Order Came In Race-Against-the-Clock, as Dhaliwal Brothers Arrived at SFPD Headquarters to Retrieve Car and Cell Phones From Custody
SAN FRANCISCO (Jan. 8, 2008) — At an emergency hearing before a San Francisco Superior Court discovery commissioner this afternoon, City Attorney Dennis Herrera obtained a court order that has temporarily secured cell phones and an automobile belonging to brothers Amritpal and Kulbir Dhaliwal, who survived a Christmas Day tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo. According to the order entered by Superior Court Commissioner Bruce E. Chan late this afternoon, the Court will hear arguments on the merits Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. to determine whether investigators from Herrera’s office and the San Francisco Zoological Society will be allowed to inspect the items prior to their release.
The Dhaliwals’ personal property remains in police custody, but investigators have no legal authority as yet to search the evidence without the brothers’ permission, which has so far been denied. Herrera’s dramatic move for the extraordinary court order came in a race against the clock as police readied release of the items back to the brothers. While Herrera’s office was in ongoing negotiations with attorney, Mark Geragos, to preserve evidence that is potentially material to a likely litigation matter, the brothers were already en route to the San Francisco Police Department to retrieve the items. The Court’s order came with only moments to spare, according to Herrera.
“My office believed it was talking to Mr. Geragos in good faith to reach an agreement to preserve potentially relevant evidence,” Herrera said. “It now appears that Mr. Geragos was just stalling until his clients could get to the Police Department to claim their cell phones and car. I am gratified that his gamesmanship failed and that the Court will now be able to decide these important issues on the merits.”
Friday’s hearing before San Francisco Superior Court Commissioner Bruce E. Chan is currently scheduled to be heard in Department 610 in the Civic Center Courthouse, at 400 McAllister Street in San Francisco. In seeking the court order, Herrera filed an ex parte application and petition on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco for an order to preserve evidence and a request for order authorizing inspection of personal property. The City’s application and petition were joined by the San Francisco Zoological Society, which is being represented by Louise H. Renne, a former San Francisco City Attorney, of the Law Firm of Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP. Copies of correspondence and court documents are available online on the City Attorney’s Web site at the following URL: