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As witness after witness took the stand, it was the question not being asked that was on everyone’s mind. If former Alameda County Deputy DA John “Jack” Quatman — who alleges he conspired with a judge to boot Jews from a 1987 capital murder case — was really as deceitful as prosecutors were painting him, what was he doing working in their office? Alameda County’s current DA, Tom Orloff, suggested Thursday that those at the top were ignorant of much of Quatman’s allegedly reckless behavior. In testimony this week, former colleagues have accused him of encouraging them to plant drugs, tamper with witnesses, and skew jury selection during his 26 years there. “Obviously, if everything that is known now � had been known years ago, it could have been a very different situation,” Orloff said. But he declined to elaborate further, saying a judge has yet to rule on this week’s hearing. Former DA John Meehan, who served from 1981 to 1994, did not return a call seeking comment. Howard Janssen, a former assistant DA who served as Quatman’s supervisor in the early 1980s, said those at the top of the DA’s office don’t always know what is said and done among the more than 100 deputy prosecutors. “I can tell you if anything was ever brought to my attention along those lines, there would have been no question that something would have happened,” Janssen said. Quatman, a deputy district attorney in the office from 1972 to 1998, has testified that now-deceased Alameda County Judge Stanley Golde advised him to excuse three potential jurors with Jewish-sounding last names in the case against Fred Freeman, who was later convicted and sentenced to death. Quatman said Golde told him Jews would never vote for the death penalty. Chief Assistant Attorney General George Williamson has since used a number of witnesses to assault Quatman’s character. They’ve testified that Quatman played games with the truth in court, used profanities and once showed a young DA how to frame a potential witness with fake drugs. Orloff himself testified Wednesday that in 1996 Quatman asked him to shred a complaint against him that was in his personnel file before a newspaper reporter could get it. Orloff testified he didn’t shred the records. Instead, he declined to hand them over, citing exemptions under California law. Orloff, who became DA in 1994, didn’t fire Quatman after the incident, but he said he didn’t forget it, either. “It told me something about the guy,” Orloff said Thursday. “Maybe it told me he had to be watched. � On the other hand, what happens if he’s just kidding?” True or not, Quatman’s testimony has created an image problem for the DA’s office. On Thursday, Orloff called that “frustrating.” Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy, the referee appointed by the California Supreme Court, is only charged with deciding if Golde advised Quatman to excuse Jews from the jury pool of the Freeman case and whether Quatman followed through. At the outset of the hearing, Murphy said the proceedings would not become an examination of the DA’s alleged policies and practices. But that hasn’t stopped some in the media from guessing what they were. Janssen said he was watching TV when a commentator expressed sadness that institutions — like the Alameda County DA’s office — still carried biases. “I wanted to reach through the screen and shake him because he obviously didn’t know anything about the facts of the case other than he read a headline,” Janssen said. “Without any question, this sort of hearing has got to have some impact on that reputation, unfortunately, and that’s sad,” he said. “[Undoing] that sort of comment will take years.”

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