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.Court-Appointed Attorney Taking Over Oakland Mayor’s Investigation of Mishandled OPD Sex-Scandal Case

The city has yet to make public any findings by the mayor's investigator.

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Last June, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Administrator Sabrina Landreth announced they were hiring an outside attorney — Morin Jacob of the Liebert Cassidy Whitmore law firm — to review the “propriety and integrity” of OPD’s internal affairs inquiry into the “Celeste Guap” case.
Eight months later, sources tell the Express that U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson will now appoint his own investigator to take over Jacob’s work — and that the mayor’s inquiry is over.

It’s unclear if Jacob even filed a report with the city about what she discovered. But several city sources, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation, said Jacob is no longer working for Oakland on the review. The city has yet to make public any of her findings.

Schaaf acknowledged last year that part of Jacob’s task was to ferret out the source of OPD leaks, which resulted in extensive media coverage of the sex-crimes scandal. She said in multiple interviews that the leaks were potentially damaging to the city and teenage victim, and could make it more difficult for the city to hold people accountable for wrongdoing.

Others criticized Schaaf and Landreth for opening a leak investigation, saying that it would have a chilling effect on whistleblowers who sought to prevent cover-ups.

But Jacob’s main job was to review whether or not the OPD’s internal-affairs investigation was bungled, or covered-up, by anyone in the department. In an order issued last March, Henderson wrote that OPD’s internal case involving the sex-crime allegations appeared to have been mishandled, and that there were potential violations of the city’s court-oversight agreement, which required Robert Warshaw, the court-appointed police monitor, to take over the case.

If the internal-affairs case was tainted, it could impede the city’s ability to impose discipline against officers that violated policy or broke the law. It would also amount to a serious setback of the Oakland Police Department’s effort emerge from court oversight.

Last year, Schaaf hired Jacob to handle the review. This decision kept the internal probe under the ultimate supervision of the mayor, her administrator, and the city attorney. Jacob had access to city records, and was able to interview witnesses to prepare her report. She was paid $350 per hour for her work, with a cap of $75,000, according to her contract with the city. It’s unclear how much in total the city actually paid her, however.

Last September, when the city announced discipline for various police officers involved in the scandal, Schaaf’s office issued a press release stating that Jacob’s investigation was still ongoing.

On November 28, the mayor’s office told KQED that Jacob’s work was still underway, and that she had come up with no results as to who was leaking information. A timeline as to when the investigation would be completed wasn’t given.

Harry Hamilton, a spokesman for the city administrator, wrote in an email that “The City received notice from Ed Swanson that, at the Court’s direction, the Compliance Director has instructed him to begin an investigation regarding the handling of IA Case No. 15-0771. A determination has not yet been made by the City on the role of Morin Jacob moving forward.”

The Oakland City Attorney’s office did not respond to emails and phone calls.

The Express was unable to reach Jacob for comment.

But this afternoon, Judge Henderson issued an order requiring the city to provide attorney Edward Swanson with full access to city records for his investigation.

Swanson has periodically been hired by the court to get the bottom of problems with the police department and city attorney’s office. In 2014 and 2015, he examined Oakland’s broken system of officer discipline and arbitration.

According to court records, Swanson was retained again in January 2016 and is being paid with funds that the city deposits with the court for police-oversight purposes.

Editor’s note: the online version of this story has been updated to include Judge Thelton Henderson’s order issued at 5:25 p.m. today.


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