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Menlo Park: Judge may dismiss Woodell lawsuit over destroyed evidence

Original post made on May 20, 2014

A judge may deliver a devastating blow to the defamation lawsuit filed against two Menlo Park fire board directors A tentative ruling issued last week states John Woodell allegedly captured data for his own purposes before wiping his cellphone clean "such that all potentially relevant information retained on the phone was destroyed."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, May 20, 2014, 7:18 AM

Comments (61)

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Posted by Clarence Darrow
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 20, 2014 at 7:31 am

Sandy Brundage is incorrect with regard to when the tentative ruling was made. It was not made last week. It was made yesterday.

Both Woodell and Kiraly are an embarrassment to the community. It is unfortunate that Charles Bernstein got caught up in this this battle between two arrogant political wannabes whose egos know no bounds.


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Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac staff writer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 20, 2014 at 7:50 am

The tentative ruling was issued last week, in advance of Monday's hearing. It was posted on the court's website on Friday, May 16.


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Posted by Come on
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 20, 2014 at 8:54 am

Both (any) fire board members should resign causing all of this negative publicity, it over shadows the good of the
district. There is enough ill will there already, what ever happened to the labor contract that is way past due ?
Why is it, the residents never hear about any updates good or bad ? The only thing we hear about is this stupid
"sign gate", which frankly my dear, no one gives a damn about, maybe they should all resign and let's have a new
election. This board seems totally lame, the previous boards seemed to be more result's driven. Maybe it's time
for a massive recall.


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Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 20, 2014 at 9:01 am

If you want to read a much better article on this case, get the front page story by Bonnie Eslinger in today's PA Daily news. (5/20/2014) It would appear the Woodell is not only going to lose his case, but may well have to pay damages. I sure hope that is what happens.


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Posted by karma
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on May 20, 2014 at 9:09 am

I remember Kirsten Keith playing dirty campaign tactics by accusing Warren Slocum of all sorts of things. Slocum won the election and now her husband, John Woodell, is exposed for who he is ... by a judge! #karma


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on May 20, 2014 at 9:09 am

Come on raised a interesting point, so what ever happened to the labor contracts, were they ever resolved or has
that issue gone by the way side ? "Sign Gate" seems to be the only stories the residents read about, interesting,
maybe it's time the media drop all of these non-sense stories and focus on the real issues.


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Posted by What else
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 20, 2014 at 9:11 am

Council member Kirsten Keith, as wife of John woodell, has an economic relation to the outcome of this matter, at least.

What was her involvement in her husbands Woodells decision making?


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Posted by seriously
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 20, 2014 at 11:28 am

Judge Joseph Bergeron already ruled that Woodell was not seriously considering legal action until shortly before the filing deadline.


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Posted by Jess
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 20, 2014 at 12:39 pm

"Both Woodell and Kiraly are an embarrassment to the community."

Word.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 20, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I can find ZERO evidence that Kirsten Keith had anything to do with Woodell's actions and I suggest that those who wish to drag her name into this discussion are doing so inappropriately and for totally political reasons.


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 20, 2014 at 12:53 pm

This has nothing to do with the fire district. It's very clear that many Keith and Woodell supporters are chiming in. Kiraly and Bernstein are the victims. The judge seemed to be very strong in saying that Woodell intentionally destroyed his evidence.

If you had to defend yourself and were in Kiraly's and Bernstein's shoes, I doubt you would have been able to conduct yourself in the professional manner that Kiraly and Bernstein have conducted themselves throughout this joke of a lawsuit that Woodell filed first and probably with the blessing of his wife, Kirsten Keith, who is a lawyer!!!!!

Woodell and Keith are the real embarrassments in Menlo Park. I'm just glad that Kiraly and Bernstein could afford to fight Woodell's stupid lawsuit all the way to the end. Hopefully, there will not be a chilling affect on political speech in Menlo Park because of this sorry episode started by Woodell and Keith. Kiraly and Bernstein are to be commended for ensuring that the truth is known to the community that Woodell and Keith lack integrity and ethics when it comes to conducting themselves personally. Thank you, Ms. Kiraly and Mr. Bernstein!


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Posted by Conscience
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 20, 2014 at 1:20 pm

I believe that Council member Keith endorsed Warren Slocum, so forget the assertion (Karma) that she was playing dirty politics in the Supervisor's race. Thehe whole "sign gate" scene is an embarrassing---a waste of public funds and time. Shame on all three characters involved in this mess---do they really think they're serving the public's interest. Drop all further action, move on and do your duty!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Shame on all three characters involved in this mess"

Wrong, Kiraly and Bernstein were simply defending themselves from an outrageous lawsuit and had nothing to do with creating "this mess".


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Posted by Menlo Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 20, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Chuck Bernstein is the only blameless party. Woodell & Kiraly are spoiled brats who have not yet reached adulthood with regard to their impestuous (intentional misspelling as they are both pests) behavior. I wish the judge would put a gag on both prohibiting them from engaging in any political activity for 10 years.

I have not seen anyone in the last quarter century in Menlo Park who has behaved as poorly as these two.


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Wow! Why so much hate and ill will toward I Kiraly? She has done nothing wrong. You may not like her personally, but I doubt you actually know her.

Posters here should stay on topic that Woodell destroyed evidence for a case that he brought forward. What a waste of time and money. I wonder how much expense Kiraly and Bernstein have incurred in attorneys fees. I certainly hope Woodell will be forced to pay their attorneys fees and costs. After two years of this legal nonsense, I'm sure the costs are high, and Woodell/Keith should have to pay.


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Posted by Relentless
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 20, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Hooray for a judge who can cut through the obfuscation and see what's going on. I know all three parties fairly well, and I hope this nightmare will be over soon, and that John find a new hobby. Maybe he can join local curmudgeon Peter in his attack on SaveMenlo? John might decide to specialize in filing foolish, futile lawsuits!


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 20, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Relentless is Hammer from another thread.

The least you can do is maintain a consistent name.


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Posted by Enuff
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 20, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Woodell wants people to believe that somebody stole his cellphone, uprooted Kiraly's yard-sign on Chuck Bernstein's property, and planted Woodell's cellphone under the sign in order to "incriminate" him. How easy is it to steal someone's cellphone? And what motive would anyone have to stoop to such pettiness? Yet 2 1/2 years later, Woodell's still playing innocent. One wonders whether his attorney wife told him the best defense is an offense. Uprooting the sign was spiteful, mean-spirited and illegal. Lying about it, falsely accusing innocent people of slander, and destroying evidence, is even worse.
I've read that Woodell is the co-founder of the Menlo Park Democrats. This shameless exhibition should finish off both his political career, and that of his wife, who at the very least, never stopped him from pursuing this folly.


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Posted by Who cares?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 20, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Unless you are the person that found Woodell's phone and thought it would be funny toss it in Bernstein's yard, there is no reason you should care about any of this.


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Posted by absurd
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 20, 2014 at 11:06 pm

The idea that an adult would interfere with a lawn sign for the fire board is absurd. A political campaign would using the suggestion of political corruption to promote their campaign is the oldest trick in the book. Just take a look at the posts by the folks running against the incumbent supervisors.


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Posted by karma
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on May 20, 2014 at 11:53 pm

Wrong again, "Conscience". She said this about him:

"This was either a deliberate act or a negligent oversight, and either is very troublesome for someone who was in charge of enforcing election laws and is now a candidate for Supervisor."

She was the only candidate that did this. Dirty politics coming back to haunt her and her husband. #karma


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Posted by absurd
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 21, 2014 at 12:50 am

karma, Slocum was required to change his statement. The Daily Post praised Keith for this when they endorsed her.


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Posted by karma
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on May 21, 2014 at 3:52 pm

absurd, yes I know what happened. She used the terms "deliberate" and "negligent" to imply that Slocum deliberately tried to mislead voters. That part is debatable but she stated it like it was a fact.

What is a fact is this story, which depicts what kind of people she and her husband are ... #karma


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 21, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Who Cares?

Stop accusing Bernstein of doing something he didn't do, which is toss Woodell's cell phone, which Bernstein found, onto his own property.

You're right that no one should care about campaign season antics. However, I'm sure that what made this mess, which was caused by Woodell, a "scandal" was that his wife, Kirsten Keith, was Menlo Park's Vice Mayor at the time. If she weren't supporting Kiraly's opponent and weren't the Vice Mayor, this would not be newsworthy whatsoever. What makes this newsworthy is the fact that Kirsten Keith, Woodell's wife and an attorney herself, was a political figure supporting one of Kiraly's opponent, Rob Silano. Without Kirsten Keith in the mix, "sign-gate" would have gone down as another campaign shenanigan. I hope Menlo Park voters remember that this fall and vote Keith out of office!


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Posted by emails
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 21, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Both Bernstein and Woodell had no skin in the game. A single fallen lawn sign has no value unless it creates news for the candidate.

Without uncovering an email that explains what happened, this is all a big mystery.
If Woodell was publically opposing Kiraly, or if the Kiraly campaign staff were involved in creating a media scandal, there would be some emails floating around. You can't publically oppose a candidate or create a media blitz without sending an email or two.


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Posted by fact check dot org
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 21, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Common Sense, you need to check your facts. Silano did not oppose Kiraly.

Kiraly and Silano were on the Labor Council / Firefighers Union slate. (Kiraly: Web Link Silano: Web Link)

Bart Spencer and Scott Barnum were on the Peter Carpenter slate. (Spencer:
Web Link Barnum:
Web Link)

If you don't know that Peter Carpenter opposes the union slate, you have not been paying attention.


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Posted by endorsements
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 21, 2014 at 7:57 pm

The endorsement theory is bunk. Kiraly endorsed Silano Web Link and Silano endorsed Kiraly Web Link

Nobody cares about the fire board.


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 21, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Emails,

You must be working in overdrive for the re - election campaign of Keith.

I'm sure the judge looked at all the evidence,or lack thereof because of Woodell, and correctly concluded that there was no evidence that would prove Woodell's nonsensical theories of Kiraly and Bernstein trying to frame him.

Again, there would be no "scandal" here but for the fact that Keith was the vice mayor of Menlo Park and Woodell is her husband. Period. The more you try to defend Keith and Woodell, the less credible they become.


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Posted by openaccess
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 22, 2014 at 12:02 am

Chuck's email to Virginia is posted online, see Exhibit B: Web Link

Can you believe what I am telling you? It sounds like some "made for TV" movie. What would you like me to do? Would you like a Woodell /Keith /Silano scandal that would undoubtedly make the front page of the Daily News? Or, would you rather play it all upbeat and forget the whole thing? I need to do something by noon tomorrow.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 22, 2014 at 8:34 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As stated earlier, I can find ZERO evidence that Kirsten Keith had anything to do with Woodell's actions and I suggest that those who wish to drag her name into this discussion are doing so inappropriately and for totally political reasons.


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Posted by Disappointed that this is considered news
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 22, 2014 at 6:26 pm

Why is this still showing up in our daily news? I would not vote for any elected official who has this many legal issues whether she prevails or not. Her focus should have been on the menlo park fire board only; not a replaceable sign. Who cares? - We'll never know, but even if Woodell took the sign, Kiraly should have shown herself to be the bigger person instead of trying to shame a Menlo Park resident, whom she represents on the fire board (like it or not). The fact that this is still news hurts Kiraly. She should have settled this issue long, long ago. Right or Wrong. She must have wasted a ton of money on attorney fees in order to "prove herself"on an issue we could all care less about. Sometimes having too much pride can be your biggest downfall, and in this case the downfall was hers to had. Maybe is was wrong for Woodell to sue Kiraly, maybe Woodell was setting her up to fail? If so she fell right into his trap. She should have been more strategic, been more considerate of the residents and not let her emotions and pride get the best of her. When you are a public figure situations like this tend to come with the job. She obviously can't handle it and she has done nothing but embarrassed herself. She has proven that she cannot handle the pressure of being an elected official. If it was Woodell's intention to make Kiraly look thick-headed, then mission accomplished. He won.

Kiraly should have ended this situation early on and protected the voters from having to read about this mindless dribble over and over again. No matter you feel view either person, in the end - Kiraly was outmaneuvered by Woodell.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 22, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I am disappointed that disappointed does not seem to understand that Kiraly was sued. What does disappointed think she should have done - settled for what and why?

And with regards to the Fire Board Kiraly continues to do an excellent job.


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 22, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Disappointed:

You clearly do not understand what is going on. I'm glad the judge does. She affirmed her tentative ruling today: Web Link.

Looks like Kiraly and Bernstein outmaneuvered Woodell, the person who filed this frivolous lawsuit in the first place and who will forever be seen as the person who filed this frivolous lawsuit after he willfully destroyed the main evidence- his cell phone. I certainly hope that Woodell does not appeal, but seeing how crazy he is, he would be the person putting the community through this embarrassing ordeal again.

If one day you are sued for something you did not do and had to defend yourself against a lie, maybe, you'll understand that you have no choice but to defend yourself and that defending yourself against a lie is probably very expensive.

I think Kiraly and Bernstein have conducted themselves in the most professional way possible, given that they had to defend themselves against Woodell's lies and deceit.


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Posted by Fairness
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 22, 2014 at 10:02 pm

CASE DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE

Judge Novack is thought to be very pleasant and fair.

Judge Novak today issued an order adopting her tentative ruling. FINAL RULING: The case is dismissed with prejudice because Woodell spoiled the evidence or "spoliation". The seven page order is available on-line, and it is very well-written.

What a silly case consuming time of our court system. I know several people who know Charles Bernstein and they think highly of him as a person and educator.


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Posted by Disapointed
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 22, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Most professional people will asses their liability and find that is is more cost effective to end a case sooner rather than later. Right or Wrong it's about limiting your exposure. Any corporate/business savvy person understands that. As an elected official she should have taken the high road right or wrong and ended it. Not fight it the bitter end and have it blasted all over the news over and over again. Woodell is not a factor in the point I'm trying to make. The world is full of people who file frivolous lawsuits. The question is how are our elected person(s) going to deal with it when it happens to them? You may disagree, but at the end of the day putting your pride to the side and show some leadership. Saving money and limiting your legal exposure is always a smart choice.


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 22, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Disappointed:

Perhaps, one day you will be standing in Kiraly and Bernstein's shoes. Maybe, you'll change your tune then.

You're right that people file frivolous lawsuits all the time. However, not many people file frivolous lawsuits after knowingly destroying evidence and lying under penalty of perjury.

Woodell's frivolous lawsuit has nothing to do with Kiraly's conduct as a fire board member. Stop trying to tie Woodell's lawsuit to Kiraly's role as an elected member of the fire board. They are totally separate.

You can go after Kiraly all you want, but Judge Novak definitely made a just decision. Woodell deserved what he got, and Judge Novak did the right thing.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 23, 2014 at 6:34 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" As an elected official she should have taken the high road right or wrong and ended it"

Speaking as an elected official I can assure you that I would never settle a case against me if I had done nothing wrong; to do otherwise would be to admit to some level of wrongdoing and that false admission would be a disgrace to the office I hold.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2014 at 7:19 am

The District Attorney's Office has a great opportunity here to demonstrate this kind of behavior will not be tolerated in San Mateo County.


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 23, 2014 at 7:58 am

Michael Stogner:

I completely agree with you. Unfortunately, the DA's office is probably overloaded with more serious crimes than lying under penalty of perjury. Hopefully, the court of public opinion will prevail and get Woodell and his wife out of the public life by not re-electing Keith onto the Menlo Park City Council.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 23, 2014 at 8:01 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As stated earlier, I can find ZERO evidence that Kirsten Keith had anything to do with Woodell's actions and I suggest that those who wish to drag her name into this discussion are doing so inappropriately and for totally political reasons.


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Posted by good point
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 23, 2014 at 8:03 am

Peter, fortunately you are a not a person that posts defamatory statements. Another judge previously ruled that Bernstein was never accused of stealing anything, this case was simply about defimation.


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Posted by Close to the end
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 23, 2014 at 8:12 am

Too bad for Bernstein, he was being a good friend to Kiraly. She got him in this mess with her quest for an elected position. E mails show Bernstein just trying to help her campaign? SHE could have ended it there and the phone got returned???period. No she with her twisted mind wanted to lure Bernstein and Dave Price, the Post, into her web of [portion removed] anger. Price just used it to get newspapers read! Good for Dave!

What's her future?
Another elected position? I don't think so....will the firefighters or labor endorse her again...no! Can she win without their support... No! She tried 3 times before and lost without their support!

Woodell
He wins.....got Kiraly exposed to what she is......not fit for public office
He will continue to help candidates with their campaigns.....he's good at that! Keith has done a great job for us in Menlo Park and should be re elected...thanks to her husband, great name identification.

Bernstein
Let's see how he does with his new position. Firefighters are without a contract and this was his platform to include pension reform? Don't be a slap for Kiraly...she can hurt you personally and politically....as you: Bernstein, saw with Sign Gate, she hurt you monetarily, already!


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2014 at 8:45 am

What I am talking about is the District Attorney of San Mateo County is now aware that a judge has determined that evidence was destroyed and then a suit was filed. That is a crime, and it would serve the residents of this county to have a DA that would prosecute it equally.

Steve Wagstaffe had knowledge of an Atherton Police Officer committing a crime against an Atherton resident and did not investigate it. Lets see what he does with this.


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 23, 2014 at 8:50 am

Close to the end:

Woodell and his legal team are the losers here. Kiraly exposed Woodell and his ilk in HIS frivolous lawsuit- as liars. I think the judge did Woodell, his legal team, and Keith a favor by stopping this nonsense. According to the Daily Post, Keith communicated directly with Glen Road and the Menlo Park police chief about her husband's cell phone fiasco. [Portion removed; don't speculate about other people's involvement.]

As for helping campaigns, Woodell should continue doing this so that lame candidates lose- think Jack Nelson, Carolyn Clark, Corrin Rankin, and his wife Kristen Keith when she ran for the board of supervisors. I applaud Woodell for his "help" on campaigns because then I know who I should not vote for!


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Posted by Registered Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 23, 2014 at 9:02 am

I agree. Kiraly is not fit for public office. She has shown us how bad she is at handling adversity. Bad things happen in life and sometimes people file lawsuits against you. The question is how are you going to handle it? Kiraly let her anger and hurt feelings get the best of her. Elected officials get lawsuits filed against them more often than you think. But we [the public] don't hear about it because they handle it professionally and not drag it through the news. By playing the angry victim she turned the focus of her elected position on herself and taken it away from the firefighters.


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Posted by support
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 23, 2014 at 9:17 am

Common Sense, how can you say he supported those candidates when he has not publicly endorsed them?


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Posted by voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 23, 2014 at 9:28 am

What ever happened to the firefighters labor contracts? Has that been resolved?


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Posted by Jules Winnfield
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2014 at 9:58 am

Ezekiel 25:17."The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you."


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 23, 2014 at 10:31 am

Registered Voter:

Kiraly and Bernstein handled this lawsuit the only way they could- defending themselves. They had to defend themselves against a legal team that accepted and continued Woodell's lies and deceits.

The only defamation in this case was Woodell's defamation of Kiraly, as a judge correctly noted.

As for Kiraly being fit for elected office, she is absolutely fit for elected office. We should all be glad that she will defend the truth, instead of lies. Those who say she should have handled Woodell's frivolous lawsuit by "taking the high road" and settling are saying that she should condone what is wrong and deceitful. When the firefighters union contract is up for negotiation, I know Kiraly will have my back as a taxpayer. Maybe, you conduct your life in lies and deceit, but I am very glad that as an elected official, Kiraly won't settle for what is wrong and deceitful. I wish more elected officials would be like her.


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Posted by Registered Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 23, 2014 at 11:32 am

Common Sense, I've always believed that taking the high road means just that. Not allowing yourself to be sucked into the negative. You seem to be a strong supporter of Kiraly and therefor maybe you are able to not allow yourself the opportunity to see this from a different perspective.

"When the firefighters union contract is up for negotiation, I know Kiraly will have my back as a taxpayer. Maybe, you conduct your life in lies and deceit, but I am very glad that as an elected official, Kiraly won't settle for what is wrong and deceitful." - Are our firefighters deceitful liars? - I don't think that us voters need an elected official defending us against our firefighters.


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Posted by minions
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 23, 2014 at 6:57 pm

[Post removed; stick to the subject.]


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 23, 2014 at 7:33 pm

I would compare Leland Yee's corrupt and unethical behavior with Woodell's in this case.


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Posted by Good point
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 23, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Common Sense, we were not aware that Woodell now has Federal gun trafficking charges to deal with. This felony charge would overturn Judge Swope's earlier ruling that Woodell in not a public figure.


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 23, 2014 at 8:50 pm

Lying under penalty of perjury is prosecutable. Woodell's abusing the judicial system for his own gain is analogous to Leland yee's abusing the system for his own game. Thankfully, Woodell is not in a real position of authority or influence to do real damage. But, his true colors- lack of integrity and unethical- showed themselves in his frivolous lawsuit!


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 23, 2014 at 9:14 pm

I just read the judge's decision. If you haven't read it, you should. It is short, it is entertaining, and importantly, it makes the facts of this case crystal clear.

Well written, Judge Novak.

Just click here: Web Link= The Judge's order of 5/21 can be found on the fifth row from the top. Just click on the little camera icon in the far right column.

If you haven't read it, you honestly don't know what you're talking about.


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Posted by Phone
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 23, 2014 at 9:54 pm

POGO your link doesn't work but I did find and read the ruling. I agree with you: it's well written and gets to the point. The part of the ruling that is entirely implausible to me is that there's any likelihood that a phone in late May of 2014 would have GPS tracking information from back in 2011. It therefore becomes a matter of whether the phone said "Woodell Family" on it. I'm not quite following the significance of that point either since – and I hope someone can point out where I have this wrong – it would seem to me that it would have behooved Bernstein to NOT admit he was able to identify the phone as belonging to Woodell, but the controversy seems to be in the opposite sense.

Personally I believe very few situations are black and white. My hunch is the judge's decision is heavily based on the general stink factor from the whole lawsuit, and is not purely a function of the evidence issue. In hindsight, perhaps Mr. Woodell realizes he took this too far. But it also seems that Ms. Kiraly did try to humiliate him and he was pushed over the edge. While many might conclude that was his problem, and he should have exercised more restraint, it's probably also the case that she could have "been the bigger person", apologized, or what have you, to diffuse the situation, but chose not to. It's clear all three participants were hurt emotionally and financially, and I for one can't clearly label one party the victim and the other the wrongdoer.

For whatever it's worth, I have absolutely no horse in this race, have never met any of these people, and don't follow Menlo Park politics.


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Posted by Phone
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 23, 2014 at 9:58 pm

I should add that the contention of whether or not the phone could have (or have not) displayed "Woodell Family" on it could be proven or disproven by simply taking any phone with that version of the Android operating system, locking it, and seeing if such a message could be displayed. It didn't necessarily have to be Woodell's phone. In other words, there were other ways to get to the same result here that would not have prejudiced the defendants because the exact same phone was unavailable.

At least that's what I would have argued had I been Woodell's attorney.


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Posted by timing
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Actually, if you look at Woodell's declarations that are online, he says that "Woodell Family" would have been visible on the phone, just not at the time Bernstein described. He proposed that his phone bill and call logs backed this up. The defense was obviously cherry picking from the deposition to make Woodell out to be sayinging some else completely.


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Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 24, 2014 at 7:39 am

pogo is a registered user.

With regard to the narrow point whether or not the phone said "Woodell Family" on it, the police officer who was called to the scene confirmed that he saw that.

I agree that Judge Novak was disgusted with this entire episode. But it was equally clear that she was disgusted with Mr. Woodell and his "evolving" stories and explanations. You can't "wipe" your phone (and Mr. Woodell offered at least two different explanations for doing this) and then claim you want to use the data as evidence.

Judge Novak may have been disgusted with the lawsuit but she clearly spanked Mr. Woodell.

PS - Like you, I do not have a "dog in this fight" and do not know any of these people.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 24, 2014 at 8:48 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

After reading the judge's decision it is pretty clear she thinks Woodell is a liar and that he purposely destroyed evidence. Destruction of evidence and perjury tend to get judges' dander up.


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 26, 2014 at 3:24 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

@ M V So true. Once you lie to a judge, say good by and hope for the best.


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