Friday, April 16, 2021
Featured Exclusive EXCLUSIVE: Public Defender's Office files motion to dismiss judge...

EXCLUSIVE: Public Defender’s Office files motion to dismiss judge in BART arrest trial

This comes after several issues that surfaced during pre-trail hearings.

-

The San Francisco’s Public Defender’s office has filed a motion to disqualify Judge Anne-Christine Massullo alleging prejudice and bias towards the defense counsel, the defendant and the defense case in the BART arrest trial.

The case is that of Michael Smith 22, who was arrested by BART police in August along with his pregnant partner Andrea Appleton, 23, after police received a 911 call reporting a man with a gun at Embarcadero BART station.

It was later revealed that there was no gun involved. Videos of the violent arrest sparked outrage on social media as witnesses insist that BART officers allegedly refused to listen to witness testimonies.

BART officials say that Smith had allegedly kicked one police officer in the head and throat, bit another and spit on a third.

The motion, a copy of which was exclusively obtained by 48 Hills,¬†makes the case that trial court’s bias impinges on Smith’s right to fair trial and to present a defense. This comes after several issues that surfaced during pre-trial hearings.

Judge Massullo excluded evidence that would allow witnesses to testify that no robbery threat was made as per the claim of 911 caller which sparked the arrest but she is allowing the man’s 911 call claiming that he was threatened.

The use of force expert put forward by the Public Defender’s office has also been excluded, and among other things Judge Massullo has barred the defense from mentioning the¬†Oscar Grant case or Black Lives Matter,¬†saying that Smith’s¬†case has nothing to do with racism.¬†This hugely impacts the defense case, which maintains that according to witness testimonies the 911 caller allegedly used racial slurs, while seated on the BART with Smith and his partner, and called the police as they got out of the train.

Speaking at the arraignment hearing, Public Defender Jeff Adachi spoke about the issues of racial profiling ‚ÄĒ both Smith and Appelton are African American ‚ÄĒ and that he believes that in this case someone called the police and made a false statement resulting in a violent arrest that could have been avoided altogether.

Judge Massullo insists that only actions that happened after Smith got out of train were relevant.

Yesterday, Judge Massullo ruled on allowing a video taped deposition of one of the Officers in lieu of his testimony at trial because the prosecutor informed the court that the Officer, who is the main witness, is on vacation starting Monday.

The Judge is currently hearing the challenge.

This is a developing story and we will continue to update it

Sana Saleem
Sana Saleem is a writer with a focus on social justice and human stories. She's member board of advisory for the Courage Foundation, Edward Snowden's legal defense fund.

More by this author

Garcia Zarate gets time served — but won’t go free

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, the undocumented homeless man whose trial became a national issue, was sentenced to three years in prison on Friday in the death...

Firearms expert says Steinle killing fits pattern of an accident

The bullet that killed Kate Steinle fit the pattern of an accidental discharge, a firearms expert testified today in the murder trial of Jose Ines Garcia...

Zarate looked confused, disoriented during police interrogation

It was confusing, often contradictory, as the jurors today heard the interrogation of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an undocumented homeless man accused of killing...

The Steinle crime scene: The gun, the shirt ….

San Francisco police Officer Scott Hurley is trained to discover evidence or explosives suspected to be underwater. But on July 2nd, as he felt through...

Zarate: Intentional killer — or confused and mentally ill?

The prosecution in the trial of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate tried to set the stage for the day Kate Steinle was killed, presenting witnesses...

Most read

Radical right group is trying to attack public-sector labor in SF

Anti-union mailers are going to workers home addresses -- but really, this group is looking pretty desperate.

How To Reopen Nightlife: Enough with the boys’ club, make room for women

DJ femmelectric and promoter Alex McGeagh speak about equity, access, and safety for women and nonbinary folks.

Black Freighter Press sails in, boosting writers of color and radical imagination

The revolution will be published, with the help of SF Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin and Alie Jones' new outlet.

City College students fight back against brutal faculty cuts

Firing teachers could also mean the end of a lot of treasured programs.

You might also likeRELATED