DA O’Malley Announces Felony Charges Filed Against Sheriff’s Sergeant

Oakland, CA - Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley today announced that her Office has filed four felony charges against Alameda County Sheriff Sergeant James Russell based upon the illegal and secret recordings of four in-custody juvenile suspects in an interview room at the Eden Township Sheriff’s substation on March 15, 2018. Filed are four counts of a violation of Penal Code Section 632(a), eavesdropping on or recording of confidential communications.

Upholding the Constitution is the highest priority of this office, including protecting the attorney/client privilege. The District Attorney’s Office conducted a thorough investigation into this matter, and has concluded that the evidence supports the filing of these felony charges against Sergeant Russell. No individual is above the law, and when a law enforcement officer commits a crime, he or she must face the consequences, just as any member of the community must.

“Every one of us working in the justice system must be held to the highest of standards when it comes to protecting an individual’s constitutional rights, including the sacrosanct right to privileged communication between a client and his or her attorney,” says DA O’Malley.

At the time that the facts of this incident came to light, the District Attorney's Office was not aware that Sergeant Russell recorded a conversation between the four minors and an Assistant Public Defender. The DA’s Office, relying upon a police report authored by the Sherriff’s Department, was aware that the minors involved in the case had invoked their right to remain silent. A deputy district attorney provided all discovery to the attorneys for the minors, including videos from body worn cameras. A review of those recordings by the public defender revealed the illegal recordings.

When this Office learned that the Sergeant had recorded a conversation, which is privileged communication, the DA immediately dismissed the cases. DA staff has since examined all juvenile cases, whether charged or uncharged, that have been submitted by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department since the start of this year. The review of those matters is ongoing.

It is anticipated that the defendant will be arraigned on October 17, 2018, in Dept. 112 of the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland, CA.


Posted on Oct 3, 2018