Friday, September 3, 2010

A day in a defense attorney's life

Tom Nadeau

It is 8 a.m. Monday, judgment and sentencing day in Yuba County.

Geoffrey Burton Wander, “first conflict defense attorney” (another way of saying “alternate public defender”) arrives at his office just up C Street from the courthouse. He is wearing a white Panama hat and toting a pet carrier inside of which a rat races around trying to get out.

Let’s see: judgment day; lawyer in suit; rat trying to escape a cage. The sun’s barely over the Sierra and the day’s symbolism is already piling up.

Wander opens the cage and the rat inside, Cutie-Pie, is instantly out. The little gray bugger scurries around receptionist Elizabeth Halverson’s desk and … up my arm!

“She’s friendly,’ Halverson reassures me.

After the rat and the reporter are disengaged, we retire to Wander’s inner office. He fingers through his message slips; returns a few calls.

This is a good time to explain the deal Wander and I had: if he’d let me follow him around on a typical courthouse work day, I’d promise not to reveal any of his clients’ names, or any identifying details of their cases.

Credentials on the wall ... Read more »

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Vacant federal judgeships abound

Almost one in eight federal judgeships is vacant in the country and legal scholars warn that the increasingly politicized confirmation process threatens the administration of justice across the nation.
Of the 102 federal judgeships open, there are nominees pending for 39 seats ... Read more >

Monday, August 30, 2010

Griesa sentenced: short jail term,
lifetime registration as a sex offender

by Tom Nadeau

Former tow truck firm owner Joseph Griesa was sentenced in Yuba County Superior Court Friday to 270 days in jail and five years on probation for being convicted of 10 criminal counts involving sex with a minor girl and payroll tax violations.

The toughest penalty visiting Judge Ersel Edwards imposed on the 45-yer-old Griesa was compelling him to register as a convicted sex offender annually for the rest of his life.

Griesa must also stay away any minors and schools, although Edwards did allow one exception that permits him to transport his own children to and from school.

Edwards also levied a lengthy roster of fines and fees against the convicted felon.

Sacramento defense attorney Kenneth Rosenfeld asked that Griesa be allowed to serve his jail term on a work-furlough status. That would allow him to go leave jail every day to go to work, but would have to return to the jail to spend the night.

Edwards left it up to the jail commander whether to permit that.

Little hard time, but not so easy, either ... Read more »

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Judge Darlington denies all motions;
Santana, Vasquez goes to trial, maybe

by Tom Nadeau

Visiting Judge John Darlington denied Friday all defense and prosecution motions to reconsider his previous rulings in the Yuba County felony matter of People v. Santana, Vasquez, CRF-#08-825.

Neither side was happy with his ruling. Each indicated they would, “take it to a higher court,” as the saying goes.

In early August, Darlington granted some – but not all – of the motions attorneys Jesse Santana and David Vasquez had made seeking dismissal of charges they had violated rules of law and ethics while negotiating a settlement between boss-sex attacker Joseph Griesa and his employee-victim, “S.A.”

Griesa was sentenced later the same day in that criminal case by a different judge.

The Santana, Vasquez proceedings Friday allowed the lawyers one last chance to persuade Darlington to revise his earlier decisions.

Darlington listened, but after a 20-minute recess, returned to say nothing the lawyers had said changed his mind. The two must stand trial.

If and when, maybe, possibly ... Read more »