Alright, a street fight almost broke out in State Bar Court this week during the trial of Santa Clara County prosecutor Benjamin Field.
There has been an undercurrent of tension throughout the proceedings, in which Field is accused of misconduct in courtrooms. But words started flying on Wednesday when Field’s attorney, Allen Ruby, tried to present a witness that State Bar Supervising Trial Counsel Donald Steedman thought hadn’t been properly vetted as an expert.
“I shouldn’t have to face an expert witness for the first time on cross-examination without notice,” Steedman told State Bar Court Judge Patrice McElroy. “We gave Mr. Ruby advance notice of who we were calling. This is a surprise witness.”
“Basically,” he said later, “it’s an ambush kind of litigation tactic.”
Ruby, a partner in San Jose’s Ruby & Schofield, didn’t take Steedman’s comments lightly, arguing that the witness — Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Dana Overstreet — would testify about Field’s character as well as an expert on sexually violent predators (an issue involved in one of the cases in which Field is accused of acting inappropriately).
“As usual,” Ruby said, “the State Bar is caught up in being all mad.”
Judge McElroy proposed a solution by which Overstreet would be dismissed Wednesday and then State Bar prosecutors would depose her as an expert before she testifies later on.
“They don’t want to take a deposition,” Ruby said about Steedman and State Bar Deputy Trial Counsel Cydney Batchelor. “All they want to do is argue.”
These were a couple of kettles wanting to boil over long ago.
— Mike McKee