Jury Begins Deliberations in Guillory Trial

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Attorneys Tuesday morning delivered closing arguments in the criminal trial of former Orange County Assessor Webster Guillory, who faces two misdemeanor counts of falsifying election paperwork for his 2014 re-election bid.

Jurors began deliberating around noon and will continue Wednesday after a three-day trial before Judge Thomas Glazier at the Superior Court Central Courthouse in Santa Ana.

If convicted of both counts, Guillory, 71, faces a maximum penalty of 2 years in jail and a $2000 fine.

The trial focused on two nomination papers Guillory submitted in his last-minute dash to file for candidacy on March 7, 2014, the filing deadline for that year’s June primary.

In order to run for office in Orange County, candidates are required to collect 20 signatures from registered voters. Any one person, including the candidate, can collect those signatures on the candidate’s behalf, but that individual must also sign that they personally witnessed those signatures.

Guillory is accused of signing and swearing, under penalty of perjury, two nomination papers, despite knowing that his employee Michael Hannah was the one who gathered the signatures.

Guillory’s defense all along has been that while the signatures are undoubtedly his, he signed the papers during a hectic day at the office and did not knowingly commit the error.

Orange County District Attorney prosecutor Brock Zimmon told the jury Tuesday that it should have been easy for Guillory to identify which papers he did or did not circulate, given that each page had different signatures and his familiarity with the process of running for election.

“These are not some trivial, internal documents. This is a document where, at minimum, if you don’t fill it out right, you don’t get the job,” Zimmon said. “This is a document so important that the law has made a specific crime for falsifying it.” 

Defense attorney John Barnett argued that Guillory had no motive to knowingly sign the papers when the legal solution — a signature from his employee Michael Hannah — was just one floor away. He emphasized both Guillory’s reputation as an elected official and his reliance on staff at the Assessor’s office to vet and summarize documents for his signing.

“He did not sign this document and sign away his reputation knowing it was false. Seventy-one years, thirty-six of public service, did not suddenly and for five seconds come to a halt, and he did not knowing sign those documents,” Barnett told the jury.

Zimmon, meanwhile, rebuffed the defense’s descriptions of Guillory’s workload that day, full of phone calls, regular priorities of the Assessor’s office and staff members walking in and out with documents for him to sign.

“We’re not dealing with a stack of 100 documents. This was a normal day at the Assessor’s office, the same job he has worked for 16 years,” Zimmon said. “This is not a lot of things where you’re getting lost in a sea of paperwork.”

“This was the one thing that, if it wasn’t returned at 5 pm, it would change the next four years of his life,” Zimmon added.

Barnett continued with the argument that Guillory simply made a mistake. To bolster his case, he pointed to errors made by an employee of the Registrar’s office, Christina Avila, on an internal form for Guillory’s candidacy.

“[Avila] made a mistake on that day, the same day that Guillory made a mistake,” Barnett said. “Nobody makes a mistake? There it is. And nobody is being prosecuted for that.”

Contact Thy Vo at tvo@voiceofoc.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.

  • Jacki Livingston

    And the same guy who will do nothing about Nguyen, Spitzer, Nelson and Moorlach taking laundered money bribes from nursing homes who stole from and killed patients.

  • richard jorgensen

    Guillory is a criminal. A jury of his peers found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Elected officials who break the law should always have their sentences maxed out. He needs to be made an example. GUILLORY, YOU SUCK!!!!!!

    • Jacki Livingston

      Really? You want to know how many county elected and appointed officials were on the take in a massive MediCal and Medicare scam and not one of them was ever even arrested. Nguyen, Spitzer, Ryan, Nelson, Moorlach, Riley, so many more…they will never see the inside of a jail cell, because they were clever enough to victimize people who had no voice. Why should this guy be maxed out, and these scumbags go back to their jobs each day, untouched? Oh, right, because TRack won’t touch them. Right…got it.

      • richard jorgensen

        Huh? i never heard anything about that?

        • Jacki Livingston

          Nope, and you never will. I copied six boxes of documents and sent them over. Not a word. I was blackballed by the County, and they violated every agreement in the worker’s comp case that Jamie Spitzer made sure went Toddy’s way. They won’t do anything, either. You will never hear about the major contributor to their campaign who laundered money for them, as he worked out a sweet deal for the nursing home company killing their patients after they stole from them. You will hear nothing, because while TRack may hate Spitzie, they have too much dirt on each other to ever actually investigate his crimes. Puh-leeeeze. You will never know.

          • richard jorgensen

            None of that makes sense. The DA prosecuted Guillory. The DA originally filed felonies, which the judge thought was overreaching. Against arguably the best criminal defense attorney in the State, the Deputy DA won a guilty verdict when he convinced 12 jurors to vote guilty against Guillory.

            I am not a fan of the OC DA, but with respect to Guillory, it sounds like he actually did everything he could to enforce the law.

          • Jacki Livingston

            Selective justice is no justice at all. If the DA ignores crimes committed by the bigwigs, then selects on man to bust over a penny ante offense, then there is no justice to be had.

  • Kathleen Tahilramani

    Over 30 years ago, Mr. Guillory hired me for my first job at the County of Orange. I will forever appreciate him for allowing me to begin my 31 year career. Mr. Guillory has a reputation for being independent, tough and self-confident – he was an executive. He got the job done and expected people to perform. He did not suffer dolts. I can’t help but believe that people with power and influence set this up to ensure that this stubborn Democrat “went away”. I hope that Mr. Guillory is acquitted. Stay strong.

  • Paul Lucas

    This is plain flat out feeding red meat to the masses. T rack offered up webster guilroy for the sake of the cries for blood from the ruling class in deference to the great unwashed. It is cheap and insufficient.

  • LFOldTimer

    Good luck, Webster. I didn’t particularly like your performance as the County Assessor but I think this prosecution was a political shakedown. Equality under the law has become a joke, especially in the OC. I hope you’re acquitted. I think many of us are in your corner. Be strong!