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Trial By Fire

The Silicon War Triology

Chapter 4 - The Hearing

Although the week went fast, I still hadn't made contact with Diersbach.  Finally out of frustration, I called Petropolis who said "Everything is now shut down and not to make contact with us again.  We'll call you if we need you".

Then came the first Gopal court hearing or what was being called an "evidence suppression hearing" where Gopal's attorney was attempting to get all three searches and evidence thrown out. 

Gopal's attorney had called me in to look at the evidence now stored in the new Police Evidence trailer.  It was one of the "add-on trailer" classrooms that became a trend in California to quickly expand the schools to handle the unplanned for growth of the Santa Clara valley community.  Then came the wave of school closings because of the uses of asbestos in their building of them.  Since the trailer was next door to the police station and no longer need, they just borrowed it to store all four thousand items that were seized during the raids.

Now, there were over four thousand objects from the SSI office taken during the search, all defined as "trade secrets".  So the legal questions became:

"What's the meaning of a ‘Trade Secret'?"

"How many of these were really trade secrets?"

"And if so, then who did they really belong to?"

I had talked with Edwards or a legal team member about this and agreed to testify in court about my participation in the "search of the SSI facility".  What the police were now stating was one thing, but what I saw and agreed to testify to was completely different.  Specifically "How did they obtain the key to enter the SSI facility?  And how many people were really there"?

To handle this series of questioning, a hearing was conducted in Judge Stone's court. 

 

**

 

It was my first time to visit the Santa Clara Court house and I got their early.  It was a one story building with a gray sign with polished metal letter attached to it stating "Superior Court Santa Clara Courthouse".  Under it were the series of glass doors used for entry. 

As you enter, there were people standing around talking in this long hallway that had seating on the left and the court rooms on the right.  I quickly found the court room Edwards asked me to be at.

As I walked into the court room, the first thing I saw was this shining globe or seal over the Judges' chair that is highlighted with bright lights.  It really stood out against the dark wood background.  Then I looked at the "Bar" that separates the spectators from the attorneys.  It was funny to read the sign saying "no sitting in front row". 

"Well...  why put in the seats there if you don't want people to sit in them" I asked myself?  Then came row after row of seats filled with people waiting for their hearing to start.

As I sat down in the back row, 10 minutes later in came the ADA and Edwards chatting about what ever and each took their position in front of the Bar.  Edwards on the left and the DA on the right.  Finally, Judge Stone entered in his dark blue or black robe and took up his position.  Then with a tap of his gavel, the hearing starts.  The attorneys presented their arguments and the first person was called.

First to be called was Officer Geoffrey who was dressed in his normal police street clothes and a light brown jacket.  No tie.  He was articulate, explained his mission, and then was asked the most important series of question by Edwards.

 

Edwards:  "Sir, did you personally open the front door of the SSI office?"

Geoffrey:  "No sir".

Edwards:  "Ok.  Then who did?"

Geoffrey:  "To the best of my recollection, I don't recall".

Edwards: "But you testified that you were there when it was opened, correct?"

Geoffrey:  "Yes".

Edwards:  "And you now don't remember?"

Geoffrey:  "Ah...  correct".

 

And they continued back and forth for another 5 minutes.

Next up was Officer McKinner who was also articulate, explained his mission, and then was asked the same series of question by Edwards.

 

Edwards:  "Sir, did you personally open the front door of the SSI office?"

McKinner:  "No sir".

Edwards:  "Ok.  Then who did?"

McKinner:  "To the best of my recollection, I believe Mr. Contie did".

 

The outburst I made was more of a surprise to me than to everyone else in the court room.  However, everyone in the courtroom did turn around and looked directly at me including a very upset Judge Stone.  The outburst was completely unacceptable in a courtroom, but everyone also knew there now was going to be an open challenge to McKinner's testimony.  He just lied in open court.

As I stormed out of the courtroom to calm down, this person next to me followed.  He asked me what was wrong.

It just came out of my mouth: "Perry Mason just died in this court today!" 

I just had to take a walk.  Later that day, I found out that this person was a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper and they quoted me.

Anyone that saw me knew I was pissed.  It is one thing to call someone a "spy" or a "communist" or even a "thief," but this was a courtroom in Santa Clara, CA, United States of America and everything about fairness, truth, honesty and all the other Boy Scout values I was trained to believe in was just pissed on by McKinner.  I was taught "to do the right thing" remember!  This wasn't right!

It was at this moment in time when my role in this fiasco changed.  This was no longer what Gopal did; it now became the process that was the violation.  It wasn't Gopal's civil rights any longer; they had just rape of my value system.

As we finished lunch, I was to report back to the courtroom to testify, and the courtroom was now packed to standing room only.  Edwards came over to see how I was doing. 

"Len, I apologized for my outburst" I said, "but I had never heard a Cop lie before". 

"Don't worry about it" Edwards said.  "Your testimony will shed new light into what really happened and Stone's very smart.  He now knows something is wrong.  So sit down and relax.  And just tell the truth as you know it.  It will be over in a flash.  Now sit, relax, and get control of your emotions.  Any outburst from you now will taint you testimony".

Now, at this time, I couldn't tell you when I had ever been in a courtroom before, not even a traffic court.  But I had watched it on TV and isn't that a good indication of what the judicial system was about.  Right!  I mean, like… I watched Perry Mason.

Thirty minutes later, Edwards came back and informed me that my testimony was delayed for an hour because D'Alquist, the ADA was missing.  It was then delayed again and finally Judge Stone sent the Bailiff out to find him.  Thirty minutes later, D'Alquist entered Stone's court and asked for a meeting in Judge Stone's chambers.  Ten minutes later, everyone walked out. 

At the head of this exodus was Edwards who walked directly up to me and said "The hearing has been postponed".  Then came the bomb shell "Also Bob, you need to find an attorney right now, like this minute.  D'Alquist was in front of the grand jury and you have just been indicted.  Understand something; they do not want you to testify.  Now, get the hell out of here before they arrest you here and now".

As I turned around in shock, I quickly walked out of the court house.  An attorney friend of Edwards came up to me and introduced himself.  It seemed that Edwards had asked him to help me with my new legal problems.

 

**

 

Oh...  Did I say the D'Alquist was behind in the polls and a botched search would not look good just before the election?

 

***

 

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