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Trial By Fire

The Silicon War Triology

Chapter 3 - Rumour

SANTA CLARE POLICE STATION (SCPD)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA

 

It was mid morning when Geoffrey got the call.  Everyone that was assigned to the Gopal case was now dead tired and living on coffee.  But the paper work still had to be filled out.  Then came the call. 

"Hey", George Brachonitz, General Counsel for National Silicon Corporation (aka NSC) said over the phone.  "I just heard a rumor that Gopal had Contie work on some NSC Trade Secrets at a company called Transmask.  This is just a heads up to the rumor but it seemed valid to me.  Can you look into this for us"?

"Yea, thanks.  I'll take it to the ADA now for the warrant".

Every crime is assigned to an Assistant District Attorney (ADA), and Anthony ‘Tony' D'Alquist was Santa Clara District Attorney Offices' top ADA.  In fact he was telling everyone that he could just how good he really was, and more important, how he would make a great District Attorney.

You see, he was running for a political office.  "He was a Republican and Tough on Crime".  Or that's what the Republican Party in Northern California was instructing the Republican candidates to use as a midterm election slogan.

For some time, the California Democrats were being hammered for being soft on crime and the Republican Party had found a valid weakness in the Democratic dominated court system throughout California.  Drug dealers were getting "3 years" for selling 100 lbs of Pot because "it was just their home stash".

So five weeks before the mid-term elections, the "Election Gods" handed D'Alquist a once in a life time, international spy case to take the lead on.  Talk about free publicity and visibility.

With D'Alquist support, it was also very easy for Geoffrey to obtain another search warrant from Judge Chester P. Kipenger who was also up for election.  He was considered a very conservative Republican who authorized the original SSI Office Search Warrant.  When that first warrant was not enough, he agreed to amend the first warrant to include the additional items found during the search of Gopal's office.

What was to make this election even more interesting, Gopal's new attorney, Leonard P. Edwards was also running for the Judgeship against Kipenger.  Edwards was considered a "moderate Democrat" and this election brought the Gopal case into the political lime light. 

Never in the history of Santa Clara politics had so much hair spray or makeup been used!

 

**

 

JUDGE CHESTER P. KIPENGER CHAMBERS

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA

 

Many people within the Santa Clara court system were very disturbed by the rumors coming out about the amended search warrant.  Then came the statement that there were civilians allowed to walk freely for over 10 hours throughout the SSI offices looking for ‘secrets'.  This resulted in a request for a court hearing that can best be summarized by the following:

 

D'Alquist stated for the People:

 

"Your honor, the police allowed a couple of experts' access to the crime scene to look for and evaluate items that could be considered Trade Secrets.  The police did not have the training or expertise".

 

Edward stated for Gopal:

 

"Your honor, the police allowed a vigilante mob access to ransack and contaminate the crime scene looking for anything that they assumed to be a Trade Secret.  The SSI ‘Security Sign In' logs alone showed that over 100 members of the vigilante mob signed their names in their own handwriting.  ‘100 people' is not ‘a couple of experts'.  It should be noted that both newspaper reporters and TV camera crews were also allowed into the crime scene as well.  And once this vigilante mob found something they felt was a trade secret, they brought it back to the police who logged it onto the ‘Amended Search Warrant' list.  This was then presented to the Court to authorize a second search for what the Vigilante's had previously found".

 

It was determined no matter what the outcome of this hearing was going to be, another Judge must be assigned to the case.  And one was.

Judge Peter G. Stone was considered a ‘moderate'.  When asked if he was Republican or Democrat, no one really knew.  His repetition was right wing tough on interpreting the law but left wing fair in sentencing.  If there was any judge in the Santa Clara Superior Court that would give Gopal a fair treatment, Stone was it.

It took no time for Stone to call everyone involved into his chambers and informed them "any and all media conversation is to stop.  It ends now!  A Gag order is now in effect." 

Edwards then requested a speedy Evidence Suppression Hearing.  However, D'Alquist insisted that this would get in the way of the other investigations underway. 

"Ok, Mr. D'Alquist" Stone ordered.  "You have one week.  Evidence Suppression Hearing will be set for October 5th, 9:00 am".

For most people not in the 1978 legal community, the California law used against Gopal remained a mystery.  However, now that it was used, the lack of clarity or understanding of the statutes' words stood out. 

The law being used to arrest Gopal was the little known, once before used section of the penal code called PC-499c - Thief of a Trade Secret.  During the time of the alleged offenses in 1978, section 499c defined a "trade secret" as follows:

 

"'Trade secret' means the whole or any portion or phase of any scientific or technical information, design, process, procedure, formula or improvement which is secret and is not generally available to the public, and which gives one who uses it an advantage over competitors who do not know of or use the trade secret; and a trade secret shall be presumed to be secret when the owner thereof takes measures to prevent it from becoming available to persons other than those selected by the owner to have access thereto for limited purposes." (§ 499c, subd.  (a)(3))

 

 

***

 

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