Legal Insurrection readers may recall that Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, an illegal immigrant who had been deported numerous times and was a convicted felon, was acquitted of murder by a San Francisco jury in the July, 2015 fatal shooting of Kate Steinle while she was walking along the city’s famous pier with her father.

The small solace that many of us had after this travesty of justice was that the federal government immediately unsealed an arrest warrant that included violations related to the charges of a felon in possession of a firearm, involuntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon. He was remanded into the custody of the U.S. Marshals to be transported to the Western District of Texas pursuant to the arrest warrant, and remains incarcerated.

Garcia-Zarate is now suing the federal government. His lawyers say additional charges against him are “vindictive.”

Zarate claims the federal government’s prosecution of him is ‘vindictive’ and violates his constitutional rights.

He argues that it violates the Double Jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment which protects a person from being prosecuted twice for the same crime if no new evidence has emerged.

It does not protect defendants who have been acquitted at a state level from facing federal charges, however under the Dual Sovereignty Doctrine, so long as the second prosecution is not vindictive.

‘Although the charges in this case are brought forth by a different sovereign than the original trial, that, in and of itself, does not negate the vindictive nature of this prosecution,’ Zarate’s lawyer says in the suit.

According to the motion filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, Garcia-Zarate’s attorneys (J. Tony Serra and Maria Belyi) claim that federal agencies colluded with the San Francisco police, district attorney’s office, and sheriff’s office.

Serra wrote that the national attention of the case turned his client into a focus of anti-immigration politicians. According to the motion, the federal charges are not valid . . . because Trump!

“This case was highly publicized, both locally and nationally,” Serra wrote in the motion. “Almost immediately after the death of Ms. Steinle, then presidential candidate Donald Trump began to use Mr. Garcia-Zarate as the symbol of the dangers of illegal immigrants and the need for a wall between the United States and Mexico.”

Yes, President Trump’s tweets did help publicize the case. The elite media was not eager to share this tragic story during the turbulent 2016 election cycle, and the spotlight helped shed light on the senseless slaughter of an American at the hands of an illegal immigrant who had already been deported numerous times. However, the information was not “vindictive” but “factual”.

I was curious as to what kind of lawyers would file such a motion. A quick internet search reveals Serra and Belyi work from the Pier 5 Law Offices that houses independent attorneys focused on criminal defense and civil rights litigation.

Serra is a graduate of Stanford and has been practicing law since the 1960’s.

Perceiving himself in the role of a warrior, Mr. Serra has continued to battle for more freedom for more people through law. His role in the Chol Soo Lee case was depicted in the film True Believer. Tony Serra has always known how to express the poetry of the law, while fighting in the ditches and dark alleys of legal practice. He has gained national prominence for his closing argument techniques.

Here is a clip of “True Believer“, a tale of the defense of a young Korean man who had been in jail for eight years for a murder he did not commit. The film stars James Woods.

Belyi graduated from UC Hastings College of the Law.

She has experience with various types of criminal cases, including multiple defendant drug cases and federal drug conspiracy cases. She also has experience with DUIs, Vehicle Code violations, Drug Possession and Under the Influence of a Narcotic cases, and Medical Marijuana cases.

So much experience. So little compassion for the victims. If they ever do make a movie of this case, it will be a horror classic.


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