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another controversy at the DA's office

Original post made by studabaker, Menlo Park: Downtown, on Mar 11, 2013

A San Mateo County DA's office prosecutor is disciplined by the California State Bar for misconduct performed while on official San Mateo County business, paid for with taxpayer funds and jepoardizing one's liberty

The complainnt is admonished not to share the contents of the letter to anyone, pursuant to an arcane provision of the California B&P Code?

Presumably the privacy rights and ability of a practitioner of the law to continue to earn a living are at stake.

Reputations are important when it comes to professional services.

Then again the conduct of the professional in question is a public official

This will be a huge headache for Wagstaffe.

It could cost him his job

Comments (33)

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Posted by Legal Eagle
a resident of another community
on Mar 11, 2013 at 10:46 pm

The constitution trumps the California B&P code and the complainant can share her letter with anyone she wants.

This is atrocious conduct by Wagstaffe. No wonder why he wants to bury this very serious sanction against him, his office and a corrupt prosecutor.


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Posted by Hard to understand this one
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 11, 2013 at 10:59 pm

How can Stephen Wagstaffe threaten to criminally prosecute a complainant if she reveals that the State Bar of California issued professional conduct sanctions against his office? There is a public right to know here. I think the very act of threatening the complainant is a crime in and of itself. She has been proven to be the victim here.


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Posted by Legal Eagle
a resident of another community
on Mar 11, 2013 at 11:59 pm

I agree, if Wagstaffe has threatened to prosecute a victim who made a complaint, that is extremely unethical conduct if not criminal, and he should be removed from office. It's nonsense that the results of disciplinary investigations into prosecutors are confidential. In Santa Clara County, there is a credible and ethical D.A. who discusses how he handles rogue prosecutors because of the public's right to know whether the justice system they are paying for is accountable:

Web Link

It's amazing that in this case the system worked and the California bar sanctioned Wagstaffe's office/prosecutor. It's not something Wagstaffe is used to, or expects. It's front page news. It's extraordinarily rare for the extraordinary punishment of a sanction to be levied by the bar. Think once in a lifetime occurrence. It means Wagstaffe resisted all opportunities to handle this correctly on his own and discipline his prosecutor like D.A. Rosen did in the above article.

No wonder he wants to muscle the victim into silence. I hope she will feel comfortable discussing this matter with the Almanac so the public can really see what a despicable man we have running our criminal justice system in San Mateo County.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2013 at 8:57 am

San Mateo County Supervisors have been warned of this for 12 years that I know of. I have gone to many meetings where members of the public have been reporting the "Deep Level of Corruption in the DA's office."

Our District Attorney is an elected official, there is no Oversight.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 12, 2013 at 9:03 am

Mr. Stogner:

there is oversight. Wagstaffe is an elected official and can be turned out of office when his term is up. The problem is that the sheeple of San Mateo County don't care enough to do it. It was corrupt when Fox was running it and it's still corrupt now that Wagstaffe's in charge. Nothing will change until voters change it. I'm not holding my breath.


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Posted by Legal Eagle
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2013 at 9:33 am

We're working on getting this victim some legal representation so her constitutional right to talk about the injustices committed against her will be upheld.

She's already been contacted by major media outlets. She and others hope the Almanac will get involved quickly and perhaps help with its own first amendment attorney to break the blue wall of silence Wagstaffe is trying to put up here.

Like Watergate, the coverup is going to be much worse than the actual story here.


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Posted by Clark
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Thank you, Studabaker, for posting this. Let us hope that it motivates the hundreds of other victims of the San Mateo District Attorney's office to file complaints with the Attorney General.


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Posted by Wow
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 12, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Let me get this straight- a complaint was made against a prosecutor. In an exceedingly rare move, the prosecutor was sanctioned for misconduct. The complainant is required to keep the information secret. This situation is an oxymoron, lol. This is a public figure who was sanctioned for misconduct-the public has a right to know. I would think there are a number of local, state or federal laws that would protect the complainant should the information become public. What about whistleblower status? What are the chances that the complainant is the only one who complained? Will there be a series of communications sent out requiring secrecy? Jeesh.


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Posted by Clark
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Wow: If memory serves me right, the prosecutor who was sanctioned for misconduct by the Bar is the same one who was sued three years ago by a family of a molestation victim, for similar misconduct. I think the Almanac did stories about the lawsuit about this prosecutor.


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Posted by Wow
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Well this just gets better and better. I would expect there will be some families and some victims looking for some justice. They are entitled to the info. They should be validated.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 12, 2013 at 2:41 pm

If Wagstaffe is trying to hide behind the Peace Officer's Bill of Rights it takes some pretty tortured logic as none of the penal codes that define who "peace officers" are for the purposes of the bill of rights includes prosecutors. The way I read it prosecutors are not protected.


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Posted by Ben H.
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Violation of Section 6106 of the Business and Professions Code.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 12, 2013 at 5:17 pm

6106. The commission of any act involving moral turpitude,
dishonesty or corruption, whether the act is committed in the course
of his relations as an attorney or otherwise, and whether the act is
a felony or misdemeanor or not, constitutes a cause for disbarment or
suspension.
If the act constitutes a felony or misdemeanor, conviction thereof
in a criminal proceeding is not a condition precedent to disbarment
or suspension from practice therefor.


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Posted by Legal Eagle
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2013 at 7:49 pm

A couple of key questions for this watershed moment:

QUESTION #1: Will the Almanac ask Wagstaffe for permission to publish this disciplinary letter?

ANSWER #1: Did the NY Times ask permission to publish the Pentagon Papers?

QUESTION #2: Will Wagstaffe upon questioning by the Almanac commit to not persecute or prosecute the victim for going public with this? Will he commit that whatever arcane confidentiality language in this B&P clause clearly only applies to the attorney getting disciplined and the bar itself? Will he guarantee her safe passage?

ANSWER #2: This is the $64,000 question. I highly doubt he will. This is the question that will define Wagstaffe's DA-ship.


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Posted by Ben H.
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 13, 2013 at 1:48 am

Reporters are being told by the DA's office that the Bar "hasn't finished" its investigation yet.

In fact, the Bar closed its investigation more than ten days ago.


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Posted by Ben H.
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 13, 2013 at 2:42 am

There's a THIRD molestation case that was handled by this prosecutor, where it is reported that the crime victims and the family experienced similar incidents of misconduct by the prosecutor. When the attorney for the family of the victim contacted the prosecutor on behalf of the family to say that the prosecutor had not performed key duties in the case, the prosecutor turned around and accused the attorney of lying!!!

This attorney blasted the DA's mishandling of this particular molestation case to the Palo Alto Daily Post. It was a front page story in the Daily Post in April, 2012.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2013 at 12:00 pm

No coverage of this by any of our 7 papers serving San Mateo County so far.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ben H.
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 13, 2013 at 2:53 pm

If only San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe had acted like a mensch, like Santa Clara DA Jeff Rosen did when problems came up with his rogue prosecutors.

If only DA Wagstaffe had had the decency to respond to the people from ALL OVER THE COUNTRY who wrote to him in 2010 about the clear misconduct by the prosecutor who was just sanctioned by the California Bar, he wouldn't find himself in this horrific PR situation that he is in now.

When San Mateo DA Steve Wagstaffe chose not to respond or address the complaints from citizens about his prosecutor who has now been sanctioned by the California Bar , that sealed his fate. When you don't deal with a problem in-house, it festers and gets worse.

And his delegating San Mateo Chief Deputy DA Karen Guidotti to deal with the problem backfired. Guidotti told complainants not to criticize the prosecutor as it " would accomplish nothing." The attempt by the DA's office to silence its critics only angered those who dared to speak up, and they resolved to get justice.

Dark times ahead for Steve Wagstaffe and his office.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 13, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Ben:

if only it were true there were dark times ahead for Wagstaffe. He ran unopposed. The sheeple of San Mateo county stood by while the previous DA, Fox did the same damn thing. Where do you think Wagstaffe learned it? Wagstaffe knows all he has to do is stonewall and the whole thing will blow over. Especially when NO news agency reports on what happened.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ben H.
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 14, 2013 at 4:18 am

Menlo Voter: Don't give up hope, and stay tuned.


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Posted by Ben H.
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 14, 2013 at 10:55 am

Aren't all disciplinary actions by the California Bar a matter of public record? Now that the Bar investigation into the prosecutor has concluded, an enterprising reporter should be able to get a copy of the order against the prosecutor through the Freedom of Information Act.

But I imagine there may be an attorney out there who is petitioning to get the order, as we speak.


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Posted by Legal Eagle
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2013 at 11:08 am

Good luck with that. There is a California statute that says the bar may keep it confidential. The complainant is entitled to "woman up" and release it. She's not an attorney and the business and professions code clearly does not apply to her.


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Posted by Ben H.
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

Newspapers are always filing suit to force organizations to release documents. Why don't the news organizations file suit with the Bar to do so in this case?


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Posted by Legal Eagle
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2013 at 11:48 am

Because there's no ambiguity whatsoever in the law insofar as the bar is concerned. They don't have to release it.


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Posted by Ben H.
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:10 pm

c.
(3) The Chief Trial Counsel or his or her designee may waive
confidentiality pursuant to Section 6044.5.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm

The State Bar of California's website a few minutes ago shows the status of the prosecutor of interest as:

"This member has no public record of discipline."

I think if that's the case what harm would it be for the complainant to show her letter. That's pretty convenient for the Bar to tell someone you can't talk about this and they don't show any action on the public website.

What a cool way to protect one of their own.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ben H
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Many attorneys who have been sanctioned by the Bar are not listed as being disciplined. Some are sanctioned privately.


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Posted by Nothing to see here
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

What people don't realize is that the so-called "victim" [portion removed] has been making hundreds of accusations, many false (including the fabricated nonsense about the FBI investigation), against the San Mateo DA for years. She has no credibility. The bar obviously thinks so also by deciding to seal this complaint which could be at most a trivial technical violation by the decision to seal it. [Portion removed; see terms of use.]


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Posted by Legal Eagle
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Sure, right. Blaming the victim? How does that work as a prosecutor??


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ben H.
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 14, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Whoa!! " Nothing to see here " doesn't realize that it was a citizen of Atherton named Peter Carpenter who first contacted the FBI about misconduct into the San Mateo DA's office and got the ball rolling on the investigation into Wagstaffe

I just hope to God that Nothing to See here isy not the prosecutor who was sanctioned , as this could mean more trouble.


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Posted by Legal Eagle
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Multiple attorneys, experts in their fields, have now confirmed that this so-called confidentiality was a fiction designed to intimidate the victim and bury this once-in-a-lifetime sanction against a San Mateo prosecutor who works for Wagstaffe.

I hope the Almanac realizes in doing its story that the attempts to bury this and intimidate the victim are more serious in many ways than the sanction, which in and of itself is awe-inspiring.

Steve, get ready. Baton down your hatches. You're not long for your job.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 14, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Ben H and Legal Eagle:

I'll believe it when I see it. Fox is corrupt politician that has gotten away with this garbage for a long time for a reason - he's been allowed to.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by onbekendebron@gmail.com
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2013 at 11:31 pm

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This and several subsequent posts have been removed. Don't speculate on the identity of other posters, and please keep it civil.]


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