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Federal Lawsuit Claims Former Public Defender Committed Legal Malpractice

A lawsuit was filed today in federal district court that claims an attorney formerly employed by the Contra Costa county public defender’s office committed legal malpractice when he recommended that an 18-year-old high school student plead no contest to an allegation of forcible rape that was not supported by physical evidence.  That attorney is a current judge in Contra Costa Superior Court.

After the student entered that plea, he was released from jail but was required to register as a sex offender for more than 22 years.  During that time, the former high school student was often homeless and unemployed due to his requirement to register.  

About 14 years after the former high school student entered his plea, the alleged victim recanted her identification of that student as her assailant to the public defender attorney.  Despite the recantation, the office of the public defender did not seek relief for the former high school student for more than 7 years when the office filed a motion to vacate the conviction.

The young man’s conviction for forcible rape was vacated in September 2021 in a court order that declared his innocence.  Following the court order, a claim in the amount of $12.3 million was filed against Contra Costa county, however, the county rejected the claim in December 2021.

“In 1998, Jermaine Dickerson was accused of forcibly raping a fellow high school student.  Despite a lack of physical evidence that a rape had occurred, Jermaine was kept in county jail for more than 8 months.  And on the eve of his trial, the public defender assigned to his case recommended that Jermaine plead no contest to forcible rape,” stated civil rights attorney Janice Bellucci.  “In doing so, the public defender breached his duty of care to Jermaine.”

According to the lawsuit, the public defender also breached his duty of care to Jermaine when he failed to investigate Jermaine’s alibi as well as the accuser’s credibility.  Instead, the attorney told Jermaine that he faced 15 years to life in prison based in part upon the alleged victim’s crying during the case’s preliminary hearing.  The attorney also told Jermaine that he would be released from jail immediately f he entered a plea of no contest to the alleged rape.

The lawsuit was filed in federal district court based upon diversity because the plaintiff currently resides in Nevada.

Download PDFs of the complaint:

Complaint – CONFORMED – June 2022

Complaint – Exhibit A

Complaint – Exhibit B

Complaint – Exhibit C

Complaint – Exhibit D

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Should the accuser not be facing criminal and/or civil prosecution as well? They directly started everything that stole this person’s life.

This needs to be a Netflix documentary. Sort of reminds me of Making of a Murderer, in which all the ‘higher ups’ were engaged in covering up, and framing people for a crime, then later promoted to higher-up positions. Amazing that such a coward would be elevated to a “Judge.” Here I am, paying tons of money to the State of California, in state taxes, only to get the most shitty “public service” imaginable. Among the highest, if not THE HIGHEST, state tax in the entire country, yet we receive some of the shittiest public service. Then on top of this, California taxpayers are insulted with a multibillion dollar surplus.

Even if you don’t pay state tax, you’re still paying some of the highest sales tax across the nation. For what? So we can register as “sex offenders?”

There are many wrongly convicted people on the registries. How many is hard to say. Wrongfulconvictionsblog.org will have an updated annual report soon.

Almost all of these end in a plea. My lawyer had me take a no contest to an assault with intent even though I never assaulted anyone and they made up an assault story as well as a bunch of fake “evidence” that was disproved with my files.

He said if I didn’t take the plea I would get 15-45 years. I just turned 19 and felt like my life ended so I did what he suggested and took the plea. Now 15 years later I’m still regretting ever listening to him as with the no contest plea the prosecutor and police could make up whatever and it would become fact even though I had all the evidence to disprove it.

Maybe it was unusual 15 years ago (or maybe not), but public defenders doing nothing and advising to take whatever plea DAs offer is typical now, no matter what the circumstances are.

Funny, an old federal precedent from the 70s held that PDs must provide more than casual or perfunctory assistance and that lip service only isn’t sufficient. These days, a criminal defendant being represented by the public defender’s office is lucky to even get that.

Last edited 19 days ago by Dustin

A plea deal should not involve a life sentence.

The registry is punishment

I figured many are conivted this way. I was pressured by my defense lawyer to plead guity (military lawyer). Actual hospital own checks said i didnit do what i was charged with but i was young, dumb, and thought they were trying to help me. They even took my family to speak to the prosecutor the day of the court case just to have them pleading for me to plead. I went to prison but did not receive a dishonorable discharge. The military prison never could understand why. Even the judge asked me multiple times was i sure i wanted to plea and i said yes, then he shook his head. In my older age, i realized the judge was throwing hints not to but its 22 years too late…

What a crazy story. The fact the former public defender became a judge is actually not surprising, considering all of the corruption experienced from the “justice” system. The more a person is willing to “bat” for the system, and cover shit up, the more likelihood they get promoted to higher positions it seems.

Nonetheless, I hope Mr. Dickerson and Janice get paid BIG MONEY for this crap. Imagine getting disowned by your own family because they think you did something that you actually didn’t do, then having to live on the streets, branded as a “Registered Sex Offender,” experience by all that stress, and losing out on all the opportunities that life had to offer, because of an incompetent attorney (David Goldstein)—who was later elevated to become a “judge.” “Your Honor” was literally rewarded for doing a crap job SMH.

LOL the more I think about it, America is a huge scam. And again, I hope Janice and Mr. Dickerson get their millions. This is completely ridiculous I can feel my blood boil.

most people have no idea how hard it is sitting in county jail , whether it bt be 30 years ago or now days waiting for trial , going to court in a orange jump suit , with hateful eyes watching you , and knowing that back at the jail where people are a daily threat and the cops are part of that threat , and your dump truck not checking any of your story , ah yes picking the jury , oh what fun , the the judge reading your stacked charges to the jury and the judge telling the jury that if the think your guilty of one charge it is to be look at as guilt of all , then make you sweat for a month , and in that time your in many altercations, and then the deal comes , and going any place is better than the place your at , no one ever asking where is the physical evidence ! fear and poor representation along with bully cops/criminals make suspected registrys a target , inside and out , ! so I ask why is this registry allowed ? how is it not a constitutional violation on a giant scale ? its plan to see this is a life sentence that have already payed their dues , heck we are open season to what ever fruit loop ,

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