The story has been updated to reflect Livermore Mayor John Marchand's response.
The attorney for a 60-year-old sexual assault suspect recently placed under house arrest has criticized Livermore Mayor John Marchand saying his public letter that blasted the judge who made the decision to release her client from jail was not befitting an elected official.
Attorney Melissa Adams said she respected Marchand’s opinion to be frustrated and concerned that Judge Thomas Reardon ordered Gregory Paul Vien of Livermore to be sent home from the Santa Rita Jail with an ankle bracelet, but said his remark that Reardon showed “we can no longer rely upon judges to keep us safe” went too far.
“Democracy is a fragile thing,” Adams said. “We depend on it for its effectiveness, indeed survival, upon consent of the governed. Remarks that undermine public institutions, in general, damage the fabric of necessary public trust. Over the past four years, such attacks have become a tragic part of the public discourse.”
Marchand stated 99% of the feedback he has received for his letter supported him for speaking out for his community.
"It is unfortunate that Ms. Adams attempts to disparage my concerns by bringing in the discord and the divisiveness of national politics. She is trying to change the focus," Marchand said. "This is not about national politics. It is about the safety of my community. I am elected to protect my community and my community places its trust in me to do so."
In a letter posted to Facebook on May 1, Marchand accused Reardon of caring more about Vien’s health than Livermore residents’ security.
“What does this say to our officers on the front lines defending our community, removing predators from our streets when a judge like Reardon allows him to walk away free?” Marchand wrote. “Reardon is apparently more concerned about the safety of a suspected rapist than the safety of our community. His priorities are poorly aligned.”
Reardon released Vien on his own recognizance on April 24, setting aside a $2.5 million bail, after Adams argued that Vien had a medical condition that made him susceptible to the novel coronavirus behind bars.
For weeks, advocates for inmates have called for a reduction of the Dublin jail population to prevent spread of COVID-19. Hundreds of inmates held on primarily misdemeanors and nonviolent offenses have been released.
Adams said her motion included details of Vien’s “serious medical condition.”
“It was the failure to administer proper medication by jail staff, misadministration of medication by jail staff, failure to attend to the realities of his serious condition, coupled with exposure to an outbreak of the coronavirus at the jail that was presented, without opposing facts, to the court,” Adams wrote.
Reardon agreed to send Vien home to await his court proceedings, instead of keeping him in jail, she said.
Livermore police arrested Vien in November when DNA allegedly linked him to sexual assaults in Livermore and Union City in 1997.
Prosecutors charged Vien with multiple counts of sexual assault, along with special allegations that included kidnapping, use of a deadly weapon and having multiple victims. Vien has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which could send him to prison for the rest of his life.
In his letter, Marchand directly criticized Reardon for ordering Vien’s release.
“As the mayor of Livermore, I have to ask Judge Reardon, ‘What about the safety and well-being of my community?” he wrote, adding in an interview that the decision to release Vien was a “travesty.”
Marchand’s letter, which was posted and shared on social media, drew hundreds of comments, many critical of the judge. Adams said she received emailed threats.
In Adams’ response letter delivered to Marchand on Wednesday and emailed to several media outlets, including The Independent, the attorney said that Marchand bore the responsibility as an elected official of “upholding public trust in institutions — not just your own, but others, and not just from fair criticism, or occasional disagreement, but from the disparagement that weakens them.”
“National leaders have, over the past four years, sought to demonize and incite distrust for the press, the motives of opponents and of the judiciary,” Adams continued. “The effect is insidious, undermining democratic institutions and a way of life.”
Adams said it was fair to disagree with Reardon’s decision but not to make a sweeping condemnation of the judiciary.
Adams said she wrote the letter because judges are prohibited from commenting publicly, so Reardon could not respond himself.
“The integrity of judicial decision making — however humanly flawed it may be — must never be driven by public sentiment, favor or fervor,” Adams wrote. “An invitation to do so, even implicitly, is a mob call, one that resulted in threats to the safety of myself and my family.”