Thursday, June 3, 2010

'Crucial' Santana, Vasquez case
resumes today in Yuba Superior

The parties return to Yuba County Superior Court today to finish up a major hearing in the matter of People v. Santana, Vasquez.

Attorneys Jesse Santana and David Vasquez have yet to be arraigned on the alleged charges of bribery, conspiracy and obstruction of justice originally brought some two years ago.

The case got bogged down yet again last month when a key witness “took the 5th” in order to avoid commenting on his part in the legally crucial case.

With his own separate, but related criminal trial expected to open in the next week or two Joseph Griesa invoked his right to remain silent in an evidentiary hearing on allegations that two lawyers broke the law and violated legal ethics by arranging a $100,000 payment to settle a teenage girl’s sexual harassment lawsuit.

Griesa initially objected to testifying at all on a defense “points and authorities” motion in People v. Jesse Santana and David Vasquez, case #08-825.

Griesa’s Sacramento-based attorney, Kenneth L. Rosenfeld, told Judge John Darlington that any questions defense attorneys might have for his client had either already been asked and answered in grand jury hearings, or he would decline to answer them now under provisions of the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution.

Griesa was previously convicted of some charges related to his alleged unlawful sexual conduct with a 17-year-old girl who was working for him at Mitchell’s Towing Service.

A second trial on unresolved charges in that case was expected to begin June 8, but there has been another complication.

Retired Nevada County Judge Ersel Edwards had been named to preside over the Griesa trial, but defense recently filed a motion to disqualify him.

It is not yet known how that motion fared.

Reasons Santana, Vasquez is "crucial" are manifold...

On it hang two law careers, issues impinging on how attorneys may conduct cases and relate to clients and – depending on how it plays out – the reputations of several prosecutors, two district attorneys and at least one recently appointed judge.

The complex legal controversies in this case have already dragged in the state Attorney General's Office, which has two attorneys acting as the prosecutors, because the means and motives of the Yuba County District Attorney's Office have been strongly challenged.

Santana, Vasquez could eventually reach out to force the wider legal communities in California and potentially the US to reassess how civil and criminal law is practiced.

How many are ultimately affected depends entirely on how Darlington ultimately rules on the defense motion when court resumes in Department #7 at 1:30 p.m. today.

Darlington’s ruling could also determine whether this two-years-and-counting case ever does go to trial.


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