Andrew Domino has a few things to be thankful for. After 80 days in the clink in Frisco, his case was dismissed. That there was evidence that the accusation against him was a lie. But most importantly, that it happened in San Francisco. That’s because the Public Defender there is Jeff Adachi. That’s because his office is adequately funded. That’s because his staff is good. No, excellent.
From the Public Defender’s press release:
Andrew Domino, 25, was released from San Francisco County jail Tuesday after prosecutors dropped all charges against him. He lost his job and parental rights during his incarceration, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Eric Quandt.
Domino’s legal saga began Jan. 30, when his then-girlfriend reported he grabbed her throat during an argument. Police noted that the girlfriend had no signs of injury and declined medical treatment. Domino was arrested for misdemeanor domestic violence but remained out of custody.
Eight days later, the woman went to police with terrifying text messages she claimed were from Domino, including threats to tie her up naked and beat her to death in the back of a public housing complex, and to kill their infant child.
These are horrible threats, certainly damn good reasons to arrest Domino and prevent two murders. And not just murders, but murders of the “domestic” sort. Domino’s then-girlfriend, who ironically remains unnamed in the press release, was soon to be a “survivor.” Perhaps they would name a professorship after her, or pass a new law in her infant child’s name, enduring these “terrifying” text messages. Except for Public Defender Eric Quandt’s intervention.
But the defense investigation revealed the threatening messages had been sent from Pinger, an app that allows users to “ping” off a random phone number associated with their Gmail account. The sender used the address [email protected], raising red flags since Domino had no incentive to create a new email address only one letter off from his name.
Just stop at “defense investigation.” Before one can have a good, thoughtful defense investigation that picks up on such nuances as a misspelled email address, there has to be a defense investigation in the first place. That means the PD has to talk with his client, review the evidence, think, have the time to give a damn, then do something with the information at hand.
After significant investigation into the woman’s phone records, internet service provider, and email accounts, Quandt was able to prove the woman sent the threats to herself using a hidden account, then falsely reported the threats to police and lied on the stand during Domino’s preliminary hearing, where a judge held him to answer to the charges.
Being the victim of lies, of a false accusation, isn’t something to feel lucky about. Nor is spending 80 days in jail, or the consequential damage to his life.
“Mr. Domino’s life was turned upside down by a liar who believed she could use the criminal justice system to exact revenge,” Quandt said. “She almost got away with it, convincing prosecutors and judges that she was a victim. She had even been able to get victim services to set her up with housing benefits. Mr. Domino, however, nearly lost everything. He was close to graduating from an apprenticeship program that would have put him in a position to better take care of his infant child and family. Now, he and his baby are starting from square one.”
Why didn’t the police or prosecution do a little investigation to ascertain the accuracy of the allegation? That would have been politically unacceptable, since the accusation was made by a woman. They would be accused of victim blaming. They would be accused of treating the victim like a criminal. There could be marches and an editorial as to how the police hate women because they won’t believe them. Believe the “survivor,” the headline would scream.
And this same sensibility permeates the ranks of criminal defense lawyers, even public defenders, whose politics make them blind to their duty as lawyers. They would have done their jobs by negotiating the best possible plea that put Domino in prison, because they couldn’t bring themselves to question whether the woman complaining was a liar.
Prosecutors have not filed charges against the woman for her perjured testimony or filing a false report. Mr. Domino is prepared to seek all legal means available to him to ensure his former girlfriend cannot victimize anyone else, Quandt said.
What “legal means” Domino is prepared to seek is left vague. It’s not his place to prosecute a perjurer, but then, no one seems interested in doing so. And the perjurer’s name remains unsaid, because reasons.
That Quandt saw a problem with the accusations and went to work to ascertain that the claim was a set-up, a lie, not only speaks well of him as a defender, but as a lawyer of integrity. His duty to his client was never compromised by gender politics. It’s never said, nor should it be, whether Quandt is a feminist ally or believes all women when they don their victimhood mantle. It’s irrelevant. Quandt has a client to defend, and that’s what he did.
But had this perjurer done her deed in Tennessee, for example, Domino would have been screwed. Public defense there is a sham, where a warm body lawyer stands beside a defendant, giving him the best 12 seconds of defense possible, as the defendant is sentenced to forever. Or there’s New Orleans, where things are so bad that the Public Defender, Derwyn Bunton, has refused to cooperate in the warm body scam.
Does this make Andrew Domino the fortunate one? You bet it does, because all the stars aligned for him and he only lost 80 days of his life instead of 80 years. And this accusation will have to go into the false claims category, the ones that almost never happen, because Deputy Public Defender Eric Quandt did his job, and Public Defender Jeff Adachi enabled him to do his job.
Had they not, or had this happened elsewhere, the unnamed woman would have been held up as a shining example of victimhood. Yeah, Andrew Domino was damned lucky. That’s about as lucky as a male falsely accused by a woman, as a person who relies on public defense, gets these days.
H/T Sean Shopes