Defense Attorney Raises Alarm about Dupe Arrest Warrants for Looting Case – Court Perplexed

By Dario McCarty

DUBLIN, CA – Defendant Jeno James Lieu’s eagle-eyed defense attorney this week brought to the Alameda County Superior Court judge’s attention that his client had been served an arrest warrant for a crime that Lieu had pleaded guilty to previously.

Lieu was charged with a felony count of looting (a violation of Penal Code section 463, defined as any burglary committed during a state of national or local emergency) and a felony count of second degree burglary for allegedly stealing a Dodge Charger from a San Leandro auto dealership.

The burglary in question occurred on May 31, 2020, during the nationwide riots occurring in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Lieu had already previously pleaded guilty to both charges.

However, when Lieu video-called into court this morning, Judge Thomas Nixon noted that he had received a no-bail arrest warrant for Lieu and that he had allegedly violated his Cruz Waiver.

A Cruz Waiver is the process by which a defendant who has pleaded guilty can postpone their jail surrender until they are fully sentenced by the judge.

However, Lieu’s defense attorney, David Knutsen, informed the judge that this no-bail arrest warrant was a duplicate.

“The problem is that the complaint, as I see it—I don’t have discovery on it, but as I see it—the complaint is the same date and the same vehicle that he pleaded to in this case. May 31, 2020, from the dealership there in San Leandro, and a Dodge Charger. Which is exactly this case that we are supposed to be sentencing today,” said Knutsen. “I don’t get it.”

The district attorney present, Amanda Chavez, noted that the new arrest warrant had been filed by CHP (California Highway Patrol).

In response to this, Knutsen theorized the error may have been due to two different police agencies having found the Charger at two different times, and erroneously filing two reports.

“Maybe it was because there were two different police agencies. The Charger was recovered on Interstate 80 around the Bridge by CHP, so I wonder if two different agencies brought in reports and two different DA liaisons ended up reviewing it at different times and filing different charges,” said Knutsen.

DDA Chavez did not have an answer for Knutsen. “I’m trying to take a look at that right now, but this is the first I’m hearing of a separate docket, so I can’t give an answer on that right away.”

Judge Nixon elected to continue the matter for two weeks to give the DA and the defense attorney time to figure out these irregularities. Lieu’s sentencing hearing has now been set for July 14.

About The Author

Dario is a rising junior at UC Berkeley studying Political Economy and English who is passionate about criminal justice reform.

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