In The News
Criminal Defense Attorney Matthew Ruff has a strong belief that the confidentiality of his clients is the most important issue when it comes to high profile cases. As a result, he will rarely give interviews about his cases. The media will typically have its own agenda and motives which are not always in line with the client's interests. The information contained on this page are excerpts from news accounts of cases Mr. Ruff has defended:
Suspect Released in DUI Case Involving the Death of a Sheriff Deputy
"An attorney held in the death of a Kern County sheriff's deputy was set to be released from custody Tuesday after the Kern County District Attorney's office announced it did not have enough evidence to file charges against him. Attorney Daniel Willsey was injured in a Nov. 14 crash on Highway 178 that killed a Kern County sheriff's Deputy. The California Highway Patrol arrested Willsey on suspicion of second-degree murder, believing he may have had illegal levels of drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the crash. But Kern County Assistant District Attorney Dan Sparks said the toxicology reports that would reveal these levels are not yet available, and he did not know when they would be. Sparks said that when Willsey was injured, he was given medication. But the prosecutor's office needs to know what, if anything, he had in his system at the time of the crash. Since the Kern County District Attorney's office does not have enough evidence at this time to file any charges, Willsey will be released, Sparks said. Willsey's attorney, Matthew Ruff, said he believes Willsey was held longer than he should have been. Typically arrestees are kept in custody for 48 hours. If the Kern County district attorney does not file charges by then, the inmate must be released. But the Kern County Sheriff's Department held Willsey in custody while he was in the hospital because he was not physically able to be arraigned. A judge ruled the CHP had just cause to arrest Willsey and keep him until he was physically able to be arraigned." Defense attorney Matthew Ruff had served a request for discovery on the CHP amid allegations that the deputy may have been driving recklessly at the time of the crash. Although the actions of any victim are usually not pertinent to legal defenses, in felony DUI cases such as this, if the other driver was the sole cause of the accident it could be presented to defend the case in Court.
"Willsey was released from the hospital this weekend, meaning the Kern County Sheriff's Department could keep him in custody until Tuesday without arraigning him. The Kern County District Attorney issued a news release just before the scheduled arraignment, saying charges would not be filed Tuesday. Sparks said he couldn't answer whether charges would ever be filed. Ruff said he hopes the prosecutor's office will consider charges based on the facts of the case, rather than heated community sentiment resulting from the death of a peace officer."
Investigation Continues in DUI Case Involving the Death of a Sheriff Deputy
"A special team of investigators with the California Highway Patrol's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Teams is reconstructing the accident, officials said Thursday. CHP Sgt. Chris Boudreaux said his team is attempting to establish Willsey's speed at the time of the crash. Investigators use physics to understand what happened in cases. It's "critical that we get every entry and exit angle for this collision correct," Boudreaux said. "We want to make sure we get this right. We know it's going to be a very important, high-profile case." He couldn't say how long that will take. Mike Yraceburn, a supervising deputy district attorney, said his office is waiting for the accident reconstruction, forensic test results and other evidence to come in and then will decide on charges. "We believe the victim and the victim's family deserve to have our best effort to prosecute this case appropriately, so we are going to make sure we have all the evidence before we proceed," he said. Willsey could face a variety of charges, from second-degree murder to vehicular homicide with or without gross negligence, Yraceburn said. The shortest statute of limitations on those potential charges is eight years. It is not uncommon in high profile DUI death cases to have investigators take extra time to look into every aspect of the case prior to the filing of criminal charges.
Willsey's attorney, Matthew Ruff, did not return phone calls for comment Thursday. The Kern County District Attorney's office forensic science division did toxicology tests for alcohol, common illicit drugs and prescription medications for Hudnall and Willsey. The crime lab finished its testing in late November and early December, said Dan DeFraga, supervising criminalist. the sheriiff deputy's results came back negative, he said. DeFraga declined to discuss Willsey's test result." Toxicology results in DUI cases often form the significant basis of any criminal prosecution, the tests are sometimes delayed particularly in high profile cases.