Prosecutors' arguments to reinstate bribery charges against Jeff Burum fall flat, according to Stephen Larson, who represents Burum.
Those arguments were made Dec. 10 by the state Attorney General's Office and District Attorney's Office, asking the state's high court to review a decision by the 4th District Court of Appeal in Riverside. "Finally and most importantly for purposes of this petition, the (prosecutors) blatantly misstate the Court of Appeal's holding below," Larson wrote. "...As will be seen below, this fundamental misstatement of the Court of Appeal's ruling is the cornerstone upon which the (prosecutors) have based their petition for review."
Burum is accused of conspiring with three former county officials to have the county settle a lawsuit for $102million with Burum's investor group, Colonies LLP, in exchange for bribes. Also charged are former county Supervisor Paul Biane, former Assistant Assessor Jim Erwin, and Mark Kirk, former chief of staff for Supervisor Gary Ovitt.
All four defendants deny any wrongdoing.
The appellate court decided Oct. 31 not to reinstate bribery charges against Burum that San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Brian McCarville had dismissed.
And without that, the broader Colonies case falls apart, according to Rajan Maline, Erwin's attorney.
"That's the heart of the prosecution's case," Maline said. "With what the (appeal) court has done, you're really left with nothing, and that's why you see this appeal to the Supreme Court. It's desperation."
District Attorney Mike Ramos' spokesman Christopher Lee said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on a pending case.
In a Dec. 10 petition, prosecutors say the case should be reviewed because the case "will be used as a benchmark to inform the conduct of both public officials and those seeking to influence them as to what acts they can commit without subjecting themselves to prosecution" and that the Court of Appeal had misapplied a certain legal rule, among other reasons.
But the court's decision to dismiss the bribery charge was based on an entirely separate case with different reasoning, Larson said.
Larson also wrote that the case - because it's what's known as an unpublished case - won't be used to guide future rulings and therefore doesn't meet the standards for Supreme Court review.
"The opinion will have absolutely no precedential impact on future cases, nor will it affect the charging discretion of other prosecutors in other cases," he wrote.
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