Gabby Petito: 911 Call “Hitting Her”

Here’s what the 911 caller said that led to the traffic stop of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie:

A male caller who was driving by Gabby and Brian outside the Moonflower store in Moab Utah on August 12, 2021 called 911 to “report a domestic disturbance…gentlemen slapping the girl, ran up and down the street, proceeded to hit her and they hopped into the car and they drove off…just drove off right on main street…”.

Listen to the 911 call here.

When people are so enraged or out of control as to be violent in public, it indicates a history of violence between the people involved. This is not an isolated incident. In this case, in my opinion, the violence probably escalated after the traffic stop and resulted in further harm to Gabby. Just as Gabby said to the officer during the traffic stop, “he wouldn’t let me in the car, until I calmed down..” Tragically, he may have just left her or violence led to her death.

Again, I hope this case results in better training for officers in domestic violence situations. Her crying at the scene, continued excuses on behalf of Brian and taking the blame are all red flags. Additionally, for example, did anyone ask why Gabby was anxious around Brian? Did anyone ask why Brian had to walk away from Gabby to cool off? Where did Brian learn to walk away?

Simply, my opinion, what say you?

Very sad.

See something, say something.

BTW, here’s an idea for a new federal law, from someone who used to prosecute DV cases, require 911 operators to play, repeat verbatim or transcribe the 911 call to the officer who is assigned the call. Had the officers known that witnesses saw Brian slapping and hitting Gabby, hopefully, the officers would have responded differently and Gabby would be alive today. Call it Gabby’s Law.

Gabby Petito: Police BodyCam Video of Traffic Stop

Tragically, 22 year old Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito’s remains were found today in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming after her being reported missing for weeks. She was on a van trip with her fiance Brian Laundrie. He returned home to Florida weeks ago in the Gabby’s van without Gabby. He decided not to talk to the police regarding Gabby’s whereabouts, although, he has a right to remain silent. As of last Tuesday, Brian is now missing. The cause of Ms. Petito’s death has not yet been determined.

Here is the full video from the officers bodycam of the traffic stop of Brian and Gabby weeks before she was reported missing. Traffic stop begins at 19:34 and was posted on youtube by Crime & Justice by Mentour lawyer. (posted here for educational purposes only).

As a former domestic violence prosecutor, may this video result in better training and response of officers in the handling of possible domestic violence situations (and Miranda rights training). Simply, my opinion.

May Ms. Petito rest in peace. My condolences to her family and loved ones.

Holmes Theranos Trial: Holmes Biggest Risk

Elizabeth Holmes, the CEO of Theranos, Inc, a Silicon Valley startup blood testing company previously valued at $9 billion dollars is currently on trial in federal district court in San Jose, California. Ms. Holmes, along with her ex-boyfriend and COO Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani are charged with 10 counts of wire fraud and 2 counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud with each count carrying a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison, $250,000 fine, 3 years supervised probation, and victim restitution. The defendants will be tried separately with Balwani’s trial scheduled to begin in January 2022.

In short, the prosecution alleges Holmes and Balwani defrauded investors and patients by misrepresenting that their Theranos blood testing technology and innovative methods for drawing blood, testing blood, and interpreting patient data worked, when it allegedly did not work. As reportedly claimed, with one finger prick of blood, Theranos could run up to 200 blood tests, revolutionizing the blood testing industry and a cost saving for patients. The indictment also alleges that the defendants misrepresented the company’s financial condition, approvals from government agencies to investors, and made false and misleading statements in marketing materials and to the media.

So, is this a “case about fraud, about lying and cheating to get money…out of time, out of money, Elizabeth Holmes decided to lie…”?, as stated by the prosecution in their opening statement. The defendants, reportedly, raised over $400 million from investors of which approximately $155 million is alleged to have been communicated/transmitted electronically (telephone, email, etc.) across state lines (ie. wire fraud).

Or, is this a case about another failed startup where “failure is not a crime”, as stated by the defense in their opening statement.

And…it appears the defense may argue Defendant Holmes, (and maybe her best defense and tragic, if true), was apparently controlled and abused by Defendant Balwani, thus, she lacked the intent to defraud, a required element of each alleged crime.

Yet, putting the defendant Holmes on the stand may be the biggest risk of her life. Her fate will lie in her hands. Holmes will have to convince the jurors (or a juror) that she was controlled by Balwani to the extent that she could not form the requisite intent to defraud. When I was a domestic violence prosecutor, many defendants took the stand to their detriment.

However, Holmes is not your average defendant. She is a charismatic driven committed risk taker who persuaded and convinced many sophisticated high profile tech leaders, venture capitalists, major healthcare corporations, to invest hundreds of millions in her company, and recruited former US defense secretaries, secretary of state, media giants, and politicians to staff her board of directors.

Will she take the risk? She needs one juror to believe her. Criminal cases require unanimous verdicts.

If Holmes doesn’t take the stand, after her attorneys in their opening statement portrayed Balwani as abusive, “had a temper, could lash out”, and “there was another side to it (their relationship) that most people didn’t see”, thus, implying that Holmes was also abused by Balwani, tends to leave the jury wanting to hear from Holmes. However, she has every right not to take the stand under the fifth amendment (right not to incriminate self) and the jury will be instructed not to consider her right remain silent in determining her guilt or innocence. Yet, in my experience, jurors tend to not look kindly on unproven assertions made in opening statement by either party, when they can be proven by evidence other than by the defendant. A doctor’s opinion as to whether Holmes was a victim of abuse may not be enough to convince a jury, especially, if it becomes a battle of the experts.

Ultimately, the jury will decide whether Defendant Holmes, the “girl genius”, as she has been nicknamed and celebrated as the world’s youngest billionaire, is a victim or a con-artist. Meanwhile, while the evidence unfolds, Holmes, like every defendant, is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Simply my opinion, what say you?

Here are some of the text messages between Balwani and Holmes, and my recent interview with San Francisco’s KRON4 news. You decide….

Additional Interviews: NewsNation, KRON4 San Francisco, FOX5 San Diego, KPIX CBS San Francisco, NBC Bay Area News, KRON4 San Francisco, KPIX5 San Francisco, KPIX5 San Francisco. Worth the watch!

Judicial Qualification Ratings Questioned by Harvard Study

According to a new study done by a Harvard PhD Stanford law graduate, with the support of the Harvard Center on American Political Studies, the American Bar Association’s rating system for judicial candidates is part of the problem why more women and minorities are not on the bench. The study examined 52 years of judicial ratings (1960-2012), findings published in New York Times on May 4, 2014:

(1) women and minorities are more likely than whites and males to receive lower ratings even when controlled for education, experience and partisanship, (2) Ratings are a poor tool for predicting judicial performance (no difference whether rated highly qualified or not) (3) and, taken together, the findings of potential bias and questionable usefulness point to a broken rating system. Read New York Times article on judicial ratings, “How Not To Pick Judges”. 

My thoughts…If we don’t let football players pick referees, why do we let attorneys pick judges? Conflict of interest, anyone?

And, if we don’t have a committee to “rate” the US President or other elected officials, why do we have bar associations and the ABA rating judicial candidates?

Simply my opinion, what say you?

Read post on 10 Things To Know About Judicial Elections.

San Diego Judicial Elections: 10 Things To Know

Given the lack of information about San Diego Judicial Elections, here are 10 things (11 actually) to know about judicial elections: (Disclaimer: I am currently running for Judge in San Diego County in the June 3rd Primary election.)

• Superior Court Judges are elected by the People. The Governor of California is allowed to temporarily appoint judges to vacated seats (i.e. retirement, death, appointment to federal bench, etc.) and then the judges are up for election at the end of the appointed term. (California Constitution, Article 6, Section 15.) Superior Court Judges serve a 6 year term.

• Superior Court Judges are elected county-wide not city-wide. For example, if you are a registered voter in San Diego County (i.e. Oceanside, Ramona, Cardiff), you can vote for Superior Court Judges. It is a non-partisan race so the political affiliation of the judicial candidates will not appear on the ballot.

• There are no contribution limits in judicial races. Individuals, business organizations, PAC’s, etc. can give as much and as often as they choose.

• Judges and judicial candidates are not allowed to publicly endorse or oppose non-judicial candidates (i.e. Senators, Supervisors, Mayors, City Council, etc.) (Code of Judicial Ethics, Canon 5)

• In San Diego County, there are approximately 131 Superior Court Judges. About 45 Superior Court Judges are up for election every 2 years with their name only appearing on the ballot when they are challenged. If they are not challenged, they are automatically elected to a new 6 year term after the November general election. If a Judge decides to withdraw from the election during the nomination period, then the seat becomes open for 5 calendar days to allow candidates to file and run for the open seat. If one candidate receives over 50% of the votes, they are elected in the Primary election. Otherwise, the top two vote getters face a runoff in the November general election and the top vote getter wins.

• To uphold impartiality, judges and judicial candidates are not allowed to make statements on issues, cases or controversies as such matters are likely to come before them while they are on the bench. (Code of Judicial Ethics, Canon 5).

• Superior Court is the trial court. Superior Court Judges generally preside over jury trials, bench (judge) trials, hearings, and motions on civil and criminal matters. Superior Court judgments, convictions and orders may be appealed to the California Court of Appeal, the California Supreme Court and may be heard by the US Supreme Court.

Each judicial race is designated a seat number (i.e. Seat #25). The seat number is just a random numerical designation assigned for ballot purposes. The seat number does not refer to a department, courthouse, or area of the county.

• A Superior Court Judge can be assigned to any division (i.e. civil, criminal, family law, probate, juvenile, etc.) The Presiding Judge determines the assignments and length of the assignment.

• Judicial candidate ratings are a poor tool for predicting judicial performance (no difference whether rated qualified or not), (2) women and minorities are more likely than whites and males to receive lower ratings which is part of the problem why fewer women and minorities are on the bench, (3) and, taken together, the findings of potential bias and questionable usefulness point to a broken rating system. (New York Times May 4, 2014 article, “How Not To Pick Judges” based on a new 2014 study supported by the Harvard Center on American Political Studies and 52 years of judicial ratings data (1960-2012).

• An attorney who is a US citizen, a registered voter and member of the California State Bar for 10 years may run for judicial office.

I think it’s important to provide information to you as judicial elections matter.

Simply my opinion, what say you?

Read post on judicial candidate ratings questioned by new 2014 Harvard study.

(Updated post 5/18/2014)