Kirk Smith Challenges DA Vern Pierson to Put Up or Stand Down regarding Judge Dylan Sullivan

by admin / Sep 01, 2015 / 0 comments
Caption: : 
Kirk Smith, DA Vern Pierson, Judge Dylan Sullivan

2015-09-01, 07:17:47 PLACERVILLE CA

Kirk Smith: "The origin of the phrase “peremptory challenge” -- a very old legal term -- means that a reason does not have to be stated. And the DA"s office did NOT give any reasons to reporters or in court papers."

What's next, Vern?

Why ask the Judge? Judges are barred from commenting, making the DA’s first front page smear a couple weeks ago all the more cowardly. Judge Sullivan correctly and appropriately cited and followed the governing cannons of judicial ethics. Why not ask Vern Pierson for comment? And please look at the actual court papers the DA filed to back up his sleazy attack because I read them and there’s nothing in those short pages to support Pierson’s outlandish bias claim, but much to show that this is another political vendetta launched by one of the most ambitious politicians in the area.

Pierson’s thin court papers were signed by the DA’s right hand, Jim Clinchard, who, with Pierson, were both among the biggest backers of attorney Joe Hoffman against Judge Sullivan in last year’s judicial election. It was one of the nastiest judicial races in this county’s history, though not as ugly as the one also waged on behalf of Hoffman in an earlier judicial election against Judge Warren Stracener. [Ok, so the Mountain Democrat’s endorsements were also on the wrong side both times too.]

The “peremptory challenge” rule cited by the DA proscribes that a judge is to step aside “when it is established as provided in this section that the judge or court commissioner is prejudiced against a party or attorney or the interest of a party or attorney appearing in the action or proceeding.” But instead of prejudice or bias, the Clinchard document alleges that the county “has a custom and practice” of judges handling courtroom 7 matters sending them to other judges for trial, and not retaining them, except in the case of Phillip and Nancy Garrido.

What? No rule, no statute, no case law, just one lawyer’s vague anecdotal notion about some “procedure or practice”? Sorry, but it is judges, not folklore from DA’s, who have the right and duty to manage their calendars. Court schedules and court calendars are governed by judges, not politicians. Yes, the same inherent judicial authority used when a judge in Division 7 a few years ago chose to retain for trial the Garrido case, something Pierson did not object to at that time.

Vern Pierson lost a race for legislative office a few years ago and then ran for DA like a consolation prize and is now widely reported to be ready to run for Assemblywoman Beth Gaines seat once she makes her expected run against Supervisor Ron “Mik” Mikulaco. You want to know what is behind Pierson’s extraordinary attack on a sitting judge, follow the money; look at the campaign contributions for an idea about Pierson’s motive. See whether one the biggest if not the biggest contributor to the campaigns of Pierson, Hoffman and Gaines are the same. That’s just for starters. Keep looking.

Imagine the chilling impact on judges in this community when a politically motivated District Attorney can get away with this kind of unilateral slam. The origin of the phrase “peremptory challenge” -- a very old legal term -- means that a reason does not have to be stated. And the DA"s office did NOT give any reasons to reporters or in court papers. As a public official, Vern Pierson owes the public a detailed statement about the specific facts he had in mind. The integrity and independence of the judiciary, the very meaning of justice in this community, deserves no less than a full and honest explanation.