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Buckheit must pay county attorney fees

Original post made on Feb 5, 2013

Atherton resident Jon Buckheit must pay San Mateo County $145,434 in attorney fees, a judge has ruled after agreeing with the county that Mr. Buckheit's claims against it in a 2009 federal lawsuit were frivolous. Mr. Buckheit, who also named the town of Atherton and three of its police officers in the suit, said he has already filed an appeal of the decision.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 6:17 PM

Comments (29)

Posted by Almanac Reader, a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 5, 2013 at 6:46 pm

I remember that Atherton's Police Chief at the time of this false arrest was Glen Neilson who was and may still be, listed as one of District Attorney Wagstaff's top ten Facebook friends--so like Mr. Buchheit, I would also have felt very let down by the County and the whole failure of due process, all the way-right up through that very thin blue line.
By the way Friday's Daily Post headlined a 55,000 pay out for 2 months work to the arresting officer in this same case.......


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 5, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I hope Mr Buckheit prevails in his appeal. What was done to him was far beyond the pale. The officer that did it to him was finally fired (oops, sorry, he "retired" riiiiiiight). The DA in this county is atrocious in his lack of prosecution of dirty police officers. Mr. Buckheit certainly has a cause of action against the county for that reason alone.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Frivolous would be easier to accept if the Judge had allowed a jury to hear this case, and they said it was frivolous, that's not what we have in this case. Also If Steve Wagstaffe had investigated and charged the Atherton Police Officer who committed a crime against Mr. Buckheit we wouldn't have this situation.

Stay focused on the Police Report and who had it when.


Posted by Colleen Anderson, a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Feb 5, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Personally I find this so wrong. The officer we are speaking of is what I would classify as a real problem for Atherton. He was a bad seed in my opinion. One night I was standing behind him when he didn't know I was there & he had a real hate/dislike for the Atherton residents.He was talking with the other officer running down rich people in Atherton with a real dislike/hatred in there voices. I was shocked. I thought the police cared about us. Never occurred to me they wanted to get the rich guy. Jon did this town a huge favor by pointing out the flaws in our police department. Pilar Buckley was given $250,000 without even a depo. Was she paid off for silence. Jon's case should have gone to trial. Why did the judge not want it to go to trial. What else would have been uncovered. I am not comfortable with what is happening to Jon. It is flat out wrong with the facts I have seen.


Posted by green acres, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 5, 2013 at 11:14 pm

tis nothing but the eb and the flow of the tide

a tail wags back it wags forth

how wagstaffe is remembered remains to be seen

there are rumblings that the winter of his discontent will soon arrive

bone diggers are at work seeking to unearth hidden skeletons (those that occupy one's closet)

whether those bond diggers find anything is written in the tea leaves and will be a matter of record in the next election

this battle will be won not in the courts but in the political arena

Whether Wagstaffe will become another Richard III is anyone's guess

I wouldn't rule anything out, there are tough people at work, this is hardball politics


Posted by Lurker, a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2013 at 3:02 am

Wagstaffe -[portion removed; don't engage in hearsay] - is no doubt angry that Mr. Buckheit stood up to him and actually got a factual innocence. This feels like retaliation by Wagstaffe.

[Portion removed; don't make damning claims with no evidence.]

Keep fighting, Mr. Buckheit.

And I hope Sandy Brundage will continue her excellent investigation into crimes committed by San Mateo County police officers.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 6, 2013 at 7:24 am

For years I have read about this case, what is the issue? Did a police officer make a false arrest? What did the DA do wrong?


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 6, 2013 at 9:44 am

As most litigators can attest, it is incredibly rare for attorney's fees to be awarded to any party. In fact, "rare" is an overstatement.

If this astonishing ruling stands, it will have a chilling effect on people willing to stand up to police and other elected officials.

Then again, perhaps that's the desired intent.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 6, 2013 at 9:50 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The judge would be wise to consult the First Admendment which provides"

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances guarantees people the right to ask the government to provide relief for a wrong through the courts (litigation) or other governmental action.


Posted by juris prudence, a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 6, 2013 at 10:10 am

Judge Spero's explanation which works for me.

Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 6, 2013 at 10:19 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Judge states:
"The County filed a motion to dismiss all claims in Plaintiff's Second Amendment
Complaint asserted against the County. See Dkt. No. 55. The Court dismissed some of Plaintiff's claims and allowed others to continue, although warning Plaintiff that his claims against the County were very weak."

Having failed to dismiss some of the claims I do not see that the court can now call them frivolous.


Posted by Lurker, a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2013 at 10:39 am

Almanac: Why did you delete my comment on the FBI investigation into DA Steve Wagstaffe for misconduct? Your own paper did a story about the FBI investigation into him in 2011. Here's the link.

Web Link

I am the "reliable source" in the story. Renee Batti, the reporter at the Almanac knows who I am and she should remember the information given to her. Batti reported that the FBI is looking for former employees of the San Mateo DA's office to come forward. That is true, and she printed it.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2013 at 11:13 am

Observer asks, What did the DA do wrong?

Witheld the content of a police report from the involved party, and refused to deliver a copy of that police report.

Refused to investigate after knowing of criminal conduct by a police officer.

Refused to prosecute same police officer.


Posted by Learned Hand, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 6, 2013 at 11:34 am

When Kiraly prevails in Woodell's law suit against her the judge should order Woodell to pay Kiraly's attorney's fees.


Posted by juris prudence, a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm

It is funny how this thread carries comments about the DA Wagstaffe, the judge,FBI,First Amendment,Atherton Police, Kiraly (who dat?) and basically the outcome of the county's petition.
The story is really about Johnathan Buckheit and his 2009 lawsuit which he lost. This is how the judicial system works and Buckheit had his day (s) in court. Apparently he wants more court time which he is entitled to do and pay for but I am glad as a taxpayer I do not seem to be footing the bill.


Posted by mkeenly, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 6, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Nothing more to see here. Hopefully, this ruling will end this ridiculousness.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm

"Upon interviewing Plaintiff, CV-1, and CV-1's nine-year-old son, the
officers determined Plaintiff was the dominant aggressor and arrested him and not CV-1."

Then the DA declined to press charges. End of story.


Posted by Storyteller, a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 6, 2013 at 1:22 pm

That story ending involves some people (probably cops) ripping pages out of a book, since if you read what even this judge acknowledged, the Atherton officers wrote false information into the report that required a court hearing of innocence. The officer wound up leaving his employment. I doubt it would seem ridiculous if it happened to you. Good luck on your appeal, John, I hope and believe you will prevail.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm

My point is the DA did not see any merit to the case.


Posted by Storyteller, a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 6, 2013 at 2:06 pm

And my point is that the D.A. Wagstaffe did see merit to assisting in covering up what seems to be clearly acknowledged misconduct of the police officers. There was false information in this report (and not of a trivial nature, child abuse charges if I recall correctly, which are quite serious). The officer was removed from employment, and we all know that is just about impossible from other recent articles in the Almanac and elsewhere.

When the citizen confronted the D.A. with his request for the report, instead of working with him to clear up the false charges, he refused to disclose those to him. The motivation seems to be to protect the officers involved, hoping the matter would die. Whether this case was "frivolous" or not will apparently be determined at a higher court, but I do not believe the actions of Wagstaffe were consistent with acting in the best interests of the citizen, but rather the police officer.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 6, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Observer:

of course teh DA ddin't see any merit to the case. He had reason to believe teh police report was falsified. Of course, then, as a COUNTY official (you get that juris) he had a responsibility to investigate that crime. He did not do so. Malfeasance or misfeasance? You decide, but given this DA's general lack of action when it comes to dirty cops, I say malfeasance.


Posted by Tim Wulff, a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2013 at 6:30 pm

When these issues occur all anyone seems to think about is the circumstances of the case, who's right or wrong, personalities and politics.

The real issues are actually about Mechanics of Governmental Structure.

When you have District Attorney's OfficeS all over the country charged with investigating and prosecuting wrong-doing in Police Departments upon whom they rely for intimate professional cooperation in order to do just about anything effectively in their business and also rely on the Police Unions for little things LIKE GETTING ELECTED, why is it that you're surprised that there is such biased behavior and lack of prosecution or holding the Police culpable for wrong-doing?

I mean really. Isn't that just a bit mentally slow?

In addition to that, the legal, judicial, police community is about long term relationships and reputations. Its all about who you know and everything is about mutual support, interest and gain amongst them. I have seen so many attorneys screw their clients in order to preserve their relationships with judges or other attorneys its not funnny.

And again this is all about the structures that have been mandated.

Why don't people wake up?

There will be no change until the Mechanics of the Structure of Government is as cleverly changed to produce a system that favors the power and status of the Citizen just as the current system was intentionally created to serve the interest of the elite ruling class.

Unfortunately, this requires an intelligent, aware, informed and knowledgable citizenry. Something our educational, media communication and political systems are created to eliminate as much as humanly possible.

We get exactly what we deserve.....RUN OVER. I just wish people would show a bit more intelligence about what's actually being done to them.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 14, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Mr. Wulff:

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree. What you are talking about is not everywhere. In my experience the Santa Clara County DA's office is, if anything, extremely zealous, if not over zealous in prosecuting police officers accused of wrong doing (they go after cops for things they would never even consider prosecuting a civilian for). What we see in San Mateo county and our DA here is in exteme contrast to the Santa Clara County DA's office. For that matter, the political corruption I see evident in San Mateo County is in stark contrast to my experience in Santa Clara County. The political patronage here is on par with Chicago. It's disgusting.


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2013 at 7:23 pm

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe does investigate and prosecute some police officers.
He just recently settled a case with a former HMB officer who embezzled about $1,700 from the other officers.

He did not investigate allegations of 3 Atherton Police Officers, the most obvious one was the one who committed a crime against Jon Buckheit. Look at the cost to everyone involved, if he had investigated, charged, and convicted it would have been a win/win for the residents of Atherton, the County, and the APD.


Posted by Tim Wulff, a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Mr. Menlo Voter,

Before I say anything, may I express my respect and regard not only for your character but for the manner in which you conduct yourself publicly. In my opinion, you are clearly a man of courage and ethical character.

However, I contend with your presentation with the following:

Why are theses issues in your mind left to the discretion of the DA when the structure is clearly flawed with a potential for bias?

These issues should be mandated. The structure all over the country is flawed and you shall not budge me from this assessment.

If we separated responsibilities for review and indictment of the Police from the DA's offices everywhere, there would be no possibility of such bias would there?

When push comes to shove, there is no mechanism for control of the police that is directly in the hands of the citizenry. These assertions cannot be disputed in my mind.

I asked Peter Carpenter once if he thought a State Proposition to mandate citizen review panels with the power of indictment for EVERY Municipality would pass by 60% or 70%.

He just stared at me and never said one word in response.

My interpretation is that this is dangerous thinking indeed in his opinion. But we'll never know as he had nothing whatsoever to say about it.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 16, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Mr Wulff;

Thank you for your kind words. Unfortunately, I think what you are wrestling with, ultimately, is our constitution. Everyone has rights, including police officers. I would love to be judge and jury as I'm sure you would be, but that is not how our system works. The weakness of our system is that it assumes that those working within the system believe in it and work within in the law. In San Mateo County that is not always the case. This system requires enough people willing to say that those doing wrong cannot do so. This county doesn't have that. Especially, since the DA won't step up and the politics of this county are so clearly corrupt.

Our system will allow and, in fact, demands that those who don't believe in this corruption stand up. Until they do, nothing will change. As I said, in Santa Clara County the DA stands up as do most of law enforcement.

That is the way our system is set up and our founding fathers were wise. We must work within the system to insist everyone abides by it.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 16, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I asked Peter Carpenter once if he thought a State Proposition to mandate citizen review panels with the power of indictment for EVERY Municipality would pass by 60% or 70%.

He just stared at me and never said one word in response.

My interpretation is that this is dangerous thinking indeed in his opinion. But we'll never know as he had nothing whatsoever to say about it."

Anyone who knows me would know that I am NEVER speechless. The alleged discussion never took place except perhaps in the poster's mind.

I am one of the most outspoken proponents of citizen review as has been demonstrated repeatedly on this Forum.

Web Link


Posted by Tim Wulff, a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm

Well, Peter,

Anyone who knows me knows that I do not fantasize events nor lie.

I've lost jobs over integrity.

I guess we'll have to just chalk this up to relative integrity before others and let people make up their own mind.

Didn't mean to cause a dispute. Simply accurately reporting events the occurrence for which I do not bear responsibility, only the accurate reporting thereof.

This came up in our conversation in the context of some knowledge or association you have had with Proposition process. If you're not opposed to this as a concept, what do you say about this as an idea? Are you a proponent?

Perhaps, I misinterpreted your silence.

You also were totally silent when I asked you if you thought the Federal Government has a National Security interest in the Town of Atherton, by the way.



That would be a great thing. You're a great guy!


Posted by Tim Wulff, a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Mr. Menlo Voter,

I'm not going to deny that I have issues in the appalling degradation of the Constitution, but I don't think that's my point here.

My point is that if this isn't an institutionalized conflict of interest situation, I can't imagine that I've ever seen one.

It's hard for me to see why this isn't apparent to you.

I couldn't disagree more that this is a situation dependent on and resolvable solely by the actions of individuals in a system.

It is clearly a result of a flawed structure that has institutionalized a conflict of interest for DA's Offices.

Change the structure and remove such responsibilities from the DA and it simply can't happen.

By the way, I completely adore the City of Santa Clara and feel that the County of Santa Clara is a great example of representative democracy at work. It's flaws, its messy, people argue and get mad, there's conflict and infighting and differences of opinion. This is how a functioning republic should look.

The City of Santa Clara is a diamond that people don't perceive for some reason. I raised my children there, and I have often thought of going to a Council meeting to sing their praises for 50 years of exemplary government.

They also have a Police Department that would lay my life down for.

Just love 'em.

But my point stands.

It is conflict of interest and should not be left to be resolved at the discretion of the character of the person in office.

Its just too dangerous and important a power.

Government is like a fire: Still dangerous even when weak and fatal when inflamed. What do we have now?


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