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The new prosecutor assigned to the Riders case has an attack-dog trial style but is respected by the defense bar for being fair. Those attributes will come in handy as Terry Wiley, a 14-year veteran of the Alameda County district attorney’s office, delves into the racially charged police misconduct case. “Terry will be extremely sensitive to have a representative cross-section of the community and to have African-Americans on the jury,” said John Burris, an Oakland lawyer who represented several Riders victims in a federal civil right case. “Terry is kind of a pit bull,” said Oakland criminal defense attorney Gordon Brown. “When he believes in a case, he really goes after it.” Wiley faces several challenges in the second Riders trial. The public’s familiarity with the year-long trial, which ended in September, will give the defense an edge during jury selection. Transcripts from the first trial will also give defense attorneys an advantage when they cross-examine witnesses. Three ex-Oakland police officers, who called themselves Riders, were accused of using illegal tactics to crack down on drug crime. After the longest criminal trial in county history, a jury acquitted the defendants of eight crimes and deadlocked on the other 27, prompting community outcry for a new trial. Wiley plans to file an amended complaint against the accused officers Dec. 9. On Nov. 4, Alameda County District Attorney Thomas Orloff announced he would re-try the case. Since the original prosecutor, David Hollister, left for a job in Plumas County, Orloff had to assign a new team. He chose Wiley, an African-American deputy DA, to be lead prosecutor. Benjamin Beltramo, a first-year prosecutor from the Hayward branch office, will be second chair. Orloff said his choice was not influenced by critics who say the DA’s office should have tried to put more African-Americans on the first jury. Many of the Riders victims were black, but none of the 12 jurors were. “Basically, Terry is a good, solid trial lawyer,” Orloff said. “He sees the importance of this case for the criminal justice system.” Wiley, 43, comes to the Riders case with years of experience in the prosecutor’s office. He joined right after graduating from the University of San Diego’s School of Law in 1989. He rose through the ranks, trying everything from drunken driving to murder cases. In one high-profile case, Wiley persuaded a jury in 2001 to convict Sarah Mitchell of murdering her sister and assuming her slain sibling’s identity. Before he was assigned to the Riders case, Wiley was in charge of felony pretrials at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse. Wiley says that he loves trial work and draws inspiration from being a good husband and role model for his two children. “I find the preparation [for trial] to be very intense � by the time the actual trial begins, I find it relaxing.” Wiley said that he strongly supported Orloff’s decision to re-try the case. “I was left with a definite impression that the [outcome] had more to do with the dynamics of the jury as opposed to real major issues with the case.” Wiley anticipates that race “will no doubt be a major battleground in this case.” After the first trial, critics said prosecutors should have brought Wheeler motions — an argument that can be used by either side to say the other is trying to skew the composition of the jury — to help ensure that the jury was diverse. Wiley declined to address that criticism specifically, but said, “Any criminal case [jury] should reflect the diversity of the community where the crime was committed.” Defense attorneys say Wiley’s aggressive trial style is tempered by years of experience. Oakland defense attorney William DuBois remembers a weapons possession case in which there was a dispute about a police report. Wiley carefully considered “substantial evidence that the police officer had fabricated a report,” Dubois said, even though, ultimately, Wiley sided with the officer’s report, and the defendant was convicted. Other prosecutors might have brushed the issue aside, DuBois said. Brown credits Wiley for reducing charges against his client when a police theft investigation of a Kaiser pharmacy clerk didn’t stand up to scrutiny. “There was a lot of time that went into [the] case. I put it together and Terry was objective enough to hear it,” Brown said. “A lot of DAs in his position take the police report and go with that.” Brown noted that Wiley “is not someone who I go out to drinks with.” Added DuBois, “I am extremely fond of him, although he is extremely tough.” HURDLES TO CLEAR The second Riders trial will challenge both sides, lawyers say. Prosecutors will benefit from lessons they learned from the first trial. They also know in advance what the defense’s general strategy will be and have learned from post-trial interviews with jurors that they must streamline their case. The prosecutors must take a new approach to the Riders case, Burris said. “Your victims in this case are people whom you have prosecuted. You have to demonstrate that they are victims to the jury. It’s turning your framework upside-down.” Burris believes Wiley is sensitive to that. “You have to build trust with the victims � and not allow them to be demonized because that is the strategy,” he said. That’s just one tactic that may give the defense an upper hand. The ex-officers’ attorneys may also have an advantage during jury selection, said Emeryville jury consultant Howard Varinsky. This time around, more prospective jurors will either be familiar with the case or have an opinion about whether the first case’s outcome was fair. “This case will be more widely recognized than the first time,” he said, adding that the defense might be able to successfully argue for a change-of-venue motion. The defense tried that argument during the first trial, but the motion was denied. Michael Rains, one of the attorneys for the accused officers, says the defense will make another change-of-venue motion, but the defense can’t afford to spend $20,000 on a new survey to strengthen the argument, he said. Rains also doubts that the motion would succeed, given the first trial’s result. “The judge will say, ‘Gee, you didn’t get such a bad jury last time,’” said Rains of Pleasant Hill’s Rains, Lucia & Wilkinson. Defense attorneys also hold an advantage because they now have transcripts from the prelim from the trial, Rains says. Those will give the officers’ attorneys many opportunities to discredit testimony from the prosecutions’ witnesses. The defense may also control the timing of the next trial, he said. The defendants, Clarence Mabanag, Jude Siapno and Matthew Hornung, are eager to get on with their lives, Rains said. If the trial transcripts are completed relatively quickly, the defense may invoke their clients’ right to a speedy trial, which means that the case would go to trial 60 days after the amended complaint is filed in December. If the defense “waives time” the trial would occur later, the lawyers said.

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