SAN JOSE — A Santa Clara County judge has issued a gag order in a high-profile San Jose serial-robbery case — involving allegedly targeting Asian women — after defense attorneys told police and prosecutors Wrongly cried at a December news conference that he argued risks spoiling a potential jury pool.
So now, the district attorney’s office and the San Jose Police Department have been barred from publicly commenting on the prosecution of 24-year-old Stockton resident Anthony Michael Robinson, one of six men charged in dozens of South Bay robberies over the past year. Is. ,
All six men were also charged with hate-crime charges because the majority of the listed robbery victims are Asian women, which the county alternate defender’s office is also challenging Robinson’s case on the argument that prosecutors have not proved it. that the offenses meet the legal standard. for a hate crime.
15 press conference jointly organized by District Attorney Jeff Rosen, SJPD Chief Anthony Mata and San Jose Councilmember Maya Esparza at the Grand Century Mall in the Little Saigon neighborhood to discuss the defense request for the gag order primarily a year Is contained. -The lengthy investigation that concluded last fall led to the arrest of Robinson and his co-defendants.
Six days later, deputy alternate public defender Krista Heinemann filed a court motion requesting a gag order on the grounds that comments made at the news conference “violate the defendant’s California and federal constitutional rights, including Contains morally irresponsible public statements, including opinions about Anthony Robinson’s guilt and attributing it to anti-Asian motives.”
In his preface, Heinemann called the timing of the December news conference “inexplicable” because the arrests were initially announced – and heavily publicized between August and September, and no new investigative developments. He said that Rosen, Mata and Police Capt. Brian Schaub reiterated their belief that the robbery was motivated by anti-Asian bias, citing statements that the defendants allegedly gave to the police, indicating that “they feel that Asian women don’t use banks and that they hurl abuses against other ethnic Asians,” as Rosen said at the press event.
Heinemann argued that the statements and the details of the case that were revealed unreasonably affected potential trial jurors.
“Any reasonable person would be concerned whether these disclosures create a ‘substantial likelihood of materially prejudiced’ this proceeding,” Heinemann wrote.
She also disputed the law-enforcement claim that Robinson and defendants abused victims, calling it “an apparently false allegation” that was unsupported by any police reports. In a separate motion challenging the hate-crime charges, he said that many of the victims of the robberies were not Asian and the women were targeted for financial gain, not the racial animosity that rises to the level of a hate crime.
In an opposition motion, the District Attorney’s office called the gag-order request an attempt at the office’s “integrity,” and rejected the argument that his public statements compromised Robinson’s fair-trial rights. Prosecutors objected to such restraint, saying they had no plans to make any further public comments about the case, and that any potential bias issues during normal jury selection procedures were to be rooted out. can go.
“Breaking this office speech will not change the fact that racism, hate crimes and anti-Asian hate are being discussed in the public domain,” the office wrote.
On Thursday, Judge Jessica Delgado sided with Heinemann, and barred prosecutors, defense attorneys and police investigators from making public statements or releasing any information about Robinson’s case outside of court and the trial process.
Neither the district attorney’s office nor Heinman offered comment on the judge’s order, citing the new ban.
Legal analyst Steven Clarke, a criminal-defense attorney and former county prosecutor, said the case highlights how district attorneys and law-enforcement officers strike a balance between informing the public and assuring their safety. while not trying a criminal case on courthouse steps. inside the building.
“You want to communicate with the public, but recognize that there is one person who is believed to be innocent,” Clark said.
He said law-enforcement leaders, by virtue of their positions, have the ability to pulpit a bully and amplify a message that most defense attorneys can’t match even when they try similar tactics.
Clark also noted that given the volume and routine nature of public statements by district attorneys and police departments in the wake of high-profile arrests and allegations, determining what constitutes overstepping is a persistent gray area. But citing the defendant’s potentially objectionable statements to the police, he said, could create an unreasonable impediment to a criminal defense, even if it is later deemed inadmissible as evidence.
“They’re not just concerned about the media attention,” he said, “they’re concerned about false information in the public domain that they can’t correct at trial.”