Wednesday, July 30, 3003
Judge Says Fired Deputy Public Defender Did Not Mislead Court
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A Santa Clara County deputy public defender who was fired earlier this month over claims that he had misled a Superior Court judge did nothing wrong, the judge said yesterday at a hearing.
“I am deeply troubled and disappointed that the public defender has taken drastic action against Deputy Public Defender Thomas Spielbauer based on a faulty premise,” Judge Paul Teilh said yesterday according to a transcript provided to the METNEWS. Theil is retired but continues to sit on assignment.
An attorney for Spielbauer asked for the hearing in order to “correct the record” after the district attorney charged the 23-year veteran of the Public Defender’s Office with a crime and Public Defender Jose Villareal fired him. Spielbauer is fighting the criminal charge and the termination of his employment.
The Recorder, a San Francisco newspaper that covers the courts and the legal community, reported that Spielbauer—a three-time candidate for the Santa Clara Superior Court—is facing a misdemeanor count of deceiving the court, a violation of Business & Professions Code Sec. 6128.
Spielbauer is accused of telling Teilh at a January court hearing that a witness couldn’t be located and was unavailable when, just a few days earlier, he had spoken to the witness at his home, the newspaper reported.
Spielbauer’s defense attorney Zacharias Ledet has suggested in court papers that Spielbauer had been set up by both the prosecutor and his own office, which had investigated Spielbauer’s actions after the District Attorney’s Office complained. Both Spielbauer and Ledet are longtime critics of Villareal, and Spielbauer last year led an unsuccessful drive to make the office of public defender elective.
Spielbauer had told Teilh that the witness wasn’t available to testify because there was a warrant out for his arrest and persuaded the judge to admit a statement the witness gave police. Deputy District Attorney David Boyd later found out Spielbauer had interviewed the witness days before.
In concluding that there had been no misconduct, Teilh said “I believed [at the time of the January hearings] and still believe that each advocate had acted according to the dictates of his own practice in good faith.”
The judge continued:
“Having heard both sides, I concluded that no misconduct occurred and made no finding of misconduct. Had I been misled by either one, there would have been a citation of contempt and a referral to the State Bar....
“I recommend to the public defender that he reconsider his adverse action against Thomas Spielbauer. With that remark I recuse myself from further involvement in this unfortunate situation.”
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company