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Raymond Morua stands behind the a glass partition as Judge Thomas Adams deliberates

Paul Wellman

Raymond Morua stands behind the a glass partition as Judge Thomas Adams deliberates


Judge to Examine Morua’s Past DUI Program Records

Victim’s Family and Friends Square Off with Defense Attorney


Originally published 12:00 p.m., February 15, 2014
Updated 10:00 a.m., February 16, 2014
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A Santa Barbara judge will soon decide whether to allow past DUI program records belonging to Raymond Morua in the prosecution of his current case for fatally hitting 27-year-old Mallory Dies in a DUI hit-and-run collision last December. Morua, 32, is charged with second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death. If convicted, he faces 15 years to life in prison.

After six delayed hearings and two lawyer changes, Morua has not yet entered a plea, and the case has not moved beyond the arraignment phase. Morua’s scheduled arraignment this Thursday was postponed again, but the hearing afforded an opportunity for some of Dies’s family and friends to interact with Morua’s defense attorney, Darryl Genis, for the first time. The exchanges varied between confrontational and cordial.

During Thursday’s hearing, Senior Deputy District Attorney Arnis Tolks reminded Judge Thomas Adams that Morua — a U.S. Army veteran who reportedly suffers from PTSD and has openly admitted to past troubles with alcohol — had been convicted of DUI twice before. Both incidents occurred in Ventura County in 2006, and he was ordered by the court in each instance to attend DUI education programs. Tolks has asked that Morua’s program attendance records and testing results, as well as accounts of the admonishments and instruction he received, be made available to his office. While he is typically able to obtain such records in Santa Barbara with a subpoena to Zona Seca, Tolks explained to Judge Adams, the Ventura County Behavioral Health Department where Morua took his classes is guided by different disclosure laws and requires a court order.

Prosecutor Arnis Tolks (left) and defense attorney Darryl Genis
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Prosecutor Arnis Tolks (left) and defense attorney Darryl Genis

The information, Tolks argued, is relevant to proving the charges because it speaks to the “implied malice and gross negligence” Morua displayed the night Dies was killed. In other words, Tolks is seeking to show that Morua was well aware of the danger he posed to the public when he chose to drive drunk and that he had no regard for human life at the time. After Morua hit Dies, he reportedly backed up and drove around her body, refused to return to the scene after being confronted by witnesses, and then crashed into a nearby tree. His blood-alcohol level measured 0.17, police said, more than twice the legal limit. Morua, then working as a district representative for Congresswoman Lois Capps, was fired two days later. Capps’s office has denied Morua was representing Capps in an official capacity that night.

Genis argued against the records disclosure on Thursday, claiming the files are protected by federal HIPAA laws that govern the release of confidential medical records. Alcoholism is a documented medical disease, Genis said, and records of its treatment fall under HIPAA restrictions. Genis said he understood why Tolks was asking for the information, but complained Tolks’s request was “overbroad” and said that the prosecutor is not entitled to go on a “fishing expedition.” Tolks countered he was very specific in his request and called Genis’s arguments “specious at best.”

Adams struck a compromise with his ruling, but first noted: “I have to wonder aloud whether defense has blurred the line between medical records and program records.” Explaining he’s unaware of any case law that suggests DUI program records should be treated the same as doctor or hospital records, Adams said he will order the program files but read them first to determine if they are appropriate for Tolks to use. In light of the ruling, Genis said he was unprepared to enter a plea on behalf of his client. He asked the hearing be rescheduled, and it was for February 27.

After the hearing, Genis said that while he doesn’t think Tolks “made an adequate showing to gain access to the records,” he respects the court’s ruling. “Judge Adams is a thoughtful jurist, one of our most intelligent and thoughtful jurists, and I know he will carefully review the records with an eye to following the letter of the Federal HIPAA law,” Genis said by email. When asked if he had used the HIPAA argument in prior cases to block access to program records, and whether it had worked, Genis wrote, “I have advanced violations of HIPAA in the context of Fourth Amendment context, but this is the first time I have had to address the issue in this context.”

During Morua’s last court appearance, Genis announced that his client wants to take responsibility for Dies’s death, though he said he’s pushing for the lesser charges of vehicular manslaughter and DUI causing death. This week, Genis suggested that one way for Morua to take responsibility is to appear in a MADD-sponsored anti-drinking-and-driving commercial. “However, it would only be possible to do that after the prosecution has concluded,” Genis said, “otherwise the prosecution would be free to use it against him.” When asked how Morua has faired behind bars over the last two months, Genis said that “Raymond is using his time well, helping to organize more AA meetings and working with incarcerated veterans who also suffer from PTSD.”

Genis took over Morua’s case last month from private defense attorney Sam Eaton, who had replaced public defender Deedra Edgar. The reasons behind the switches are unclear. Last week, a judge of the California State Bar Court recommended that Genis be suspended for 90 days for acts of wrongdoing, bad faith, and misconduct carried out during his work on unrelated DUI cases. The judge also recommended that Genis’s professional license be placed on probation for two years and that he attend anger-management counseling. Genis said he vows to fight the decision through the appeals process. In the meantime, he continues to practice law.

Right before Thursday’s proceedings got underway, one of Dies’s supporters — surrounded by a dozen or so other friends and family members, many of them wearing matching T-shirts with the message “I honor Mallory’s legacy by vowing to never drink and drive” stenciled on the back — stood up from his seat in the audience and approached Genis. He handed Genis a Dies support sticker and asked him to wear it. “I want you to wear it proudly,” the friend said loudly, repeating himself before sitting back down. Genis, visibly taken aback, approached the group and explained he’s long advocated that people self-impose a “12 hours from bottle to throttle” rule. He said he understood the group’s position before depositing the sticker in his briefcase.

DUI defense attorney Darryl Genis addresses Judge Thomas Adams during the Raymond Morua case (February 2014)
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

DUI defense attorney Darryl Genis addresses Judge Thomas Adams during the Raymond Morua case (February 2014)

After the hearing, Genis approached a different Dies supporter and assured him they were “all on the same page.” Genis said he and Morua understand there is nothing they can do to “reanimate” Mallory, and there is no legal recourse that can repair the pain that’s been caused. But, he said, “there have been two hit-and-runs”: one committed by Morua and one by Capps for denying that Morua was working for her on the night of the incident. At this point, a close friend of the Dies family began calmly and pointedly asking Genis a number of questions about his profession and some of the ethical issues he faces while defending clients like Morua. Dies’s father stood silently by and listened for a few minutes before shaking his head and walking away. In an email to The Independent on Friday, Genis offered to reiterate some of the answers he gave during the private conservation.

The family friend asked Genis if society might be better served if DUI defense attorneys also worked to prevent or curb drinking and drinking accidents rather than just profiting from their aftermaths. “I told him that I counsel all my clients on why they should accept a ‘12 hours from bottle to throttle’ rule in order to avoid the need to hire me again, and in order to insure that they will not have to be responsible for injuring or killing anyone in the future,” Genis explained. “I told him my practice is almost entirely comprised of first offenders, almost all of whom do not become repeat offender clients, and that I handle very few DUI accident/injury/death cases, and I do not solicit such cases, but I don’t shy away from them.”

The friend, referring to Morua’s past DUIs, then suggested that Genis and his colleagues are responsible for enabling DUI defendants to re-offend by working to have their cases dismissed and licenses returned. Everyone has to put food on the table, the friend admitted, but doesn’t that seem inherently wrong? “We had an extensive conversation, and I explained that my job is not to ‘get someone off’; it is to enforce the constitution and the laws of our state in order to insure they are afforded due process, equal protection, and the right to effective counsel,” Genis said. “In short, I am a constitutional defense attorney, not a criminal defense attorney.”

The conversation then shifted to Genis’s advertisements. The family friend said their wordings seem to encourage diminished responsibility for a DUI suspect and suggest that even if they do drink and drive, Genis will get them out of trouble. “I am not the guarantor of the social responsibility of others,” Genis said he answered. “All I can do is sweep my side of the street.” Lastly, the friend again pressed Genis if he experiences ethical dilemmas over what he does for a living. “I told him the truth; I don’t feel any conflict,” Genis said in his email. “John Adams defended the British soldiers who killed friends, neighbors, and relatives, and he is one of America’s heroes. He set a good example of what a constitutional defense attorney should be willing to do.”

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Is Morua going to have to hire yet another different lawyer for when Genis's law license is taken from him? I am glad to see that Genis's shenanigans have finally caught up to him. His outlandish comments in the Indy and his constant unprofessionally trying of cases in the court of public opinion is not professional conduct.

My heart goes out to the Dies family. May this all be over soon and not turned into the normal Genis circus.

deniseL (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2014 at 1:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Insane, how can prior DUI's NOT be used against him, he did the exact same thing! How can he use an attorney that is fighting to keep his license, doesn't that just set up a case for an appeal later, should he not like his end result? My God, if your truly sorry, end this and take responsibility for it now...

bashore18 (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2014 at 1:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So Mr. Genis tells the Dies supporters that they are "all on the same team" while at the same time doing all he can do to try to get his client off the hook.

"All on the same team." Yeah, riiight. This is total nonsense, and I hope no one is buying it.

"Reanimate" is a strange choice of words, too. It suggests to me that Genis really doesn't believe what he told the Dies supporters.

I understand that Genis has a job to do but at the same time trying to curry favor with supporters of the family of his client's victim strikes me as disingenuous and twisted. Mr. Genis evidently wants it both ways, and that just isn't possible.

LegendaryYeti (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2014 at 1:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

As someone who has been wrongly acccused of a crime in the past, I can say that no one likes lawyers until they need one.

If any of you find yourselves on the wrong side of the bars down at county jail you can rest assured that you will want a lawyer who will fight for your interests and guard your rights to the fullest extent possible. This doesn't make anyone an apologist for criminal behavior.

If the state has a case then the district attorney's office will suss that out. Without due process and other protections afforded under the Bill of Rights we might as well shred the constitution whenever public opinion wishes it.

In other words, the mark of a great society isn't how it protects the rights of its citizens when it's popular to do so, but rather how well it affords due process to people like Mr. Moura when the lynch mobs are clamoring for his head.

HankHill (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2014 at 2:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This lawyer is going to help him sink, not swim... already too much bad press and judges don't like that guy so if this scumbag wanted a good attorney he made a big error. Works for me, means that he won't get off as he hopes.

santabarbarasand (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2014 at 5:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Raymond needs to do the right thing and accept responsibility for his actions - anything less than that is wasting everyones time and dragging the victims family theough more BS

whosecityisthis2012 (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2014 at 12:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

HIPAA - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

Not HIPPA

Botany (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2014 at 5:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

When you have a culture that encourages people to "drink responsibly"* why are people surprised at the prevelance of the Ray Morua's and Daryl Genises?

*"Drink responsibly" is code for "set your own limits and you decide whether or not you're ok to drive even though we all know that people under the influence are unable to gauge their ability to drive safely".

Then of course, there are those people and businesses who serve alcohol to those they know will be driving home while still under the influence, buy hey, nobody wants to be unpopular---right?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2014 at 6:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If you really want to 'take responsibility' then plead guilty and accept the very long prison sentence that you deserve for killing a person and then trying to escape.

greghuglin (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2014 at 6:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Have to agree with those encouraging Morua to take responsibility, plead guilty etc., but I doubt that's going to happen. Indeed, it's a shame to drag the victim's family through a likely lengthy and contentious trial, but it's of course Morua's right to have one.

For those who inveigh against the (growing?) alcohol "culture," what solutions would you propose? Prohibition is not going to work. Increasing sentences, widening the legal culpability to include bars and bartenders who serve inebriated patrons may work, but surely would also add to the mess and morass that already make up a great part of the judicial system
The defense lawyers would certainly get richer with an expanded client base.

zappa (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2014 at 8:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

He won't take responsibility for what he did. Look at his history.
He's a drunk, he killed someone and he left the scene of the
crime. He will have a horrible and painful life, this is the best
that can happen to him.

zuma7 (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2014 at 11:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ah, yes, demonize both the attorney and the defendant now! What is wrong with some of you people? I suppose you would have been Tories, soundly in King George, III's, repressive lap in 1776, so query whether you have the moral authority to condemn anyone who is enjoying American constitutionalism. It is interesting that when the supreme court unwisely telegraphed that people could be charged with murder under certain DUI-death circumstances 32 years ago, it expressly noted "Moreover, we neither contemplate nor encourage the routine charging of second degree murder in vehicular homicide cases." But such filings have been routine. Every DA hankering to make a name for himself "routinely" files murder now, proving the maxim that one should not invite the government to do expansive things on a limited basis, because they will do the expansive thing without the announced limits.

Genis has the courage and ability to force the government to leap through all of the hurdles erected by the Framers [and sometimes by our generally pro-government legislature] before it can obtain a conviction, which is his duty, a duty which extends back to, as he insightfully noted, the standards established by the originator of American conservatism, John Adams.

I certainly hope the judge in this matter does not allow the patently prejudicial and jury-tampering signs and shirts into the courtroom that have been described for the pretrial settings - that will ensure a reversal of any conviction.

Santa Barbara is a bizarre place, sort of a bubble of contra-constitutionalism.

capmotion (anonymous profile)
February 16, 2014 at 11:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

We wouldnt need guys like Genis if the SBPD hadnt gone totally overboard on the dui cashcow for the past 15 years. Beutel wasnt an anomaly.

redbunz (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 1:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The sad thing with all this is that emotions are high and people aren't thinking clearly. What would Malory want to happen to mr. Morua? Malory was a loving and forgiving soul, she studied religion and understood that love was the one thing this world needed more than anything else. The Dies supporters are turning their pain into hate and are not behaving in the way that Malory would wish them too.
As for Mr. Morua, he is going to have to live with his actions for the rest of his life, and will likely be unemployable. Mr. Morua will never live this down in the eyes of his family,friends, or public.
The only ones that can benefit from all this are the greedy and immoral,which in this case are the defense attorney and father.

anthuant (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 10:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Keep me out of this!

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 10:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If one of Genis' family members or relatives was killed by a multiple DUI convicted person would he change his song & dance?

Would he still run the same ad to get accused drunk drivers off the hook?

I THINK NOT!

Barron (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 11:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Genis---still rockin' the Miami Vice color palette. Chalk up another drag through the mud for another victim's family, another drunk killer successfully removed from society, another case lost by Barrister Finback. Then, it's sit back and wait for the whole damn thing to happen again with different players.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 12:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@Barron: Lawyers have a great way of compartmentalizing their ethics so it's a good bet Genis would rationalize that if it happened to someone in his family somehow it would be different.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 4:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well if there is one thing that this comment section proves it is the relative lack of reading comprehension by those who advocate a zero tolerance policy on drinking and driving.

I have read at least five comments of people saying in one form or another that Morua is not accepting responsibility for his actions and needs to accept responsibility for his actions.

"his client wants to take responsibility for Dies’s death, though he said he’s pushing for the lesser charges of vehicular manslaughter and DUI causing death."

It makes my brain hurt, and come on, it sort of makes you want to push the BAC limit up to .10, at least a little, no?

loonpt (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 9:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Genis is handing the Dies family something important here. Though nothing can bring Mallory back, a wrongful death suit is assuredly in order. Congresswoman Capps' denial this guy was representing her that night is rubbish, he was. That puts Capps squarely and rightfully on the hook too.

Genis made that statement for a reason, and it was certainly not to give his client a break. No, it was to give the Dies family ammunition for the civil suit.

cartoonz (anonymous profile)
February 17, 2014 at 11:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Which brings us back to the question, who is paying Genis?
BTW, it doesn't put Capps on the hook no matter how much it might wet your pants that it might cartoons.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 12:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What's so hard to see in the form of the facts that Morua has previous DUI and hit and run issues, he hit Ms. Dies with his car fatally wounding her, he left the scene of the accident, he again crashed his vehicle during the escape attempt, Ms. Dies eventually died from the injuries received? Are we missing something here?

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 10:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Obviously, Mr. Genis, must play from every angle in order to get his client free, even to suppress evidence of past convictions or even criminal charges that never went to court or were decided. I doubt Mr. Morua's drinking problems stem from his PTSD, more like he uses alcohol to self-medicate himself like so many others do, and not just for PTSD. At the rate his case is heading, Mr. Morua, won't see the Jury until Summer.

dou4now (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 1:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Let's see how long it takes for the father to file a civil lawsuit and try to cash in on this. Ask your self this, what would Mallory want? Would she seek the death penalty for Mr. Morua? Would she be happy that her friends and supporters are trying to punish Morua to the fullest extent of the law? If Mallory's friends and family truly wanted to make a worthwhile impact, they would never drink a drop of alcohol again.

anthuant (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 2:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I really don't understand why people downplay his PTSD.

We are going to be dealing with these types of problems for decades thanks to the neocons Bush and Obama.

Remember that next time they want to start another war.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 3:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I must have missed something. Did Lois Capps get drunk that night, get behind the wheel of this guy's car, hit a girl, drive away from the scene then wreck his car a few minutes later?

Let's allow for this guy to take responsibility for HIS actions. Even if he was representing the Capps office earlier that night (before going to other bars apparently), he's the one who decided to drive drunk and he's the one who decided to drive away from the scene of a soon-to-be fatal accident.

The_Dude (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 3:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Both the Dude and LoonPt are spot on.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 3:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I remember all the Democrats who voted to hand over war powers to Bush, including the current Democratic front runner Hilary Clinton. Bush never could have waged his stupid war without all those Democratic votes. Your PTSD is bi-partisan, loonpt. Being blind to the facts must be a Bush Derangement Syndrome disorder too. Get help loonpt, because all you will get here are rebuttals.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 3:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hey foofighter maybe you want to read my post again..

"We are going to be dealing with these types of problems for decades thanks to the neocons Bush and Obama."

I've been calling Obama a neocon since 2007.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 3:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well written retrospective about the high level Democratic complicity in "Bush's War". http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/151...

Nope, loonpt. You re-read what you just wrote. You called it "Bush's War. You err. Democrats could have stopped this tragedy. But they did not. It was very much their war. You need to give credit where credit is do. Though you may not have been born by that time.

Obama was not even in office to make a difference at that time, though the low-info Obama voter would insist Obama "voted against the war". And let it not be him to let them think otherwise.

I get your point that Obama has perpetuated his own wars now that he "can do anything he wants to do as President". But that was not your point. Your point was to call it 'Bush's War." Wrong.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 4:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I didn't call it Bush's war, I called it Bush and Obama's war. More accurately I suppose I could call it a Rothschild war, I don't care about Democrats or Republicans I think they are all puppets for the big banking families.

I blame Obama just as much as Bush. Obama could have brought the troops home on day one, but he actually pushed for more troops and more droning. If they have in fact backed off then they are simply waiting to jump on our next foreign entanglement that they no doubt already have planned for us. Or they may be planning our economic crash next.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 4:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

At least we all agree the war was and is wrong. That's a big step forward, dare I say.. "Progress"?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 7:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

To add to what anthuant said I wonder if Dies' friends and coworkers see the connection between bars and drunk driving?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 18, 2014 at 8:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@Bill- The connection is that Lois Capps is behind it all, after all, it is all her fault.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
February 22, 2014 at 10:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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