US District Court Judge Upholds Lawsuit against Sneddon & County

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U.S. District Court judge upholds suit against DA, county By Mark Abramson — Staff Writer 5/10/04 A U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles has upheld most of a $10 million lawsuit filed by Solvang attorney Gary Dunlap against District Attorney Tom Sneddon and Santa Barbara County. Judge Dickran Tevrizian dismissed Dunlap’s claims that district attorney officials could be sued for allegations of racketeering and that those officials trespassed and performed an unlawful search and seizure of Dunlap’s property. The judge ruled that allowing the trespass complaint would invalidate a marijuana conviction against Dunlap. He was charged after the drug was found during a search of his property. Dunlap’s attorneys predicted the conviction will be overturned. The lawsuit, seeking punitive, compensatory and special damages, stems from Dunlap’s acquittal last June on six charges, including perjury, witness intimidation, filing false documents and preparing false documents. The charges were filed in connection to a criminal case in which Dunlap was the defense attorney. Dunlap’s attorneys said he was the victim of a setup by the District Attorney’s Office and that prosecutors acted illegally, are guilty of misconduct, and violated attorney client privilege by secretly taping Dunlap’s discussions with his client. “What they did was they attacked a successful criminal defense attorney for practicing his profession,” said Joe Freeman, one of Dunlap’s attorneys. Both sides viewed Tevrizian’s ruling as a victory. “We are very happy with it, and we think it was fair,” said Freeman. “The next step is for the defendants. Now they have a choice. They could either answer the complaint or they could attempt to appeal the 16-page well-reasoned opinion. They would be very unlikely to prevail,” Freeman said. Attorneys from the Santa Barbara County Counsel Office, which would likely represent county employees in any lawsuit, said they were not surprised by the ruling. County Counsel Attorney Jake Stoddard said he expects to quash the lawsuit. “I expect a substantial portion of the case will go away,” Stoddard said. “We got what we wanted out of it.” Stoddard contends that the prosecutors are immune against the charges and they did nothing illegal. He said he will submit a summary judgment motion to argue his case in writing. Dunlap described the ordeal as an emotional nightmare that has tarnished his practice and reputation. “You have no idea what it is like to be a criminal defendant for six weeks of a trial,” Dunlap said. “I’m not vindicated. There will always be people who will harbor doubt about my innocence, and I’m devastated by it. I don’t think my reputation has been restored.” The plaintiff’s complaint also named as defendants Assistant District Attorney Christie Schultz-Stanley; Deputy District Attorneys Kevin Duffy, Jerry McBeth, Gerald Franklin, John T. McKinnon, Josh Webb; and District Attorney Investigators Mary Brizzolara and Tim Rooney. :nav Source: [url=]Lompoc Record[/url] (subscription required) :3pinned [url=]Your Comments?[/url]

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