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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Police State and Prisons

Attorneys for 4 of the Santa Cruz 11 go to Status & Sanctions Hearing Monday
by Robert Norse
Friday Apr 5th, 2013 4:41 PM
The persecution and prosecution of Gabriella Ripply-Phipps, Brent Adams, Angel Alcantara, and Cameron Laurendeau grinds on Monday 8 AM in Department 6 in Santa Cruz Superior Court. The status hearing will schedule pre-trial motions and the trial itself, now slated for early May, but likely to be postponed because of one of the attorneys has a conflict. Meanwhile attorneys for the four have appealed to a higher court for a Writ to stop the proceedings and throw out the cases in a challenge to Judge Volkman's dismissal of a 995 Motion last month that itself challenged the forwarding of felony vandalism charges against the 4 to trial. If the trial proceeds, it's expected to take 2 weeks.

These four defendants are the last of the Santa Cruz Eleven.

INCOMPETENT AND MENDACIOUS D.A. REBEKAH YOUNG--FIRED OR RESIGNED?
Several weeks ago, Bob Lee's District Attorney's office revealed that assistant D.A. Rebekah Young, who earned the dubious distinction of being the only D.A. in memory to be sanctioned by the court for misconduct in repeatedly failing to turn over police video and records to attorneys for the eleven defendants. Rumor had it that Young was headed for Texas to resume her career as a reporter in Austin or Dallas.

Some wondered why such a young and inexperienced lawyer was assigned to face eleven attorneys in court in such a high-profile case Considering defendants--if found guilty and given the maximum--could have faced seven years in prison--each. Defendants and their allies expressed both a sense of vindication that Young was gone from the department and apprehension that a more experienced team was likely to be taking over the prosecution.

EVEN TOKEN SANCTION IMPOSITION STALLED BY COLLUSIVE JUDICIARY?
The unprecedented $500 "slap on the wrist" fine leveled against the prosecution for misconduct had neither been paid nor formally appealed after the 60 day period ran out in March. The D.A.'s Office (or Young herself) reportedly asked the Court whether the fine was against her personally or the office of D.A. Bob Lee. No answer was forthcoming, and the time to appeal the sanction ran out after that 60 day period expired.

Scuttlebutt around the Superior Court Clerk's office had it that the issue might come up at this April 8th hearing. The actual costs to at least two of the attorneys involved ran into the tens of thousands of dollars for the dozen or so hearings and multiple motions and ignored discovery demands. These were disallowed by Judge Burdick in his token fine of Young. He also refused to dismiss the cases as a sanction for the abusive prosecution that has repeatedly concealed or failed to present evidence demanded by the defense (and ordered by the Burdick himself).

NO ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE WITCH HUNTERS, NO VINDICATION FOR THE VICTIMS.
In spite of the fact that seven of the defendants after months of ordeal had their cases dismissed for lack of evidence, though none have yet demanded a factual innocence hearing (which reportedly is nearly impossible to win).

None have filed complaints of misconduct and malfeasance with the Bar Association and/or the Commission on Judicial Performance for the political prosecution and failure to turn over documents in repeated contempt of court orders to do so.


CASES DISMISSED BUT THE CARNIVAL OF CRUELTY CONTINUES:
The Final Four defendants face a possible four year sentence and a "restitution fine" to Wells Fargo Bank of $23,000 or more. There has been no evidence presented in the many hours of hearings that any of the four destroyed or vandalized any property. Rather the tangled theory of the discredited Young was that the mere presence of the four in the building was sufficient evidence of their vandalism under an "aiding and abetting" theory.

FANCIFUL VANDALISM CHARGE
Critics pointed out that though Young had presented some evidence that some were in the building (though no clear evidence that they had refused to leave after being warned), there was no testimony that they "aided and abetted" the trespass action--a requirement for the finding that they were also responsible for the "probable consequence" of felony vandalism by parties unknown.

CRIME OR CLARION CALL TO THE COMMUNITY?
The "trespass" is described by others as a First Amendment activity shared by hundreds as well as a form of direct action whistle-blowing against the acknowledged criminal bankster Wells Fargo, who leased the vacant building for the last 3 1/2 years prior to the occupation and continue to lease the vacant structure.

That building like other vacant banks downtown has become a squat refuge for some of the more desperate or audacious of the city's homeless population. Santa Cruz has legal shelter for less than 5% of its homeless population two-thirds of the year and a perpetual waiting list. One of the stated objectives of those who actively occupied the building and announced their intentions (none of whom are on trial) was to create a Community Center that might also serve to shelter those in need.

GRIM HISTORY IN DETAIL
For recent history of the case, see "Four Individuals to Stand Trial for 75 River Street Bank Occupation" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/03/12/18733496.php .

For more of the legal documents involved, see "Santa Cruz Eleven--The Final Four Demand Dismissal of Charges" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/03/07/18733298.php

For a transcript of the March 11th Hearing which sent the cases forward to trial and the legal papers challenging that misuse of legal power see below.

For a broader perspective of the occupation and subsequent legal history see http://www.thestreetspirit.org/the-santa-cruz-eleven-are-political-scapegoats/ .

A benefit for Food not Bombs August 14th at India Joze 3:30 - 6 PM will also feature speakers from this case.
§Transcript of the March 11th Hearing
by Robert Norse Friday Apr 5th, 2013 4:41 PM

Judge Burdick at this March 11th Hearing Forwarded the "Trespass" and "Felony Vandalism" Charges to Trial. The appeal document above seeks to have that judgment overturned.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by G
Friday Apr 5th, 2013 6:33 PM
If you look into Wells Fargo now, it is easy to find news of their legal troubles. Including at least one (other) troubled case involving protestors.

I have noticed a growing number of articles describing the chronic, countrywide (ahem) problems with district attorneys, prosecutorial misconduct, and police misconduct of various flavors.

Perhaps the police-state-in-waiting is finally being outed, at large?

#FireBobLee
by Robert Norse
Tuesday Apr 9th, 2013 1:02 AM
The status hearing was delayed and nearly postponed because of the late arrival of Cameron Laurendeau's attorney Alexis Briggs, who was tied up in traffic on her drive down from San Francisco. Neither Laurendeau nor any of Final Four of the Santa Cruz Eleven were in court, though their attorneys were. Becky Johnson, David Silva, and I were there in the audience supporting and observing. Cathy Kelly of the Sentinel was also about.

Three of the attorneys noted they'd likely have conflicts with other trials, but Judge Burdick suggested that could all be resolved on May 9th at the Trial Readiness hearing (the actual trial is still slated to begin on May 13th).

Completely absent from the trial was any resolution of the Sanctions issue--the $500 fine that Burdick imposed on the D.A.'s office in response to former D.A. Rebekah Young's repeated failure to obey court orders and provide the prosecution's evidence to the defense lawyers. The fine was supposed to have been paid by February, but the D.A.'s office requested a stay. No stay was officially granted, but several months later (as noted in the main story above), the fine hadn't been paid.

Attorney Briggs, one of the two attorneys who requested the sanctions, had no further info on the status of the sanctions, noting it was in the hands of the court.

When I spoke to the clerks at the Superior Court windows after the hearing, they had no further information since the files were still not available, but one noted that it was strange that the fine had neither been paid, stayed, or appealed. That clerk suggested that the judges may have decided to "go easy" on the D.A. and simply let the matter lapse with a wink and a nodd.

On checking with both the accounting department, I found no request for $500 had been sent to the County. The D.A.'s office reported no check had been cut to pay the court.

So it may be that the Old Boy's Network is running smoothly. A political prosecution that got a little too blatant did result in the "letting go" of D.A. Rebekah Young, but no record of the abusive record to scar the handsome face of D.A. Bob Lee.

When I asked for forms to make a complaint to the Commission on Judicial Performance, I was told in Superior Court chambers, they had none and that I'd have to write to San Francisco. When I went to the law library, they were out (though they directed me to the on-line site where the form was available).

I hope to have a look at the full SC-11 file when it returns to the clerk's offices and may do an update if I learn anything new.

At the moment, the abuses of Bob Lee's office are out of the spotlight and 4 SC-11 defendants are headed for lengthy, costly, and grueling felony trials in May.
by Mayberry PD
Monday Apr 15th, 2013 2:28 AM
Don't rule out a run for Santa Cruz Mayor by SCPD Deputy Chief Steve Clark.