On Friday, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Michael A. Smith relieved attorney James Crawford and appointed Peter Scalisi as counsel for Colonies Four defendant Mark Kirk. After Kirk claimed he could no longer afford to pay for his for private defense attorney Paul Grech last October, the court first appointed a deputy public defender, who then declared a conflict, and next conflict panel attorney, James Crawford.
Crawford advised the court in April that due to 400,000 pages of discovery and 600 DVDs, he could not be ready for trial for one and a half to two years. At that hearing, Smith said he liked the idea of severing Kirk’s case from the other three defendants so that the tentative January trial date could become reality.
The district attorney’s office objected to severing the cases. Smith changed his mind yesterday and appointed new council. Scalisi said he can be ready for the January trial date as he was already familiar with the case.
Scalisi was admitted to the California State Bar in 1979. He maintained an unblemished record until Feb. 14, 2013, when he was placed on three years of probation by the State Bar. According to State Bar records:
“PETER WILLIAM SCALISI [#90131], 58, of Huntington Beach was suspended for two years, stayed, placed on three years of probation and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. The order took effect Feb. 14, 2013.
“Scalisi stipulated to three counts of misconduct in two matters.
“In the first, he was convicted of misdemeanor alcohol-related reckless driving. At the time of his arrest, he was on criminal probation for a prior misdemeanor DUI.
“In the second matter, Scalisi was paid $15,000 by a client to obtain a reduction of a felony conviction to a misdemeanor and to attempt to petition the governor for a criminal pardon. After Scalisi filed a motion to reduce the criminal matter to a misdemeanor, the client elected to withdraw the motion because he was worried the district attorney could try to reinstate his criminal conviction. However, he wanted to continue to seek a pardon.
“He was unable to contact Scalisi for several months and when they finally met, Scalisi told the client he was unlikely to receive a pardon and Scalisi would not submit such an application. Because of the work Scalisi had done, he considered his fees earned. He did not refund any money for more than four years, when he returned $15,000 to the client. The legal services agreement called for him to try to obtain a criminal pardon for his client.
“He stipulated that he failed to promptly refund unearned fees or respond to his client’s reasonable status inquiries.
“In mitigation, Scalisi had no discipline record in 33 years of practice, he cooperated with the bar’s investigation and he participated in civic service.”
This is just one more twist in the 5-year-old case once deemed the “biggest corruption scandal in San Bernardino County’s history.” The four defendants, Kirk, along with developer Jeff Burum, former San Bernardino Board of Supervisors chairman Paul Biane, and former San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors chief of staff Jim Erwin, are accused of an assortment of felonies in connection with the $102 million Colonies settlement. Prosecutors say the settlement was tainted by bribery, extortion and conspiracy.
On April 30, 2015, Judge Glenn Yabuno, who is hearing the claim of privilege claims separately from Smith, ruled that certain documents seized in an FBI raid of Burum’s property were to be turned over to the prosecution. On May 15, 2015, Burum attorneys, Stephen Larson and Mary Andrues, filed a new motion regarding privileged documents. The online public record is not clear which privileged documents are the subject of the new motion as both the FBI and the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office have served search warrants on the defense camp.
The next hearing in reference to privileged documents is June 15. The next Dispo/Reset date is June 30, 2015.