music in the park san jose

Our justice system failed miserably, and the grand jury should
take up the issue to determine what should be done
After their recent arrests, Vincent Cardinalli Sr., 64, and his son Paul Stephen Greer, 30, face 87 counts of forgery, grand theft and other felony charges.

That’s the word from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office which delved into the criminal possibilities, undoubtedly spurred on by Dispatch reporter Serdar Tumgoren’s investigative reporting. That reporting work uncovered the duo’s repeated small claims court suits, 2,000 cases over the past seven years in Santa Clara and San Benito counties.

Emblematic of the serious breakdown in our justice system is the circumstance surrounding one Efreen Gonzalez who had the court order his bank account garnished for nearly $4,000 at Mr. Greer’s request. In reviewing this one case, an overall picture emerges.

Mr. Gonzalez owned a small Hollister landscaping business when he loaned a maroon 1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass to a relative, who died while in possession of the car. Mr. Greer hauled the Cutlass off the street at the request of Gilroy police and, seven months later, sued Mr. Gonzalez for $1,945 in towing and storage fees. Mr. Gonzalez did not show up for the small claims court trial and lost by default. When he failed to pay Mr. Greer, the tow truck owner again enlisted the court’s help, this time to raid Mr. Gonzalez’ bank account for a judgment.

In court, Gonzalez pleaded with Commissioner Gregory Saldivar to prevent Mr. Greer from levying his bank account, explaining that he had a family and could not afford to pay. Plus, Mr. Gonzalez said he never received the legal notice of the lawsuit since he hadn’t lived at the apartment for a decade and never had a chance to defend himself. Mr. Saldivar abruptly cut him off. Months later, a Gilroy property manager corroborated Gonzalez’ story and, in fact, said that the apartment was vacant on the day Mr. Gonzalez supposedly had been served papers.

Consider a variation on that theme over and over again.

The courts will ultimately determine the fate of Mr. Cardinalli Sr. and Mr. Greer. Thankfully, it has gotten to this point.

Many of those beset with judgments against them seem to be people without knowledge of the justice system or the means to fight back – ironically those whom the justice system should be protecting.

Beyond the charges, there are larger questions that should be answered by a grand jury. How did court clerks, small claims court commissioners and those charged with overseeing the system miss this for so long? Did they look the other way? If so, why?

A grand jury could take the appropriate time and feed off the investigation in the district attorney’s office.

Meanwhile, Mr Cardinalli Sr. and Mr. Greer will have their day in court and, hopefully in the end, justice will indeed be served.

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