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Judges Surprised by Popular Federal Prosecutor’s Departure After 16 years as an assistant U.S. attorney, Marcia Jensen quietly departed from the San Jose office last month. Neither Jensen nor a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan would say why she left, but the federal bench is sorry to see her go. “I was surprised when she indicated she would be leaving the office,” U.S. District Judge James Ware said last week, adding that Jensen is “the epitome of what we would wish to see in a United States attorney.” Ware said that on hearing of Jensen’s “abrupt” departure, he and fellow Judges Ronald Whyte and Jeremy Fogel and U.S. Magistrates Patricia Trumbull and Richard Seeborg took her to lunch and presented her with a signed letter of commendation. Jensen, whose father is Senior U.S. District Judge D. Lowell Jensen of Oakland, was one of the more seasoned prosecutors in the South Bay, handling several of the office’s death-eligible cases. Ware said Jensen “handled the more difficult cases that present difficult factual and legal issues. She was always up to the challenge.” In an interview last week, Jensen declined to discuss what led her to leave the office. Although she’s applied for a seat on Santa Clara County Superior Court, she said she doesn’t have another job lined up. Instead, she’ll spend more time with her family this summer. Matthew Jacobs, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Ryan, said the office doesn’t comment on departures. Jensen is the third prosecutor to leave the San Jose office since Ryan took over a year ago. In January, Ryan demoted the chief of the San Jose office, Elizabeth De La Vega, replacing her with Assistant U.S. Attorney Ross Nadel. Jensen said she appreciated the show of support from the San Jose judges. “I have real admiration and respect for all the members of the bench. I was flattered and gratified they would recognize my career.” — Shannon Lafferty ‘Stogner’ Leads to Summary Reversal Five days after the U.S. Supreme Court told California prosecutors they couldn’t punish child molesters for long-past crimes, Renee Torres marched into a state appeal court to seek freedom for a client convicted last year for acts that took place more than 30 years ago. In doing so, Torres, a staff attorney for the First District Appellate Project, filed a rare motion for summary reversal. Two days later, on July 3, the First District Court of Appeal granted Torres’ motion after the attorney general’s office officially declared no opposition. Torres believes she was the first lawyer in California to go the appellate route in getting a conviction overturned in the aftermath of the high court’s June 26 decision in Stogner v. California, 03 C.D.O.S. 5575. “[In] a lot of the cases that have gotten publicity, the people were awaiting trial,” Torres said. “It’s more complicated when your client is in prison, which is why I did it this way.” She said the mandate in Stogner was so clear that there was nothing left to argue about in her case. “This is the only time you would [file a motion for summary reversal], when it’s a slam dunk.” Senior Assistant Attorney General Gerald Engler, who agreed not to oppose, felt the same. “We reviewed the record and the case and saw that this was purely a Stogner case,” he said. “There was no ground on which Stogner didn’t apply.” Torres’ client, karate grand master Ramiro Jack Long, was convicted last year and sentenced to one year to life on 10 counts of molesting a 13-year-old female student between Jan. 1, 1970, and May 13, 1972. The case — People v. Long, A101486 — now goes back to San Mateo County Superior Court for official dismissal. — Mike McKee Spreading It Around When Commissioner Ron Albers substituted for Judge Susan Breall in Department 19 on Wednesday, there were a few seconds he seemed to forget it was one of the last days the San Francisco Superior Court would devote a courtroom to misdemeanor arraignments. After telling one in a parade of defendants to come back to Department 19 on his next court date, the commissioner immediately corrected himself. “No, not in this department. Why didn’t somebody catch me on that?” Friday was the last day the court funneled such arraignments to Department 19. Now it’s dividing them among the four misdemeanor trial courtrooms, Albers said. Breall was slated to take over an expanded version of drug court Monday, the day the superior court separated drug from domestic violence court. Judge Harold Kahn will continue to preside over DV court. Breall was attending training for her new assignment last week, Albers said. — Pam Smith Ashcroft Defends Patriot Act When Attorney General John Ashcroft appeared in the rotunda of the federal courthouse building in Sacramento last week, he was supposed to talk about his meeting with the region’s anti-terrorism task force. But after his brief remarks touting the importance of cooperation among federal and local law enforcement, the discussion quickly shifted to the USA Patriot Act. The act, which increased the government’s ability to crack down on suspected terrorists, has been controversial since its passage after the Sept. 11 attacks. A few days before Ashcroft’s July 9 appearance, about 250 people showed up at a community meeting to denounce what they call a curtailment of civil rights. Ashcroft defended the act to reporters and said federal authorities, in fact, need more power to fight terrorism. He said the Patriot Act merely took tools available in other realms of law enforcement — such as wiretaps in drug cases, for example — and made them available to authorities looking into terrorist activity. “I don’t believe the Patriot Act goes too far,” Ashcroft said. Lawrence Brown, first assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District, said people denouncing the Patriot Act are waging a campaign of “misinformation.” The Eastern District U.S. attorney’s office, which is based in Sacramento, is considering running its own public campaign to educate people about the act, Brown said. Such a program would be similar to the Citizens Academy run by the Sacramento County district attorney’s office, he said. — Jeff Chorney Court Prevails on ‘Riders’ Secrecy The Alameda County Superior Court reached for the big guns when it decided to defend a judge’s decision to bar the media from a key hearing in the ‘Riders’ police misconduct trial. Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin partner Steven Mayer and associate Jason Weintraub penned the brief that ultimately defeated several media outlets’ writ petition to the First District Court of Appeal. The Recorder was among those petitioners. On July 1, Judge Leopoldo Dorado barred the media from a hearing on a mistrial motion made by attorneys who represent three fired Oakland cops accused of 26 felonies. The motion was based on alleged jury misconduct. Attorneys Duffy Carolan of Davis Wright Tremaine and Karl Olson of Levy, Ram & Olson argued that the media should have access to the hearing or at least the transcript, which was sealed. The Howard, Rice team pointed out that the 2001 California Supreme Court decision People v. Cleveland, 25 Cal.4th 466, weighed heavily in Dorado’s favor. “The First Amendment right of access does not attach to this type of mid-trial proceeding, because the need to keep the jury deliberation process secret outweighs any interest served by opening the proceeding,” the attorneys wrote. The media’s petition was summarily denied. The jury is still deliberating. — Jahna Berry

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