Update: Justice Department to oppose Lochner [Loughner]
trial transfer to San Diego
JANUARY 17, 2011
BY: BONNIE RUSSELL
...When San Diego judges are convicted of bribery, it’s in p-a-i-r-s.
The set up:
Two judges (G. Dennis Adams, and James Malkus) and one attorney (Patrick Frega)
were caught in multiple crimes. Nothing sexy. Just the usual racketeering stuff.
Cue Judicial Wrist Slap
Enter U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie, who huffed and puffed and then
sentenced just about the lowest possible prison sentences possible for all three.
Judge Rafeedie’s wrist slap was: two years and nine months for former Judge James
Malkus, and three years and five months for former Judge G. Dennis Adams and San
Diego attorney Patrick Frega.
Cue legal columnists
Legal columnist Peter Kay checked with a, “This was a dark day, but thank goodness
corruption ended ” column. Presumably he was sincere.
Cue Sunset - Media fades.
However, post-conviction was the first time the Dennis Adams case began to get
interesting. Earlier, i.e. when Adams saw the handwriting on the wall, he divorced his
wife Barbara Gamer; a retired San Diego Superior Court Judge. Unlike most divorces,
it was uncommonly friendly. So friendly Adams transferred all his assets to her. People
said Adams did so out of guilt and shame.
(Turns out, transferring assets is a time-honored practice. Former San Diego Judge
DeAnn Salcido did the same thing after her husband was sued in a real estate fraud
case. Details here.) Salcido was thrown off the bench for her behavior for using her
courtroom to audition for a TV reality show.
Barbara Gamer fled moved from San Diego. Adams was sent to prison in Hawaii.
(Former San Diego Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham is serving his time, in
North Carolina. Presumably for health reasons.)
Cue Prison Programs
Early in his incarceration Adams, who was known not to drink, sought treatment for a
sudden burst of alcoholism. He entered and completed a prison based, alcohol rehab
program. Upon completion of the program, Adams was qualified for house arrest.
As such and by now thankful for alcoholism; Dennis Adams spent nearly half of his
sentence in a private home in Hawaii.
How lucky is Dennis Adams?
Dennis Adams wasn't just lucky. He was smart, too.
Who owned the home?
Barbara Gamer. Dennis Adams’ ex-wife. Relaxing in Hawaii, happily enjoying her own
state judicial, pension. And now dear reader, the beginning of the end.
Back to court.
Upon release, Adams sued the state for back pension benefits which were cribbed
from during the time while doing “hard-time.”
Love also figures in my favorite San Diego Family Court case. S. Michael Love that is.
Someone once asked about my favorite divorce. Perhaps because I've been detailing
how government - specifically Family Court - fails at all levels in its duty to protect, up
to and including murder - (while providing many with a hefty income) for a decade. So
the question about my favorite divorce got me thinking. But only for a moment.
Just seconds in, I chose my favorite divorce. Make that my hands-down favorite,
It involves an attorney. Not just any attorney, but a multi-millionaire, San Diego
Because Frank got hosed.
Rogozienski's divorce remains my favorite not because he's a bad guy. Frank's
divorce is my favorite because he got hosed so openly, in such a typical San Diego,
ho-hum - this happens all the time, kind of way. No one batted an eye.
Well, except for Frank, who blinked several times.
It happened this way.
S. Michael Love of McDouglas, Love, Eckis, Boehmer & Foley was representing
Frank's wife, Shirley Rogozienski, during Shirley and Frank's divorce.
Love offered the judge in their divorce, Judge Pro Tem, James D. Allen, a stake in a
time-share property the Rogozienskis owned in Warner Springs, California.
Love made the offer while Allen was presiding over the Rogozienski's divorce.
S Michael Love is generally named as a big San Diego whup Who's Who in family law
in San Diego and very active in the bar. Allen accepted the "gift." The case dragged
on and then Frank began losing routine motions.
Then his prenup went south.
As Frank told reporters, it wasn't until after Allen was asked if he had anything he
wanted to disclose and didn't exactly answer that Frank became concerned.
Disclosure is routine for a judge. Even temporary, pro-tem judges.
So Frank began noodling around and eventually discovered the time-share property
transfer to Allen, gratis.
And was furious. Considering the stocks the Rogozienskis owned were valued at over
20 million, and his prenup was toast, ABC got interested, too.
Frank appealed various divorce rulings and additionally filed suit in state court against
Allen and Love.
Unfortunately for Frank though, the case against Love and Allen landed in front of
Judge Joan Lewis.
To the surprise of no one who follows Judge Lewis, she didn't have a problem with
Love, the attorney for Shirley Rogozienski offering Allen the judge in her divorce case,
free property during the time Allen was presiding over the divorce.
Nor did Judge Lewis have a problem with James D. Allen accepting the free property,
(Does this tell you a little something about the San Diego Courts?)
The good news for Frank was, being a millionaire he could afford to appeal Lewis's
ruling. And seeing as Judge Lewis is one of San Diego's most reversed jurists Frank
did so in a heart beat.
The Court of Appeal reversed Judge Lewis, in part.
The suit later bounced to Federal court, and is now back again in state court.
Meanwhile, the State Bar began trying to ding both James D. Allen....and S. Michael
This has been going on since 2003. Imagine if children were involved.
Every couple of years I call Frank to ask him how it's going. He answers,
I wonder about people who lack funds to appeal San Diego's brand of ho-hum
corruption. But Frank Rogozienski's divorce remains my favorite as it so clearly
demonstrates how San Diego Family Court works.
But San Diego federal court judges, especially Judge Burns aren't like San Diego's
Family Court, or civil court judges such as G. Dennis Adams, and another convicted of
Having attended the sentencing of Cunningham, I witnessed a clear-eyed, thoughtful
jurist in Judge Larry Burns.
Loughner’s Judge Makes Conservative Plea For Gun Control
DECEMBER 20, 2012
Larry Alan Burns, the federal district judge in San Diego who just last month
sentenced Tuscon shooter Jared Lee Loughner to seven consecutive life terms plus
140 years in federal prison, is no darling of the gun control movement.
Burns is a self-described conservative, appointed to the bench by President
George W. Bush, and he agrees with the Supreme Court’s decision in District of
Columbia vs. Heller, which held that the 2nd Amendment gives Americans the right to
own guns for self-defense. He is also a gun owner.
But while sentencing Loughner in November, Burns questioned the need for high-
capacity magazines like the one Loughner had in his Glock, and said he regretted how
the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was allowed to lapse in 2004. On Thursday,
reacting to last week’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., Burns publicly called for a
new assault weapons ban “with some teeth this time,” in an op-ed published by The
Los Angeles Times...
|San Diego Education Report
Judges from everywhere
Judges G. Dennis Adams and James Malkus convicted
of fraud and racketeering, and Judge Michael Greer
resigned and entered a guilty plea
Commission Probing Three Judges in S.D.
April 10, 1992
MARK PLATTE and LEONARD BERNSTEIN and H.G. REZA
LOS ANGELES TIMES STAFF WRITERS
SAN DIEGO — The state Commission on Judicial Performance is investigating whether
three San Diego County judges gave favorable treatment to a prominent local
attorney who provided them gifts over several years.
Two of the San Diego County Superior Court judges awarded multimillion
dollar verdicts to clients of attorney Patrick Frega, who took the unusual step of
asking that jury trials be waived in both cases so the judge alone could determine the
size of the award.
The verdicts and the relationships between Frega and Judges Michael I.
Greer, James A. Malkus and G. Dennis Adams are under scrutiny by commission
authorities who are visiting San Diego this week.
The commission Thursday interviewed a former Frega associate about whether Frega
may have telephoned Greer to ask that a certain case be assigned to a particular
judge. The attorney, George Manning, said he was present at a meeting at which
Frega telephoned Greer and appeared to ask for a special assignment in the case.
The two investigators from the state Commission on Judicial Performance also are
raising questions about a 1989 boat ride around San Diego Bay on which Greer,
Adams, Malkus and Superior Court Judge Barbara Gamer were Frega's guests along
with attorneys, law clerks and others during which cocktails and hors d'oeuvres were
The commission is charged with investigating complaints of judicial misconduct and
making recommendations to the state Supreme Court, which has final authority over
removing or reprimanding a judge.
One case involving Frega and Malkus prompted Bank of America attorneys to ask the
Superior Court Thursday to recuse Malkus from a
tentative October, 1991, verdict in which he awarded a San Diego truck dealership $4
The owner of the dealership, Norm Pressley, sued the bank over a loan it made and
then later recalled.
Bank attorneys thought it unusual that Frega waived a jury trial in order to ask Malkus
to decide the case. Normally, plaintiffs seek trials by juries, who are generally more
likely to give higher money awards, Bank of America spokesman Peter Magnani said.
In 1985, Malkus reported on financial disclosure forms that Frega had given him $450
worth of gifts, including a charity dinner at St. Vincent de Paul and the use of Frega's
The information was never passed along to Bank of America attorneys, a court
Security Pacific Bank attorneys and commission investigators are questioning a similar
case in 1986, in which Superior Court Judge Adams ordered Security Pacific National
Bank to pay $5 million to a former San Diego car dealer who alleged that the bank's
fraudulent business dealings caused him to lose dealerships in San Diego and Los
Just as in the Bank of America case, attorney Frega asked Adams to waive his client's
right to a jury trial. Frega had contributed the use of his computer to Adams for a book
collaboration, which the judge valued at $1,400.
Greer, Malkus and Adams did not return calls Thursday for comment.
Frega, said an attorney familiar with the case, has "turned contract disputes into fraud
(litigation). From the banks' standpoint, he has taken a negative loan situation and
made his client millions."
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The attorney called Frega "a very successful and aggressive lawyer who has made a
lot of money representing failed auto dealers in lawsuits against banks."
Manning, a past associate of Frega, said he told two commission investigators
Thursday that he was present at a meeting when Frega telephoned Judge Greer and
appeared to ask that a particular case be assigned to a specific judge.
Manning said he also told the investigators that Frega may have been asking Greer
for his thoughts on a case that Greer would later have to assign to a judge.
"I got the impression he was very cozy with this judge, and he was asking for some
special assignment or something like that," Manning added. He said that the
telephone call occurred in "1988 or 1989" but that he could not remember the details
of the case or the judge involved.
Manning said he remembers being "flabbergasted" that Frega would have a private
conversation with Greer about any upcoming case.
"He just picked up the phone and called right through to the judge about that
particular case," said Manning, who resigned from the the firm in 1989 after he
refused to try a case.
According to financial records filed by the judges, Frega gave Greer $1,520 in gifts
between 1986 and 1991 in the form of a golf bag, sweaters, lunches and fruit baskets.
In August, 1990, Greer reported a $7,500 gift from the Los Angeles Rams
football team, which paid for a one-week trip to Berlin for Greer and his wife
to watch a National Football League exhibition game.
Friendships within the tightknit legal community are not uncommon. But the California
Code of Judicial Conduct warns that judges should not "allow their families, social or
other relationships to influence their judicial conduct or judgment."
Ex-Judge Sentenced in San Diego Bribery Case
Courts: Michael Greer gets three years probation and avoids prison term. His helpful
testimony and poor health are cited.
February 07, 1997
Los Angeles Times
SAN DIEGO — Once he was a dominant and respected presence on the San Diego
Superior Court--known for his hard work, confident manner and booming voice.
But on Thursday, former Superior Court Judge Michael Greer--now sick,
disgraced and described in court papers as suicidal--stood before a federal judge
and struggled to take responsibility for "this incredible disaster" that led him to plead
guilty to taking bribes from a flamboyant trial attorney.
In the end, U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie sentenced Greer, 63, to
three years probation, accepting a recommendation from federal
prosecutors to spare him from a prison sentence.
Prosecutors agreed to make such a recommendation in exchange for
Greer's testimony on fraud and racketeering charges against
attorney Patrick Frega and former Superior Court Judges G.
Dennis Adams and James Malkus.
On Wednesday, Rafeedie sentenced Frega and Adams to 41
months in prison and Malkus to 33 months.
Rafeedie said he doubted that prosecutors could have convicted Frega, Adams and
Malkus without Greer's testimony, which he described as "frank, honest and
At his sentencing Thursday, Greer said: "Early on I recognized Mr. Frega for what he
was, but I did not have the courage to put an end to the problem before any further
damage occurred. There has not been a day in the last several years that the horror
I created is not on my mind and eating away at my insides."
In pleading guilty, Greer admitted helping Frega win cases by providing inside
information, devising legal strategies and steering the cases to "friendly" judges.
Before his resignation in 1993 amid an investigation by the state Commission on
Judicial Performance, Greer was one of the preeminent judges on the local bench
and one of the few to enjoy a statewide reputation. In the weeks before his 1996
indictment, he attempted suicide by slashing his wrists.
A graduate of UCLA Law School, Greer had a civil practice and was active in
Democratic politics, including the presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy,
before former Gov. Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr. named him to the bench, where he
served for 17 years.
At a time when court systems in other counties were becoming gridlocked, Greer
devised a "fast track" method to keep the San Diego courts from being stymied by
too many lawsuits and too few judges. He was able to persuade warring parties to
settle high-stakes civil litigation without going to trial.
He successfully pressured the governor to help bail out an overworked legal system.
He lectured law students and helped reporters understand legal procedure and
And after his peers elected him presiding judge, he had even
greater power to force settlements on reluctant civil litigants
or to direct a case to the judge of his choosing.
Greer admitted misusing that power in exchange for $75,000
worth of bribes from Frega. Assistant U.S. Atty. Phillip L.B.
Halpern said Greer's testimony "revealed the dirty little
secrets that had plagued this town for a long time."
Rafeedie said that in his sentencing, he was swayed by warnings from Greer's
doctors that he might not survive a prison term. Greer suffers from heart problems,
depression, diabetes, ulcers, prostate trouble, skin cancer and high cholesterol.
"I don't want to impose a death sentence on the man--his condition is fragile
enough," Rafeedie said.
During the judicial corruption trial, Greer testified that he struck up a friendship with
Frega that soon ripened into an "uncle-nephew" relationship. Frega was soon
lavishing gifts on him and his family: computers, car repairs, vacation getaways,
membership in an athletic club and other items.
Greer testified that at first, he was able to convince himself that he was not doing
anything wrong. But he said that when he drove a Mercedes given to him by Frega,
he had a "sick feeling" and knew he had been corrupted.
Rafeedie said he hoped the public's faith in the local courts has not been
"I think this is an aberration in this district because I believe judges in the San Diego
Superior Court are honest and honorable people," Rafeedie said. "One of my fears
about this kind of case is that people will say: 'This is par for the course.' People
should not judge all members of the bar and bench by this case."
Greer told Rafeedie that the case has left him with mountainous debt, that he and his
wife are being forced to sell their home to pay creditors and that he feels "exiled"
from his profession.
"People have to understand that Judge Greer is basically a ruined human
being," said Robert Brewer, Greer's lawyer.
In 2016 Greer family still has a big influence on San Diego
In 2016, disgraced Judge Michael Greer seems to have had the last laugh:
his daughter and son-in-law are judges in San Diego Superior Court.
Greer's daughter Keri Greer Katz is being challenged in 2016 by Carla
Keri Greer KATZ, Judge Dept. F3 Family Court Family
KATZ, AARON H. - Judge Dept. J8 Juvenile Court