Daniel Wozniak was represented by Public Defender Scott Sanders throughout his entire trial process. Scott Sanders represented two defendants during the six plus years of Wozniak’s prosecution. By comparison, lead prosecutor against Wozniak, Matt Murphy, handles one to two dozen cases at a time, winning all of his prosecutions as a homicide prosecutor.
Scott Sanders had a tough case with Wozniak who confessed and told investigators that he had killed, beheaded, and dismembered Sam Herr, scattering Herr’s body parts in a local recreation area. Sanders’ defendant was gruesome and loquacious with investigators. Wozniak was a part-time community theater actor who would not keep a paying job. By all accounts, Wozniak had a single goal of being the center of attention.
A Snitch In Time
While in jail, Wozniak continued telling his story and talked to fellow inmate, Fernando Perez, about his case. Perez had tried to be a police informant since the early-2000s but his file was marked by Anaheim police, “do not use.” After a chat with Wozniak, Perez went to authorities with the information he got to try to work out a deal. Authorities refused to work with Perez in the case against Wozniak. Perez later worked with federal authorities to help “dismantle” the Mexican Mafia’s hold on the Orange County jail.
Sanders’ other defendant during Wozniak’s prosecution is mass murderer, Scott Dekraai. The case of Dekraai is not often in the news outside of Orange County. Dekraai murdered eight people in a Seal Beach salon October 11, 2011, and confessed to the murders. Dekraai was distraught that his wife divorced him, so he took several guns with him and found her at the salon where he opened fire on her and everyone else in the busy salon. He also killed a man sitting in his vehicle outside of the salon.
Perez befriended Dekraai after his arrest and brought him hot water for his tea. Police bugged Dekraai’s cell and recorded conversations between Dekraai and Perez. By this time, Dekraai had Sanders as his attorney. It is unlawful for police to ask questions of a defendant who is represented by an attorney without the attorney being present. This act of recording conversations in jail spurred what now appears to be Scott Sanders’ life’s purpose, and that is to take down every criminal investigator and prosecutor in Orange County.
Sanders’ has a decades-long history of raising allegations against every prosecutor in Orange County he has encountered, against the District Attorney, against the Sheriff, and against all law enforcement personnel. His claims are usually baseless and there are no news reports of Sanders ever succeeding in his allegations until the case of Dekraai. After learning about Perez’s role against his only two clients, Sanders embarked on a snitch hunt to look for records that show the use of informants. His actions have been dubbed, “the Orange County snitch scandal.”
Scott Sanders Gets The Limelight
Sanders’ efforts were recognized by the Davis Vanguard, “In 2014, the Vanguard brought Orange County Deputy Public Defender Scott Sanders to Yolo County to talk about accusations of prosecutorial misconduct in several cases he was working on.” Sanders also took time that delayed the trial because Sanders wanted to receive an award.
No informants were used in the case against Wozniak but Sanders wanted attention for his snitch hunt. Sanders waited four years before interjecting the unrelated snitch hunt into the case against Wozniak. Sanders moved for trial delays and pelted the court in the case against Wozniak with War and Peace novel-length motions rich with emotion and lean on facts that provided briefs of many cases not relevant to the case against Wozniak or to Sanders’ allegations.
An Antagonizing Litigant
Sanders’ motions contained multi-paragraph narrations of non sequiturs, like how he got lost in the courthouse when a court room number was changed, so he was late to a hearing and was surprised to meet a prosecution team already in attendance. He has also argued in court that he did not know he was supposed to argue a motion for a case extension that he filed and put on the calendar. Sanders has complained that he needed more time to find evidence to support his allegations raising an objection by a prosecutor, “that’s what weekends are for.”
When asked to provide any facts to support his allegations in his motions that there was any mishandling in the case against Wozniak, even being told by one prosecutor to “put up or shut up,” Sanders would file another motion, sometimes longer than the previous motion with more non sequiturs, one motion exceeded 750 pages. No matter how much manure Scott Sanders shoved in his motion, a pony did not appear.
One judge admonished Sanders for re-filing a motion that had already been heard and adjudicated against Sanders. Sanders further antagonized the prosecution against Wozniak by seeking documents not related to the case and protected from disclosure, like emails between prosecutors.
Sanders failed to show a nexus between his snitch hunt and the case against Wozniak throughout his many attempts to get a dismissal under some obscure theory that resembles guilt by association with the case against Dekraai. The only relationship between the two cases, aside from Perez trying to get information, is that both cases were being defended by Sanders and prosecuted in Orange County. Dismissal under a theory of illegal use of informants should not be Sanders’ only means to defend his client, Wozniak, yet Sanders never did anything else to defend his client.
Daniel Wozniak Gets His 15 Minutes Of Fame
Attention-seeker, Wozniak, drew the attention of producers for the show, Lockup, when he flashed his actor smile to one of the producers. Sanders complained that the jail had a duty to prevent Wozniak from appearing on the show and that Wozniak’s rights were violated by his appearance on Lockup. Prosecutor, Matt Murphy, called Sanders as soon as he heard about it to let Sanders know what happened. Sanders’ complaints that Wozniak was on Lockup were described as poor client control. Sanders was quick to annoy the courts, the families of the victims, and the prosecutors with motions related to the Lockup episode, none of which helped Wozniak.
During the guilt phase of the trial, Sanders did not raise a defense for his client. At the penalty phase, Sanders introduced two witnesses who said things about Rachel Buffett but offered no insight on Wozniak. Sanders called one character witness who was a heavily tattooed career criminal cellmate of Wozniak who said that Wozniak helped him find religion, which is a typical cliché for most inmates in jail.
Scott Sanders Gets Some Shame
Sanders wanted attention for his snitch hunt but his lack client control and failure to raise a substantive defense for his client was quickly drawing attention to Sanders as an incompetent attorney. Many of Sanders’ motions and courtroom antics raised arguments from the prosecutor and from the families of the victims of professional ethics violations. Some of accusations against Sanders include his act of re-filing adjudicated motions, delaying the trial while witnesses were “dying of cancer,” and raising accusations against the prosecution that are not support by any relevant facts or other evidence.
There were complaints made to the California Bar Association regarding the acts of Sanders. Sanders was not daunted by the criticism against him and continues his passion of antagonizing the Orange County justice system for using jailhouse informants.