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Ask him and John “Jack” Quatman will tell you he’s in favor of the death penalty. But the former Alameda County, Calif., prosecutor says he’s still haunted by the first man he sent to death row. His pity is for Fred Harlan Freeman, now in his mid-60s, who has been on death row since 1987 for murder and robbery. It’s a case Quatman says should have never garnered a death verdict. “I brought home what I was sent out to do,” Quatman said. “But I felt badly about it.” Today, Quatman has his own troubles to consider: He has been branded a liar for speaking out in the Freeman case, his reputation has been dragged through the mud, and he says he could lose his Montana law license. Quatman has testified that he removed potential jurors from Freeman’s trial because they were Jewish, and that he did so at the advice of now-deceased Alameda County Judge Stanley Golde. But in a report to the California Supreme Court, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy said Quatman was lying. Murphy also found “ample evidence” that Quatman made up his story to exact revenge on current DA Tom Orloff, who investigated a co-worker’s complaint against Quatman that led to the prosecutor’s 1993 transfer off capital cases. Murphy’s findings followed venomous attacks on Quatman’s character and ethics from more than a dozen former co-workers, current judges and attorneys, who roundly described the former prosecutor as a vendetta-fueled exaggerator who played “fast and loose” with the rules. Quatman has tried to keep a low profile. But he decided to address the notion that he was trying to get back at Orloff — whose office has been hurt by the jury bias allegations. Quatman, who left the DA’s office in 1998 to practice law with his wife, Phyllis, in Whitefish, Mont., said everyone knew he and Orloff weren’t buddies. But the revenge theory, he said, is “whacko.” “[It] makes no sense to me,” he said. “I had been gone for eight years. To sacrifice one of my convictions and to put myself in the gun sights of the State Bar and possibly put my ticket on the line, how does that get back at Orloff? It doesn’t.” Jury bias wasn’t even the point of the declaration Quatman submitted two years ago in Freeman’s appeal, the former prosecutor said. The assertion takes up only one paragraph of the six-page document. The bulk deals with what Quatman saw as Freeman’s poor defense and unfair trial. On Jan. 11, 1984, according to court documents, Freeman walked into a Berkeley, Calif., bar with two other men, pulled a gun and proceeded to rob the place. When a patron responded, “Fuck you,” it was alleged that Freeman shot the man in the side of the head. Freeman’s case passed the DA’s death review, but there were problems, Quatman wrote in his declaration. Freeman had prior robbery convictions, but had never hurt anyone. And he foresaw trouble proving Freeman, of the three robbers, actually fired the weapon, whether the shooting was intentional and whether he meant to kill. “Fred Freeman did not fit the real-world standard for one deserving the death penalty,” Quatman wrote. Quatman said his co-workers were “stunned” when the jury returned a death verdict. Quatman wrote that he “felt sorry for Fred Freeman. � His defense team was worse than ineffective.” According to Quatman’s declaration, Freeman’s defense attorneys, Spencer Strellis and Robert Braverman, made a number of mistakes, including changing their strategy during the trial. Initially they laid out a case for mistaken identity. But by closing arguments, Strellis “told the jury Freeman was the shooter, but had not intended to kill.” Strellis, who testified at last month’s hearing, said he had heard Quatman’s assertions, but didn’t think much of them. “Frankly, it’s very advantageous for Mr. Freeman if I was incompetent,” Strellis said. “So I’m certainly not going to argue with it.” Quatman said he’s still in favor of capital punishment — just not in this case. “I’m a pro-death-penalty guy. I believe we need to fire up the death penalty system and get it going,” Quatman said. “However, on the Fred Freeman case � I felt badly about it because of what I felt was horrible representation on the other side.” Quatman said a new life in Montana and his wife’s criminal defense work have changed his outlook on his former role. “Since Alameda County, I’ve begun to look at things a little differently,” he said. “I’ve seen more and more the level of defense from the defendant’s side of the case, and I’m not sure the system works the way it’s supposed to.” That made him consider coming forward about the troubling Freeman case. “I thought about it for a long time,” he said. “I knew what the possible ramifications were � but I think it was the right thing to do. “If we’re going to kill Fred Freeman, maybe we ought to get it squeaky clean.”

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