State pushes back on scope of plan to in­ves­ti­gate prison psy­chi­a­try care

The Sacramento Bee - - Local - BY SAM STAN­TON sstan­[email protected]

Lawyers for the state are push­ing back on a fed­eral judge’s plan to ap­point a spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tor to look into whether cor­rec­tion of­fi­cials pro­vided false or mis­lead­ing data to the court, ar­gu­ing that giv­ing the ex­pert au­thor­ity to in­ter­view Gov. Jerry Brown goes too far.

At is­sue are claims by Dr. Michael Gold­ing, the state prison sys­tem’s chief psy­chi­a­trist, who has ac­cused his own em­ploy­ers of pro­vid­ing mis­lead­ing data on the amount and qual­ity of psy­chi­atric care in­mates are re­ceiv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia prisons.

U.S. District Judge Kim­berly J. Mueller has said she wants for­mer Sacra­mento U.S. At­tor­ney Charles “Chuck” Stevens to con­duct the probe and to have broad au­thor­ity to in­ter­view top of­fi­cials of the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Corrections and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion as well as Brown and his staff.

But lawyers for the state, who have re­sisted the idea of ap­point­ing an in­de­pen­dent ex­pert, filed ob­jec­tions late Thurs­day to Mueller’s plans, say­ing she is abus­ing her au­thor­ity and drag­ging Brown into the case for no rea­son.

“(N)owhere in Dr. Gold­ing’s al­le­ga­tions or its at­tach­ments does he sug­gest, let alone al­lege, that Gov. Brown has any per­sonal knowl­edge or is a fact wit­ness,” the state’s lawyers ar­gued. “Nor have any of the par­ties pro­vided the court with in­for­ma­tion sug­gest­ing that Gov. Brown was in­volved in the col­lec­tion or re­port­ing of CDCR’s data.”

The state’s lawyers wrote that they “strongly ob­ject” to the plan and asked Mueller, who has pro­posed that the state also pay the cost of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, to mod­ify “or pro­hibit the in­ter­view of the gov­er­nor or other high-rank­ing state of­fi­cials.”

Mueller has made plain the fact that she plans to ap­point an in­de­pen­dent ex­pert and gave both the state and lawyers for the in­mates time to file any ob­jec­tions they may have to Stevens fill­ing that role.

State lawyers said they see no po­ten­tial con­flict of in­ter­est is­sues with Stevens’ ap­point­ment, but ar­gued that he may not have the tech­ni­cal knowl­edge or ex­pe­ri­ence to an­swer her ques­tions about the data to be re­viewed. They also have ar­gued that such an ap­point­ment is un­nec­es­sary.

Lawyers for the in­mates have filed doc­u­ments in­di­cat­ing that they sup­port Stevens’ ap­point­ment.

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