Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 22, 2010

News Digest

No animals for three years, plea bargain says

Ana Ramos and Jose Rubio won't be able to keep any animals in their trailer home in Palo Alto for three years, according to a plea-bargain agreement reached this week.

The couple was arrested and charged with keeping more than 40 dogs and cats in their trailer. The charges were dropped in a plea bargain reached on Tuesday .

The terms of the plea bargain forbid the couple from adopting animals during a three-year probation period, according to Assistant City Attorney Don Larkin.

"Ramos and Rubio pled no contest to animal cruelty, and in exchange were given credit for time served as well as three years of probation during which time they cannot adopt, own or have any contact with animals," Larkin said.

Police officers first learned of the hoarding on May 28, when they arrived at the Buena Vista mobile home park on El Camino Real in response to a minor property-damage report. They noticed more than three dogs, a violation of the city's Municipal Code, housed in unhygienic conditions. In response, they sent for animal-control officers who discovered 25 dogs and 17 cats in varying health conditions. Six cats were euthanized but the others are in shelters and up for adoption.

Ramos and Rubio were charged with four code violations as well as three misdemeanor counts. If convicted, they would have been subject to a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a fine of $1,000 dollars per violation.

"We're happy that we were able to reach a plea bargain, and are hopeful that Miss Ramos and Mr. Rubio will learn from the events and take better care of animals in the future, should they choose to have them," Larkin said. He said the terms of plea-bargain will be available to law-enforcement officials statewide.

'Misconduct' prosecutor Liroff defends his record

Lane Liroff, a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney from Palo Alto who was listed in a "prosecutorial misconduct" report, Wednesday sharply defended his record. Liroff is among six county prosecutors listed as possibly committing misconduct during a trial, according to a report by the Northern California Innocence Project at the Santa Clara University. Other deputy district attorneys listed include Troy Benson, James Demertzis, Benjamin Field, Jaime Stringfield and Brian Welch.

But a bar association official cautioned that not all "misconduct" listings are the fault of the prosecutor, such as when police may have withheld information.

Liroff's reported error in a 1996 first-degree murder trial led to the conviction being tossed out in 2007 for "failure to disclose exculpatory evidence." Liroff ran for a judgeship in 2008 but lost in a run-off election with San Jose attorney Diane Ritchie. He has no public record of discipline or administrative actions, according to the bar association.

Liroff responded to the Weekly by e-mail on Wednesday. The court did not make a finding of "prosecutorial misconduct," he said.

"Indeed, there is no such finding in the case. This case has a convoluted fact pattern.

"The claim advanced in the law review article wrongly oversimplifies and makes sensational something to serve the authors' purpose. A fair reading of the case demonstrates that their claim is not justified," he said.

The "Misconduct Study" looked at 4,000 state and federal appellate rulings regarding cases of prosecutorial misconduct between 1997 and 2009. Six hundred prosecutors were found to have committed acts of misconduct that ranged from technical errors to deception and hiding evidence.

For the full story, visit www.paloaltoonline.com.

Applicants sought for open-space board vacancy

Applications are being accepted for the vacant Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District board position caused by the death of longtime board member Mary Davey Oct. 2. The deadline to apply is Nov. 8.

Davey occupied the Ward 2 seat on the seven-member board, representing part of Palo Alto and all or part of Stanford, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Sunnyvale and a small portion of Santa Cruz County. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, a registered voter and reside within Ward 2, according to an announcement on the district's website, www.openspace.org.

The board is scheduled to appoint a replacement by Nov. 29.

There will actually be two openings for the Ward 2 seat: one for the one month remaining of Davey's existing term, ending on Jan. 2, 2011, and the second for a term beginning Jan. 3, 2011, and ending with the district's next general board election in November 2012. The board will decide in January whether to appoint a director or call a special election, according to Michelle Radcliff of the district staff.

Applications are available online or at the district offices at 330 Distel Circle, Los Altos.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

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