Law Offices of
David Elliott Wise

Wise Defense Equals Success

As a San Francisco Criminal Defense Lawyer, David Wise and the staff at Wise Defense have had a lot of success in getting fair treatment for clients over the years.  From outright acquittals to greatly reduced sentences, David Wise can help you as well. 

As a San Francisco Criminal Defense Attorney for nearly two decades, David Wise knows the San Francisco legal system well.  He has represented clients as a San Francisco DUI Attorney or Drunk Driving Lawyer for DUI cases, as an Oakland Attorney and Alameda County Attorney, as well as representing many people in other Bay Area communities, including Marin and Hayward Counties.

San Francisco Dog Killer Avoids Three-Strikes Prison Sentence.
    Jaxon Van Derbeken, San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco -- A San Francisco man who could have faced 25 years to life under the "three strikes" law for beating his puppy to death was instead sentenced to five years yesterday, after prosecutors did an about-face on pursuing the harsher penalty.

Joey Trimm, 29, will be released from state prison within five months under the sentence agreed to in connection with the May 14, 1997, beating death of his 4-month old puppy, a shepherd-mix named Guinness.

Trimm has said he spanked the pet because it was eating cat food. The dog then bit him, so he punched it. He later put the dead dog in a laundry bag and dumped it in the garbage. His live-in girlfriend reported the death.

Trimm had two felony convictions for child molestation on his record, stemming from a 1990 case in Humboldt County involving a 3-year-old boy. If convicted of felony cruelty to animals, Trimm could have been sent to prison for at least 25 years as a three strikes offender.

Trimm has already been jailed for three years awaiting trial, as District Attorney Terence Hallinan's prosecutors fought for the right to pursue the case under the three strikes law. They successfully appealed Superior Court Judge Robert Dondero's decision to throw out the child molestation offenses as strikes.

But on May 2, the day Trimm's puppy-killing trial was to start, Hallinan's office abruptly changed course. On that day, prosecutors told the court that they no longer wanted to pursue the three-strikes case. Hearing that, Trimm entered a plea of guilty directly to the judge. Prosecutors then recommended a sentence of seven years.

Hallinan's office decided to count the two child molestation convictions as one strike. Thus, Trimm pleaded guilty to felony cruelty to animals and could not be sentenced to a third strike.

Assistant District Attorney Chuck Haines, the prosecutor on the case, said the decision to change strategy was made by a committee in Hallinan's office. He said the molestation convictions arose from a single case, so it was logical to consider them as one strike instead of two.

Trimm isn't getting a free walk, Haines said, adding, "He has at least another five months in state prison."

"A puppy was maliciously killed," Haines said. "Our position is that he should have been given the maximum of seven years in state prison."

Haines said Judge John Marlow made the decision to hand down the five-year term. Trimm got four years for the dog beating and an additional year because of his previous conviction.

Animal rights activists were puzzled as to why prosecutors decided not to pursue the case as a third strike after all this time, but said they were pleased that Trimm got as long a sentence as he did.

"I'm as confused as everyone else," said Leroy Moyer of Voices for Pets, a group that had pushed for a harsh sentence. Still, he said, "The fact is that he has done three years. That's more than anyone else has done for cruelty to animals, so we're happy with that."

David Wise, Trimm's attorney, said the case was politically motivated and lamented that prosecutors had waited three years to decide not to pursue his client as a three strikes offender. But he said the offer was acceptable.

"My client wants to be done with this," Wise said.

As for the fight to have the case considered a three strikes matter, he said: "It was a tremendous waste of resources, that's for sure."

-- San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, June 2, 2000. "San Francisco Dog Killer Avoids Three-Strikes Prison Sentence" by Jaxon Van Derbeken.

Three-Strikes Reversal Means Dog-Killer Won't Get 25 Years
   by Dennis Pfaff, San Francisco Daily Journal.

A rare San Francisco three-strikes prosecution has been derailed by a judge's decision rejecting two prior convictions as constitutionally flawed, a move that could mean freedom as early as today for a man jailed more than two years ago for allegedly killing a dog.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Robert Dondero's action struck two 1990 Humboldt County child molestation counts against Joey Loid Trimm that had served as the underpinnings of San Francisco's efforts to impose a lengthy prison sentence on Trimm as a result of the dog's death.

Chuck Haines, the San Francisco deputy district attorney who has pursued the three-strikes case against Trimm, said his office may appeal Dondero's decision.

The ruling made by Dondero on Monday leaves Trimm facing only a simple felony animal cruelty charge stemming from the killing of a 4-month-old German shepherd puppy that Trimm allegedly beat during an outburst in May 1997. Standing alone, that charge would bring a maximum prison term of three years, if the former night gymnasium clerk is ultimately convicted.

If the conviction were counted as a third strike, however, Trimm could have faced 25 years to life in prison under the state's 5-year-old law allowing for the enhancement of criminal sentences.

Trimm has pleaded innocent to the animal cruelty charge. A trial in the case, People v. Trimm, 175890, is scheduled for early next year.

David Wise, Trimm's lawyer, said he will ask Dondero today to release Trimm on his own recognizance, based on the fact that since his arrest Trimm has already spent as much time in jail and mental institutions awaiting trial as he would have if he had been convicted of killing the 30-pound dog. Trimm's bail has been set at $50,000.

"I felt so happy that [Trimm] was not looking at life in prison for something no person deserves life in prison for," Wise said.

Wise said he already has arranged for psychiatric treatment for Trimm upon his release.

Wise successfully challenged the two prior convictions, for which Trimm spent more than eight years in prison, after discovering that Trimm's defense attorney in the 1990 case apparently never voiced agreement with Trimm's decision to waive a jury trial. Such consent "in open court" by both the defendant and his counsel is required under Article I, Section 16 of the state constitution.

Wise said he discovered the omission after poring through transcripts of the 1990 proceedings.

"There it was, or should I say, there it wasn't," Wise said.

Haines said his office is "trying to decide whether to pursue appellate remedies" in response to Dondero's ruling. That decision should be made next week, the prosecutor said.

The prosecution was unusual not only because of the nature of Trimm's crime, involving violence against an animal, but because three-stikes enhancements are only rarely sought in San Francisco.

While the law is popular elsewhere in California, Department of Corrections figures this summer showed San Francisco sent only 29 people to prison under the statute since it was passed in 1994. That number put the city on a par with some small rural counties.

-- San Francisco Daily Journal, Friday, December 10, 1999. "Three-Strikes Reversal Means Dog-Killer Won't Get 25 Years" by Dennis Pfaff.

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