It’s not saying much that San Francisco federal prosecutors’ arguments in a big gang case got a better reception before a three-judge 9th Circuit panel Oct. 19 than they did this summer from Northern District of California Judge William Alsup.

At a withering July hearing, Alsup came up about two invectives short of a full-out conniption as he harangued prosecutors for violating his ruling to turn over discovery material under a protective order — and for suggesting he sanction them by precluding the death penalty against some of the gaggle of defendants. Alsup called that tactic “slippery,” and said the prosecutors were “hiding the ball,” making a “bogus argument,” engaging in “gamesmanship,” being “frivolous,” and “inviting the court to make an error.” He later ordered that any witnesses whose names weren’t turned over in advance — something the government said would jeopardize snitches’ lives — would be excluded from the case.

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