Charges dismissed against one lawyer for former SLA fugitive
By LINDA DEUTSCH
The Associated Press
Inland Empire Online
June 9, 2001
A judge dismissed misdemeanor charges against a lawyer for former SLA
fugitive Sara Jane Olson. But the long-delayed case against Olson could
remain on hold even longer until a separate probe by the California State
Bar is resolved.
The city attorney's office conceded Friday that attorney Shawn Snider
Chapman had nothing to do with the release of two police witnesses'
addresses and phone numbers.
However, the bar continues to investigate Chapman and co-counsel J.Tony
Serra on the release of the information, which was briefly posted on a Web
Chapman maintained from the beginning that she was not involved. Serra, who
still faces criminal charges, has said the information came from his San
Francisco office but was inadvertently released.
Olson, 54, is accused of attempting to murder Los Angeles police officers
by planting bombs under police cars in 1975 in retaliation for the deaths
of six SLA members in a fiery shootout the year before. The bombs did not
Indicted under her former name, Kathleen Soliah, she remained a fugitive
until her 1999 capture in Minnesota where she was living quietly as a
housewife and mother.
Chapman said the case can't proceed until the probe by the California State
Bar is resolved.
Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan dismissed the charges against Chapman
after Deputy City Attorney Edward Gauthier told him, "We're convinced Ms.
Chapman had nothing to do with this."
He said his office reached that conclusion after receiving "significant
Serra's trial is set for July 30 before Ryan. The lawyer has said that if
he is convicted he will leave the case due to conflict of interest.
Chapman said she was pleased to be exonerated but outraged that the charges
were filed in the first place.
"The fact that the charges have been dismissed shows that what I said was
true, the charges were groundless," said Chapman. "If the city attorney had
contacted us before filing, they would have known this before dragging my
name through the mud."
She said the charges damaged her professional reputation, dismayed her
family and distracted her and Serra from preparations for the Olson trial.
"This has thrown a giant monkey wrench into the Olson trial," she said.
Gauthier refused comment outside court.
The Olson case has been plagued with delays and lawyer substitutions during
the two years since her arrest. It is now scheduled for Sept. 4.
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