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SAN JOSE — With his credibility on the line, a former prosecutor at the center of a death penalty probe began his testimony Tuesday smiling, confident and looking dapper. But by mid-afternoon, John “Jack” Quatman — who said he colluded with now-deceased Alameda County Judge Stanley Golde to keep Jews off a capital punishment case — was forced to admit he broke the law. Nearly two years after his stunning declaration, Quatman — who spent 25 years in the Alameda County district attorney’s office — is finally filling in the blanks. He took the stand Tuesday in an evidentiary hearing ordered by the California Supreme Court in the appeal of death row inmate Fred Freeman, convicted of robbery and murder in 1987. In his declaration, Quatman, now a defense attorney in Whitefish, Mont., said Golde told him he “could not have a Jew” on Freeman’s jury and recalled that the DA’s office had a “standard practice” of excluding Jews and black women from juries in death cases because it was thought that they would not vote for death. The district attorney’s office has vehemently denied those assertions. During cross-exam Tuesday, Quatman conceded that he was upset with the district attorney’s office about being transferred off the DA’s “death team” in 1993, adding weight to Chief Assistant Attorney General George Williamson’s argument that Quatman has made his allegations because he has a grudge. He also acknowledged that it’s “common knowledge that [District Attorney] Tom Orloff and I, from way back when we were deputies, weren’t friends.” Whether Quatman is to be believed will be up to Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy, appointed by the state Supreme Court to conduct the evidential hearing. Murphy must answer two questions: Did Golde really advise Quatman to boot Jews off the jury, and did Quatman actually follow through? Quatman said he used peremptory challenges against three possible Freeman jurors with Jewish-sounding last names. Williamson got Quatman to acknowledge he didn’t particularly like the candidates anyway because of their views on the death penalty. He also got Quatman to admit fault for booting the potential jurors. “You knew you were in violation of the law, is that a fair statement?” “It’s a fair statement,” Quatman said. “You wanted to win?” Williamson asked. “That’s correct,” he said. Quatman described his relationship with Golde, who died in 1998, as both personal and professional. He said he invited Golde to his wedding in 1980. “Judge Golde’s courtroom was like no other courtroom I’d been in,” Quatman said. “His chambers were like a bazaar.” “There were always people in there. Some of them were drinking coffee, some were reading the newspaper,” he said. “There were times I sat on the windowsill to have a spot.” Quatman said that Golde — who while personally against the death penalty possibly sent more people to die than any other judge in the state’s history — was seen as a mentor to young attorneys. “[He] had a 25- to 30-cup coffee pot going all the time,” Quatman said, measuring the height — about a foot and a half — with his hands. “It was one of those big pots. � It wasn’t a coffee pot, it was a big urn.” Wearing a charcoal suit with blue stripes, the diminutive Quatman smiled often and shook hands with colleagues during a mid-morning court break following his direct testimony, led by Habeas Corpus Resource Center attorney Gary Sowards. Under Williamson’s cross-examination, however, Quatman grew somewhat unsteady. Quatman testified he was not happy at being transferred to another division after being disciplined for using a “vulgarity” against another assistant DA, and that he may have told other people he was upset about being reassigned. Murphy kept a tight hold on the proceedings, forbidding both sides from introducing testimony beyond the scope of the high court’s directives. But he did allow the testimony of Stephen Thaman, a former public defender who represented Christopher Teddy Day, convicted in a capital punishment case in Golde’s courtroom immediately preceding the Freeman case. Thaman testified Golde gave attorneys in the Day case five extra peremptory challenges as “freebies.” Quatman said he received “freebies” in the Freeman case, too, but declined to use them. It was then that he was called into Golde’s chambers, he said, and admonished for not utilizing them. “‘Quatman, what are you doing?’” he recalled the judge saying before telling him a Jew would never send someone to the gas chamber. The case is In re Fred Freeman, S122590. The evidentiary hearing is scheduled to continue today.

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