Archive for the ‘South Bay’ Category

Attorneys: A Molester’s Best Fashion Accessory

September 18, 2006

Memo to Dean Schwartzmiller: You know what goes great with bright orange socks? A lawyer!

And that is exactly what the 65-year-old defendant asked for after a Santa Clara County jury convicted him this afternoon of molesting two San Jose boys after a trial in which Schwartzmiller erratically tried to defend himself.

Schwartzmiller, clad in a gray shirt, khakis and an ill-considered set of bright orange socks, stood stoically before Superior Court Judge Edward Lee as a clerk read the verdict forms.



Schwartzmiller May Be Too Cool For Own Good

September 1, 2006

It’s safe to say that things in Judge Edward Lee’s San Jose courtroom have moved far beyond PG-13.

The jury trial of accused child molester Dean Schwartzmiller just wrapped its first week, and there has been no shortage of crass, bizarre, uncomfortable, pornographic moments scattered throughout the last five days.

The slightly nauseating circumstances seemed obvious to just about everyone in the fourth-floor courtroom — except the defendant.


Day One: Schwartzmiller Doesn’t Self-Destruct

August 28, 2006

One of the most impressive things about today’s opening arguments in the Dean Schwartzmiller trial is that the defendant, representing himself on molestation charges, wasn’t flat-out terrible.

Sure, his remarks to the jury weren’t as tight and refined as the prosecutor’s, but it’s obvious Schwartzmiller knows a thing or two about the law and isn’t about to go down without a fight.

(This could end up becoming one of the longest three weeks in Santa Clara Deputy DA Steven Fein’s life.)


Carr Beats Sinunu in Money Race

July 31, 2006

The latest Santa Clara County campaign fundraising numbers came out Monday.

In the race for district attorney, Dolores Carr, with $43,401, raised nearly double what her opponent, Karyn Sinunu said she brought in the May 21-to-June 30 filing period.

According to the county elections office, Carr, who came in first in the June primary, raised $43,401. Her expenses totaled $73,957, according to her statement. Carr has an ending cash balance of $34,504, the documents show.

Sinunu’s campaign filings weren’t available online by press time, but when contacted Monday, Sinunu said she raised $22,000.

Julie O’Shea


Carr Picks Up Momentum — Sinunu Slows?

July 18, 2006

Things have been sort of quiet on the Santa Clara DA election front lately. But then Dolores Carr’s people sent out an e-mail: the superior court judge managed to pick up a few key endorsements last week — including from one of her former opponents in the campaign.


Bowman Returns — With a Cause

July 12, 2006

It didn’t take Cameron Bowman long to bounce back.

The former Santa Clara prosecutor, who was reportedly escorted out of the county administration building in March and resigned shortly after, resurfaced earlier this month: He’s starting up his own private practice.


It Ain’t the 2007 Budget Worrying Santa Clara DA

June 21, 2006

There’s nothing like a tense budget season to put everyone in the Santa Clara County administration building on edge.

The board of supervisors finally put an end to all the back-and-forth negotiations when it signed off on the new county budget last week. And while there will be no layoffs in the Santa Clara district attorney and public defender offices in the 2007 fiscal year, the departments aren’t exactly jumping for joy either — especially when they look ahead to a potentially agonizing 2008.


Carr Takes Back “Investigation” Comment

June 5, 2006

Among the slew of last-minute endorsement releases and reminders to vote, a rather odd e-mail made its way to various media outlets last week.

Santa Clara district attorney hopeful Dolores Carr, in a five line-statement, announced Wednesday that she’d misspoken at a May 18 candidate debate when she told a sparse crowd that there is “a current investigation going on of one of my opponents.”

“That statement was misleading, and I retract and repudiate the statement,” Carr wrote.

When reached by telephone Thursday, Carr refused to discuss the matter further, saying her statement spoke for itself.

The May 18 forum at the Milpitas library came one day after news surfaced that retiring DA George Kennedy had opened up an investigation into a 1997 drug case that Karyn Sinunu – the office’s chief assistant – chose not to prosecute. Sinunu is running for DA and is considered a frontrunner going into Tuesday’s primary.

Sinunu immediately took offense at Carr’s remarks, saying that no candidate is being investigated and anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Asked Friday if she demanded Carr issue a retraction, Sinunu dodged the question, saying that the statement spoke for itself.

Kennedy has remained tight-lipped about the investigation. It’s unclear why the office is looking into the matter now or even if the focus is on Sinunu. It is clear Kennedy’s support of his chief deputy has begun to wane in recent weeks. He stripped her of her media duties in April and has criticized Sinunu’s campaign.

— Julie O’Shea



Would-be DA’s Count Their Money

May 30, 2006

The primary election may still be a week away, but the money race for Santa Clara district attorney hopefuls has come to an end.

Surprisingly (or not), the three who’ve reported numbers all have cash left in their coffers — some more than others. The two who end up making the November runoff will probably need all the money they can get their hands on. The primary is next Tuesday.

Pulling in the most contributions in this final leg was Judge Dolores Carr with $88,120 — which includes a $10,000 loan she made to herself — according to finance disclosure statements filed with the county elections office last week.

The filing period covered March 18 through May 20.

Carr spent $152,538 of her stash, which included a $60,972 check to Comcast Cable. She has an ending cash balance of $73,662, but still $54,310 in unpaid bills.

Coming in second was Deputy DA James Shore with $48,731, according to his contribution report. Shore spent $143,373 this filing period, and has $16,783 left going into next week’s primary. His unpaid bills total $400.

Chief Assistant DA Karyn Sinunu added an additional $40,388 to her campaign war chest, according to her latest filings. More than $85,000 of the $201,889 Sinunu spent this period went toward campaign literature and mailings.

Sinunu reported an ending cash balance of $14,559, with an outstanding debt of $8,064.

Assistant DA Marc Buller’s latest figures still have not reached the election’s office yet. He could not be reached for comment today.

Julie O’Shea

Troubled Prosecutor Gets New Assignment

May 23, 2006

This hasn’t been a very flattering year for Santa Clara prosecutor Benjamin Field.

The deputy has been plagued by prosecutorial misconduct allegations — first by the San Jose Mercury News in January and most recently by the Sixth District Court of Appeal, which called Field’s tactics “deceptive and reprehensible.” (.pdf)

News leaked today that Field won’t be prosecuting homicide and gang cases any more. Instead, he will be joining the economic crimes unit, where he will be handling intellectual property, major fraud and real estate cases.

Field insists that the reassignment has nothing to do with the hoopla surrounding his track record in the courtroom.

“It was my request,” Field said. “I’ve been here 13 years. I’ve handled violent murders and rapes almost that whole time.”

Field, who was once eying a bid for DA, said he wanted to try something different.

“It’s a new challenge,” he said.

Earlier this month, the Sixth District reversed a jury verdict in a sexually violent predator case Field prosecuted in 2005.

The court reversed the defendant’s commitment order, finding that Field has ignored two in limine orders stating that he not tell the jury that the defendant would be sent to a state hospital, not prison, if found guilty.

Disregarding the court’s order, Field specifically made reference to the consequences of a true finding in his rebuttal argument before the jury.

— Julie O’Shea