Buzayan Lawsuit Goes Forward Against Davis Enterprise

Last week a US Federal Court Judge allowed the Buzayan lawsuit to proceed against the Davis Police Department, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office and the Davis Enterprise. The defense was denied a motion for summary judgment. Moreover, the Judge allowed the Buzayan family to sue the Davis Enterprise and the Yolo County District Attorney’s office for the unauthorized release of tapes of the Buzayan family which caused the improper online broadcast of the private and confidential information about the Buzayan family including their home address, unlisted phone number, names, ages and birthdates of the families’ minor children (unrelated completely to the case), and the driver’s license number and social security numbers of several of the people involved.

There were several remarkable things about this release of information about the Buzayan misdemeanor hit and run case involving a 16 year old minor at the time. First of all, the DA’s office took it upon themselves to release the information without court clearance–in fact the judge had specifically told them not to do so. Second, the Davis Enterprise was apprised of the personal nature of the information and refused to pull it off their website. In fact, it is still available from their front page even today.

http://www.davisenterprise.com/news/hit_and_run_audio/hitandrun.txt

A book could be written about various portions of this case.

A few highlights of what will come up. First, a statement by the Deputy District Attorney in charge of this case that the reason that this case was brought to trial, was that the family was planning tp sue the Davis Police Department. This was said in front of Judge Warriner, who was reportedly so surprised he asked the DA to repeat herself, which she did… verbatim.

Second, the paper, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office and Officer Ly all mischaracterized the nature of the complaints made by the Buzayan family. They were not complaining about Ly’s demeanor during his interactions–rather they were complaining about multiple violations of federal, state, and local laws.

Third, the news accounts reported a series of statements and misleading summaries of the tape recording in the paper. Those individuals, who relied on the newspaper’s account of the description of the tapes, would have been misled as to their contents. Moreover, the plaintiffs allege that there was a selective release of the tapes. For instance, we do not hear the interaction between the Internal Affairs Sgt. Gina Anderson and Halema Buzayan. On the Internal Affairs tape you can hear Sgt. Gina Anderson threaten Halema to confess or her mother would go to prison.

Fourth, a member of the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office on the Yolosoapbox accused the Buzayan family of paying off the victim in order to get her to drop her charges.

Finally, Ly on his website makes the stunning challenge to the Buzayans to take a polygraph.

All of these are additional points peripheral to the original arrest.

For those somewhat unfamiliar with this case, I recommend the KGO news reports which are quite good. If you use MSN Internet Explorer, you can view a series of videos of the newscast which provide good details of the case.

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=i_team&id=4000500

Most of this will be sorted out during the course of the trial. Now it will be interesting as to how the Davis Enterprise chooses to report on the lawsuit–and if they do. The Davis Enterprise itself is a defendant, as is Debbie Davis the assistant publisher/editor as well as Lauren Keene the reporter who covered the lawsuit. You can foresee the possibility of some sort of conflict of interest in attempting to report on a story which you are a party to and report on a case to which you are a defendant in. How will the Enterprise attempt to bridge this gap or will they not report it all.

Newspapers obviously have a great deal of legal protection against such cases and this will be interesting to see how this proceeds. Obviously the key point will be less that they published this stuff and more that they left it up on the server now for a full six months after publication.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Civil Rights

44 comments

  1. After reading this acccount, it is important to remember that, in the face of all of these allegations by a respected Davis citizen’s family, the gang of three, led by then Mayor Asmundson, flatly proclaimed that all procedures and activities had been “perfectly proper”( my best recollection of Mayor Asmundson’s exact statement from the dais)

  2. After reading this acccount, it is important to remember that, in the face of all of these allegations by a respected Davis citizen’s family, the gang of three, led by then Mayor Asmundson, flatly proclaimed that all procedures and activities had been “perfectly proper”( my best recollection of Mayor Asmundson’s exact statement from the dais)

  3. After reading this acccount, it is important to remember that, in the face of all of these allegations by a respected Davis citizen’s family, the gang of three, led by then Mayor Asmundson, flatly proclaimed that all procedures and activities had been “perfectly proper”( my best recollection of Mayor Asmundson’s exact statement from the dais)

  4. After reading this acccount, it is important to remember that, in the face of all of these allegations by a respected Davis citizen’s family, the gang of three, led by then Mayor Asmundson, flatly proclaimed that all procedures and activities had been “perfectly proper”( my best recollection of Mayor Asmundson’s exact statement from the dais)

  5. And Asmundson was later asked about the council owing an apology to Halema (the 16 year old) after she had apologized to Officer Ly and her response was that she thought “Halema had learned her lesson.”

    Let us also never forget Ted Puntillo’s role in all of this.

  6. And Asmundson was later asked about the council owing an apology to Halema (the 16 year old) after she had apologized to Officer Ly and her response was that she thought “Halema had learned her lesson.”

    Let us also never forget Ted Puntillo’s role in all of this.

  7. And Asmundson was later asked about the council owing an apology to Halema (the 16 year old) after she had apologized to Officer Ly and her response was that she thought “Halema had learned her lesson.”

    Let us also never forget Ted Puntillo’s role in all of this.

  8. And Asmundson was later asked about the council owing an apology to Halema (the 16 year old) after she had apologized to Officer Ly and her response was that she thought “Halema had learned her lesson.”

    Let us also never forget Ted Puntillo’s role in all of this.

  9. Yes.. Ted Puntillo was a leader in this travesty….perhaps springing from recollections of his Military Police glory days, busting young GIs in Vietnam.

  10. Yes.. Ted Puntillo was a leader in this travesty….perhaps springing from recollections of his Military Police glory days, busting young GIs in Vietnam.

  11. Yes.. Ted Puntillo was a leader in this travesty….perhaps springing from recollections of his Military Police glory days, busting young GIs in Vietnam.

  12. Yes.. Ted Puntillo was a leader in this travesty….perhaps springing from recollections of his Military Police glory days, busting young GIs in Vietnam.

  13. I think it is pretty obvious that the people directly involved in this case made a number of serious errors. This case will expose the need for more supervision of both Yolo deputy DA’s and Davis police officers. Both the Police Officer and Pattie Fong the deputy DA operated in an out of control manner an no one bothered to review their actions. I have written the DA (Mr. Henderson) about the out of control behavior displayed by Ms. Fong – I wrote those letters (at least two) long before Helema learned to drive. I told Mr. Henderson I did not understand how he could allow a person who causes so much social damage within the Davis community to continue operating from the Yolo County DA’s office.SAH

  14. I think it is pretty obvious that the people directly involved in this case made a number of serious errors. This case will expose the need for more supervision of both Yolo deputy DA’s and Davis police officers. Both the Police Officer and Pattie Fong the deputy DA operated in an out of control manner an no one bothered to review their actions. I have written the DA (Mr. Henderson) about the out of control behavior displayed by Ms. Fong – I wrote those letters (at least two) long before Helema learned to drive. I told Mr. Henderson I did not understand how he could allow a person who causes so much social damage within the Davis community to continue operating from the Yolo County DA’s office.SAH

  15. I think it is pretty obvious that the people directly involved in this case made a number of serious errors. This case will expose the need for more supervision of both Yolo deputy DA’s and Davis police officers. Both the Police Officer and Pattie Fong the deputy DA operated in an out of control manner an no one bothered to review their actions. I have written the DA (Mr. Henderson) about the out of control behavior displayed by Ms. Fong – I wrote those letters (at least two) long before Helema learned to drive. I told Mr. Henderson I did not understand how he could allow a person who causes so much social damage within the Davis community to continue operating from the Yolo County DA’s office.SAH

  16. I think it is pretty obvious that the people directly involved in this case made a number of serious errors. This case will expose the need for more supervision of both Yolo deputy DA’s and Davis police officers. Both the Police Officer and Pattie Fong the deputy DA operated in an out of control manner an no one bothered to review their actions. I have written the DA (Mr. Henderson) about the out of control behavior displayed by Ms. Fong – I wrote those letters (at least two) long before Helema learned to drive. I told Mr. Henderson I did not understand how he could allow a person who causes so much social damage within the Davis community to continue operating from the Yolo County DA’s office.SAH

  17. “I have written the DA (Mr. Henderson) about the out of control behavior displayed by Ms. Fong – I wrote those letters (at least two) long before Helema learned to drive.”

    Since you are writing anonymously, perhaps you could explain what it is that you believe Ms. Fong did which caused you to think that her behaviro was “out of control”?

    Are you alone in charging Ms. Fong with being “out of control”? Or are there others who have made such concerns public?

  18. “I have written the DA (Mr. Henderson) about the out of control behavior displayed by Ms. Fong – I wrote those letters (at least two) long before Helema learned to drive.”

    Since you are writing anonymously, perhaps you could explain what it is that you believe Ms. Fong did which caused you to think that her behaviro was “out of control”?

    Are you alone in charging Ms. Fong with being “out of control”? Or are there others who have made such concerns public?

  19. “I have written the DA (Mr. Henderson) about the out of control behavior displayed by Ms. Fong – I wrote those letters (at least two) long before Helema learned to drive.”

    Since you are writing anonymously, perhaps you could explain what it is that you believe Ms. Fong did which caused you to think that her behaviro was “out of control”?

    Are you alone in charging Ms. Fong with being “out of control”? Or are there others who have made such concerns public?

  20. “I have written the DA (Mr. Henderson) about the out of control behavior displayed by Ms. Fong – I wrote those letters (at least two) long before Helema learned to drive.”

    Since you are writing anonymously, perhaps you could explain what it is that you believe Ms. Fong did which caused you to think that her behaviro was “out of control”?

    Are you alone in charging Ms. Fong with being “out of control”? Or are there others who have made such concerns public?

  21. Whenever someone from the DA’s office steps into local politics that person must tread a fine line to avoid conflict of interests between political activities and work activities. Ms. Fong must have missed that directive because she tends to stumble down the path trampling on individual rights and due process all along the way. Additionally, Ms Fong seems to do be more concerned about promoting herself rather than doing things designed to improve the community.

    I don’t know if others agree with my view or not, but I do know the following

    Take a look at the entire Yolo DA staff – does any other person from that staff meddle in Davis politics (or politics in any other city) the way Ms Fong does?

    I listened to a UCD administrator tell me that he wished Ms. Fong would “go back into her hole” – he was referring to the fact that Ms Fong has a tendency to stir up trouble with little regard to the damage she does. At first I thought the comment was a little over the top, but after watching Ms. Fong operate I now think he made a good point.

    I listened to an attorney who told me Ms. Fong is not allowed in at least one Yolo County court room because she acts out of control in court. I admit that this point should be considered hearsay since I never talked to the Judge who made the order keeping her away.

    I listened to a member of the Davis School Board who said Ms. Fong’s actions were not in the best interests of the students going to school in Davis.

    All you need to do is to look at the Buzayan case to appreciate how Ms Fong acts. A Judge tells her not to release audio tapes and she turns around and releases them anyway. Ms Fong deals in juvenile law so she knows the rules about confidentiality, but she disrespects/ignores the law when it does not fit into her agenda.SAH

  22. Whenever someone from the DA’s office steps into local politics that person must tread a fine line to avoid conflict of interests between political activities and work activities. Ms. Fong must have missed that directive because she tends to stumble down the path trampling on individual rights and due process all along the way. Additionally, Ms Fong seems to do be more concerned about promoting herself rather than doing things designed to improve the community.

    I don’t know if others agree with my view or not, but I do know the following

    Take a look at the entire Yolo DA staff – does any other person from that staff meddle in Davis politics (or politics in any other city) the way Ms Fong does?

    I listened to a UCD administrator tell me that he wished Ms. Fong would “go back into her hole” – he was referring to the fact that Ms Fong has a tendency to stir up trouble with little regard to the damage she does. At first I thought the comment was a little over the top, but after watching Ms. Fong operate I now think he made a good point.

    I listened to an attorney who told me Ms. Fong is not allowed in at least one Yolo County court room because she acts out of control in court. I admit that this point should be considered hearsay since I never talked to the Judge who made the order keeping her away.

    I listened to a member of the Davis School Board who said Ms. Fong’s actions were not in the best interests of the students going to school in Davis.

    All you need to do is to look at the Buzayan case to appreciate how Ms Fong acts. A Judge tells her not to release audio tapes and she turns around and releases them anyway. Ms Fong deals in juvenile law so she knows the rules about confidentiality, but she disrespects/ignores the law when it does not fit into her agenda.SAH

  23. Whenever someone from the DA’s office steps into local politics that person must tread a fine line to avoid conflict of interests between political activities and work activities. Ms. Fong must have missed that directive because she tends to stumble down the path trampling on individual rights and due process all along the way. Additionally, Ms Fong seems to do be more concerned about promoting herself rather than doing things designed to improve the community.

    I don’t know if others agree with my view or not, but I do know the following

    Take a look at the entire Yolo DA staff – does any other person from that staff meddle in Davis politics (or politics in any other city) the way Ms Fong does?

    I listened to a UCD administrator tell me that he wished Ms. Fong would “go back into her hole” – he was referring to the fact that Ms Fong has a tendency to stir up trouble with little regard to the damage she does. At first I thought the comment was a little over the top, but after watching Ms. Fong operate I now think he made a good point.

    I listened to an attorney who told me Ms. Fong is not allowed in at least one Yolo County court room because she acts out of control in court. I admit that this point should be considered hearsay since I never talked to the Judge who made the order keeping her away.

    I listened to a member of the Davis School Board who said Ms. Fong’s actions were not in the best interests of the students going to school in Davis.

    All you need to do is to look at the Buzayan case to appreciate how Ms Fong acts. A Judge tells her not to release audio tapes and she turns around and releases them anyway. Ms Fong deals in juvenile law so she knows the rules about confidentiality, but she disrespects/ignores the law when it does not fit into her agenda.SAH

  24. Whenever someone from the DA’s office steps into local politics that person must tread a fine line to avoid conflict of interests between political activities and work activities. Ms. Fong must have missed that directive because she tends to stumble down the path trampling on individual rights and due process all along the way. Additionally, Ms Fong seems to do be more concerned about promoting herself rather than doing things designed to improve the community.

    I don’t know if others agree with my view or not, but I do know the following

    Take a look at the entire Yolo DA staff – does any other person from that staff meddle in Davis politics (or politics in any other city) the way Ms Fong does?

    I listened to a UCD administrator tell me that he wished Ms. Fong would “go back into her hole” – he was referring to the fact that Ms Fong has a tendency to stir up trouble with little regard to the damage she does. At first I thought the comment was a little over the top, but after watching Ms. Fong operate I now think he made a good point.

    I listened to an attorney who told me Ms. Fong is not allowed in at least one Yolo County court room because she acts out of control in court. I admit that this point should be considered hearsay since I never talked to the Judge who made the order keeping her away.

    I listened to a member of the Davis School Board who said Ms. Fong’s actions were not in the best interests of the students going to school in Davis.

    All you need to do is to look at the Buzayan case to appreciate how Ms Fong acts. A Judge tells her not to release audio tapes and she turns around and releases them anyway. Ms Fong deals in juvenile law so she knows the rules about confidentiality, but she disrespects/ignores the law when it does not fit into her agenda.SAH

  25. Listen to the tapes on The Enterprise site. They deleted the personal information you’re talking about many months ago… right after the mistake was noticed.

  26. Listen to the tapes on The Enterprise site. They deleted the personal information you’re talking about many months ago… right after the mistake was noticed.

  27. Listen to the tapes on The Enterprise site. They deleted the personal information you’re talking about many months ago… right after the mistake was noticed.

  28. Listen to the tapes on The Enterprise site. They deleted the personal information you’re talking about many months ago… right after the mistake was noticed.

  29. The anonymous above appears to be correct.

    Here is the sequence of events:

    On April 30, 2006 The Davis Enterprise published the article “Audio of hit-run arrest revealing” and posted the audio records on their web site.

    On May 1, 2006 the victim in the case Adrienne Wonhof sent an angry letter to the Davis Enterprise among others complaining about the fact that the audio tapes of the investigation including personal information.

    On May 2, 2006 Debbie Davis emailed back to inform Ms. Wonhof that they had pulled the tapes and apologized for the error. (Davis never contacted the Buzayans).

    On May 5, 2006 The Davis Enterprise printed an apology for the release of personal information and put the tapes back up, with information redacted.

    On May 22, 2006 The parties returned to court and the Buzayans were informed by the judge that the information was no longer on the website.

  30. The anonymous above appears to be correct.

    Here is the sequence of events:

    On April 30, 2006 The Davis Enterprise published the article “Audio of hit-run arrest revealing” and posted the audio records on their web site.

    On May 1, 2006 the victim in the case Adrienne Wonhof sent an angry letter to the Davis Enterprise among others complaining about the fact that the audio tapes of the investigation including personal information.

    On May 2, 2006 Debbie Davis emailed back to inform Ms. Wonhof that they had pulled the tapes and apologized for the error. (Davis never contacted the Buzayans).

    On May 5, 2006 The Davis Enterprise printed an apology for the release of personal information and put the tapes back up, with information redacted.

    On May 22, 2006 The parties returned to court and the Buzayans were informed by the judge that the information was no longer on the website.

  31. The anonymous above appears to be correct.

    Here is the sequence of events:

    On April 30, 2006 The Davis Enterprise published the article “Audio of hit-run arrest revealing” and posted the audio records on their web site.

    On May 1, 2006 the victim in the case Adrienne Wonhof sent an angry letter to the Davis Enterprise among others complaining about the fact that the audio tapes of the investigation including personal information.

    On May 2, 2006 Debbie Davis emailed back to inform Ms. Wonhof that they had pulled the tapes and apologized for the error. (Davis never contacted the Buzayans).

    On May 5, 2006 The Davis Enterprise printed an apology for the release of personal information and put the tapes back up, with information redacted.

    On May 22, 2006 The parties returned to court and the Buzayans were informed by the judge that the information was no longer on the website.

  32. The anonymous above appears to be correct.

    Here is the sequence of events:

    On April 30, 2006 The Davis Enterprise published the article “Audio of hit-run arrest revealing” and posted the audio records on their web site.

    On May 1, 2006 the victim in the case Adrienne Wonhof sent an angry letter to the Davis Enterprise among others complaining about the fact that the audio tapes of the investigation including personal information.

    On May 2, 2006 Debbie Davis emailed back to inform Ms. Wonhof that they had pulled the tapes and apologized for the error. (Davis never contacted the Buzayans).

    On May 5, 2006 The Davis Enterprise printed an apology for the release of personal information and put the tapes back up, with information redacted.

    On May 22, 2006 The parties returned to court and the Buzayans were informed by the judge that the information was no longer on the website.

  33. I doubt the court will find The Enterprise culpable. Lauren Keene is a good reporter and writes fair accounts of police stories – she gets into the details, presents both sides of events and is objective.

    The tapes should have been reviewed more carefully by the paper, but more important they never should have been released to the paper/public in the first place, SAH

  34. I doubt the court will find The Enterprise culpable. Lauren Keene is a good reporter and writes fair accounts of police stories – she gets into the details, presents both sides of events and is objective.

    The tapes should have been reviewed more carefully by the paper, but more important they never should have been released to the paper/public in the first place, SAH

  35. I doubt the court will find The Enterprise culpable. Lauren Keene is a good reporter and writes fair accounts of police stories – she gets into the details, presents both sides of events and is objective.

    The tapes should have been reviewed more carefully by the paper, but more important they never should have been released to the paper/public in the first place, SAH

  36. I doubt the court will find The Enterprise culpable. Lauren Keene is a good reporter and writes fair accounts of police stories – she gets into the details, presents both sides of events and is objective.

    The tapes should have been reviewed more carefully by the paper, but more important they never should have been released to the paper/public in the first place, SAH

  37. SAH: Tough call on the paper being culpable. Obviously the DA is culpable, but how much responsibility does the paper have to vet the tapes first–hard to say.

    I agree on Lauren Keene being a good and generally fair reporter. I forget though, isn’t her husband in law enforcement?

  38. SAH: Tough call on the paper being culpable. Obviously the DA is culpable, but how much responsibility does the paper have to vet the tapes first–hard to say.

    I agree on Lauren Keene being a good and generally fair reporter. I forget though, isn’t her husband in law enforcement?

  39. SAH: Tough call on the paper being culpable. Obviously the DA is culpable, but how much responsibility does the paper have to vet the tapes first–hard to say.

    I agree on Lauren Keene being a good and generally fair reporter. I forget though, isn’t her husband in law enforcement?

  40. SAH: Tough call on the paper being culpable. Obviously the DA is culpable, but how much responsibility does the paper have to vet the tapes first–hard to say.

    I agree on Lauren Keene being a good and generally fair reporter. I forget though, isn’t her husband in law enforcement?

  41. I do not know what Ms. Keene’s husband does and it is irrelevant as long as she is fair and objective.
    I have read the Sac Bee and the Yolo writer (Martineau) spends no time at all digging into the information – she is not a journalist. A number of issues in Davis would be improved if both the Enterprise and the Bee added more meat to their stories.SAH

  42. I do not know what Ms. Keene’s husband does and it is irrelevant as long as she is fair and objective.
    I have read the Sac Bee and the Yolo writer (Martineau) spends no time at all digging into the information – she is not a journalist. A number of issues in Davis would be improved if both the Enterprise and the Bee added more meat to their stories.SAH

  43. I do not know what Ms. Keene’s husband does and it is irrelevant as long as she is fair and objective.
    I have read the Sac Bee and the Yolo writer (Martineau) spends no time at all digging into the information – she is not a journalist. A number of issues in Davis would be improved if both the Enterprise and the Bee added more meat to their stories.SAH

  44. I do not know what Ms. Keene’s husband does and it is irrelevant as long as she is fair and objective.
    I have read the Sac Bee and the Yolo writer (Martineau) spends no time at all digging into the information – she is not a journalist. A number of issues in Davis would be improved if both the Enterprise and the Bee added more meat to their stories.SAH

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