The First District Court of Appeal has turned down [.pdf] a former Contra Costa County prosecutor's request that his private lawyer be appointed at county expense for his sensational sexual assault case.
Michael Gressett is charged with raping a former colleague in the Contra Costa DA's sex crimes unit. Following his indictment he requested that Daniel Russo, a Vallejo criminal defense attorney who had represented him for 10 months in pretrial matters, be designated his court-appointed counsel.
But Judge Carlos Ynostroza declined, instead ruling that Gressett would have to stick with a lawyer assigned from the Contra Costa conflicts panel, Michael Kotin.
Kotin is a retired chief assistant public defender of Contra Costa, and Gressett argued he could have conflicts of interest because the trial will likely include witnesses from the DA and public defender's offices.
Gressett cited the case of Symbionese Liberation Army defendants William and Emily Harris, but First District Justice Robert Dondero wrote that the case was "patently distinguishable" and that Ynostroza did not abuse his discretion by declining Gressett's request.