It’s probably been a memorable week for Thomas Mueller, who has practiced criminal law in Santa Clara County for 40 years.
On Wednesday, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Eugene Hyman granted a motion for factual innocence for Ramon Vasquez, a former murder suspect and Mueller’s client.
“It’s not often you’re able to get a finding of factual innocence, so when you do, you’re delighted,” Mueller said.
Also unusual, it seems, was the way Hyman granted the motion on Wednesday, with a lengthy soliloquy about justice, responsibility, and being true to himself and the tenets of his faith. The San Jose Mercury News, which posted the court transcript, described the remarks as “remarkably candid public comments about the judiciary.”
Hyman — without naming names — stood up for fellow Judge Andrea Bryan.
After Bryan dismissed a child sexual assault case last month, citing prosecutorial misconduct, District Attorney Dolores Carr said prosecutors would challenge her (free reg. req.) from hearing future criminal proceedings assigned to her courtroom.
“In reviewing the most recent political issues that have come to bear in our county, I look to my colleague, who is now a subject of much public debate and in some quarters ridicule, and wonder whether or not if I had faced similar circumstances, whether or not I would have the courage to do what I thought was right,” Hyman said, noting that he had no idea whether her decision was correct.
His reflections continue in the 12-page transcript, in which he praises both Mueller and deputy district attorney S. Michael Lee: “I’m not as concerned in terms of what colleagues might think of my decisions, nor am I as concerned in terms of what lawyers who appear before me think of my judgments, as I am concerned in terms of am I being true to what I was taught as a law student. Am I being true as to the tenants of my faith in terms of how I was raised by that faith?”