Thursday, October 29, 2020
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 — both Smith and Appelton are African American — 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

The deep problem with the new Supreme Court

The 'original' Constitution is all about individual liberty, and not about any collective responsibility for our common humanity.

The end of Shahid Buttar’s campaign — and the lessons

Shahid Buttar’s campaign against Rep. Nancy Pelosi was always a longshot. He was challenging the person most responsible for challenging Donald Trump, and while...

For Puerto Rican freedom, MaJo Montijo summons a bomba ‘Huracán’

Oakland musician fights "continuous colonial disaster," including Hurricane MarĂ­a aftermath, with gale-force release.

The biased coverage and real story around Lowell High and school renaming

Attention Chronicle: A lottery for the 'elite' school is neither new nor a radical idea -- and neither is discussing changing the names of schools celebrating racists and colonialists.

A very haunted Arts Forecast: Halloween undead!

Howl through your mask at this year's stream 'n (socially distant) scream spooktaculars

Screen Grabs: San Francisco’s real royal family, still glittering onward

'50 Years of Fabulous' comes a courtin'. Plus: a record of the 1972 National Black Political Convention, angsty Hungarians, more

Examined Life: Being human at a time like this

The future of our country may hang in the balance, but our humanity need not

Internationally Black series ‘So Soul San Francisco’ opens up global arts discourse

Creator Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe and co-host Rotimi Agbabiaka's monthly interview show surveys Black expression worldwide

Big Money’s racist attacks in D7

Plus: School Board members of color get threatening online messages. Is this really San Francisco in 2020?

The sleaze reaches high tide in D5

Bizarre attack on Dean Preston defies facts, logic, and reality -- but that doesn't stop Big Real Estate and Big Tech.

You might also likeRELATED