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Lawyers for a death row inmate are accusing a San Jose judge of bias and a San Francisco appellate justice of being deceitful during an evidentiary hearing earlier this year over alleged discriminatory jury practices in Alameda County. In documents filed earlier this month with the California Supreme Court, attorneys at San Francisco’s Habeas Corpus Resource Center contend that Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy conducted a hearing that was “virtually designed to elicit unreliable half-truths.” The attorneys, including HCRC Executive Director Michael Laurence, say Murphy intentionally ignored testimony and evidence supporting allegations that the Alameda County district attorney’s office routinely excluded Jews from death penalty juries. They also claim that First District Court of Appeal Justice Carol Corrigan lacked credibility in testifying that she hadn’t engaged in improper ex parte communications about jury selection with now-deceased Superior Court Judge Stanley Golde during her days as an Alameda County prosecutor. “Justice Corrigan was conclusively impeached in all material respects by both witness testimony and contemporaneous court records. �” the attorneys wrote. In addition, the HCRC attorneys are seeking to depose Alameda County DA Thomas Orloff to prove he donated to the failed 1996 judicial campaign of John “Jack” Quatman, the former Alameda prosecutor who went public with the controversial allegations last year. They hope to undermine arguments by the attorney general’s office that Quatman fabricated the jury selection claims to embarrass Orloff, who took Quatman off capital cases in 1993. HCRC’s documents were filed on behalf of Fred Freeman, who was sentenced to death in 1987 for murdering a man during an armed robbery at a Berkeley bar. Quatman, who prosecuted the case, submitted a declaration with the state Supreme Court two years ago saying that Golde, who presided over the trial, advised him to keep Jews off juries in the belief that they wouldn’t sentence anyone to death. Quatman also declared it was “standard practice” in the Alameda County DA’s office at the time to exclude Jews and black women from death cases. HCRC attorneys claim Freeman was denied a fair trial. In April, Judge Murphy, who had presided over a weeklong evidentiary hearing ordered by the state Supreme Court, cleared the DA’s office by finding that Quatman was a “dishonest and unethical” man who lied about both Golde’s advice and the DA’s jury practices. He also found “ample evidence” that Quatman made up the tales to exact revenge on Orloff. Murphy’s findings were sent to the state Supreme Court. Both sides filed their responses July 5. The AG’s office largely found the report favorable, saying there was “plenty of evidence here that Quatman was a disgruntled employee with a vindictive motive to cause embarrassment to his former employer.” But the HCRC attorneys openly attacked Murphy, referring to the “result-oriented, one-sided nature” of his “purported fact finding.” They also accused him of ignoring character evidence favorable to Quatman and allowing the AG’s office carte blanche to introduce negative testimony. “The exceedingly narrow constraints on the evidence admitted at the hearing, Judge Murphy’s disparate treatment of the parties and the substantial deficiencies in [Murphy's] report have raised public concerns that the hearing constituted nothing more than a ‘whitewash,’” wrote HCRC staff attorney Gary Sowards. Sowards also accused Murphy of turning the hearing into a case against Quatman, rather than an examination of possibly unethical practices in the DA’s office. “The referee in [Freeman's] case,” he wrote, “unfairly circumscribed the scope of the inquiry and evidence to permit the state to misleadingly portray Mr. Quatman’s motives and character, project a false aura of regularity in the proceedings in Judge Golde’s courtroom, and otherwise eviscerate substantial evidence that fairly established the credibility of Mr. Quatman’s testimony and the validity of [Freeman's] claims.” Sowards said there was evidence that the Alameda County DA’s office was “an ethical wasteland with no means of monitoring or controlling senior litigators, who were notoriously compromised by substance abuse, dishonest practices and open tolerance of discriminatory jury practices.” Murphy did not return a telephone call seeking comment. Corrigan, a deputy DA for 12 years before joining the Alameda County bench in 1987, ran afoul of HCRC by testifying during the evidentiary hearing that she had “absolutely no recollection” of having had ex parte communications with Judge Golde. The HCRC attorneys contend that “undisputed evidence” showed her testimony to be “inaccurate,” unreliable and contradicted by the record. Specifically, Corrigan had testified that she could not recall any unreported proceedings in which Judge Golde had allowed counsel to revisit for-cause challenges to potential jurors. A former public defender who tried a death penalty case against Corrigan testified that they did conduct such a proceeding, and a reporter’s transcript quotes Golde as saying, “I will set up the logistics” to reconsider “any five they thought were not properly qualified.” The AG’s office defended Corrigan. San Francisco-based Deputy AG Morris Lenk wrote in court papers that she admitted to having been alone with Golde in his chambers on two occasions, but that litigation wasn’t discussed either time. Lenk said Golde once asked Corrigan, who did calligraphy, about helping him with a gift for his son — a chart in calligraphy tracing the heritage of his son’s piano teacher, which went back to Beethoven. Another time involved a discussion about how to perform a wedding service incorporating both Jewish and Catholic traditions. Orloff’s name came up in a separate HCRC document seeking the right to take additional evidence. In asking to depose Orloff, Sowards wrote that he wasn’t aware of the DA’s alleged campaign contribution until after the March evidentiary hearing was complete. He didn’t say how much was supposedly donated, but noted he would have used the information to cross-examine Orloff. Sowards said he wanted to show that as late as 1996, “Mr. Orloff did not view Mr. Quatman as lacking the temperament and integrity to be elected to a judicial post” and to correct the “misleading impression” that Quatman’s relationship with Orloff was so bitter that Quatman would commit perjury to retaliate against him. Orloff wasn’t aware of the deposition attempt until informed Thursday, but he declined comment. “If [the justices] grant the order, I’ll answer any questions they ask,” he said. “If the AG’s office asks me to submit something, I’ll submit something, but it has to be part of the court process.” Quatman couldn’t be reached for comment, but his wife, Phyllis, a partner in Whitefish, Mont.’s Quatman & Quatman, said Thursday that she was happy the HCRC had taken such a tough stance with Murphy. “[Murphy's] opinion was not based on the evidence that was presented to him,” she said. “He also excluded evidence that was highly relevant and corroborated what Jack said. “He chose the facts he wanted, in order to reach a predetermined conclusion,” Phyllis Quatman added. “I think he was out to get Jack and to put an end to Jack’s declaration in any further cases.” She also said she remembered Orloff attending one of her husband’s campaign fundraisers, but never knew if he donated. The case is In re Freeman, S122590.

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