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Orange County Register

Kelly Thomas Case Could Hurt D.A. Politically

Jan. 13, 2014

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas' failure to win a conviction in the Kelly Thomas case, combined with two other recent court rulings against him, leaves Rackauckas more politically vulnerable if he draws an opponent in his re-election bid.

However, the long-term effect on his legacy is less certain.

Rackauckas, who sought to prove two former Fullerton police officers were responsible for the death of Thomas, had another setback Friday, when a ban on sex offenders from county parks that he'd championed was struck down. And on Nov. 5, a federal appeals court ruled Rackauckas overreached in an injunction banning gang members from associating with one another in Orange.

“You have one very big, statewide – even a little national – case with the Kelly Thomas death,” said Stephen Stambough, chairman of the Division of Politics, Administration and Justice at Cal State Fullerton. “This is a much higher impact than the other cases, but it makes it possible for the others to have more of an impact. An opponent can use this to draw the public's attention to whatever issue they want.”

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