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DEAF PROSECUTOR WON’T GET COURT-FUNDED COURTROOM HELP The Justice Department has decided not to pursue a case against Santa Clara Superior Court for failing to accommodate a deaf deputy district attorney �- despite a 1996 settlement in which Santa Clara agreed to accommodate deaf patrons and employees. Marc Buller, supervisor for Deputy DA Lisa Rogers, said he received a letter from the Department of Justice’s Disability Rights Section saying it would not pursue a case for Rogers. “Officially they were telling me their caseload and priorities were set and they can’t open up any more cases,” Buller said. Last December, Rogers, who prosecutes misdemeanor trials, requested that court administrators provide a real-time court reporter so she could follow case dialogue on a computer screen. Rogers is profoundly deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other. She reads lips but said that in a trial setting — where lawyers must watch witnesses, the judge, jury and opposing counsel — it’s often difficult to keep up. Court administrator Kiri Torre and Judge Linda Condron denied Rogers’ request under California Rule of Court 989.3, saying that it was the DA’s responsibility as her employer to provide ADA accommodation. Rogers appealed to Presiding Judge Richard Turrone, who recused the Santa Clara bench. The appeal was sent to the appellate division of the San Mateo bench, which ruled that Rogers’ request was procedurally flawed and that the DA should file a suit in federal court. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Mather confirmed that the investigation was closed, but would not comment further. The Justice Department earlier brought an ADA action against the court, reaching a settlement in 1996. According to the agreement, “the court will provide an opportunity for hard-of-hearing individuals to request the auxiliary aid or service of their choice, and will give primary consideration to the choice expressed.” Buller said his office will now try to sit back down with the courts in hopes of negotiating a resolution. Currently, the DA’s office is paying for Rogers’ real-time reporter. — Shannon Lafferty DEFENSE VICTORY After a day and a half of jury deliberations recently, a 22-year-old facing life without the possibility of parole walked out of a San Francisco courtroom a free man. Miguel Lamas Quinones had been in jail for four years for the 1998 killing of a day laborer named Francisco Cruz. Cruz was bludgeoned to death in the parking lot of the Crocker-Amazon playground with a car club, the security device that locks on a car’s steering wheel. The police arrested Quinones, who was living in his car at the time, after a relative of the victim identified him. Rafael Trujillo, Quinones’ public defender, said full acquittal in LWOP cases is extremely rare in San Francisco. According to his colleagues in the PD’s office, the last time a city jury handed down a full acquittal on an LWOP case was 1984. “I was personally disgusted with the way the police approached the case,” said juror Charlie Richards, a customer service manager. “Why didn’t they process the car they found [Quinones] in? “There was hair found on the victim that didn’t match the victim or the defendant,” he added. “Why didn’t [police investigators] process it?” In addition, Richards said the prosecution contradicted themselves regarding the existence of a third man. From the beginning, Quinones said a third man was responsible for the killing. The prosecution accused him of lying, but also tried to charge Quinones with aiding and abetting. He could only be aiding and abetting if the mystery man was indeed there, Richards pointed out. Susan Kaplan, a felony supervisor with 23 years in the public defender’s office, said she is proud of Trujillo’s accomplishment and stunned by the outcome of the case. After leaving court, Quinones, an undocumented immigrant, was picked up by the INS and sent back to Mexico. — Jason Dearen MEMORY LAPSE California’s third appellate district is a bit upset. Last week, it issued an unusually acerbic opinion aimed as much at the attorney who argued the case as at the case itself. Maybe that’s because the panel didn’t think much of the case, much less the lawyer, who was hit with a $10,000 sanction for filing a frivolous appeal on behalf of his client, Ranger Insurance Co. Led by Presiding Justice Coleman Blease, the panel accused Fresno-based bail law specialist E. Alan Nunez of being “disingenuous.” The justices said Nunez should have known that there was controlling law directly on point in the case, an appeal of a bail forfeiture. Nunez should have known, the panel said, because he was the lawyer who argued the cases. Blease wrote, “It strains credulity to believe that a specialist in the area was unaware of recent, relevant case law directly on the issue he sought to appeal when he was the attorney of record on each of those cases.” In defense, Nunez said things aren’t as simple as the panel made it seem. “They kind of came down hard on us,” Nunez acknowledged. “There was no intention of filing anything frivolous.” He said the cases cited by the court — which also criticized the lawyer for not including one of them in his brief — aren’t directly on point. “They were distinguishable,” he said. Nunez said his is an “esoteric” field of law, and will ask for a rehearing and a repeal of the hefty sanction. “Look to see if it gets a rehearing,” Nunez said. “We’ll be filing that within the next 10 to 15 days.” — Jason Hoppin BRAGGING RIGHTS San Jose’s Robinson & Wood recently got some impressive news: two trailblazing Asian-American women judges once worked at the South Bay firm. Jo-Lynne Lee, Alameda County’s newest judge and the first Asian-American woman appointed to that bench, is a former Robinson & Wood attorney. Erica Yew, the first Asian-American woman appointed to the Santa Clara County bench, is a former partner at Robinson & Wood. Gov. Gray Davis appointed Yew in 2001 and announced Lee’s appointment on Aug. 22. Both Yew and Lee moved on to other firms on their path to the bench. Lee, who was an attorney at Robinson & Wood from 1981 until 1985, is currently at Pleasant Hill’s Griffiths, Castle & Schwartzman. Yew, who was at Robinson & Wood from 1985 to 1999, was a partner with San Jose’s McManis, Faulkner & Morgan before she got a gavel. Although the two judges are acquainted, they say that they didn’t know one another at Robinson & Wood. Archie Robinson, Robinson & Wood co-founder, said several other judges have spent time at the civil firm, too. The list includes: retired Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge George Bonney who was name partner at Wines & Bonney, an earlier incarnation of the firm; and Second District Court of Appeal Justice Paul Coffee, a former name partner at Wines, Coffee & Robinson. You could also count Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Socrates Peter Manoukian, who was Burton Wines’ partner at Wines & Manoukian after Robinson and Wines parted ways. That said, Robinson observed, the only common thread is that most of the distinguished alumni are former litigators. “Don’t try,” Robinson said last week, “to make us out as a kingmaker.” Well, perhaps a queenmaker. — Jahna Berry

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