News

Brian Bothun charge dismissed in court

The probation violation charge that resulted from the search of journalist Brian Bothun's Atherton home last October was dismissed in San Mateo County Superior Court on Monday, Jan. 24.

The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office had determined that there was "no reasonable likeliness" that the .01 gram of a drug found in a plastic bag in Mr. Bothun's closet during the search would lead to a conviction, said Mr. Bothun's attorney, Dan Barton of Palo Alto.

The trace of the controlled substance "was residue," Mr. Barton said, adding that the search turned up no drug paraphernalia and no evidence of current use.

Mr. Bothun was near the end of an 18-month probation period for a misdemeanor drug conviction when county probation department and sheriff's officers with a police dog, along with three Atherton police officers, descended on his home, searching his computer and iPhone as well as the house itself.

Mr. Barton and a number of Atherton residents have criticized the search, citing the number of officers present and the use of a dog, as well as the scale of the search. "This was for a misdemeanor drug conviction," Mr. Barton said.

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He said he believed the police action was "part of a vendetta against Brian for his work as a journalist ... for exposing (the wrongdoing) of a police chief" -- a reference to Mr. Bothun's work as a local reporter in revealing that then-Police Chief Steve Cader voted illegally in an Atherton election. Mr. Cader was ultimately charged with voter fraud, and left the department under a cloud.

Atherton Police Chief Mike Guerra responded that his department didn't initiate the October search, but assisted in it at the request of the probation department.

Mr. Bothun's probation ended Nov. 28 after he completed drug treatment; his arrest and conviction have been wiped from his record, Mr. Barton said.

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Brian Bothun charge dismissed in court

by Renee Batti / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Jan 24, 2011, 2:27 pm

The probation violation charge that resulted from the search of journalist Brian Bothun's Atherton home last October was dismissed in San Mateo County Superior Court on Monday, Jan. 24.

The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office had determined that there was "no reasonable likeliness" that the .01 gram of a drug found in a plastic bag in Mr. Bothun's closet during the search would lead to a conviction, said Mr. Bothun's attorney, Dan Barton of Palo Alto.

The trace of the controlled substance "was residue," Mr. Barton said, adding that the search turned up no drug paraphernalia and no evidence of current use.

Mr. Bothun was near the end of an 18-month probation period for a misdemeanor drug conviction when county probation department and sheriff's officers with a police dog, along with three Atherton police officers, descended on his home, searching his computer and iPhone as well as the house itself.

Mr. Barton and a number of Atherton residents have criticized the search, citing the number of officers present and the use of a dog, as well as the scale of the search. "This was for a misdemeanor drug conviction," Mr. Barton said.

He said he believed the police action was "part of a vendetta against Brian for his work as a journalist ... for exposing (the wrongdoing) of a police chief" -- a reference to Mr. Bothun's work as a local reporter in revealing that then-Police Chief Steve Cader voted illegally in an Atherton election. Mr. Cader was ultimately charged with voter fraud, and left the department under a cloud.

Atherton Police Chief Mike Guerra responded that his department didn't initiate the October search, but assisted in it at the request of the probation department.

Mr. Bothun's probation ended Nov. 28 after he completed drug treatment; his arrest and conviction have been wiped from his record, Mr. Barton said.

Comments

Delighted
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm
Delighted, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 24, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Well! Finally Mr. Bothun can see the light at end of the tunnel. Let's hope this is the end of the harassment that smells of a vendetta. Bothun has suffered for the last 3 to 4 years. The Atherton Police Department has got to clean up its act and get down to the business of working for the residents of Atherton.

Good article Ms. Batti


olt timer
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 24, 2011 at 4:36 pm
olt timer, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 24, 2011 at 4:36 pm

[Post removed. Not related to the Bothun topic.]


Sandy
another community
on Jan 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm
Sandy, another community
on Jan 24, 2011 at 4:46 pm

To Olt Timer:

Wishing for the DA to do the right thing in this instance is futile. When it comes to misconduct by police officers, the DA has historically turned a blind eye.


Enough is enough
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm
Enough is enough, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm

[Post removed. Personal attack violates terms of use.]


Michael G. Stogner
another community
on Jan 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm
Michael G. Stogner, another community
on Jan 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm

This is what was allegedly found after this Huge search.

.01 grams --or 1/100th of a gram-- of a controlled substance.

It has retail value of 60ยข to $1, if that.)


Menlo Voter
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 24, 2011 at 8:41 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
on Jan 24, 2011 at 8:41 pm

There's a shock. Like I said from day one, this was totally bogus.


POGO
Woodside: other
on Jan 24, 2011 at 9:49 pm
POGO, Woodside: other
on Jan 24, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I'm not sure people realize how much one-hundredth of a gram is.

To provide a little perspective, if you emptied an entire packet of sugar into your coffee or tea, you will generally leave more than that amount behind in the empty packet.

Congratulations to the APD for their vigilance and for making this find. You clearly have broken up a large narcotics ring and made a huge impact on local criminal activity.


John P Johns
another community
on Jan 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm
John P Johns, another community
on Jan 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm

The Bothun case is yet another example of the Police Department abusing its power and wasting local resources to persecute one who's been critical of the Department in the past (and justly so).


Ed
Atherton: other
on Jan 25, 2011 at 8:34 pm
Ed, Atherton: other
on Jan 25, 2011 at 8:34 pm

This is not as much resolution or vindication as Mr. Bothun deserves after the long ordeal he has been subjected to--but I am still very glad to see this news.
Our system of governance will never function with intimidation directed at members of the 4th estate, especially it comes from law enforcement.
I hope Mr Bothun gets his full dignity restored as this would benefit us all.


Exonerated
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2011 at 10:11 pm
Exonerated, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2011 at 10:11 pm

What are you talking about Ed? Mike Guerra said in the Palo Alto paper today that the police department is NOT targeting Mr. Bothun for retaliation. If he says it, it must be true. And if you don't believe him, he can get Pete Petersen to exonerate himself on that issue.


Ed
Atherton: other
on Jan 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm
Ed, Atherton: other
on Jan 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Mr Exonerated:
Au contraire.
Unfortunately, The involvement in project "Get Bothun" , of Officers from as far away as Oakland and beyond, would not surprise me at all anymore. Why -just a few months ago, Atherton paid to send several APD officers to to Oakland as part of some Mutual AID Agreement, to cover the Meserlee Sentencing, so they already owed APD a favor. I'm sure they would be thrilled to reciprocate with this capture of such a trophy Atherton resident.


Exonerated
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2011 at 11:02 pm
Exonerated, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 25, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Maybe the favor was already repaid when Petersen, an ex Oakland high ranking officer, came to Atherton to white wash things. [Portion deleted - speculating that someone may do something wrong.]

When you stop and think that Bothun went to grade school with one of the officers who was at his home, in charge of the raid, it's scary.


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