Wednesday, July 10, 2013

(empo-jooryst) The players

In theory, those people who are charged with working for the court are united in their pursuit of justice.

Yeah, right.

While prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to behave honorably, they still have an incentive to best represent their "side." After all, their jobs are to convince a jury of guilt or innocence, and they want to marshal their best arguments in support of their case.

In my particular case, there was one prosecutor, Dan Ross, and two defense attorneys, Michael Becker and K.T. Tran. But before we look at them, let's look at the judge in this particular case.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the appointment of Stephan G. Saleson to a judgeship in the San Bernardino County Superior Court. Saleson, 56, of Riverside, has been a partner with Varner, Saleson & Brandt since 1997. Previously, he was an associate and then a partner with Gresham, Varner, Savage, Nolan & Tilden from 1980 to 1997 and served as deputy district attorney for San Bernardino County from 1977 to 1980. Saleson earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Dennis G. Cole. Saleson is a Republican. The compensation for this position is $149,160.

During the trial, Judge Saleson did not discuss his previous experience as a deputy district attorney, nor did he express his political affiliations or his salary.

Moving on to Dan Ross, I only found a single news account about him, regarding a 2007 incident in which Ross, as deputy district attorney, had some harsh words for a defense attorney who tasered a client to try to prove a point about alleged police brutaility. I did find an record that says that Ross has been licensed to practice law since 2005. As noted in the Daily Bulletin article, he was already with the San Bernardino County district attorney's office in 2007.

When researching Michael Becker, I discovered something interesting. At the time of the trial, I had no idea whether Becker was a public defender, or if he had been hired by someone to represent the defendant. Once I found out that Becker practiced law in Las Vegas, Nevada, it became apparent that the latter was probably the case. Interestingly enough, Becker was endorsed by a prosecutor:

Micheal and I faced each other on several matters when I was a Chief Deputy DA. He was always prepared, adept at spotting the issues, and committed to getting the best results for his client. In virtually every case his commitment paid off. I have seen Michael obtain Not Guilty verdicts and outright dismissals of major felony charges on more than one occasion. I have zero reservations in endorsing this lawyer.

Becker has more experience than Ross, having practiced in Nevada since 2004 and in California since 1993. His website is here. And here's a video:

Because Tran is a common name, I was unable to conclusively find the K.T. Tran that appeared in this case. While Becker was the lead defense attorney, Tran took the lead with certain witnesses.

Both the prosecutor and the defense lawyers took care to advocate their positions on the case. And since at the end of the day, the defendant was convicted of a lesser charge, I guess that you could claim that both did their jobs well.

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