Court rejects claim judge wanted jews off jury
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
May 18, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The California Supreme Court today
upheld a court-appointed referee's finding that a now-deceased
Alameda County Superior Court judge did not tell a prosecutor
to keep Jews off the jury in a death penalty case.
The former prosecutor, John Quatman, claimed in 2003 that Judge
Stanley Golde directed him to exclude Jews from the jury during
a 1987 murder trial because Jews would never vote for a death
The defendant in that trial, Fred Freeman, was convicted and
sentenced to death for fatally shooting a customer in a Berkeley
bar during a robbery in 1984.
The claim that Golde told Quatman, the prosecutor in the case,
to keep Jews off the jury was raised by Freeman in a habeas corpus
petition to the state high court in 2004.
Golde, who was Jewish, died in 1998. Quatman, a retired Alameda
County district attorney, was living in Montana in 2003 when he
made the claim in support of Freeman.
After receiving the petition, the high court appointed Santa
Clara County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy to act as a referee
to take evidence and issue findings on the claim.
Murphy concluded last year that Quatman's allegations were not
true. The referee also alleged in a written report that Quatman
had been "dishonest and unethical."
The state Supreme Court unanimously upheld Murphy's conclusion
in a ruling issued at its San Francisco headquarters.
Justice Marvin Baxter wrote for the court, "Freeman leveled
very serious allegations about Judge Golde and the conduct of
his trial, but, after a full and fair evidentiary hearing, he
failed to prove they were true."
The court said that evidence from the jury selection process
that was presented at the hearing before Murphy showed that Quatman
did not believe that three dismissed jurors were Jewish and that
"even if he did, that their religion was no part of his decision
to excuse them."
The court also said the evidence showed that Quatman had a poor
reputation for honesty and integrity and that he had a motive
for embarrassing the district attorney's office.
The motive was that Quatman was transferred out of the office's
criminal trial section after he was investigated for allegedly
making disparaging remarks to a woman co-worker.
The court said it will rule separately at a later date on three
other habeas corpus claims raised by Freeman. If Freeman loses
those claims, he can take his appeals to the federal court system.
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