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SMC Sheriff Deputy Dominguez, What was his plan? Sandra L. Harmon Homicide.

By Michael G. Stogner

May 5, 2020 Half Moon Bay, California about 7:25PM a non emergency 911 call is made to report a woman armed with a shotgun and a bottle of wine was walking down the sidewalk had just warned a woman working in her garden about the possibility of a race war. More than 20 minutes later and several Deputies looking for said woman Deputy Dominguez goes by himself to the exact motor-home that a man recommended the Deputies check for her. Deputy Dominguez failed to notify dispatch that he was going there, and failed to notify dispatch that he had arrived at that location and was getting out of his patrol car and approaching the motor-home by himself. In the next minute or two Sandra Lee Harmon is dead, shot 8 times with 3 of them Fatal in her back. Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe gave press releases and public statement declaring there was a shootout and Sandra Lee Harmon fired at Deputy Dominguez first. That turned out to be a Lie. They also notified the residents that Deputy Dominguez had failed to turn on his Body Worn Camera and that explains why they are not showing the public what really happened that night. They don’t offer any evidence (AXON LOG RECORDS) which could verify the status of BWC was turned off or not. They didn’t ask Deputy Dominguez to take a Lie Detector Test regarding that statement.

The Estate of Sandra Lee Harmon just filed a lawsuit in which it states that Deputy Dominguez fired at Sandra Lee Harmon first, He also fired at her while she was unarmed with her hands above her head striking her in the back. There is also evidence that 3 Shell Casings were moved at the Crime Scene. It’s going to be interesting to find out Who moved those three shell casings and also who else knew about the Tampering of Evidence at a Homicide Crime Scene.

Note: I’m not in favor of de-funding law enforcement, I am in favor of firing dishonest law enforcement officers.

I recommend San Mateo County fire any Sheriff Deputy who claims to have not turned off his/her BWC when they are involved in a critical incident.

This lawsuit will take many years to make its way through the courts. A much faster way to get the AXON LOG RECORDS is to elect a New Sheriff that will release them. So far Candidate Mark Melville has made that commitment.

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City of Half Moon Bay must demand more, initiate police reforms.

This letter was published in the Half Moon Bay Review.

Last week, Sandra Harmon’s daughter filed suit against the county, the city of Half Moon Bay and several individuals for (among other things) the wrongful death of her mom.

The complaint was not unexpected given the circumstances of the shooting, but what was surprising was the detailed nature of what can only be described as a putative indictment of the behavior of Deputy David Dominguez, numerous other San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputies and the Sheriff’s Office as well as the District Attorney’s Office.

Specifically, the complaint cites audio recordings that Harmon’s attorneys assert are a coherent and accurate record of the entire event. The complaint alleges that these recordings show that Dominguez fired at Harmon first. This despite Dominguez swearing that Harmon fired first, Sheriff Carlos Bolanos stating on June 19, 2020, that she fired first, and the District Attorney’s Office formally finding that she fired first. If proved, this miscarriage of truth is especially egregious given that the evidence was in plain view while in the possession of both the sheriff and the DA, and only a deliberate refusal to examine it can explain their collective failure.

The complaint is the first legal document that purports to reveal that Dominguez fired three rounds at Harmon before she had done anything and it is an enormous problem for the city and county. This is because the primary justification that the DA relied on to meet the threshold of “imminent threat,” which is required before anyone uses deadly force, was based entirely on that one assertion. Without it the entire finding by the DA’s Office — that the shooting was justified — collapses completely.

Even more shockingly, the complaint also cites video that shows Harmon being fatally shot in the back while complying with Dominguez’s directives, as she faced away from him with her arms above her head in a non-threatening position. When Bolanos shared this video with the public in mid-June, he stated that the video was “unaltered” despite the fact that it had been deliberately altered by his personnel by degrading the quality, thereby making it nearly impossible to see the real details. The DA, however, did have the full resolution copy and to date has offered no explanation for how his team failed to notice that the victim was facing away from the deputy with her arms above her head when she was fatally shot in the back.

Perhaps the greatest issue, and one we should all be focusing on, is the utter disregard and contempt both the sheriff and the DA have shown to our Coastside community. A member of our community was violently taken from us and what we’ve been given so far is a combination of half-truths, outright lies and a complete failure to investigate the homicide by the agencies purportedly responsible for protecting us.

This self-serving and variable interpretation of the truth in service of redirecting justice away from the deserving to those who have not earned it simply cannot be allowed to stand.

It is time for Mayor Robert Brownstone and the City Council to step in to assert and protect our rights as residents of Half Moon Bay. He can do this by directing city staff and the Public Safety Committee to formally require Bolanos and Wagstaffe to sit at individual public meetings to answer questions from the public, the media and the council regarding the Sandra Harmon shooting. These meetings should be held as soon as practicable and should embrace a format that allows for follow-up questioning from the public and whatever time necessary to answer questions.

Additionally, the mayor and council should move urgently to place local police reform on the list for council priorities for the coming year. Further, they should immediately direct staff to work with the sheriff, the Coastside Fire Protection District and any other relevant parties to implement a response structure similar to the one Oakland is rolling out for mental health emergencies.

Vilifying law enforcement and the good people who work in it serves no practical purpose, but it is equally fair to say that when a community has been as disserved as ours has been regarding the Harmon homicide we have every right to question the objectives, intent and justice that we have been given. We also have the right to truthful answers from the sheriff and DA, in clean, clear and unambiguous form.

Absent those answers, our only recourse remains, and should be, an immediate recall of both the sheriff and the district attorney on the grounds of dereliction of duty.

David Eblovi is a resident of Half Moon Bay.

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Charles Stone get real about the safety of Bus Drivers.

By Michael G. Stogner

San Mateo County Bus Drivers should not be driving until all of them have been vaccinated and 2 weeks time has passed Period. This is not Rocket Science. The Covid-19 Virus and the many variants are spread through breathing, every reasonable person knows that. A helpful example I use is smoke, you can smell it before you can see it. The virus is Airborne you can’t see it.

San Mateo County participated in the nine month 2019 Federal Exercise Called “Crimson Contagion Functional Exercise of 2019.”

Crimson Contagion Functional Exercise 2019

Until Doses are available just relax, This was a Deliberate Act by the Federal Government, at least now the doses and the distribution into arms are a top priority.

Good News Update 3/11/2021 from LATIMES partial list includes BUS DRIVERS

The state has also classified the following groups as eligible for the vaccine: custodians and janitors; public transit workers; 

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Juan P. Lopez and Derek Chauvin Trials “Operation Safety Net.” for one.

By Michael G. Stogner

Update: Juan P. Lopez next Court date Friday March 12, 2021 9:00 AM The phone numbers provided by the Superior Court for the Zoom meeting DID NOT WORK nor did the phone Number and Code to LISTEN. How is that possible?

Update: Derek Chauvin case delayed until Tuesday

To Listen to Lopez Case this morning at 9 AM 1-425-650-1318 Code 425463

Lets compare these two trials starting today.

Derek Chauvin Murdered George Floyd, How do we know this, a Brave 17 year old girl videoed it on her cellphone, we actually saw the Murder. That is VERY RARE.

There will be thousands of law enforcement on hand for the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin. A spokesperson for the city of Minneapolis said Monday there will be 2,000 National Guard troops, and about two-thirds of them will be assigned to property protection.

The multi-agency security plan is called “Operation Safety Net.” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said it has been in the works since July. Why? The answer is Police in America have been Killing Black, Brown, Asian, Native American, Mentally Ill people everyday, they always claim they were Fearful for there lives and for the most part juries believe them. Change the Law.

There will be None except the Bailiffs at the Lopez case. Most likely not one Reporter from the 7 Print Media.

San Mateo County is a different story former Sheriff Deputy Juan P. Lopez was arrested in November 2014 over 6 years ago. He didn’t murder anyone, His crime was he ran for Sheriff of San Mateo County. San Mateo County District Attorney Investigator William Massey didn’t like that and took matters into his own hands. Massey made two attempts to have Deputy Lopez’s girlfriend fired from her job. That doesn’t sound right does it? When that didn’t work “Somebody” contacted the school where her two children attended and the school informed them they could not continue their education there. Imagine the impact on those children. Thank God for a Concerned Citizen who heard of this and made contact with the school had a private conversation and the children were informed they were welcome to continue their education. Imagine the highest ranking District Attorney Investigator interfering with citizens lives like this. What else could he or like minded people do. Could they access the State of California’s DMV Computer and cause Deputy Lopez’s Drivers License to be suspended. The answer is yes they could and did. I sent that criminal complaint to both Stave Wagstaffe and Kamala Harris. These are just a few examples of what has actually happened to x Sheriff Deputy Juan P. Lopez and they all happened 6 years ago.

Think about the Financial Impact of not being able to be employed for the last 6 years.

Think about the cost to defend yourself that is if you can even find a Law Firm to take your case?

Think about the Physical and Emotional Impact of your neighbors and Friends thinking you must be Guilty why would Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos, Sheriff Sergeant Jason Peardon, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, DDA William Massey, County Counsel Attorney David Silberman want to harm you?

Remember Deputy Lopez was Charged with Smuggling a Cellphone and Drugs to Hells Angel Inmate in Maguire Jail. Every single person mentioned above and many more knew those were completely False Charges.

My question to the Residents of San Mateo County is What are You going to do about it?

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What are their Names?

By Michael G. Stogner

We really haven’t progressed very much have we? Recently 13 humans were killed in Southern California, The News media has informed us that 25 humans were in a vehicle designed to carry 8, they mention Human smuggling, entered the Country illegally.

What are there names? I think that is the least we can do is identify them.

Many years ago Woody Guthrie wrote a song called Deportee about humans who entered this Country legally, many recording artists sang that song about them dying in a Plane Crash near Fresno, after taking off from San Jose California. The Media simple described them as Deportees.

He names the 28 who died on the airplane.

My grandmother on my father’s side was a Guthrie.

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Stay out of Court at all Cost.

By Michael G. Stogner

That has been my consistent advice to all victim’s and there families for the last for the last 21 years. There are some cases that can not be avoided a perfect example is the ex Sheriff Deputy Juan P. Lopez case where the District Attorney’s Office, The Sheriff’s Office and the County Counsel’s Office have all ganged up on him and those close to him for the last 6 years. Also Jody Williams case is another good example of abuse. When Law Enforcement is used as a Weapon, Who is responsible? I say you the average citizen of San Mateo County are responsible and this fantastic article by the Los Angeles Times shows why.

UPDATE: March 7, 2021 10:10 AM Phone Number to listen is 1-425-650-1318 Code 425463

Former San Mateo County Sheriff Deputy is in Court tomorrow March 8, 2021 at 9:00AM You can listen to his court case on your phone and I recommend that you do that. I will post the phone number here as soon as I have it. There will be several attorneys from the San Mateo County Counsels Office to Quash Subpoenas for Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos, SMCSO Sergeant Jason Peardon, District Attorney’s Office Investigators William Massey, John Warren, and Steve Wagstaffe, There are close to 45 Witnesses for the Defense and another 20 plus for the Prosecution.

You will remember x Deputy Juan P. Lopez was charged in November 2014 with Smuggling a Cell Phone and Drugs into Maguire Jail where he worked and supposedly he gave them to a Hells Angel Gang Member Inmate. It was also reported in the press that he Embezzled $400,000 from his campaign funds. Neither of those charges were honest.

Why would Sheriff Carlos G. Bolanos not want to testify? You would think he would be happy to testify.

What are you going to do about it?

San Mateo County’s James P. Fox was President of the State Bar 2016

Todays LATIMES Article


Lawyer seduced State Bar

Sued countless times for misconduct, Tom Girardi and his law firm managed to stay in California’s good graces

ATTORNEY Tom Girardi, left, appears with David and Ann Stow, the parents of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow, who suffered brain damage from a beating, outside a Los Angeles courthouse in 2014. (Damian Dovarganes Associated Press) 

By Harriet Ryan and Matt Hamilton

The warning signs about Tom Girardi flashed year after year, allegations that he skimmed settlement money, inflated costs, abandoned clients and cheated colleagues.

The vaunted Los Angeles trial lawyer, a regular on “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” and his firm were sued more than a hundred times from the 1980s to last year, with at least half of those cases asserting misconduct in his law practice.

Yet through it all, Girardi’s record with the State Bar of California, the government agency that regulates attorneys, remained pristine. The bar took no action to warn the public despite receiving what The Times has learned were multiple complaints. That spotless license allowed him to continue marketing himself as one of the nation’s most renowned civil lawyers and to sign up thousands of new clients, some of whom would later say he absconded with millions of dollars of their settlement money.

In the wake of the stunning collapse this winter of Girardi’s law firm and reputation, The Times investigated how he was able to stay in the bar’s good graces for decades while attorneys accused of similar wrongdoing were reprimanded, suspended or disbarred.

The newspaper, in months of interviews and reviews of documents, found that Girardi cultivated close relationships with bar officials that at times appeared improper. Agency staffers received annual invitations to a Las Vegas legal conference, where Girardi hosted over-the-top parties at the Wynn casino featuring Jay Leno and other celebrity entertainers, according to attendees, event programs and an internal bar investigation.

After the bar’s executive director, a longtime Girardi pal, violated policy by using a state credit card to pay for a trip to Mongolia, the Girardi Keese law firm sent a $5,000 check to reimburse the agency, according to the internal investigation and court records.

While under investigation for misconduct in 2010, Girardi bankrolled a lavish retirement bash for the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, which oversees the bar, even booking crooner Paul Anka to perform, according to news reports, court records and interviews with attendees.

He forged a particularly tight relationship with a bar investigator named Tom Layton. Over the decade and a half Layton worked at the bar, Girardi routinely treated him to pricey meals at the Jonathan Club, Morton’s and the Palm, according to Layton’s sworn testimony. The investigator rode on Girardi’s private jet, and two of his children got jobs at Girardi Keese, according to the testimony and an online resume. When he and his wife were sued by the contractor building their “dream house,” Girardi provided years of free legal work, records of the case show.

There was open talk at the agency about whether the legal titan’s connections had shielded him from discipline, according to interviews with more than 15 current and former bar officials.

The bar’s inaction came at a profound cost. Orphans, widows, a burn victim and other vulnerable clients who trusted Girardi to win them justice have instead lost millions of dollars apparently spent or otherwise misappropriated, according to judges’ orders in the recent cases.

In one of the biggest scandals in California legal history, Girardi’s firm has ceased operation and he has been forced into bankruptcy. He has been referred to federal prosecutors for criminal investigation, his wife, “Housewives” star Erika Jayne, is divorcing him, and the power he wielded at the bar and elsewhere has vanished.

Girardi was not available to answer questions, according to an attorney for his younger brother. Robert Girardi has said in court filings that his brother has short-term memory loss, and a judge last month placed the 81-year-old attorney in a conservatorship.

“Any interview with Tom Girardi would be inappropriate, given the circumstances that have given rise to the conservatorship,” said Nicholas Van Brunt, an attorney for Robert Girardi.

A State Bar spokeswoman said the confidentiality of bar investigations, along with other restrictions, prevented answering many of The Times’ queries about Girardi.

“Beyond those constraints is the reality that much of what you are asking about concerns a time period many years past,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. “The current Board of Trustees and staff leadership team have no knowledge of the information you are seeking.”

His track record would set off alarms

It was 2000, the year the film “Erin Brockovich” gave Girardi a national profile, but proceedings in Superior Court were focused on a previous legal victory.

The roughly $128-million settlement on behalf of hundreds of former employees of Lockheed’s Burbank facility was celebrated by the legal press and, at least initially, by the injured workers themselves.

But after the checks went out, some began questioning how the money was distributed.

The accounting records Girardi reluctantly turned over showed client funds went to “a huge number of persons” unconnected to the litigation, including individuals listed as “K. Ernest Citizen,” “Giovanni Medici” and “Lee Marvin,” according to correspondence filed by the workers’ attorney in subsequent lawsuits.

The records also showed money going to companies and lawyers that the Lockheed workers said had no clear ties to their case, such as $500,000 to a brokerage firm and $25,000 to his close friend, attorney Robert Baker.

Asked recently about the accounting, Baker, a prominent L.A. litigator, said he never received those funds and noted he and his firm “did not have anything to do with that case.”

Lockheed workers came to believe “millions and millions” were missing, as one of their attorneys wrote in a 2002 letter, and filed suit against Girardi. He insisted he had done nothing wrong, but he refused to make his bookkeeper available for a deposition. In what would become a pattern in such cases, he brushed aside demands for access to his firm’s books and other financial records for more than a year — even in the face of three court orders.

As the judge was preparing to send the accounting firm KPMG into Girardi’s Wilshire Boulevard office to conduct an audit, he settled the case. The terms were not disclosed.

The financial improprieties alleged were precisely the sort of misconduct the State Bar of California is supposed to investigate. The main mission of the agency, an arm of the state Supreme Court, is to protect the public by setting licensing standards for California’s 250,000 lawyers and disciplining those who violate ethical duties.

With a budget of about $240 million, the bar has a staff of 600 employees in offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Most employees are assigned to the discipline system, which includes prosecutors, investigators and administrative judges. The bar fields about 15,000 complaints a year, primarily from unhappy clients, but it also has the power to initiate investigations based on news reports, lawsuits or referrals from judges.

Girardi was the subject of complaints on multiple occasions, according to people familiar with the matter. The nature and timing of those reports are not clear. By law, complaints generally become public only if they result in formal charges in State Bar Court.

By the time of the dispute over the Lockheed settlement, at least one bar investigator was well known to Girardi.

The attorney and Layton traveled in similar political circles but had different roles. A major Democratic fundraiser since the 1970s, Girardi had the ear of governors and became known widely as a judgemaker who could secure or doom appointments to the bench.

Layton was a registered Republican and a former L.A. County sheriff’s deputy. Though he had never risen high in the department, he served on a union committee for political endorsements and became known in law enforcement for his savvy and connections with government officials, according to media accounts and interviews with lawyers and police officials. An injury forced his early retirement in the mid-’90s, but even after he joined the State Bar he retained his place in the power structure, presenting himself as a “special assistant” to then-Sheriff Lee Baca.

He and Girardi, two decades his senior, were often seen side-by-side at political fundraisers and restaurants, according to interviews with associates and sworn testimony. Girardi held extravagant Super Bowl parties and annual Christmas feasts, where Layton mingled with a powerful crowd of judges, attorneys and politicians.

With Girardi’s support, Layton also became known for helping ambitious attorneys who sought judgeships. He assisted governors Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger as they vetted applicants, according to Layton’s sworn testimony and news accounts.

His official duties as a bar investigator were less high profile. The post paid less than $42,000 a year when he started in 1999, payroll data show, and consisted mainly of interviewing disgruntled clients and tracking down records. It did give him access to a river of confidential information about lawyers and their alleged misdeeds.

It’s unclear what Layton knew about complaints that came in against Girardi over the years. After he left the agency in 2015, he was questioned under oath about his relationship with the attorney and insisted he never worked on an investigation involving Girardi Keese.

What is undisputed is that Girardi had a lot of dissatisfied clients. He and the firm have been sued at least 45 times for legal malpractice or misappropriation of client money, according to court dockets. In at least 14 other cases, attorneys or expert consultants have alleged that he stiffed them out of fees. Girardi did not carry malpractice insurance and relied on employees or attorney friends to represent him, according to retainer agreements filed in court and interviews. He prevailed in some cases. The files of others have been destroyed or are unavailable for review. Many were settled before trial.

As the sole owner of Girardi Keese, he was accountable only to himself and shared little about firm operations with the dozens of attorneys who worked there. He was especially secretive about finances, associates said.

One of the few to get a clear look was the forensic accountant Girardi’s second wife hired during their divorce. The accountant was alarmed by what he discovered in the firm’s books. A cardinal rule of the legal profession is that attorneys may not touch a cent of their clients’ money — a transgression that can result in disbarment, prison or both.

The accountant described “indiscriminate and inappropriate use of the client trust accounts,” including a $9-million payment Girardi made to himself that was never recorded on his firm’s books, according to the accountant’s sworn declaration.

“We have discovered several examples of monies taken directly from client trust accounts to pay for [Girardi’s] personal expenditures,” the accountant, Alfred Warsavsky, wrote, describing a $50,000 check made out to the holding company for his private jets, an unexplained $500,000 payment to a title company and a $340,000 purchase of shares in a Las Vegas hotel, according to declarations from the accountant. Girardi’s lawyer contested the claims.

It’s not clear whether the bar was notified. The judge, one of the lawyers and Girardi’s second wife are dead.

In the years that followed, there was a drumbeat of additional complaints. One former client accused Girardi in 2002 of not conducting basic legal work in her lawsuit against a businessman she accused of drugging and raping her.

An executive fired by Lee Iacocca accused Girardi that same year of failing to depose key witnesses and file necessary motions in a wrongful-termination case. Both cases settled before trial with no finding of wrongdoing.

Other Lockheed workers filed additional suits, and Girardi kept fighting their requests for documents. In one case, he racked up nearly $60,000 in penalties for defying court orders. Ultimately, the cases were dismissed on statute of limitations grounds, and the misappropriation allegations never got a full hearing.

A close connection at the State Bar

The longer Layton worked at the bar, the closer his connection with Girardi became. His teenage son began working as a clerk at Girardi Keese in 2003 and remained employed there for seven years, according to an online resume. Layton’s daughter was hired briefly to do filing, he said in a deposition.

Layton traveled on one of two private planes the attorney kept at the Van Nuys airport, according to his sworn testimony. The men often ate together at restaurants beyond the budget of most government workers, such as Morton’s, where filet mignon starts at $43, and the Palm, with its $36 chicken parmesan. Girardi ordered bottles of pricey red wine for the table — even for lunch. Layton became such a fixture that his caricature was added to the Palm’s wall, right above former U.S. Atty. Debra Yang. Girardi almost always picked up the check, according to interviews with people who attended the meals and to Layton’s sworn testimony.

When questioned under oath about these meals, Layton described their conversations as primarily about politics and law enforcement.

During these years, Layton and his wife, a USC accounting professor, embarked on a remodel of their modest La Cañada Flintridge residence. The project doubled the square footage to create the six-bedroom, five-bath home of his wife’s dreams.

Two years into the project, with costs approaching half a million dollars, the Laytons fired their contractor, who then sued them.

Girardi and his firm were on the case immediately, with the lawyer’s attorney son-in-law, David Lira, dispatching a construction expert to inspect the project. In the years that followed, Girardi Keese poured resources into the case without charging the Laytons.

“As I previously indicated, this is a pro bono case for the firm,” Girardi wrote to the arbitration company JAMS in 2009.

Three other veteran litigators at the firm worked on the case, which went to the state Supreme Court. At times, Girardi appeared deeply invested in its outcome, and during one mediation he stormed down a hallway, loudly demanding that the Laytons receive money, one attorney recalled.

The contractor prevailed, and the couple were ordered to pay more than $235,000. The sides reached a confidential settlement in 2014 as the case was awaiting a Supreme Court hearing. The same year, Girardi signed on to handle another personal issue for the Laytons: A lawsuit against the La Cañada Unified School District for allegedly failing to protect their teenage son from bullying. The suit was settled a year later for $190,000, according to district officials.

State law caps the value of gifts or services many public employees can accept from one individual, with the current limit at $520 per year. Investigators like Layton, however, were not covered by the law until 2014, the final year of the contractor litigation.

That year, he did not list Girardi’s legal services as a gift in a mandatory disclosure form. It’s unclear whether Girardi Keese was still working for free. The value of Girardi’s legal work was not disclosed, but his opposing counsel’s total fees tallied in court papers offer some idea: $114,000.

Ann Ravel, former chair of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which enforces public employee ethics laws, called the free legal representation “incredible.”

“There are some exemptions for gifts, but this would not be one of them,” Ravel said, adding, “Not thousands of dollars for someone who clearly would come under the authority of the individual who is receiving those gifts.”

Nicaraguan case leads to trouble

When Girardi was called out publicly for his behavior, it wasn’t by the bar, but a more feared and respected body: the federal judiciary.

What brought him into the judges’ crosshairs was a potential bonanza of legal fees Girardi had spotted in the early 2000s in the banana plantations of Nicaragua. He and his longtime friend, Century City litigator Walter Lack, and local attorneys signed up more than 400 field workers for a suit against Dole and other companies over the use of a toxic pesticide.

The problem was that the Nicaraguan lawyers had mangled Dole’s name, suing a defendant that did not exist — “Dole Food Corporation” — instead of the global conglomerate Dole Food Company. The Nicaraguan court handed down a $489-million judgment in 2002 against the nonexistent entity and other companies.

To collect the hefty sum, Girardi headed with Lack to a jurisdiction where the judges knew their names and reputations, Los Angeles County Superior Court. The corporate defendants wanted the case in federal court, seen as friendlier to businesses, and it was there that things began to unravel.

In their efforts to ensure that the case was heard in L.A. Superior, Girardi and his colleague had filed what purported to be a translation of the Nicaraguan court order for payment. In it, the name of the nonexistent corporation had been replaced with the name of the actual Dole company headquartered in Westlake Village.

The ruse was detected by a federal judge, who threw out the case. But Girardi and Lack continued appealing for years, incensing the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ chief judge at the time, Alex Kozinski, and others on the court. A 2008 investigation by a retired jurist lambasted Girardi and Lack for “the persistent use of known falsehoods.”

Lack received a six-month suspension from practicing in federal courts and a $250,000 fine. Girardi, who claimed he hadn’t read the court papers before filing, was found to have “recklessly” made false statements and fined $125,000.

In a recent interview, Kozinski called it “about as serious a case of misconduct as I had ever seen.”

The court discipline triggered an automatic investigation by the bar, but there was a gap of more than two years between the time the retired judge’s report made it clear Girardi would face an investigation and the court decision making the sanction official.

During that interlude, there was a change in leadership of the bar that some observers saw as beneficial to Girardi. An attorney friend, Howard Miller, who worked at Girardi Keese, was elected president, and Girardi attended his 2009 swearing-in.

Under his law partner’s leadership, the bar’s board of trustees forced out the longtime executive director, and Miller recruited Joe Dunn, another friend of Girardi, to fill the post.

Dunn was an Orange County plaintiff’s attorney and former state senator. His experience in Sacramento was attractive to trustees, who perpetually confronted problems securing funding from the Legislature. Dunn’s appointment sailed through.

Just before Dunn came aboard in 2010, the State Bar held its annual convention in Monterey, and Girardi was there. The Dole matter had been referred to the bar for investigation by then, and to many legal insiders, Girardi’s career seemed to be on the ropes. If he was worried, he didn’t show it. Indeed, his firm paid for a lavish party at the convention for retiring Chief Justice Ron George. Girardi flew in an orchestra and hired Paul Anka to serenade the chief in a soaring white tent on the hotel grounds.

The ethical implications of an attorney under investigation by the bar underwriting a party for its de facto boss troubled some agency officials, and they declined to attend or left early, according to several who spoke to The Times.

“There’s only one guy, Tom Girardi, who could even conceive of this,” the chief justice told the hundreds of lawyers and judges at the bash, the Daily Journal reported.

Interviewed recently, George said that he was unaware Girardi was under investigation at the time and that he had not considered the event problematic because it also honored Miller, the departing bar president.

Because Miller worked for Girardi’s firm, the Dole investigation was assigned to a private lawyer, but that attorney had never handled a bar investigation. He decided not to pursue charges against Girardi and Lack, reasoning that the fines and public scolding by the federal court were punishment enough.

Girardi was elated, telling the Daily Journal he was “totally vindicated.”

Many legal insiders were shocked at what they saw as a slap on the wrist.

Kozinski described the outcome as “very surprising.” Referencing the recent revelations about Girardi, he said that if the bar had taken its investigation more seriously, “Maybe some of this would never have happened.”

‘Avoiding Trouble with the State Bar’

When a partner at an L.A. law firm decided to seek the presidency of the bar in 2014, the outgoing president gave him some advice: Go to lunch with Tom Layton and get his support.

The aspiring candidate, corporate litigator Craig Holden, was surprised given that Layton was a low-level bar staffer with no role in the election, but he agreed to meet him nonetheless at Morton’s.

After Holden settled in at the swanky steakhouse, everything clicked into place. Girardi materialized at the table, sat down next to Layton and launched into his expectations for bar leadership.

The message, board lawyers would later write in a confidential internal report, was “that the ‘power broker’ on whose support Holden’s election depended was in fact Girardi.”

Several former bar officials disputed that Girardi ever had the kind of power he was displaying, noting, for example, that Holden ran unopposed. But there was no doubt that in the years after his friend Dunn became the bar’s executive director, Girardi appeared comfortable publicizing his connections.

One example was the annual convention of the Consumer Attorneys Assn. of Los Angeles, or CAALA, held in Las Vegas. As one of the state’s best-known plaintiffs’ attorneys, Girardi had enormous influence in the group and poured his firm’s money into the yearly meeting, a mash-up of training seminars, networking and bacchanalia.

While many law firms sponsored events or meals coinciding with the conference, Girardi Keese’s boozy gala each year at the Wynn resort stood apart for its extravagance and comedy and musical performances.

Layton regularly attended, as did a group of bar attorneys and judges with ties to Girardi. For the 2014 convention, five bar employees, including Dunn, were invited to speak on a panel entitled “Avoiding Trouble with the State Bar,” according to a program. In their internal report, bar lawyers would later say the event, which took place on a workday, deviated from office policy and was “an example where Dunn bent (or attempted to bend) the normal rules to accommodate a request perceived as helpful to Girardi.”

Then there was the Mongolia trip. After the country’s consul contacted the bar in 2013 for advice about setting up a regulatory system for attorneys, Dunn decided to travel there. He took with him Girardi’s friends, Layton and Howard Miller, the former bar president.

Dunn told trustees that no State Bar funds would be used to pay for the travel, according to an arbitrator’s subsequent findings. But he ended up relying on a government purchasing card for the airfare for him and Layton, and he racked up additional costs in cellphone roaming fees. Shortly before Dunn submitted his expense report, Girardi’s firm sent over a check for $5,000. “The intent of the donation remains ambiguous,” bar lawyers later wrote in the internal report.

Meanwhile, Girardi’s close relationship was raising questions within the bar. Some at the agency understood that Layton was working part-time for the lawyer, though they were unclear about the arrangement, according to two former high-ranking officials.

Layton was later asked at a deposition whether he had worked for Girardi while a bar employee.

He replied, “I don’t recall.”

Evidence surfaced after Layton left the bar that suggested he had been referring potential cases he encountered to Girardi’s firm. In one instance, the investigator contacted Girardi Keese by email about a scam involving a phony law firm that was targeting Marines at Camp Pendleton, according to emails cited in testimony.

A junior attorney at Girardi’s firm replied to Layton, “Is GK a go for this case? I.e., has Tom said anything?”

Layton said that he planned to meet soon with the San Diego district attorney’s office and the state attorney general. “I am going to ask if a representative of GK [can] attend the meeting.”

Layton said in deposition testimony that he was never paid for referrals and did not refer cases he learned about through investigations.

Not everyone shrugged off Girardi’s grip on the bar. Chief trial counsel Jayne Kim was a former federal prosecutor who had been hired in 2011 to professionalize the disciplinary system and eliminate the backlog in investigations. She was apolitical, no-nonsense and unyielding when it came to rules and ethics.

“The highest character and integrity, really impeccable,” former bar trustee and San Diego attorney Heather Rosing recalled.

Kim had crossed paths with Layton in the early 2000s when she was a staff attorney, and now back at the bar, with him under her supervision, she saw that little had changed.

Layton was on the phone with Girardi during work hours, he crowed about their friendship to colleagues and he “often disappeared during the work days, and appeared to be engaging in political activities during State Bar time,” she later wrote in a formal complaint.

After Kim reported her concerns to Dunn, the executive director moved Layton away from her supervision and into a post that was officially classified as “public information officer.” His actual role was the subject of much speculation.

“Whatever he was doing for Joe … was unclear, was not official,” a former bar executive who worked in the same department, Carol Madeja, later testified.

Trustees puzzled at how Layton hovered around Dunn at board meetings wearing what appeared to them to be a gun.

“I can remember thinking at the time, what role does a guy like Tom Layton have in anything to do with leadership of the board?” said Dennis Mangers, a former bar trustee.

Dunn later asserted in a court declaration that he had tasked Layton with being a “liaison” to “the California judiciary, legislature, and law enforcement.”

Though Kim no longer supervised Layton, she and Dunn clashed on other fronts, including whether her lawyers and investigators should be permitted to attend the Las Vegas convention.

Kim complained formally in July 2014, in a 17-page report alleging that Dunn and others in power were serving “private or personal agendas.” One page devoted to Layton began, “I know no one within the State Bar that can explain, in any meaningful detail, Layton’s duties and responsibilities.” She noted “Layton’s close ties to Tom Girardi … and the appearance of impropriety.”

The board hired the white-shoe firm Munger, Tolles & Olson to conduct a confidential investigation. It didn’t stay a secret from Girardi for long.

When investigators tried to question Dunn’s longtime assistant, “Girardi suddenly and unexpectedly appeared” as her lawyer and “launched an unprofessional tirade of threats,” the Munger Tolles investigators wrote to the board in their internal report.

Girardi claimed he was concerned they might treat the assistant rudely, but the investigators had another theory. Perhaps, they wrote, “He perceives a threat to Dunn as a threat to his possibly favored position with the Bar.”

Though they hadn’t uncovered instances of misconduct involving Girardi, the investigators concluded, it was “striking” how frequently he and his firm turned up in their investigation.

“The closeness of the relationship between some senior managers and that firm does raise potentially troubling perceptions that the Board should take action to rectify going forward,” the Munger Tolles lawyers wrote.

The internal report was shared with the chief justice, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who made it available to the state Supreme Court’s other justices. A spokesman for the chief justice said she took no action and said she did “not recall any details of the report nor any sections involving Mr. Girardi.”

The Munger Tolles lawyers had identified other misconduct by Dunn that had nothing to do with Girardi and Layton, and the board terminated him. The positions of Layton’s and Dunn’s assistants were eliminated.

Secretly copying documents on phone

It was a fall weekend. The State Bar offices on Figueroa Street were dark, but a lone figure moved stealthily on the floor where confidential case files were held.

John Noonen had been at the agency since the Reagan administration, working his way up to managing director of investigations, but he was not on official business that Sunday afternoon in 2015.

Noonen was on the hunt for a particular file with highly sensitive records about an attorney with whom he was close. He found it, snapped 15 photos with his phone and slipped out, according to a draft lawsuit later prepared by bar attorneys.

Most of Girardi’s allies had been forced out of the bar by then. Noonen remained. He counted Layton as a friend and was also acquainted with his powerful patron, Girardi, who for a time had employed Noonen’s daughter as a law clerk, according to her online resume.

The ouster of Layton and Dunn had cost Girardi his insider status, and he was furious.

Working with his close friend, attorney Robert Baker, and L.A. lawyer Mark Geragos, Girardi coordinated suits against the agency on behalf of Dunn, his assistant and Layton. The former employees presented Dunn’s termination as the result not of managerial incompetence, but of machinations by Kim, the agency’s top prosecutor, to conceal her own alleged deficiencies. Layton and the assistant, Sonja Oehler, contended they were pushed out in retaliation.

Girardi, then in his mid-70s, appeared particularly concerned about the impact on attorney investigations. In a lawsuit he eventually filed on behalf of Dunn’s assistant, Oehler, Girardi expressed fear that bar leadership was retaliating against him and the attorneys representing the ousted employees by ordering any complaints “that were filed in the past 30 years be re-opened despite the fact all of the complaints had been closed for decades.”

As the legal war waged, Noonen began downloading and copying records. He would later say he needed confidential materials to support a whistleblower claim against Kim and others.

For nearly a year, he gathered a trove of information about the agency’s most sensitive work: ongoing investigations of lawyers. He amassed more than 15,000 emails, memos, spreadsheets and other records, including hundreds of photos he took during 10 off-hours visits to the bar office, according to court filings and the draft complaint. The records contained unfiltered information such as client complaints and interview notes.

“If a stranger to the State bar had engaged in this conduct, he would surely be prosecuted,” bar attorneys later wrote in the draft complaint.

Noonen was not charged with a crime.

The bar laid Noonen off in November 2015, but that did not end his search for confidential bar information. The following year, he met with Oehler, Dunn’s erstwhile assistant, at the Wynn casino during the CAALA convention, and she handed him an agency laptop she had kept after her dismissal.

Noonen copied materials from the laptop onto a flash drive and delivered them to Girardi, according to sworn accounts by Oehler and Noonen.

Noonen later said in sworn declaration he did only a “cursory review” of the laptop for information helpful to Girardi in bringing Oehler’s case. But the bar attorneys accused Noonen of having “mined” its contents, citing a forensic examination that showed it had been accessed at least 11 times using three storage devices.

In this period, Girardi was being sued regularly by dissatisfied clients. People he represented in the Lockheed case and another concerning Shell Oil were in court demanding financial records from their settlements. Dozens of cancer survivors also alleged that Girardi had misappropriated part of their $17-million settlement from a pharmaceutical company.

There were “a number” of complaints to the bar about Girardi then, according to Robert Hawley, who served as acting executive director after Dunn’s firing. He said he did not know the nature of the reports. Because of the ongoing litigation, they had to be referred outside the agency and it was his job to find private attorneys to investigate them. He left his post before the cases concluded. They did not result in public discipline.

With Girardi at the helm, the legal battle by the ex-employees rolled on for years. Esteemed attorneys across the state who served as bar trustees had to sit for depositions. The chief justice and her private attorney each faced questioning under oath.

An arbitrator sided with the bar and gave Dunn no money, and he did not respond to messages seeking comment. The others settled: Noonen negotiated an $85,000 payout and Oehler, Dunn’s assistant, received $150,000, according to settlement agreements obtained through public records laws.

With Girardi by his side, Layton worked out a $400,000 settlement in 2019 in exchange for dropping his lawsuit. The bar declined to provide a rationale for the sum. The agreement contained a non-disparagement clause for both sides.

Layton and Noonen did not respond to interview requests or a detailed list of questions.

Girardi’s practice was already falling apart by the time of the settlements. He had turned to high-interest lenders, who were demanding the return of millions of dollars. Vendors clamored for payment. Attorneys left the firm. A burn victim Girardi had represented years earlier against PG&E sued for settlement funds, eventually calculated at $12 million, he said the attorney had pocketed.

California’s legal world seemed unable to grasp what was happening to one of its most prominent attorneys. The judge overseeing the burn victim’s lawsuit, Holly Fujie, was a former State Bar president. As the months passed, more and more evidence surfaced indicating that Girardi had spent his client’s money. Fujie raised the possibility of alerting the bar, but Girardi assured he would pay the money he owed, according to the burn victim’s attorney, Boris Treyzon. Fujie did not respond to questions from The Times; judicial ethics limit jurists from commenting on pending cases.

As 2020 came to a close, a judge outside California finally took action. U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin in Chicago was handling airline crash litigation and learned that Girardi had failed to pass on millions due his clients, widows and orphans in Indonesia. At a December hearing, Durkin erupted in anger, condemning Girardi’s conduct as “unconscionable,” and referring him immediately to federal prosecutors.

The move attracted massive media coverage and the next day, Fujie scheduled a hearing about whether she should report Girardi to the state bar.

To this day, he holds an active license to practice law.

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Crimson Contagion Exercise 2019

If you haven’t read it, I recommend that you do. I first read it in March 2020, thanks to New York Times reporter David Sanger, as you will see it was marked DRAFT NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION. It was a nine month exercise from January thru September of 2018. It Estimated that 586,000 Americans would die, as of today 524,172 have in fact died.

Crimson Contagion Functional Exercise 2019

I have always known it is up to me to protect myself and those I love. I would never listen to a politician or a chamber of commerce person on a subject regarding my Health or Safety. After I read the above report which I confirmed with San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy that San Mateo County participated in, I came to the conclusion that the Federal Governments Response/Lack of Response was DELIBERATE.

Great News about the Vaccines, Vaccines on the way is not the same as vaccines in arms. As of today 9.1% of Americans have been vaccinated to target for immunity is around 80%.

“Until vaccine-induced population immunity is achieved” Make sure you know what that means.

Universal masking is a highly effective means to slow the spread … when combined with other protective measures, such as physical distancing, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces and good hand hygiene,”

I double mask because I want to, its easy and something I can do with little effort.

Stay Safe, Best of Health to You and your loved ones.

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Sheriff Deputy Juan P. Lopez in Court Tomorrow.

By Michael G. Stogner

First let me explain why I still call him Deputy It’s because he was forced to retire. As some of you might remember Deputy Lopez made a critical error in 2014 that was he attempted to get on the Ballot to run for Sheriff. The powers to be in SMC had a message for him. He missed the filing deadline by 6 minutes stuck in Gridlock. That looked like Game Over for him but he made his second critical error and decided to run as a Write In Candidate for Sheriff in 2014. I remember waring him back then, that’s when we first met. He was a San Mateo County Sheriff Deputy is good standing which included being an Investigator for the Sexual Crimes Unit before Sheriff Munks and UnderSheriff Bolanos disbanded it in 2007. It wasn’t long after he became a Write-In candidate that his car was broken into at his residence in Redwood City. I asked him if he had reported it to the Sheriff Office and he told me he had. I said good to have a record of the Break In. I laughed and told him there is the slight possibility that the Sheriff Office Gang Task Force broke in to his car. It turns out he already had the same idea and that is in his crime report.

The Sherif Office Gang Task Force at the time was lead by SMCSO Sergeant Jason Peardon.

Sergeant Jason Peardon is just one of the 40 plus San Mateo County Law Enforcement Employees that Sheriff Deputy Juan Lopez wants on the Witness Stand. It’s been almost 6 years, This has got to be one of the most exciting legal cases in San Mateo County History. Never to my knowledge have more Law Enforcement Employees been subpoenaed to testify in one criminal case.

You might recall Deputy Lopez was arrested with guns to his head and charged with Smuggling a Cellphone and Drugs to a Hells Angel Gang member in Maguire Jail where he worked. You will never guess who lead that Investigation, Sergeant Jason Person. That sounds pretty serious doesn’t it. Those charges were dismissed because the District Attorney’s Office had ZERO Evidence connecting Juan Lopez to those charges. As a matter of FACT the D.A.’s Office knew exactly who was guilty of those crimes. They knew before they arrested Juan Lopez.

His Court Appearance is 8:30 AM March 5, 2021 If there is a Courtroom Available it looks like this might last 5 weeks.

To Listen call 1-206-279-9589 Code 599-028

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San Mateo County Vaccine Doses

Sutter Health announced March 2, 2021 it has to cancel up to 95,000 appointments because they don’t have the product. Think about the woman/man power involved in just that one topic. Contacting up to 95,000 people, if its by phone there are sure to be questions, when is the next appointment etc, you get the picture.

Without the Product/Doses you don’t need the appointments.

It has always been about the Doses, without them there really isn’t anything else to talk about.

If you haven’t read the Crimson Contagion Exercise of 2019 I recommend you do. It will give you the peace of mind to just relax enjoy your family and loved ones until the DOSES do arrive which they will in the very near future. In the mean time Double MASK stay 15 feet away from people you don’t live with, wash your hands often, Remember this is a World Wide PANDEMIC The Federal Government’s Behavior was deliberate, that behavior has now finally changed.

San Mateo County participated in this exercise.

Crimson Contagion Exercise 2019 Draft

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President Biden Announces Vaccine for Every Adult American by end of MAY.

By Michael G. Stogner

This is a BIG DEAL

President Biden just announced the Merk and Johnson & Johnson Companies have just agreed to work together to produce vaccines 24/7.

This does not mean that every adult American will have shot in arm by the end of May. There is still a lot of work to be done to accomplish that but now the Doses part is handled for the first time.

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