Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Judge Tillmon Moves to Quash Subpoena to Testify for Colleague
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Arguments are tentatively scheduled for this afternoon on a motion by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to quash a subpoena to testify as a defense witness in the trial of a colleague.
Judge Bobbi Tillmon is seeking to avoid testifying on behalf of Judge Harvey Silberman, charged with violating the Elections Code by offering to pay his 2008 election opponent’s filing fee if she would run in another race.
Silberman’s attorneys, Daniel Nixon and Shepard Kopp, said last week they would call Tillmon to refute testimony by Silberman’s former campaign consultant, Evelyn Jerome Alexander.
Alexander, who is cooperating with prosecutors as part of a plea agreement, said that Silberman approved the offer to Deputy District Attorney Serena Murillo. Silberman defeated Murillo in the election by a 52 to 48 percent margin.
The defense, however, is claiming that Alexander was acting in her own interests, not Silberman’s, and that she had done similar things in the past. In one of those instances, they said, Alexander made plants to pay the filing fee of Tillmon’s opponent if one had emerged when the judge was elected in 2006.
Alexander testified last week that she did so with Tillmon’s knowledge and approval. Silberman’s attorneys say Tillmon would testify otherwise.
But Tillmon’s attorney, Winston McKesson, argued in the motion to quash that the proposed testimony is irrelevant.
He also said in the motion that if the subpoena were quashed, he expected Tillmon to invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
In speaking to the MetNews outside court yesterday, however, he hedged somewhat, saying he was not certain Tillmon would plead the Fifth Amendment.
Tillmon’s testimony might become irrelevant, because the defense said it will move this morning for a direct acquittal under Penal Code Sec. 1118.1.
Yesterday’s proceedings were taken up largely with testimony by investigators for the district attorney and attorney general, including the playing of a tape of an interview Silberman gave the investigators prior to being indicted. In it, Silberman insisted, as he has since the investigation became public, that he had no knowledge of any arrangement that Alexander and her partner, Randy Steinberg—who also entered into an agreement with prosecutors—had made with Murillo.
The judge told the investigators, Danny Kim and Mary Kay Stephens, that his first knowledge of the probe came in a phone call from the MetNews. He said he then called Alexander, who told him she had received an “unconfirmed report” of an investigation a week earlier, and had retained counsel, but that the then-commissioner should not worry because there was “nothing to it.”
Silberman went on to tell the investigators that he was “just reeling” and that he called Alexander the next day, after reading the MetNews story disclosing the investigation. Alexander’s response, he said, was “it’s not that bad” and “nobody reads the MetNews anyway.”
He then asked Alexander whether he needed to hire a lawyer, Silberman explained, because his own background was not in election law. “She said that’s up to me,” Silberman said.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company