Former prosecutor accused of rape gets new attorney


Veteran defense attorneys Michael Cardoza and Daniel Russo had been representing him, but during a hearing earlier this month, Gressett, 52, said he no longer had the financial resources to pay for his own attorney.

The public defender's office couldn't take the case because it had a conflict of interest, which meant that the case had to be sent to a county bar panel known as the Criminal Conflict Panel. The panel provides private defense attorneys to represent defendants when there are conflicts of interest in the public defender's office.

The panel selected Lafayette-based attorney Michael Kotin to appear with Gressett in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez this morning.

Kotin said he would be happy to take the case, but that, for the sake of continuity, Gressett would prefer to be represented by Russo, who is also a member of the county bar association's conflict panel and could be appointed to represent Gressett at no cost to him.

Judge Carlos Ynostroza said he would hear further arguments on the matter during a hearing on Dec. 7.

Gressett is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 8 on a 13-count grand jury indictment, which alleges that Gressett committed four counts of forced sodomy, four counts of sexual penetration by force, two counts of forcible rape, one count of forced oral copulation, one count of false imprisonment and one count of criminal threats against the victim during a lunch break at his Martinez home on May 8, 2008.

The indictment also charges Gressett with numerous enhancements, including allegations that he used an ice pick and a handgun and tied or bound the alleged victim during the assault.

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