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Notable Cases and Press Coverage

In People v. Jamal Trulove, Mr. Zilversmit obtained a reversal of Trulove’s murder conviction and sentence of 50 years to life. At his new trial, Trulove was acquitted and exonerated. He then sued the police for framing him and was awarded $13 million. Trulove paid tribute to Mr. Zilversmit and his trial lawyers in an article and by tattooing the names of all his lawyers on his torso [link to photo].

In United States v. McIntosh, Mr. Zilversmit won a writ and convinced the Ninth Circuit to hold that medical marijuana dispensaries, growers and patients are immune cannot be prosecuted in federal court so long as they comply with state medical marijuana laws. This important holding set a precedent that has been followed nationwide and is reported here, here and here. The oral argument itself can be viewed here.

In People v. Tom, Mr. Zilversmit obtained the reversal of a vehicular manslaughter conviction where the prosecutor improperly used Mr. Tom’s silence as proof of his guilt. Although the California Supreme Court initially ruled against Mr. Tom, the Court sent the case back to the Court of Appeal, and Mr. Zilversmit convinced that Court to reverse the conviction. Mr. Tom’s case was later dismissed. The case was reported here, here, and here.

In United States v. Baires Reyes, Mr. Zilversmit successfully argued that the "independent source" exception to warrant requirement did not extend to items that had been removed from house before warrant was subsequently obtained. The oral argument itself can be viewed here.

In Dow v. Virga, Mr. Zilversmit successfully argued [link https://jonathanturley.org/2013/09/09/ninth-circuit-reverses-federal-judge-who-ruled-that-false-statement-of-prosecutor-in-closing-argument-was-harmless/ ] a federal writ of habeas of habeas corpus where the prosecutor lied to the jury about what occurred at the line up. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state court had unreasonably denied Dow’s appeal, and reversed Dow’s conviction. His case was later dismissed. The oral argument itself can be heard here [link https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/view.php?pk_id=0000010418 ].

In People v. Brown, Mr. Zilversmit is successfully expanding the reach of the new statute which eliminated the felony murder rule. [link https://www.sfchronicle.com/local-politics/article/Golden-Gate-Bridge-death-Breed-s-brother-might-14820523.php# ]

In United States v. Sandoval-Mendoza, Mr. Zilversmit obtained a reversal [link https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2006/12/28/hayward-man-to-receive-new-trial/ ] of a large drug-trafficking conspiracy. The oral argument itself can be heard here [link https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/view.php?pk_id=0000020691 ].

In In re Marcus W., Mr. Zilversmit successfully brought a writ to establish that juveniles in transfer hearings have the right to challenge the reliability of the evidence presented, and that transfer hearings must be based only on reliable evidence. Mr. Zilversmit successfully kept Marcus in juvenile court and later won his acquittal of murder charges [link https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Teen-acquitted-in-fatal-S-F-shooting-2760170.php]. It was the first published opinion reversing a transfer decision in San Francisco in almost twenty years.

In Lim v. Superior Court, Mr. Zilversmit won a writ of mandamus [link https://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov/search/case/dockets.cfm?dist=0&doc_id=1795772&doc_no=S064030&request_token=NiIwLSIkTkg%2FW1BRSCNdXE5IUFA0UDxbJSNeRzlTMCAgCg%3D%3D ] in the California Supreme Court which ordered the San Francisco Superior Court to dismiss his client's misdemeanor case due to a double jeopardy violation.

In People v. Brown, Mr. Zilversmit won a motion for new trial on the murder charge in the Golden Gate Bridge murder case [link http://www.fogcityjournal.com/news_in_brief/napoleon_brown_retrial_060311.shtml ]. The grant of a new trial was upheld on appeal.

In People v. Podaras, Mr. Zilversmit won a misdemeanor appeal in an alleged assault case at a dog park. After winning the appeal, Mr. Zilversmit won a motion to dismiss the charges. Eventually, Mr. Podaras was also exonerated [link https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/casedetail.aspx?caseid=5127 ].

In United States v. Rubalcaba et al, Mr. Zilversmit took on the FBI’s investigation of a prison gang and filed a motion to dismiss the charges based upon the government informant’s complicity in murder and drug trafficking. The case was reported here [link https://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Prison-gang-case-puts-role-of-FBI-informants-2547459.php ], and here [link https://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Prison-gang-case-puts-role-of-FBI-informants-2547459.php ].

In United States v. Rubalcaba et al, Mr. Zilversmit took on the FBI’s investigation of a prison gang and filed a motion to dismiss the charges based upon the governmental misconduct which is reported on here [link https://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Prison-gang-case-puts-role-of-FBI-informants-2547459.php ] and here [link https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/lizard-is-a-rat/Content?oid=1075585&showFullText=true ].

Mr. Zilversmit also obtained a hearing into allegations of juror misconduct in the Dorothea Puente case, in which Mrs. Puente was convicted of several counts of murder in connection with seven bodies found buried behind her Sacramento boarding house. [link http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2002-06-05/article/12436?headline=Woman-convicted-of-killing-three-tenants-may-be-let-go-from-prison--The-Associated-Press- ].

As an associate at Riordan and Rosenthal, Mr. Zilversmit worked with Mr. Riordan to overturn the conviction in the infamous George Franklin "repressed memory murder case"[link https://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/05/us/judge-upsets-murder-conviction-focused-on-repressed-memory.html ] and succeeded in garnering dismissal of the charges after the case was sent back for retrial. [link https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1996-07-03-mn-20778-story.html ]. Franklin was later exonerated. [link https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/casedetail.aspx?caseid=3221 ].

Mr. Zilversmit also successfully appealed a writ of habeas corpus to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, obtaining a reversal of a San Francisco murder conviction. [link https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F3/332/587/550438/ ].

Additionally, Mr. Zilversmit worked with Mr. Riordan to challenge the convictions of the owners and executives of Center Art Galleries - Hawaii, who were charged in the "Salvador Dali art fraud scandal." [link https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1034746.html ].

Mr. Zilversmit also worked with Mr. Riordan and Mr. Rosenthal to overturn the murder conviction for “Billionaire Boys Club” defendant Ben Dosti. When the case was sent back for retrial, Dosti accepted a plea to a reduced charge for time-served and was freed from prison. [link https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2000-nov-07-mn-48401-story.html ].”

Published Cases

US Supreme Court

  • United States v. Shabani (1994) 513 U.S. 10 (co-counsel with Dennis Riordan; affirming drug conspiracy convictions).

California Supreme Court

  • People v. Hernandez (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1095 (California Supreme Court affirming an attempted murder/life sentence conviction).
  • People v. Tom (2014) 59 Cal.4th 1210 (opinion reversing a manslaughter conviction reversed and remanded and subsequently reversed again by Court of Appeal).

9th Circuit

  • United States v. McIntosh (9th Cir. 2016) 833 F.3d 1163 (reversing denial of injunction to prohibit US Dept. of Justice from spending money to prosecute a medical marijuana dispensary).
  • United States v . Baires-Reyes (9th Cir. 2018) 750 Fed.Appx. 548 (holding that the "independent source" exception to warrant requirement did not extend to items that had been removed from house before warrant was subsequently. obtained)
  • Dow v. Virga (9th Cir. 2013) 729 F.3d 1041 (granting a federal writ of habeas corpus and overturning a California robbery conviction).
  • United States v. Sandoval-Mendoza (9th Cir. 2007) 472 F.3d 645 (trial and appellate counsel; reversing federal drug trafficking convictions).
  • United States v. Baras (9th Cir. Dec. 14, 2015) 624 Fed.Appx. 560 (trial and appellate counsel; affirming tax convictions).
  • Beltran v. Knowles (9th Cir. 2005) 121 Fed.Appx. 182 (granting writ of habeas corpus and vacating state drug trafficking conviction ).
  • Robertson v. Pichon (9th Cir. 2017) 849 F.3d 1173 (denying habeas in DUI case).
  • Brown v. Attorney General (9th Cir. 2016) 650 Fed.Appx. 434 (affirming denial of habeas writ in armed robbery and carjacking case).
  • Williams v. Schwarzenegger (9th Cir. 2011) 461 Fed.Appx. 621, cert denied (2012) 133 S.Ct. 140 (denying a writ of habeas corpus to a prisoner challenging a denial of parole).
  • Diggs v. Pliler (9th Cir. 2008) 289 Fed.Appx. 152 (affirming denial of writ of habeas corpus in murder conspiracy/life sentence case).
  • United States v. Beasley (9th Cir. 2009) 357 Fed.Appx. 860 (affirming denial of motion to reduce crack cocaine sentence).
  • United States v. Mohsen (9th Cir. 2009) 587 F.3d 1028, cert denied (2010) 131 S.Ct. 200 (co-counsel with Dennis Riordan; affirming convictions for fraud and obstruction of justice).
  • Ho v. Carey (9th Cir. 2003) 323 F.3d 587 (co-counsel with Dennis Riordan; granting habeas and vacating California murder conviction).
  • United States v. Mett (9th Cir. 1995) 65 F.3d 153 (co-counsel with Dennis Riordan; affirming denial of motion to set aside convictions in Dali art fraud case).
  • Franklin v. Duncan (N.D. CA 1995) 884 F.Supp. 1435, aff?(TM)d (9th Cir. 1995) 70 F.3d 75 (co-counsel with Dennis Riordan; granting writ and vacating California murder conviction).
  • United States v. Luca (9th Cir. 1999) 183 F.3d 1019 (co-counsel with Dennis Riordan; reversing sentence).

California Court of Appeal

  • Marcus W. v. Superior Court (2002) 98 Cal.App.4th 36 (reversing finding of unfitness for juvenile court and holding that fitness decision s must be based upon reliable evidence in murder case).
  • Batiste v. Superior Court (1992) 4 Cal.App.4th 460 (co-counsel with John Scott; a ffirming denial of challenge to trespassing statute).
  • People v. Superior Court (Jorge C.) (1990) 4 Cal.App.4th 460 (co-counsel with John Scott; a ffirming denial of challenge to trespassing statute).