned for his experience in cases involving DNA evidence, Harmon worked as a consultant at the San Francisco DA's office until summer 2010.

SF Weekly first reported on the memo based on interviews with Harmon, even as the DA's office initially denied the document existed. Last month we reported that it had been circulated among top officials at the DA's office and SFPD, and withheld from auditors from the California Department of Justice and the American Society of Crime Lab Directors Laboratory Accreditation Board.

Follow us on Twitter at @SFWeekly and @TheSnitchSF

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Peter Jamison


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"