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Cases Highlight Risks With Informants

Publication Date: 
November 18, 2010
The Wall Street Journal Online
Justin Scheck

Professor George Fisher is quoted in the following story on prosecuting leaders of organized crime in California. The Wall Street Journal Online reports:

A man charged with gang crimes in San Francisco federal court is now suing law-enforcement officials, claiming that he was a paid informant—and alleging that officials broke a promise to protect him and his family from retribution.

The suit, filed in Oakland federal court last month by a defendant in a case against alleged members of the violent MS-13 gang, could force prosecutors and police to reveal sensitive details about tactics they use to cultivate informants.


But prosecutors say without informants, it would be nearly impossible to go after violent gangs like the MS-13, which is led by immigrants from El Salvador and allegedly has committed crimes in Los Angeles and San Francisco. "It's very difficult to prosecute leaders of an organized crime organization without using members of the crime ring," says George Fisher, a law professor at Stanford Law School and a former state prosecutor.