Peterson: Moving Toward Trial

January 28, 2004

Another judge for Peterson

Retired Alameda County Superior Court Judge Alfred A. Delucchi was picked Tuesday to preside over Scott Peterson's double-murder trial, replacing a judge whose appointment was challenged by prosecutors.

Delucchi is to take over Monday, when the case resumes in San Mateo County. His first order of business is to rule on his own tenure.

He must decide if he should keep the case or grant a defense motion that seeks to block the disqualification of retired Judge Richard Arnason, who was appointed last week.

"He's going to keep it," Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Jim Anderson predicted. "Unless the defense challenges it, he's it."

Peterson, 31, is charged with murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner.

Oakland defense attorney John Burris, who has tried cases before Arnason and Delucchi, said both judges are well-liked.

He said Delucchi will be able to step in without missing a beat, because he is no stranger to grisly allegations and will not be intimidated by the media attention that surrounds the case.

"He will not be buffaloed by the bright lights or the prosecution or the defense," Burris said.

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Al Girolami moved the trial, at the request of defense attorney Mark Geragos, saying a massive amount of pretrial publicity makes a fair trial impossible in Modesto.

Girolami did not want to go with the trial, though, so California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George tapped a pool of retired judges who still hear cases, picking Arnason, 82, then Delucchi, 72.

Each side can remove judge

Each side gets one chance to dismiss a judge without proving bias or giving any reason. Stanislaus County District Attorney James Brazelton used his Thursday, a day after Arnason was appointed.

Geragos contends that the challenge was not filed in a timely manner. Chief Deputy District Attorney John Goold declined to comment Tuesday; Geragos could not be reached for comment.

Anderson, who described himself as a friend of Brazelton, said Delucchi will be more appealing to prosecutors because he doesn't have Arnason's independent streak.

"Too liberal," he said of Arnason. "That was my gut feeling."

Arnason is best known for presiding over the sensational trial of activist Angela Davis, who was acquitted of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in 1972. Charges stemmed from a 1970 Marin County Courthouse escape attempt that left four people dead, including a judge.

He also is known for questioning voter-approved initiatives that let prosecutors charge minors as adults in serious cases and impose life sentences on people convicted of their third felonies.

Delucchi has experience

Delucchi, a former assistant district attorney, was appointed to the bench in 1971 by Gov.

Reagan. He has presided over 22 capital cases, six of which re- sulted in death penalties.

In more than 32 years on the bench, Delucchi has:

  • Sentenced Tyrone Robinson of Oakland to 32 years in prison for the 1989 slaying of Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panthers.
  • Sentenced Giles Albert Nadey Jr. of Hayward to death for the 1996 sodomy and murder of a minister's wife who hired him to clean her carpets.
  • Sentenced Sarah Mitchell of Oakland to life in prison for murdering her sleeping sister and assuming her identity in 1997.
  • Declared a mistrial when a jury convicted Stockton's Louis James Peoples of four murders in 1999, but deadlocked on the death penalty. Peoples was sentenced to death after a second sentencing trial in 2000.
  • Sentenced Ruben Eliceo Vasquez of Modesto to life in prison in June for killing an Alameda County sheriff's dep-uty at an Outback Steakhouse in Dublin. Miguel Galindo Si- fuentes and Hai Minh Le, both of Turlock, got 26 years to life.
  • Bee staff writer Susan Herendeen can be reached at 578-2338 or


    NAME: Alfred A. Delucchi

    BIRTHDATE: May 27, 1931

    EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree, University of California at Berkeley; law degree, Santa Clara University School of Law

    EXPERIENCE: Deputy district attorney with Alameda County, 1961-66; associate with Martins, Bernhardt & Delucchi, Hayward, 1966-71; appointed by then-Gov. Reagan to Alameda County Municipal Court, San Leandro- Hayward Judicial District, 1971, and subsequently elected; elected to Alameda County Superior Court, 1984; retired in 1998; member of the state's Assigned Judges Program.

    OTHER: Presided over 22 capital cases; the death penalty was ordered in six of them.

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