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Lois Capps

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Lois Capps


Capps Announces Changes in Hiring Practices Following Morua DUI Hit-and-Run

Congressmember Says Office Will Now Conduct Criminal Background Checks


Friday, December 13, 2013
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Lois Capps representatives announced Friday that the congressmember’s office has revamped its hiring procedures following the arrest of former staffer Raymond Morua, a district liaison with a criminal history who police say hit and killed 27-year-old Mallory Rae Dies last week as he drove drunk in downtown Santa Barbara.

An Iraq war veteran and UCSB graduate, Morua had worked for Capps since 2011. Shortly after his arrest, however, it was revealed that he had been convicted for a number of past crimes, including two prior DUI offenses, a hit-and-run incident, and grand theft by embezzlement. Capps’s representatives explained that her office had followed standard House vetting procedures when hiring Morua, such as interviews and reference checks, but didn’t routinely run criminal background checks.

In the Friday announcement, Capps press secretary Chris Meagher said the congressmember and her staff are now working with U.S. Capitol Police to conduct criminal background checks on every new employee going forward. Current employees will also be vetted through the same system. “As she has said previously, the Congresswoman expects all those who work for her and on behalf of the people of the Central Coast to behave responsibly and professionally at all times, without exception,” Meagher said in a prepared statement. “These new procedures will help ensure that this is the case.”

Raymond Morua in arraignment court.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Raymond Morua in arraignment court.

Charged with murder in Dies’s death, Morua appeared in court Friday morning for a scheduled arraignment. The hearing, however, was ultimately delayed until next week. During the proceedings, it was announced that Deputy Public Defender Michael Hanley would represent Morua. With a number of family members and supporters in the courtroom, Morua kept his eyes downcast and appeared to be sobbing at times. Though Hanley objected to media photographing and videoing Morua, Judge Thomas Adams allowed it, citing the permission he had given during previous hearings. Outside the courtroom, Hanley said Morua was “deeply sorry” for what had occurred. Morua’s next court date is scheduled for Wednesday, December 18, at 8:30 a.m.

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What about retirement?

Georgy (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2013 at 7:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

She will retire when she is ready. If you want to force her out you will need a viable candidate. No, Franciso is not that candidate.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2013 at 7:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If Raymond Morua was truly sorry he would have stopped as soon as he hit Mallory, If he was truly sorry he would have helped her and held her head until medical personal arrived. The alcohol revealed his true character, No Mercy for this coward and killer.

CManSB (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2013 at 9:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Dale Francisco is a very capable replacement for Lois Capps.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2013 at 11:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

No background checks? Damn, that means I could have had a job there.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 12:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

CManSB, he actually did stop and get out of the car, but as he saw that there were many, many people already around helping her and calling 911 I think it is inappropriate to place him in the same category as someone who might leave the scene where an injured victim required help.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 12:27 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Loonpt: Do you think it's likely that he left the scene because he wanted to evade punishment?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 7:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The reports were only that he stopped his car, looked over his shoulder and then took off. There was no report he got out of his car and left only after he felt the victim was being cared for.. Nor is there any justification for leaving the scene of an accident that he himself had caused.

Regardless of care being given to the victim of his accident. He was a material witness to the unfolding events and needed to stay put; and also respond to those who were able to pull him aside later and try to compel him to return to the scene of the crime.

loonpit, I hope you are not using these same powers of observation when evaluating your investments in bit-coins.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 9:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Loonpt, the original story said after the impact the defendant stopped his car, looked out his window at the victim, and then drove off without getting out of the car. A carload of witnesses reportedly followed him and eventually tried to convince him to return to the scene, but he refused and drove off again before crashing his car into a palm tree, ending his merry midnight ride.

I'm pretty sure when this gets to court his public defender will turn this into him fleeing from a howling mob of vigilantes with pitchforks, but his actions were the reason for the hit-and-run charges and, initially, the higher bail.

I don't think Mr. Morua's actions indicate he had much of any concern for the woman he eventually killed. At all. But I am glad he's reportedly sorry for what happened. And I'm also pretty sure that he's very, VERY sorry for himself. Whether he's sorry enough to also give up drinking and driving remains to be seen.

LegendaryYeti (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 9:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

A step in the right direction by the Congresswoman's office, unfortunately far to often it takes a tragedy like this to see where a in place system needs to be corrected.

I am curious, did the Independent or any other local media think to ask Chris Meager his impressions of his coworker at the party how drunk he seemed and what he observed? Since he was there also it seems a fair question.

pointssouth (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 10:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Glenn Beck is a very capable replacement for foo (or, Ayn Rand).

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 11:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

pointssouth wrote:
"A step in the right direction by the Congresswoman's office…"

Perhaps, or perhaps just public relations.

My impression of Capps' immediate firing after the fact, rather than suspension prior to conviction, was that it was typically rash and amateurish, and wonder if that would have exposed her office to a wrongful termination suit, were the results of Morua's actions in this case not so grievous.

I respect those who feel differently, and recognize this is probably the majority view in the USA today, but my view of the nanny state attitude of let's make everyone even remotely involved legally liable is that it's at worst, incremental tyranny, and at best, not good for society. I don't believe I explicitly expressed it, but by "due diligence" in my criticism of Capps in the previous discussion here, I was referring to a moral obligation, not a legal obligation, assuming she had to have known, or should have, at least some of Morua's background, formal background check or not. Certainly her employment of Morua could be deemed appropriate in terms of constituent services, i.e. assisting a Ventura native and veteran back into society whose life went very wrong following three years in the army, which included at least one tour in Iraq. Who knows what demons he brought back from that ten-year long war crime, as many others have, and will continue to, until this country stops its horrendous aggression against yellow and brown people — 20-30 million killed since WWII, many multiples more maimed and made homeless, in dozens of countries that have not attacked us and pose no threat to us.

I would have found this article much more interesting if Tyler had asked Capps' office what her policy was to be regarding the results of a formal background check, even if he had to report obfuscation or no useful response from her office.

Certainly Morua should not have been driving, but should this veteran have been automatically excluded from a position in Capps' office, due to a theft conviction, or any other transgression, that he had paid his dues for? Not in my opinion, if the purpose of the justice system is supposed to be rehabilitation. In the local media, I believe about a year ago, Morua suggested publicly that his substance abuse, as is widely recognized by professionals, was due to his difficulty reintegrating back into civilian life after participating in the Iraq nightmare. This Noozhawk article, from one year ago tomorrow, would seem to show that, except for the substance abuse that should have more stringently limited his driving privileges, and despite his other non-violent criminal transgressions, he was contributing positively to society more than many who have not experienced the Iraq nightmare:

UCSB Groups Plan Golf Tournament to Raise Funds for War Veterans
http://www.noozhawk.com/article/ucsb_...

JohnTieber (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 11:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

We don't know the facts here but If an employee lies on his job application, that should be immediate grounds for dismissal.

Slinging "wrongful termination" around is meaningless if this was an at-will employment agreement, which it should be.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 1:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

foofighter:

I agree with your first sentence but, regarding the second:

(1) "Slinging" seems to me a mischaracterization of a single sentence that begins with "My impression...".

(2) As that 14-word clause certainly is not of particular significance to the substance of my 455-word comment, and thus I'd rather not stimulate a distracting subthread: "at will" does not preclude legitimate and appropriate wrongful termination actions.

JohnTieber (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 1:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

We all know the loss of life would have been just as tragic if it had been an eighteen year learner or just some housewife distracted on her cell phone.

(What does purging State Street of homeless vagrant have anything to do with Congress? Maybe Fransisco should wait for another Mayoral go around. )

I wonder if the Congresswoman realizes this will only affect people like myself. it will keep me from entering her office and asking to help... (like i was thinking about doing) because I have a record.

Of course if I had enough money I could make all that disappear right?

Well score one for those who used a tragic accident as political leverage.

touristunfriendly (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 3:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Touristunfriendly: How does your requesting legitimate constituent services relate to Capps choosing to terminate this person's employment?

Don't go looking for trouble or go expecting trouble when you don't need to. You just might be setting up your own bad karma, starting with your unfounded your pre-set scenario as Capps operational policy. You think?

foofighter (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 4:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

so JT you think Morua was contributing positively to society despite the demons he may have brought back from Iraq...so this would less Capps's office of more culpability in his DUI and the tragic killing...? Thank you for the Noozhawk ref. Foo is off the mark in even implying any "wrongful termination"...
Doesn't the DUI/quadruple death in the Texas 16 year old sort of compare here? He gets off with a 10-year probation, and while "affluenza" was never mentioned by the defense attorney, it seems likely the 16 year old got some sort of preferential treatment, at least in the sentencing. Should Morua get some slack, too? He didn't "suffer" from affluenza, but he was sent off by the so-called nanny state to an illegal, stupid war which created several demons in his head, including, apparently, alcoholism.

DavyBrown (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 5:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

DavyBrown wrote:
"so JT you think Morua was contributing positively to society despite the demons he may have brought back from Iraq...so this would less Capps's office of more culpability in his DUI and the tragic killing...?

Davy:

You may be conflating my fifth paragraph with my third.

I don't believe Capps' office has any legal culpability; regarding moral, my reference to Morua's contribution to society through his position with Capps, though complimentary to her office, was in reference to any future automated rejection (possibly via formal background checks) of veterans or anyone else similar to Morua, due to crimes for which they have already paid the penalty deemed appropriate by the justice system.

(For those who have participated in previous discussions here: My thinking on this has evolved somewhat via participation in Noozhawk discussions; the features of its much more functional commenting system, particularly subthreading, seem to generally result in more fruitful discussions.)

JohnTieber (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 6:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Holy moly foo, what you said regarding him stopping, rolling down his window and looking back vs. getting out of his car and looking back changes nothing regarding the truth of my statement.. if you want to bring it up to correct the version of events I happen to have in my head, then fine, and actually what your description helped me see is that part of the reason he crashed his car was because there were people in a car chasing him so he had to drive at a high rate of speed to get away from them. Him crashing his car shows less regarding his negligence in the initial incident then I had previously thought.

To address bill's question, yes, that is precisely why he left the scene. And there are two possible scenarios - one is that he knew he was negligent in hitting her and witnesses saw it and he knew he would be punished and so he left the scene. That very well may be the case. The other possible scenario, and since I haven't heard any witness testimony I have no idea which could be true, was that it wouldn't have mattered whether he was sober or drunk because she walked out in front of the car and nobody would have had reasonable time to slow down or stop. If that was the case, then Mr. Morua should not be charged with murder because the accident had nothing to do with him being drunk, however he knew that because he was drunk he would get a DUI and probably be charged as negligent simply for being drunk even though he wasn't negligent in this hypothetical scenario. So in this hypothetical scenario, it would be like if you hit somebody's car and they drove off, that's not exactly a hit and run if it was clearly your fault and now they are going to have to fix their own damages and all you have to fix is the damage you did to your own car.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 6:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

loonpt wrote:
"...The other possible scenario...she walked out in front of the car and nobody would have had reasonable time to slow down or stop..."

Though there's been characterizations of Morua's speed, such as, from the 13 December Noozhawk article, "...tore back to Gutierrez Street..." and "The speeding driver...," I don't believe any actual estimates have been publicly posted.

Particularly during darkness, it can be difficult for a pedestrian to judge vehicular speeds, and that judgement can be further impacted by even a small amount of alcohol consumption. My guess is that in most cases, the tragedy results from the vehicle traveling much faster, and in excess of the legal speed limit, than the victim estimated, the victim assuming the speed would be typical for that particular stretch of road.

But obviously the pedestrian could make the same error — underestimating the vehicle's speed — even if the vehicle was travelling at or below the speed limit.

JohnTieber (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 7:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Loonpt: According to KEYT she was walking legally across the street. No inference of any wrongdoing on her part.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 8:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sorry Foo... I'll go looking for trouble when and where i damn please!

I stand by what i said. those who are usually hollering "smaller government" are now shouting "yet not without a microscope in your you know what.

Want to run government like Wall Street or the NSA,,, go right ahead. Don't say I didn't warn you!

touristunfriendly (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 8:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

billclausen wrote:
"Loonpt: According to KEYT she was walking legally across the street. No inference of any wrongdoing on her part."

One can be walking legally across the street without wrongdoing, and still get hit by a car that was not exceeding the speed limit.

Both characterizations of Morua's speed, at the Noozhawk article of 13 December [ http://www.noozhawk.com/article/bill_... ], "...tore back to Gutierrez Street..." and "The speeding driver...," refer to after he hit Mallory.

Reasonable people, who are not denying Morua's culpability in this tragedy, are disagreeing about whether a murder charge is appropriate; for those who feel it is not, an estimate of Morua's speed prior to hitting Mallory could be useful.

JohnTieber (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2013 at 9:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

John Tieber: "My impression of Capps' immediate firing after the fact, rather than suspension prior to conviction, was that it was typically rash and amateurish..."

Yes, I agree, amateurish, sounds like the standard MO for the Obama administration. Birds of a feather...

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
December 16, 2013 at 11:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Loony: "CManSB, he actually did stop and get out of the car, but as he saw that there were many, many people already around helping her and calling 911 I think it is inappropriate to place him in the same category as someone who might leave the scene where an injured victim required help."

Dude, really, you need to put the bong down long enough to let reality sink in. The guy skidaddled when he saw what he did, that is called HIT AND RUN and yes, there are laws against that.
But then again, coming from the guy who posted a picture of the victim in this incident (no, NOT Mr. Morua), what else could be expected?

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
December 16, 2013 at 12:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Pretty soon Loonpt will be calling it a suicide.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 16, 2013 at 7:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Bill, I have to agree with you on that. I can see it now: SUICIDE BY DRUNK DRIVER.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
December 17, 2013 at 9:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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