About CJ Ford
CJ Ford used to believe that if police apprehended someone it was because they had broken the law. That is, until one day, while driving through Torrance, an officer going in the opposite direction, did a U-turn and pulled him over. The officer claimed that he pulled Ford over because of the tint on his windows. Ford told the officer that he bought the car like that, however he would make the appropriate corrections to a fix it ticket that he assumed the officer was going to write. But the officer pursued a different aspect of the detention other than a mere “fix it ticket”. The officer asked to look in the trunk of Ford’s car. Ford refused. Ford told the officer that he did not have probable cause to search his trunk. The police officer asked whether Ford was hiding something, and persisted to request access to the trunk. However, Ford continued to refuse the several attempts made by the officer to search his trunk.
As the officer continued to argue, within minutes there were at least 5 police cars surrounding Ford, and a helicopter began hovering overhead. Some of the additional officers that arrived began to take turns questioning Ford as to why he would not
allow them to access his car trunk, or allow them to enter into his vehicle to search it. Ford continued to resist the officers demands to search his car or his trunk, even though Ford’s fear level was to the extreme. Ford knew that he must persist, the challenge to his constitutional rights were at stake.
Ford’s fears were justified because previously Ford had been contacted to investigate several cases by defendants and inmates who claimed drugs had been planted in the trunks of their cars, or somewhere in their vehicles in Los Angeles. It turned out that his clients were right. Coincidentally, at the time of this detention, Ford was just returning from an interview with a defendant at Airport Courthouse who had made these claims against officers, when this event occurred. Ford held his ground because Ford wanted to make sure that everyone who lived in the area would come out of their homes and businesses out of curiosity as to why all these police officers were stopping him. Ford wanted to make sure that these officers did not plant any drugs with all of the bystanders watching the event.
Later, Ford would discover that this was all part of what is now known as the “Rampart Scandal” in which multiple police officers were indicted for planting drugs in defendants’ cars, and extorting individuals on trumped up drug offenses involving sales of narcotics. That day changed the way Ford thought about the justice system and how it was corrupted and deliberately targeted minorities and marginalized citizens.
Ford, the founder of C. J. Ford Private Investigations, started specializing in criminal and wrongful conviction cases. Ford now manages and runs one of the largest wrongful conviction programs designed to fully investigate criminal cases. These are some of the programs.
Investigate evidence needed for new trials for people who have been the victim of a corrupt justice system
Find DNA evidence or other exculpatory evidence.
Find missing witnesses that were never questioned or part of the trial that may
have very critical evidence.
Question recanting witnesses to determine if they were coerced or extorted in
giving their testimony.
Interview rebuttal witnesses.
Research history of prosecution witnesses to make sure that they testified with
Research history of police or detective to see if any other complaints of
misconduct were filed.
Try to solve the case and put the correct person in custody.
Look for alternative solutions such as pardons, clemency, unjust sentencing,
and other early release prospects.
Most of Ford’s wrongful conviction cases involve Prosecutorial Misconduct, Police Misconduct, and Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel. Ford works both on State and Federal cases. Ford also works on cases where the police department has even closed, rejected, or will not pursue the cases.
Ford has lived in Orange County for most of his life. At age 64, he has seen firsthand the discrimination that can take place and the ways it surfaces in the criminal justice system, especially toward black people like himself. He has been involved with criminal justice for over thirty years, beginning as a bounty hunter recovering bail bonds, then moving on to private investigations. His most well-known case, that of Kenneth Clair has been ongoing for over ten years. Ford believes that everyone has the right to a fair trial, even if it takes years to overturn a wrongful conviction sentence.
Occasionally, there are guilty inmates who approach him looking to get out of prison. One inmate convicted of kidnapping, rape, brutally beating a woman, and leaving her to die, sought Ford’s services. After investigating the case, Ford found that all the evidence indicated that the man was guilty. When Ford confronted the inmate, he confessed. Ford's objective is to exonerate wrongfully convicted people, so you do not want to have a case fully investigated if the person is guilty.
Ford has compassion for people who are wrongfully convicted and are separated from their families and friends just because prosecutors flourish and receive promotions by the numbers of people they convict, regardless of whether or not the person is actually guilty of committing the crime. Ford believes that no matter how long it takes, a person is entitled to fight for their freedom when they are wrongfully convicted.
An example of how long and hard Ford will fight is his signature case, the Kenneth Clair Case. Kenneth Clair was convicted in 1987 for the murder of Linda Faye Rodgers in Santa Ana on November 15, 1984. Ford believes that Clair is innocent. In an ongoing investigation by Ford that has taken about a decade to complete because of opposition from not only the Prosecution, but Clair’s own defense representatives, Ford found the crime scene evidence that police said was destroyed. Later Ford discovered that the DNA was secretly tested, and Mr. Clair’s DNA was not found at the crime scene. However, another parties DNA was found at the crime scene. The DA refused to release the name of the person to the defense stating outlandish claims such as the person’s DNA is not relevant, that the DNA was left by a child that was too young to have committed the murder, that the DNA was eft by someone who wasn’t in the country at the time of the murder. However, the DA could not dispute that the DNA did not belong to Clair, which was Ford’s findings. The DA decided to come up with a theory that somehow Clair, the crime, but Clair was careful not to leave DNA. This theory is preposterous because in 1984 when the crime was committed, DNA was not a standard or proven method until about the late 1990’s. Factually, Clair would not have known that DNA could be extracted from sweat, dandruff, touching paper or other surfaces, and from other trace evidence.
The Kenneth Clair story is featured in the newly released second season of the Starz Docuseries
After Ford's findings, Ford took on one of the most prolific battles in the history of Orange County, which has never exonerated a death row inmate. The DA’s intention is to stall as much as possible, hoping that Clair dies in custody. Ford has expressed that the DA has no ethics or morals and would allow an innocent man to die to protect their “Win at all Cost” attitude. Also, Clair can claim about $125.00 per day for the 34 years he has been incarcerated, plus treble damages because he has been held maliciously. It is because of this revelation regarding the lack of Claire’s DNA, along with other factors, that has made Ford fight for Clair’s life. One factor was a statement from a child. The child actually witnessed the crime and told police detectives that it was a white man who committed the crime. Even the lead detective reported that the witness was creditable because the child’s depiction of the stab wounds, and other instruments that were used by the killer corresponded with the coroner's report. The detective tested the child using photos of different races and the child could clearly differentiate between races. The child mysteriously never testified at the trial. The fact that the child said it was a white man during the lead detectives racial test of the child was never heard by the jury.
Another factor was the Prosecution's star witness. She tried to work with the police department by wearing wires on two separate occasions to try to place Clair at the crime scene, and later stated that Clair showed her some jewelry that was supposedly taken during the murder. However, Ford came up with overwhelming evidence and statements from the girlfriend’s caregivers that was irrefutable in federal court. It turns out that the girlfriend had an accident that literally split her skull, and had a nearly complete memory lapse which was so severe that she could not even remember her own mother and father. Ford’s statements from the caregivers as testimony was so powerful and conclusive, that the court took it into evidence unopposed.
The caregivers’ statements to the appellate court that the girlfriend was in their care during that period of time, her memory loss, the fact that she was so sedated taking so much medication for her illness, and the fact that she could not even walk without assistance, was overwhelming. However, these two witnesses were never called on by the defense at the original trial, even though the defense was aware of the concise, factual, and critical evidence that they had to offer to their client’s defense.
The identity of the person whose DNA does match that found at the crime scene is yet undisclosed. Ford’s petition on change.org to the district attorney to release this evidence and, by extension, exonerate Kenneth Clair, got over 160,000 signatures. Ford’s decision to make his findings public and to bring more attention to Clair’s case was deliberate. Ordinarily, the DA’s office would never have responded to Ford’s investigative result claims publicly, and for the most part, would have ignored every effort Ford made to have the DA’s office review Clair’s case, and exonerate Clair.
So Ford started an unprecedented attack publicly on behalf of Clair on the DA’s office. Ford made sure that Clair’s case garnered attention not only on social media but also from news outlets such as the OC Register, the OC Weekly, Reason TV, and ABC. Ford pressed the DA’s office so profusely that the DA, who completely ignored Ford, now found himself in the position of having to respond to the public criticism demanding to know why the DA’s office refused to give Clair a new trial or exonerate him because of the overwhelming DNA evidence that existed. The DA’s office released a seven-part series on YouTube explaining that they were refusing to allow Kenneth Clair another trial because evidence did not support it. Ford stated,
“The worst mistake that the DA could’ve made was putting out that seven-part miniseries.” Ford stated that it provided him with more leads to exonerating evidence, and other evidence that the DA did not turn over to the defense, according to “Brady” law.
If Ford could retire, he says that he would become a full-time activist protesting social justice corruption, wrongful convictions, and other social injustices. However, Ford thinks that his best contribution is his investigation firm taking on wrongful convictions and criminal justice issues.