District Attorney Gascón Fights Court Ruling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2011

CONTACT:
Erica Terry Derryck, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167
ADA Seth Steward, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1014

DISTRICT ATTORNEY GASCÓN FIGHTS COURT RULING
Defendants Not Held to Answer on Felony Hate Crimes Charges in Assault on Transgender Woman Victim

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced today that he is disappointed in a judge’s decision to discharge hate crime allegations in a the case of a robbery and assault of a transgender woman and will fight to reinstate the allegations.

“We disagree with the judge’s decision in this case,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “The facts presented in Department 20 support the conclusion that the felony hate crime allegations should be heard by a jury. The victim has earned her day in court. The citizens of the City and County of San Francisco must be given an opportunity decide the outcome of this case. Singling out people because of who they are, is not who we are as San Franciscans. We will file this case as a felony hate crime in Superior Court and will fully litigate the judge’s ruling.”

Defendants Lionel Jackson (DOB 8/2/78, CN 11009138) and Maurice J Perry (DOB 9/4/73, CN 11009147) are charged with assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury in violation of California Penal Code Section 245(a)(1), second degree robbery in violation of California Penal Code Section 211, and violating the victim’s civil rights in violation of California Penal Code Section 422.6(a). The District Attorney’s Office has alleged the defendants committed the assault and robbery counts because of the victim’s perceived gender and sexual orientation in violation of California Penal Code Section 422.75(a). Defendant Jackson is also charged with possession of a controlled substance in violation of California Penal Code Section 11350(a).

The holding order was handed down late in the afternoon on Wednesday, June 22, 2011 by the Honorable Bruce Chan in Department 20 of San Francisco Superior Court following a preliminary hearing. Both defendants were held to answer on charges of assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury and second degree robbery. The judge certified the misdemeanor violation of the victim’s civil rights.

Despite the strong set of facts that were presented, the court did not hold the defendants to answer on the more serious felony hate crime allegations even though the motive elements needed to prove the misdemeanor civil rights violation are identical to the elements needed to prove the hate crime allegations.

“We stand with the District Attorney on this issue,” said San Francisco Human Rights Commission Executive Director Theresa Sparks. “These types of incidences are initiated and provoked by internalized bias and hate and we must all stand up to these crimes. If it becomes acceptable for one community to
continuously fall victim to hate then no one is really safe.”

According to the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing, on April 1, 2011, the defendants allegedly robbed the victim of her cell phone and assaulted her. After her phone was taken, the victim asked for it back and was punched several times. Epithets were directed towards the victim while she was assaulted. After the robbery and assault, the defendants were heard saying comments about the victim including, “I hate men dressed up like women.”

On April 5, 2011 the defendants were arraigned in Department 12. Both defendants plead not guilty to all counts and allegations. On Wednesday, May 25, 2011 the preliminary hearing began in Department 20. The cases are scheduled for arraignment on the felony information on Thursday, July 7, 2011 in Department 22.

San Francisco Police Inspectors Michael Wibunsin and Katherine Schwarz-Choy (Special Investigations Department) investigated this case. David Fujimoto is the victim witness advocate on the case. Victor Hwang is the Assistant District Attorney prosecuting the case.

###