David v. the System

Attorney casts himself as martyr in bizarre courtroom melodrama

In a June 2 letter that has become part of the court file, Erlichman accused Curtin of "sexual assault, larceny by fraudulent schemes and violation of the privilege, which this patient has never and will never waive under any circumstance.

"For your fee of $200, I was requested to hug you on two occasions. I closed my eyes (trying to believe it wasn't actually happening) when you repeatedly fondled and caressed my chest, arms, legs and lower stomach area. You also asked me to cough at least four times when you held my testicles in your hand. These batteries were done in an affectionate and suggestive manner . . ."

Curtin declined to comment.
Erlichman's letter told Curtin that his treatment for an unspecified ailment with Valium pills was inadequate, and it concluded: "I see no reason to preserve your privacy with your staff . . ."

That, Levy has argued, waived Erlichman's doctor-patient privilege, which permits both parties to keep their interactions confidential.

On July 21, Erlichman responded in writing to the doctor-patient question. First, he referred to Levy's request as "the most sanctionable legal pleading ever experienced in counsel's 14-year legal career, and in his 41 years of avid television and movie watching."

Then, he commenced another diatribe:
"Having no choice but to once again respond to this legal filth, this non-bizarre and most competent of attorneys, who has beaten the state in every murder case he's been involved in since moving to this most reactionary of states, will in short order address the rest of the state's sanctionable arguments not warranted under any circumstances by existing law in the state of Arizona. . . . Insomuch as this prosecutor has pulled this one up from the darkest depths of Hades, can patient/counsel now demand what drugs the prosecutor has been smoking, or (better yet), demand to know who gave him that lovely dark blue bloody lip? . . ."

Erlichman also has demanded Levy's incarceration on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct and obstruction of justice: "Mr. Levy belongs in jail. . . . I don't know how long you should send him for, but I think he should be there for a while."

The reason, in Erlichman's view? Levy teamed with homicide detectives to hide evidence that could help Jose Mercado at trial.

An examination of the court record indicates that those claims are exaggerated. The supposed evildoings seem to be a mix-up that authorities themselves brought to the court's attention.

Erlichman's animosity toward Levy also seems misplaced: A veteran of murder cases and other major crimes, the understated Levy has a reputation among most defense attorneys for being aboveboard.

Levy has alleged in court documents that Erlichman promised several authorities, including himself, to drop all allegations of official misconduct if they dismissed the murder charges.

Levy declined the invitation.
Erlichman claims that the powers-that-be want him off the Mercado case because they fear his legal prowess. In a recent court pleading, he called himself "a proven winner of murder cases with a national reputation, [who] is now the object of a character assassination, orchestrated by a completely desperate and fascist County Attorney, effectively manipulated like a puppet by the true keepers of the reactionary flame . . . the Pullman [sic] family, owners of Phoenix Newspapers Inc. [which publishes the Arizona Republic]."

The Republic, by the way, hasn't written anything about the Mercado murder case, or about Erlichman's woes.

Judge Yarnell removed himself from the Mercado case after the July 21 hearing, saying the "unfounded personal and repeated verbal attacks on this court" made it impossible for him to continue.

Judge David Cole, who took over from Yarnell, refused to reinstate Erlichman to the Mercado case after a short hearing on July 22. (Attorney James Hart has been appointed to represent Mercado. The murder case is now before Judge Gregory Martin.)

After Cole ruled, Erlichman thrust his arms in a mock-handcuffed pose and asked the judge, "Do you want to arrest me now?"

"No, I don't want to do that."
"Is that why the guards are here today, to arrest me?"
"They are here every day, believe it or not."

On July 28, Erlichman dropped off at New Times a copy of a federal lawsuit he filed earlier that day against Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, the County Attorney's Office and the State of Arizona. The suit reiterates Erlichman's allegations, noting "this case . . . presents issues of significant constitutional importance not only to this litigant but to every criminal defendant and every defense attorney in this country."

Erlichman attached a handwritten note, in which he wrote:
"Given the explosive political realities, I thought you might appreciate receiving this copy of my federal action. Perhaps you are the last real reporter in this state. Unfortunately, I have a policy of not commenting to the press, based on prior bad experiences.

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