SLO protester files motion against attorney general seeking compliance with judge’s order
–On Monday, an attorney for Robert Lastra, Jr. filed a motion in California Superior Court seeking enforcement of Judge Matthew G. Guerrero’s ruling on Dec. 11, which ordered the state attorney general to produce forms referring cases against San Luis Obispo protesters for prosecution and other documentation of the decision-making process – such as internal memoranda and the correspondence and minutes of meetings between San Luis Obispo County prosecutor’s office and law enforcement personnel.
“This discovery was to relate to the discriminatory or unlawful prosecution of racial minorities, Black people, members of Black political organizations, members of any Black Lives Matter organizations or people affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement,” Lastra’s lawyer writes in a news release. “The district attorney has failed to comply with this order, so Lastra is seeking enforcement of the order and has asked the court for ‘any lawful order’ it deems appropriate in light of the district attorney and attorney general willfully violating Judge Guerrero’s orders.”
Lastra is one of seven BLM demonstrators facing criminal charges for participating in a July 21 protest in San Luis Obispo when protesters marched onto Highway 101 and stopped traffic. He and other defendants accused San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow and his office of selectively and illegally singling out Black people and BLM for prosecution.
On Dec. 11, Judge Guerrero found that Dan Dow had an apparent and actual conflict of interest, based in part upon a fundraising email sent about a month after the criminal charges were filed. The email said that Dow “needs your financial support so that he can keep leading the fight in SLO County against the wacky defund the police movement and anarchist groups that are trying to undermine the rule of law and public safety in our community.” As a result of this finding, Judge Guerrero disqualified the entire San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, appointed the state attorney general’s office to prosecute the case, and ordered the discovery of discriminatory and illegal prosecutions.
Both the district attorney and the attorney general have appealed the order of recusal, but Judge Guerrero’s order to produce the discovery of discrimination in the district attorney’s office is still valid and enforceable, Lastra’s attorney says.
“Enforcement and sanctions are necessary to send a message to the prosecuting agencies that the superior court’s orders are serious, and they are not to be ignored – the courts must be respected,” says attorney Brian A. Ford with Pier 5 Law Offices in San Francisco. “Judge Guerrero found clear conflicts of interest in the district attorney’s office, so he must be firewalled from the case. This is a matter of professional ethics and Constitutional law,” Ford says.
A legal filing only represents one side of a case. Reached for comment Monday afternoon, District Attorney Dan Dow said, “We can’t really comment on their motion, it will have to be answered in court.” He said that following the recusal his office was not permitted to work on the case and turned over all of its files to the state attorney general’s office.
See related story: SLO County rejects claims of SLO protesters filed against district attorney