Bail Reduction granted

This morning in court, the same Judge who set bail for the Willow Springs maintenance crew at $1 million dollars each, reduced that bail to $50,000 each. The Deputy District Attorney agreed that bail should be reduced, given the lack of criminal histories by those accused. One DDA asked for and received a no contact order with the witness, as well as a stay away order from their own houses at the yard.

A gentle reminder to ALL community members, anything you say or do toward the witness or his family could be misconstrued and attributed to the defendants, thus resulting in them being tossed back in jail. Be kind in any contacts you may have, if you have any at all. Until this is resolved, we ALL must walk on egg shells for our friends and neighbors.

We learned very little about the charges themselves, today, as at the calendar call, or readiness calendar, on Wednesday, the public defender for one of the defendants continued it until next Friday, the 25th. I intend to be present, if possible.

Friday hearing for Cal Trans crew

I was in court yesterday for part of the hearing. Bail remains set at $1,000,000 each. Preliminary hearing remains set for Friday, May 18th at 10:00 in Judge Pamela Butler’s court room, although a challenge under Penal Code 170.6 seems likely to be filed by one of the five attorneys in the matter.

One evening anchor man from a local Monterey station was present, and asked to speak to Tom Worthington, Juliet Peck, or myself, but we were all too upset with the court’s refusal to consider anything the defense had to say about a bail reduction, to respond to the press.

Given the nature of these judicial proceedings, from the overbearing nature of the initial assault on the south coast, to allegations made by the DA in open court, to the court’s refusal to consider anything on behalf of the defendants, as a member of this community I feel stifled in what I can and cannot share on this or any other public forum. I just urge every one to keep an open mind until this case is concluded.

No Willow Springs Maintenance Crew means this section of the highway is no longer safe. Driving home from the North Coast today, Saturday, there was a minor slide south of Limekiln. There were quite a few rocks in the north bound lane, and a few in the south bound lane. There is no one for me to call or stop and see to let them know. This could a harbinger of things to come, not necessarily, but it could be a warning from Mother Nature.

Remember, there are many layers to most cases, this one in particular. Also, as an aside, Cal Trans is suing the estate of the dead bus driver and the tour company who employed him, for damage to a bridge out near Soledad, when the driver crashed into it, killing four French tourists, per a report in yesterday’s Pine Cone. Cal-Trans is suing for one million dollars. I have never heard of such a thing. Nice, huh?

A primer in Innocence

I sent a version of this to WildBigSur in response to Bill Monning’s comment, but Jack has a way of censoring me, and not posting my comments, so I wanted to share this here.

Please remember, we only have allegations at this point, and we only have a very narrow, and incomplete story. All these individuals are INNOCENT until they are either found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers, or they plead guilty to any possible charges, which may be much less than what they were arrested for. Family members and loved ones of those accused are reading the comments posted online at news sites, and it is adding to the pain they are already feeling. I have talked to several of them throughout the day and night, and they are in shock, pain, and reaching out to make sense of what is happening. Public comments make that harder.

My 31 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney for indigent clients has taught me that the initial charges are often times very exaggerated, and the charges actually filed by an attorney for the District Attorney’s Office may be less than what the police are asking for, and what is found true or admitted may be even less still. “Overcharging” is a common way to “force” a plea’bargain, which might not otherwise happen, and a way to keep defendants locked up in jail on outrageous bail amounts.

Be considerate and kind in your thoughts and comments. Unless you are on the jury with evidence from both sides presented to you, it is not up to us to judge.

Current and former Cal-Trans workers arrested

At 5 am this morning, per a non-employee woman who was staying at the Cal-Trans yard at Willow Springs maintenance Yard, she woke to find 5 police officers in her room. She was not arrested.

At about 9 am this morning, I got a call from Rock Knocker informing me that there were a huge number of MCSO and CHP officers at “the yard” and Gorda, and four additional officers parked at Radio Point. I left about an hour and a half later, and noted a lot of officers at the yard, but none at Gorda, and saw at least one at Radio Point. (I did not pull in and look behind the rock, like RK did.)I couldn’t stop and investigate, as I had a brief due today, which meant it had to posted by priority mail today from Cambria.

After lunch with RK, sharing information, making and receiving several phone calls, including one from RK (who left early to find out what was going on) I had enough information to know that something very unusual was going down, but I was still trying to piece it together.

RK told me that his landlord, a former Cal Trans employee had been arrested, and that all his tenants had been given 30 days to move, due to code violations. I made more phone calls. I had more information.

On the way home, I noted 3 CHP cars and their drivers in the Cal Trans yard and the gate open. This was 6:30 pm. I turned around, and when I got back, the gate was closed. My mail box is there, so I stopped anyway. The gate was not locked, and was swinging open, so I walked in. CHP Officer N. Ashby immediately approached me, so I introduced myself, and showed him my press credentials and started asking him questions. He confirmed that arrests were made. I asked for the names, and he went back to the other officers, and as I started to approach, he motioned for me to stay where I was. I did. After a few minutes, he came back with 6 8×10 computer print out of photos of 6 people – 5 current Cal Trans employees, and one former employee. Each had a name at the top of the photo, which he read to me as I read over his shoulder. He gave me the name and number of the PIO for the CHP to call, with the caveat that the PIO might have already left.

I rushed to a local land line, and he had gone home, but the woman who answered the phone suggested I call the MCSO, which I did. I finally tracked down someone who confirmed the 6 arrests, but could not confirm the charges, as at 7 pm, they were “being interrogated.” I made numerous other calls, spoke to a number of locals, and eventually got home around 8:30 pm. I had groceries to carry in, dogs to take care of, more phone calls to make, and eventually got a copy of the joint press release from Cal Trans and the CHP. (Thanks to Bert.) The press release indicates 4 current and 1 former employee were arrested, but the information both the CHP and the jail provided, listed six total names. There are only 6 current employees at the yard, so only the very newest hire was not arrested.

The charges listed on the press release, as to all individuals, are grand theft, conspiracy, and theft of public monies. It further indicates that the workers were falsifying documents to increase their over-time salaries, as well as stealing Cal Trans property.

If you get KSBY or KION, there will be much more later tonight, and given the potential for notoriety, I suspect there will be more coverage in the days to come.

ED COMMENT: For us down on the South Coast who know all these people, who have helped and been helped by these workers, it is a very sad day. It will affect our entire community for months to come, not to mention the eviction of a number of residents from their homes. As a criminal defense attorney for too many years, I would just ask everyone to remember that these individuals are innocent, until the state proves beyond a reasonable doubt otherwise. So, please, do not judge until you have heard the whole story.

LA Times Apple Pie Article

There is a great 2 page article about the arrest and the defense of Apple Pie Ridge by the Curtis’s with photos of Micah, Tyson, and Ross on this page:,0,3314737.story

More photos can be seen here:,0,7181154.photogallery

Ross is fast becoming a folk hero. If his dad were still alive, he’d write the screen play, and we’d have the movie in no time!!

While as I have posted in public forums, there are two sides to this issue, and thankfully, no one got hurt during the course of saving the Curtis property, I say, to quote Benjamin Franklin, “Those who trade freedom for security, deserve neither freedom or security.”

When I first got a copy of the 409.5 memo on 7/4, I called OES, and they had a Commander Teter of the MCSO call me back. When I got no satisfactory explanation about the issuance of the memo, other than to “educate” the Big Sur community about the power the MCSO had, I was furious. It was a holiday. Everything was closed. What could I do? The only places open were newsrooms. Having lived and worked in Monterey County, some of that in the justice system, I knew I needed to go outside of the county. I called the LA Times newsroom and the SF Chronicle newsroom. I posted something on Before it was removed, and probably rightly so, as it was posted as a “notice” and it wasn’t really “official,” as is required, Deborah Schoch, a staff reporter from the LA Times called. After speaking with her for some time, I got her phone numbers, and said I’d pass it on to a member of the Curtis family who was not in Big Sur, and if they wanted, they could pass it on to Micah and Ross.

Some people may think it is sensationalism, but I think it is what we need. We needed the spotlight shown on this unbelievable situation so that others, outside of the rather small Big Sur community were aware of what was happening here.