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Chief Deputy PD Subpoenaed in Spiebauer Criminal Case Fired Deputy Public Defender Thomas Spielbauer may have the opportunity to confront on the witness stand the bosses who canned him. Spielbauer, who stands charged with one misdemeanor count of misleading the court, has subpoenaed Chief Assistant Public Defender David Mann to testify. Spielbauer’s attorney, Zacharias Ledet, also said he may subpoena PD Jose Villarreal. The public defender’s office terminated Spielbauer in June, a month after the Santa Clara County district attorney charged him with violating Business & Professions Code 6128. Specifically, Spielbauer is accused of misleading Superior Court Judge Paul Teilh about the availability of a witness. Teilh has since said he was not misled. Ledet said he needs Mann to provide records and tell him what Mann divulged to prosecutors. “The public defender has alleged from the very beginning they received a referral from the DA’s office,” said Ledet, a Los Gatos solo and former deputy PD. “They have flat refused to provide that or any discovery in this matter. We are entitled to it in both the criminal and personnel matter.” Mann was the manager who signed Spielbauer’s June termination letter, writing, “Your actions have called into question your personal integrity, the integrity of your colleagues and that of the office of the public defender. Your actions, unexplained and unrebutted, discredit the office.” Ledet said he will call Villarreal as an impeachment witness if Deputy DA Frank Berry subpoenas PD investigator Alayne Bolster. Apparently, Bolster investigated Spielbauer’s actions for Mann’s termination investigation, and Berry believes she could be a witness for the prosecution. Mann declined comment, but Santa Clara Deputy County Counsel Michael Rossi showed up at Tuesday’s pretrial conference indicating the county may try to quash Mann’s subpoena. Rossi said it’s not clear what his office will do if Villarreal and Bolster are subpoenaed. Shannon Lafferty No Divorce For Duncan, Angry Litigant A high-volume spat between a Siskiyou County attorney and a retired Alameda County judge has been resolved in favor of the judge. Mount Shasta practitioner Sharon Brooks has been held in contempt of court for calling Judge Roderic Duncan “corrupt” and “a rat in the woodpile,” among other things. Duncan, meanwhile, has been cleared to stay on Brooks’ divorce case despite the rancor. The rulings came on successive days from two separate superior court judges. Retired Trinity County Judge John Letton issued the contempt ruling Aug. 20, a day after Sacramento Superior Court Judge James Mize turned back Brooks’ attempt to disqualify Duncan. “Strained relations between a judge and an attorney for a party are not necessarily evidence of bias or prejudice,” Mize wrote in the disqualification ruling. Brooks, a family law attorney, has been battling with her ex-husband over their divorce for nearly a decade. Both parties are local attorneys, so the Siskiyou County bench recused itself, and Duncan was appointed in 2001. Brooks has protested vigorously, going so far as to write a letter to the Administrative Office of the Courts. She accuses Duncan of a laundry list of misdeeds, including bias toward her ex’s parents, who are sureties in the case. In March, Brooks filed a declaration with the court stating that Duncan was “illegally working on behalf of the sureties in this matter as a favor granted on their behalf.” She referred to him as “this corrupt judge” and wrote that “there is a rat in the woodpile in this case — Judge Duncan.” In his seven-page order last month, Judge Letton found Brooks’ accusations to be “unsupported, unreasonable suspicion.” “She has cavalierly attributed sinister motives to innocuous conduct, and then attacked the integrity of the court with inexcusable results,” Letton wrote. Brooks had no more success with the disqualification motion. “The record demonstrates that Judge Duncan remained temperate and judicial before, during and after each assault,” Mize wrote in a 24-page order. “His words and actions would not demonstrate any loss of control or objectivity to a reasonable observer.” — Scott Graham Alameda PJ looking into Richman complaints Alameda County’s presiding judge says he’s keeping an eye on Judge James Richman. Last month, tenant lawyers and activists demanded that PJ Harry Sheppard reassign Richman from his law-and-motion department because they believe he favors landlords in eviction cases. Landlord attorneys say the complaints are sour grapes. Sheppard said he is looking into the matter. “Any accusation about a judge we take very seriously,” Sheppard said. The PJ said it would take a few weeks to gather transcripts, talk to Richman and to listen to activists. Sheppard will sort through several issues that have influenced the debate over Richman. Until last year Richman and Judge Judith Ford shared law-and-motion responsibilities. When Ford retired in 2002, Richman agreed to hear the law-and-motion calendar solo, which gives him a lot of power over civil cases. Because law-and-motion courts decide legal issues �� not the merits of the case �� a defeat there is frustrating to pro pers and attorneys who want their day in court. And, Sheppard said, Richman is a demanding judge, who pens his own decisions and meticulously prepares for the overflow calendar. Richman doesn’t like attorneys who aren’t as prepared as he is, the PJ said. “He is a very scholarly individual,” Sheppard said. “He calls them the way that he sees them.” John Murcko, an Oakland tenant lawyer who’s one of 2,500 people who signed a petition urging the PJ to act, noted that judges are reluctant to criticize one of their own. “I hope something comes out of this,” Murcko said. — Jahna Berry

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