Wednesday, August 6, 2003
Case Against Fired Defender Will Not Be Dropped, Prosecutor Says
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A criminal case against a fired Santa Clara County deputy public defender accused of misleading a judge will not be dropped, even though the judge says he was not misled, the prosecutor in the case told the San Jose Mercury-News.
“The record speaks for itself,” Deputy District Attorney Frank Dudley Berry Jr. said in remarks published by the newspaper Monday. “We remain firmly committed to this case.”
Thomas Spielbauer, a deputy public defender for 23 years, was fired last month after prosecutors claimed he misled Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Paul Teilh at a January court hearing by claiming that a witness couldn’t be located and was unavailable.
Spielbauer allegedly had spoken to the witness at his home after investigators were unable to locate him.
At a hearing last week, Teilh said he was “deeply troubled and disappointed that the public defender has taken drastic action against Deputy Public Defender Thomas Spielbauer based on a faulty premise.” Teilh is retired but continues to sit on assignment.
A hearing on the criminal charge of deceiving the court, a misdemeanor violation of Business & Professions Code Sec. 6128, is scheduled for Aug. 26. Spielbauer is fighting both the criminal charge and the termination of his employment by Public Defender Jose Villarreal.
Spielbauer claims the public defender is biased because Spielbauer has opposed his management of the office and tried to qualify a ballot initiative that would have made the office of public defender elective. San Francisco is the only California county that now elects its public defender.
Both the district attorney and the public defender have a political vendetta against him, Spielbauer—a registered Libertarian and three-time candidate for the Santa Clara Superior Court—claims. The Public Defender’s Office claims that Spielbauer refused to cooperate in its internal investigation of the misconduct accusation, while Spielbauer claims the investigation was being conducted improperly.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company