He was a Black prosecutor who leaked negative stories about alleged misconduct and racial discrimination in the LA County District Attorney's office. Now, the man behind the alias "Spooky Brown Esquire" has shared his story with reporter James Queally.
In an interview for "LA Times Today," Queally joined host Lisa McRee with the story.
Adewale Oduye had been a prosecutor at the D.A.’s office since 2008.
"He is the middle child of Nigerian immigrants, grew up in Brooklyn, and got very interested in the legal field from a young age during the O.J. Simpson trial. He distinctly remembers being 7 or 8 years old; I believe watching the closing arguments during the O.J. trial and Johnnie Cochran. And was just taken aback to this idea of this Black prosecutor who was giving this strong, intense argument about racism and policing, which was not something being discussed as much now as it was back in '94," said Queally.
By working in the D.A.'s office as a Black man, Oduye felt he could do some good.
"Yeah, he conferred with several of his law school friends and several friends to become public defenders. He had initially flown here and came out here to take an interview with the public defender's office and then reversed course and went over to the prosecutor's office because he believed he could make a difference. And there were not that many Black prosecutors in the office at the time," Queally added.
One of the reasons Oduye investigated the workings of the D.A.'s office is because supervisors racially discriminated against him. And, Queally says there was a long list of complaints.
"Oduye felt charges were, in many cases, over filed against minority defendants. He was frustrated with prosecutors not wanting to hold police accountable for misconduct cases or not pressing them when presenting cases. He hit his breaking point when he was working at the Pomona courthouse; he had this one supervisor who he believes was purposely giving him cases he could not win," said Queally.
In total, Oduye wrote about a dozen posts on the website Medium, and the first entry was about a defendant named Eric Taylor, who the LA County Sheriff's Department arrested in 2009.
"Eric was on parole, he had rolled a stop sign, was pulled over, and because he was a probationer, at the time, the insurance company had reason to search his home. So, they did, and they claimed they found a gun, ammunition, and a significant amount of marijuana underneath it. As Adewale gets the case and starts looking into it, he notices the couch is leveled to the floor, and there is no room. So, there is no way they could have found a gun, drugs; they would not have fit. So, when he confronted the deputy, they offered a slightly modified version of the story. And, Adewale says he believed the deputies effectively framed this guy," said Queally.
The "Spooky Brown" nickname came from "The Spook Who Sat by the Door," a 1969 spy novel about the CIA's token hiring its first Black officer. The protagonist goes on to use the agency's teachings to become a revolutionary, fighting to aid Black communities throughout the U.S.
"Obviously there's also something of a slur related to that nickname, and Adewale did want to have that front and center, given the discrimination allegations he was writing about. He did resign in late October, or early November, just before the election. And now he's working in the education field trying to get a school built in the Bay Area," Queally added.
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