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Burdick Babies Bad-Faith Barrister
D.A. Bob Lee's Bigtop of Fanciful Felonies returns to Department 6 at 9 AM on Monday, January 7th at the County Courthouse for a Preliminary Hearing for the remaining 7 of the Santa Cruz Eleven. It seemed clear, Friday, at the Readiness hearing that Burdick had developed an unusually soft spot in his heart for the terminally-incompetent assistant-D.A. Rebekah Young. who has been handling the case, missing deadlines, misinforming (or lying) to the defense and the court, and failing to provide requested evidence. The defendants are falsely charged with felony conspiracy, felony vandalism, and misdemeanor trespass in the peaceful occupation of bankster Wells Fargo's leased but 3 1/2 years vacant bank at 75 River St.
TURNING A BLIND EYE TO A PROSECUTION ABUSES IN AUGUST
Back in August, in spite of extensive and perhaps wilful negligence, Rebekah Young got a slap on the wrist and a pass from Judge Burdick. He refused to drop the charges even though Young's phony reassurances, delays, and outright violations of court orders had delayed the Preliminary Hearing for six months as she ignored defense demands for police reports, video tapes, and internal memos. This was all as of mid-August.
The consequences to the defendants were significant. One remained out of work because of the felony charge. Another had attempted suicide. Two others were living in their vehicles, barely able to scrape up enough money to come to court again and again.
At that August hearing, Burdick added insult to injury. He postponed the hearings for another five months. He also refused to hold an immediate hearing to determine how Young should be sanctioned for her prosecutorial misconduct, delaying the hearing until January 4, 2013—the Friday court appearance.
Then he refused to postponed any sanctions hearing five months and similarly prolonged the agony of the defendants for another half year. Some can not get credentials with phony felony charges hanging over their heads.
Young's violations were repeated and, it seemed to everyone but Burdick, intentional. she'd explicitly violated court orders to provide all requested information (video and documents requested months before) by August 23rd, upsetting even Burdick. She claimed the D.A.'s office had made all records available for viewing there—an unusual procedure—but every defense attorney present, swore this was simply not the case.
On August 23rd, Burdick also declined to impose any evidentiary sanction (that is, excluding evidence that Young either negligently or intentionally with held in the face of repeated requests).
THE JANUARY 4TH HEARING
It was a fairly short court appearance. Six defendants (Cameron Laurendeau didn't make it down from the Bay Area) and five attorneys (Jesse Rubin, Franklin “Angel” Alcantara's lawyer, and Brian Hackett,Gabriella Ripplyphipps lawyer had a sub).
And one judge—Paul Burdick.
The purpose of the hearing was to establish “readiness for the Preliminary Hearing” on Monday January 7th. And to finally—half a year later—establish some punishment for D.A. Rebekah Young's repeated violation of discovery procedures and court orders, essentially withholding information from the defense and lying about it.
At the January 4th hearing, Burdick had become even more tender-hearted towards Young. Attorney Alexis Briggs (Cameron's lawyer) suggested that the D.A.'s office or Young personally be required to pay $7000 for her expenses. He gave the attorneys a little more than 48 hours to produce arguments justifying any financial sanctions against her and provide a full record of expenses incurred by the attorneys because of Young's lawless behavior.
Why, asked several of the defendants, was the judge only considering the consequences to the attorneys—how about the defendants? No attorneys raised the issue.
CONSEQUENCES TO THE REAL VICTIMS
Two cannot get their teaching credentials renewed since questionable felony charges are hanging over their heads. Franklin "Angel" Alcantara missed his grandmother's funeral in Fresno when forced to attend a hearing in August 2012 on threat of arrest if he didn't. Defendant, Becky Johnson, was not able to attend her 40th Class Reunion out of state, nor help a longtime girlfriend in Washington State when she provided hospice care for her partner of 25 years until his death October 2nd. Yet at Friday's hearing, Judge Burdick would only consider sanctions in the form of travel expenses incurred for out-of-county lawyers, and only up to a maximum value of $1000.
As a final insult, Burdick advised Briggs and her fellow attorneys that he would only consider financial sanctions under $1000 even though the expenses of two of the attorneys (David Beauvais and Briggs) were five to seven times that amount. Both had to make repeated trips down for unnecessary court appearances that simply required again postponing because Young had held back evidence.
Why would Burdick consider reimbursing only a small fraction of the costs incurred? Because to grant any amount over $1000 would mean an automatic complaint to the Bar Association—something Burdick didn't want to happen to the D.A. Young. I was furious about Burdick's apparent complicity in moving to shield Young from the consequences of her misconduct. And at my attorney David Beauvais when he declined to file such a charge independently. To me, this showed how even “activist” attorneys back off to protect their legal colleagues, privileges and prestige, fearing the condemnation of their peers.
Lee has publicly claimed that his main concern is to pay off Wells Fargo's inflated and unlikely $26,000 in alleged “damages” before he will consider dropping charges. Burdick stated he intended for the preliminary hearing to last only 1 day beginning Monday at 9:00 AM in Dept 6.
Even though a previous Preliminary Hearing for two defendants had lasted three days, and one for four defendants two days, Rebekah Young in the breezy fashion so typical of her suggested the hearing for seven defendants, would take only one day. This, in spite of the fact she was calling six police officers and the defense at least two witnesses.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 AM Monday morning in Dept. 6. Bring popcorn and tomatoes. There may be a brief meeting of supporters and defendants before the hearing, so come early--particularly if you want a free (for two hours) parking spot.
The opinions above are my own and do not necessarily represent those of any of the other SC-11 or their supporters.
For a broader discussion of the background, see my comments following the Santa Cruz Sentinel's surface-skimming account of the January 4th Readiness Hearing at
For more information visit the SC-11 website at http://www.santacruzeleven.org or call SC11 Media liaison, Steven Pleich at 831 466 6078
at http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_22328776/no-ruling-yet-whether-those-charged-75-river .
Sgt. Michael Harms, while adopting a wide-eyed "just trying to help" pose--his signature posture--shifted his story several times to attempt to incriminate innocent people.
I actually like Sgt. Harms personally, but the record is pretty clear.
His testimony attempted to smear Gabriella Ripplyphipps as a "spokesperson" for the "conspiracy", when there was no testimony she was ever in the building but attempted to assist police at their initiative through phone contact and actually going to the police station to (successfully) avert violence and assist the police in clearing the building voluntarily.
Harms also repeatedly mischaracterized the level of noise and inaudible warnings given to the group. He also attempted the ludicrous makeover job of describing the police assault--backed up by a line of menacing police in riot gear as being an attempt to "protect the protesters" (from being hurt by the furniture barricade set up).
In so far as he advised his military-minded superiors (like the ever-smug and sniggering Deputy Chief Steve Clark) to back off, he does need to be credited with avoiding a riot. This, of course, was after having initially provoked scores of people outside the building by using a squad of riot police with active batons instead of real negotiations.
When the community response forced the police to back off ( their Grenadier Squad with "riot control" tear gas, etc. was at the ready and on the scene according to prior testimony), lots of likely property destruction was averted.
I wonder if the next time a protest like this happens, activists will be so trusting and controlled. The duplicity of the police in rewarding the peaceful ending of this occupation with delayed felony charges against peacemakers, reporters, and supporters is likely to be long-remembered.
Outside the courtroom, Harms hypocritically expressed "regret" that he was there, but the force of his testimony showed his intentions, loyalties, and objectives. To incriminate, convict, and make examples of activists engaged in peaceful high-profile protest that challenges corrupt institutions and practices in the community directly.
It's important to understand his role as a steady opponent of First Amendment activity in Santa Cruz.
From the Drum Circle dragnet to the First Night DIY citations of 2010 against Wes Modes, Whitney Wilde, and Curtis Reliford to the ceaseless vendetta against Anna Richardson and Miguel de Leon to drive them out of the downtown to this latest exercise in hypocrisy, Harms has through his actions shown his true pretentions to social service sweetie as mostly protective color.
Drum Circle Dragnet: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/05/14/18647910.php http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/04/28/18646028.php
The Richardson/deLeon smackdown: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/03/20/18642123.php
Undermining the DIY New Year's Parade: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/07/18/18654218.php
When the chips are down, Harms is there with the force to intimidate. And intimidation is what this latest judicial jamboree is all about. With a large dash of "saving face" and a sprinkling of meat for the "Take Back Santa Cruz" mob.