Santa Barbara prosecuting attorney Justin Greene was named in a complaint filed with the California State Bar late last month in which he was accused of willfully violating a direct order by Judge Thomas Anderle. The complaint was submitted by Eric Michael Santana, who in August 2012 was detained and searched by Santa Barbara police. Authorities suspected Santana might be about to tag the Pennywise Market, a known gang hangout and frequent graffiti target. The responding officer likened Santana’s posture to the market to “a painter approaching his easel.”
Santana was charged with resisting arrest because he laughed at the officer and then ran away after a search revealed he did not possess any tagging markers. Public Defender Sheerin Karimian argued unsuccessfully in front of Judge Frank Ochoa that the police lacked sufficient cause to stop Santana in the first place, and she subsequently appealed Ochoa’s ruling to an appellate panel of judges on the Santa Barbara bench.
When prosecuting attorney Justin Greene — a relative newcomer to the District Attorney’s Office with a reputation as a hard charger — sought to introduce evidence during the appeal that had not been included at the trial court, Judge Anderle explicitly instructed him he could not do so. Despite those instructions, Greene included that information in his written response to the appeal. Anderle and the rest of the panel chided Greene for doing so last September and also overruled Ochoa.
The appellate panel concluded that none of the information Greene sought to include would have made any difference had it been allowed. In particular, the panel took exception to Greene’s argument that because the responding officer couldn’t see anything in Santana’s hands at the time of the stop, that indicated Santana must be hiding something and was cause for a search. “The People’s circular logic would eviscerate the Fourth Amendment and render it meaningless,” they wrote. A spokesperson for the California State Bar said she could not confirm any such complaint was filed, nor could she comment on any particulars. District Attorney Joyce Dudley stated that the State Bar informed employees in her office on October 2 that no such complaint had been filed.