Town Square

Post a New Topic

Ex-San Mateo Prosecutor Accused of Misconduct Now Training Lawyers at the California Bar

Original post made by Holly L., Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks, on Mar 6, 2015

The legal paper, the Los Angeles Daily Journal, published an article on February 18, 2015, titled "Ex-Prosecutor Accused of Misconduct Trains Bar".

The ex- prosecutor is former San Mateo prosecutor Al Giannini. As many know, in 2010, the Northern California Innocence Project singled out Giannini as being one of the worst offenders of prosecutorial misconduct in the state of California.

Giannini retired a couple of years ago from the San Mateo DA's office.

The article says that Giannini was brought in to work for the Bar by former San Mateo DA Jim Fox, who is now on the Bar's Board of Trustees. Neither Giannini nor Fox would respond to calls by the paper.

Gianinni, nder contract as a consult to the State Bar, is now "training lawyers on trial techniques" according to State Bar spokesperson Laura Ernde.

Cookie Ridolfi, former head of the Nor. Cal Innocence Project did told the paper "It's appalling " that a prosecutor repeatedly found to have committed misconduct would train State Bar lawyers.

I can't post a link because I don't subscribe to the Daily Journal. I did send a copy of the story to the Almanac.

Comments (36)

2 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 6, 2015 at 1:26 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

Just heard from the LA Times reporter who wrote about the epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct in California in January. She informed me that she already knew about Giannini being hired by the Bar and plans to write up this in a follow up to the 9th Circuit court hearing where Judge Alex Kozinski "strongly criticized the state attorney general's office for not pursuing a Riverside prosecutor who apparently lied on the witness stand."

Sure hope someone from the Bay area gets on this story as well.


2 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Al Giannini is the only prosecutor that I have written a letter to his boss at the time James P. Fox demanding that he order him to quit lying to the Judge and jury in a triple murder case.


2 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2015 at 4:18 pm

My letter ref. above was hand delivered and stamped received by the District Attorney's Office on March 30, 2005 with copies to the Board of Supervisors, John Maltbie and Thomas Casey III


Like this comment
Posted by G Rammer
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 7, 2015 at 7:09 pm

"Al Giannini is the only prosecutor that I have written a letter to his boss at the time James P. Fox demanding that he order him to quit lying to the Judge and jury in a triple murder case."

Punctuation is your friend.

I get your point - I think.


2 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 8, 2015 at 5:45 am

I heard from Cookie Ridolfi , former head of the Northern California Innocence Project this week. She is up in arms about this. After her study came out in 2010 on prosecutorial misconduct in California , she was encouraged by the efforts of the Bar's Chief Trial Counsel, Jim Towery, to come down hard on prosecutors who committed misconduct.

Alas , Towery resigned in 2010. The story is that he was finding it hard to reform the Bar.

Then Jayne Km, his replacement, made the appalling decision to hire Jim Fox as her consultant! Under Fox's watch at San Mateo DA's office, Giannini committed misconduct multiple times. Another prosecutor was sued for violating Marcy's Law (victim's rights) and later disciplined by the Bar. People only sued and fled complaints with the Bar because Fox and Wagstaffe ignored all complaints.

We also know of a large number of people who have filed Bar complaints against Fox, Wagstaffe, Giannni and a number of other prosecutors in the DA's office. Bar files on his crew have got to be two feet thick!

The administration at the Bar and the investigative unit do not appear to know what the other is doing. With the LA Times and possibly other papers and legal blogs pursuing this, this is not going to look good for the Bar or the San Mateo DA's office.

PS. The Bar sent DA Wagstaffe a warning after he lied to the press about the facts of a defendant's case. Fox was still in charge then.



Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 8, 2015 at 5:51 am

An attorney posted the entire Los Angeles Daily Journal story about the Bar hiring Gianinni on his Facebook page here. As you can see, the attorney is disgusted by this.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 8, 2015 at 6:18 am

The attorney doesn't list the entire article on his Facebook page. Here's what was left out: the Daily Journal reported on February 18, 2015 that interest in Giannini's job with the Bar was sparked when Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals strongly criticized Attorney General Kamala Harris's office for not prosecuting a Riverside prosecutor who had lied on the witness stand. Cookie Ridolfi told the Daily Journal reporter that there was a lot of chatter among lawyers about the Bar hiring Giannini.


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 8, 2015 at 6:39 am

Mercury News has just come out with a big story on this; " Prosecutor with Checkered Past is Training Legal Watchdogs"

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2015 at 9:11 am

Al Gianni told the jury the Sobe Soda Softdrink bottle was broken in pieces. This bottle was in 2 Sheriff Reports, and 2 deputies testified to it's existence under oath, they never mentioned it was broken. This bottle never made it to court in any condition. I asked the county to tell me what evidence code number it was given….Never got it. Here is my 2nd letter to the County.

Michael G. Stogner

Re: 2nd Request Evidence Code Number assigned to the Sobe Soda Softdrink Bottle on October 9, 2002 by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. Eddie Rapoza III SC53584A triple murder case.

Michael P. Murphy County Counsel of San Mateo County
Hall of Justice and Records
400 County Center 6th Floor
Redwood City, California, 94063

Mr. Murphy,
This is in response to your letter dated December 12, 2008. Your office was involved it filed a document full of misleading and dishonest statements. Prepared by Carol L Woodward I am confident that you were aware of this, you might not have expected me to be.

Under the Leadership of Sheriff Don Horsley, Detectives Gary Ramos and Joseph Farmer have Identified this object/weapon in their official police reports and have testified to its existence in the Eddie Rapoza III SC53584A triple murder case. DDA Al Gianni even described the bottle as being broken in the Court. As a concerned citizen and resident of San Mateo County I am asking you to supply me with the Evidence code assigned by the San Mateo County Sheriff Office on the date of October 9, 2002. As you are aware I have spoken publicly to the Board of Supervisors objecting to my Sheriff’s Department under the leadership of Don Horsley declaring the Guilt of people before they ever get to a trial. The Sheriff’s department determined that Mr. Rapoza was guilty the day of the incident. Now we have two deputies and the District Attorney’s office describing this bottle in various conditions. This alleged/fabricated bottle was there excuse for re-entering the ICU room, at 8:30PM, ICU rooms don’t have Sobe Bottles in them. That is why you are unable to supply me with the number, there never was one.

You might think filing a false response (1/5/2004 Respondent San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office’s Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Produce Documents) or Police report and committing perjury in our Courts is OK, I don’t.

I expect honesty and accurate law enforcement reports and testimony in San Mateo County and Our Courts.

Evidence code number please, the one assigned on October 9, 2002

Its time the truth comes out, if it never existed just say so.

Sincerely,


Michael G. Stogner


2 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 9, 2015 at 7:12 am

Holly L. is a registered user.

Bill Keller, former executive of the New York Times ( and who grew up in San Mateo County) now runs the Marshall Project, which investigates problems in the American criminal justice system. The Marshall Project today has just posted a link to the Mercury news story about Al Giannini and the Bar.

Web Link
COMMENTARY

Prosecutors look after themselves, first. A searing look at prosecutorial immunity from Glenn Harlan Reynolds, otherwise known as “Instapundit.” USA TODAYRelated: Why is the “poster boy for misconduct” training other prosecutors? SAN JOSE MERCURY-NEWS


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2015 at 7:19 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

2 of Menlo Voter's posts have been deleted with no record of it.

I think if the Almanac would at least leave the post record up and make it blank, than the readers could see how much editing is done. For example

Menlo Voter

Blank

Menlo Voter

Blank


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 9, 2015 at 7:26 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

They keep deleting my posts because I keep pointing out our DA is CORRUPT.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2015 at 7:33 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Menlo Voter says "They keep deleting my posts because I keep pointing out our DA is CORRUPT."

You would think that would be what the Almanac should be reporting to the especially when you offer some many examples. It's not a secret.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2015 at 7:36 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

You would think that would be what the Almanac should be reporting to the readers especially when you offer so many examples. It's not a secret.


2 people like this
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 9, 2015 at 7:41 am

Holly L. is a registered user.

You would think that the Almanac and local papers would be reporting on corruption in the DA's office now that places from the opposite end of the country, like the Marshall Project in New York City, run by the former executive of the New York Times are starting to take notice of what's going on in San Mateo County.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2015 at 7:44 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Here is a letter to the Supervisors of San Mateo County, 2005

He is talking about Al Giannini

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 9, 2015 at 8:35 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Sounds like Mr. Rapossa had incompetent counsel. He should have been able to appeal his conviction based on that alone.


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 9, 2015 at 9:31 am

Holly L. is a registered user.

Well, anyone in California who is a victim of prosecutorial misconduct who goes looking for sympathy from AG Kamala Harris shouldn't bother. There is a lot of buzz in the press today about a Kern County, California prosecutor who FABRICATED A CONFESSION from the defendant. The prosecutor later ADMITTED to falsifying the confession. But Attorney General Harris's office defended him on the grounds, well, putting the fake confession into the case wasn't that outrageous because it wasn't as if the prosecutor had committed brutality.

From a legal expert in USA Today today: "Prosecutors Protect Themselves First"

Web Link

Excerpts:

In the course of negotiating a plea bargain with the defendant, a Kern County prosecutor committed what the California appeals court called "outrageous government misconduct."

What prosecuting attorney Robert Murray did was produce a translated transcript of the defendant's interrogation to which he had added a fraudulent confession....

When the trial judge found out, charges against the defendant were dismissed. Incredibly, the State of California, via Attorney General Kamala Harris, decided to appeal the case. The state's key argument: That putting a fake confession in the transcript wasn't "outrageous" because it didn't involve physical brutality, like chaining someone to a radiator and beating him with a hose.

___

Thankfully, the appeals court did NOT agree with Harris's office's bogus argument and the defendant was set free.

The California Bar is now working on disbarring the prosecutor. But he is STILL working for the Kern County DA


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2015 at 9:44 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

a fraudulent confession.

San Mateo County Sheriff Deputy Joseph Farmer confessed for Eddie Ropaza III because he got tired of Eddie saying it was an accident my foot got stuck.

The alleged confession on SMSO tape recorder is in Joe Farmers voice, not Eddie's and he refused to sign the confession.

Welcome to San Mateo County, and a Big thank you to concerned citizen around America.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 9, 2015 at 9:58 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

What's the story? Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2015 at 10:00 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Menlo Voter says

"Sounds like Mr. Rapossa had incompetent counsel. He should have been able to appeal his conviction based on that alone."

He tried he lost, looks like prison for life


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2015 at 10:07 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Jack asks a Great question, "What's the story? Web Link"

All I can say about this latest article is it's simply strange. To dismiss the obvious and grab one piece of evidence that really didn't carry much weight in the overall picture.

Strange is all I can say.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 9, 2015 at 10:53 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Here's some more information.
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Jack, that is very interesting the Michael Zerbe was mentioned in that brief because he was never called as a witness in the trial even though he was the only eye witness and he saved Eddie Rapoza III life by pulling him out of the ocean and he removed Eddie's wife and daughter from the wrecked van by cutting the seat belts with a knife thrown down by a SMSO deputy and carried them to the beach.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2015 at 12:24 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

San Mateo County has a Private Defender Program not Public Defender Program. We are the only County out of 58 with such a program.


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 9, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

Bear in mind that there are dozens of cases- less high profile but still just as important- that were prosecuted by Giannini that need to be reviewed. I can think of a few off the top of my head... the Quincy Dean Norton case, for one. Giannini's behind the scene work on that case is VERY interesting, to say the least.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Don't forget District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe contacting the America's Most Wanted to report that Victor Willis was a failure to appear in drug court one day. Mr. Wagstaffe starred in that show.


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 9, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

Mr. Stogner: That's hilarious. Mr. Wagstaffe really does pick and choose the cases he wants to publicize, often with no rhyme or reason.

Kind of small town of him to go after Mr. Willis.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 9, 2015 at 4:08 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Michael said: "Jack, that is very interesting the Michael Zerbe was mentioned in that brief because he was never called as a witness in the trial..." The link I provided,Web Link
ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS. Signed by Judge William Alsup on 1/26/11. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate of Service)(dt, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/27/2011) states that Zerbe was called by the prosecution and cross-examined thoroughly by defense counsel. Is that document falsified?
Do you have a transcript of the trial?


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Michael Zerbe testified at a preliminary hearing and after he testified that he pulled Eddie Rapoza III from the ocean he untangled a strap from his foot the strap was connected to a six pack size cooler blue nylon cooler.

After that he was removed from the witness list and never testified in front of the Jury.

I don't have transcript, but I'll post his letter to Supervisors.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2015 at 7:41 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Mike Zerbe letter October 26, 2005
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 10, 2015 at 8:25 am

Holly L. is a registered user.

Many other sites have picked up the Giannini/California Bar story, including the National Law Journal


Ethics: The California state bar is drawing criticism over the attorney the group picked to lead training, the San Jose Mercury News reports. "He's like the poster boy of misconduct," one lawyer told the news outlet. Alfred Giannini, the former prosecutor who’s the target of the criticism, defended his record. "It's troubling that the people who claim to be in the ethics business are as careless with the facts as they seem to be," he said.


Read more: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 10, 2015 at 10:25 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

Michael, if the below excerpt from the U.S. District Court ORDER DENYING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS has been falsified, it should be challenged.Web Link

EXCERPT:
"Petitioner claims that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to call eyewitness Michael Zerbe on behalf of the defense. The claim is without merit.
The record reveals that petitioner’s claim has no factual merit. Mr. Zerbe did in fact testify at petitioner’s trial on March 3, 2005 (Exh. 3 at 1404-32). While he was called as a prosecution witness, defense counsel took the opportunity to cross-examine Mr. Zerbe. Ibid.
Furthermore, defense counsel did question Mr. Zerbe about the blue bag that he pulled from petitioner’s foot. Specifically, Mr. Zerbe testified:
I looked down, and I seen something tugging on [petitioner’s]
foot, and there was a blue bag looped over his foot. So I took it
off because I thought the waves going in and out was hurting his
foot so I took it off his foot. (id. at 1420). Mr. Zerbe testified that he threw the bag aside and did not recall pointing it out to anyone (id. at 1421). Defense counsel went on to elicit more details about the blue bag, and Mr. Zerbe testified that it was a nylon blue soft cooler, “big enough for a six [p]ack” (id. at 1426). It was flexible and had a strap (ibid.). The strap was not twisted around petitioner’s foot but rather, was just looped around, making it easy to pull off (id. at 1427).
During cross-examination, Mr. Zerbe also testified that when he reached petitioner after the accident, petitioner stated more than once that his “foot was stuck” (id. at 1419-1421). Mr. Zerbe also testified that petitioner had called out for his wife, wanted to be next to her, and put
his arm around her on the beach (id. at 1424-1425). After a review of the record, the court finds that defense counsel’s examination of Mr. Zerbe at trial was thorough and competent and accordingly, did not fall below the Strickland standard of objective reasonableness.
Furthermore, defense counsel presented expert testimony to show how the accident could have happened under petitioner’s story that his foot was stuck. Specifically, the defense called Richard Allen Schmidt, a psychologist with a specialization in “human factors,” which he
described as essentially the same as ergonomics (Exh. 3 at 2665-66). Mr. Schmidt testified, based on his own physical study of the vehicle, that there was a way in the particular make and model of the van, for one’s foot to become entangled between the brake and the accelerator pad, while wearing the shoes that petitioner was wearing (Exh. 3 at 2677-78, 2696-97, 2725-27).


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2015 at 12:52 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Jack, Mr. Zerbe did in fact testify at petitioner's trial on March 3, 2005 (Exh. 3 at 1404-32). While he was called as a prosecution witness, defense counsel took the opportunity to cross-examine Mr. Zerbe. Ibid.
Furthermore, defense counsel did question Mr. Zerbe about the blue bag that he pulled from petitioner's foot. Specifically, Mr. Zerbe testified:

No Jury on March 3, 2005. Mr. Zerbe was called as a prosecution witness Why?
Private Defender Program put on a good show and don't call the only eyewitness.
Mr. Zerbe was removed from the witness list after that. He never testified in from of the Jury.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

He never testified in front of the jury.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 10, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

I'm confused. What do you mean "No jury on March 3, 2005? Did they remove the jury from the courtroom?
Where is the prosecutorial misconduct by Giannini in this case?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

QBB opens in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 9 comments | 2,693 views

Legacy
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 891 views

Grandparents Day
By Cheryl Bac | 4 comments | 828 views

Become a Master Gardener - Deadline Sept 21
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 805 views

 

Meet the winners!

The results are in. Check out The Almanac readers' favorite foods, services and fun stuff in the area.

View Winners