Monday, September 21, 2009
Judge Sets Hearing on Silberman’s Dismissal Motion for December
By a MetNews Staff Writer
SANTA ANA—An Orange Superior Court judge Friday set a Dec. 4 hearing date on motions by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Harvey Silberman and a co-defendant to dismiss felony charges related to Silberman’s successful election campaign last year.
The judge, who took office in January, and consultants Evelyn Jerome Alexander and Alan Randall “Randy” Steinberg are each charged with solicitation to induce a person not to become a candidate for public office and solicitation to offer, accept or join in the offer or acceptance of a bribe.
Silberman and Steinberg have moved to set aside the indictment under Penal Code Sec. 995, claiming that testimony before a Los Angeles County grand jury fails to establish probable cause as to their guilt. Alexander’s attorney, Larry M. Bakman, told the MetNews he expects to file a similar motion and to have it heard the same day.
All three defendants appeared before Judge Richard M. King Friday and agreed to waive their speedy trial rights for up to 60 days following the Dec. 4 appearance.
The Sec. 995 hearing had been scheduled for Friday, but attorneys said they needed more time to research the history of the relevant legislation. Among the issues raised by the defense is whether the candidate to whom the bribe offer was allegedly directed, Deputy District Attorney Serena Murillo, could be the target of a bribe offer within the meaning of Penal Code Sec. 653f(a).
The statute states, in relevant part, that “[e]very person who, with the intent that the crime be committed, solicits another to offer, accept, or join in the offer or acceptance of a bribe...shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or in the state prison....”
The defendants are also charged under Elections Code Sec. 18205, which provides:
“A person shall not directly or through any other person advance, pay, solicit, or receive or cause to be advanced, paid, solicited, or received, any money or other valuable consideration to or for the use of any person in order to induce a person not to become or to withdraw as a candidate for public office. Violation of this section shall be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months or two or three years.”
All three defendants have denied any impropriety. Silberman has consistently maintained that he had no knowledge of any inducement to Murillo, and that if such an inducement was made, it was without his approval.
In other action Friday, the judge:
•Ordered Cerrell Associates Inc., the consulting firm that represented Murillo, and its president, Hal Dash, to comply with subpoenas for documents served earlier by Bakman, subject to redactions. The judge made the order following an in camera appearance by Los Angeles attorney Eric Dobberteen, who represents Cerrell and Dash.
•Agreed to appoint a special master to review e-mails seized under a search warrant from Steinberg and Alexander’s computers. The prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Zee Rodriguez, said she stopped perusing the emails after realizing they might contain privileged information.
Silberman defeated Murillo last June to win the open seat then held by Judge Tracy Grant. An investigation into allegations of bribery was initiated by the district attorney and later taken over by the attorney general.
King was assigned to the case after Orange Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue was disqualified based on the prosecution’s Code of Civil Procedure Sec. 170.6 challenge.
Silberman is on a paid leave of absence while under indictment, as required by the state Constitution.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company