ABC7 legal expert weighs in on Mirkarimi arraignment

January 19, 2012

ABC7 legal expert Dean Johnson weighs in on Mirkarimi arraignment.





May 27, 2011

Accused serial killer Joseph Nasso is expected to plea not guilty to multiple murder charges today.

Here is some background that I found to be interesting (to say the least):

The case has drawn a great deal of attention because the four murders of which Nasso is accused appear to have a unique signature. All the victims have “double initial” names. Thus, some people have referred to Nasso as the “alphabet killer” or the “alliteration killer.”

Nasso spent his early life in Rochester, N.Y. and returned there frequently during the ’70’s. In the early 1970’s, there were three “double initial” murders in Rochester. Because of the Rochester connection and the unique signature, Rochester police have looked at Nasso as a suspect in those unsolved murders.

In 1936, the mystery writer Agatha Christie published a novel called The ABC Murders. In the novel, a serial killer commits three murders. All three victims have double initials. The victim’s bodies were left in cities whose names started with the same letter as the victims’ initials. Thus, Alice Ascher’s body was left in Andover, Betty Barnard’s body was found at Bexhill-on-Sea, and Sir Carmichael Clarke was found at Churston.

In the Rochester murders, the killer followed Christie’s scenario “to the letter.” Thus:

-Carmen Colon, 10, was found strangled in November of 1971 in Churchville

–Wanda Walkowicz, 11, was found in April, 1973 in Webster and

-Michelle Maenza, 11, was in Macedon.

The first two California murders in which Nasso is a suspect follow the same scenario:

-Carmen Colon (whose name is identical to the one of the Rochester victims) was found in 1978 in Port Costa, in Contra Costa County.

-Roxene Roggasch was found in 1977. The press usually report that her body was found in Fairfax, but, in fact, the location of the body was just outside Fairfax in an area known as Ross Valley.

The last two California murders do not entirely fit the scenario:

-Pamela Parsons was found in 1993 in Yuba County. I have not been able to find any information indicating that the name of the town or location where she was found began with a “P.”.

-Tracy Tafoya was found in 1994 in Marysville. Again, I have found no indication that the location where she was found started with a “T.”

The Rochester police have another suspect in the Rochester killings. This person was a native of Rochester who lived in Rochester at the time of the alphabet murders. He worked as an ice cream vendor, and, so, had ready access to young children. He sold ice cream from two sites that were close to the scene of the first two alphabet murders. This same person moved to California in 1977, the year of the first California alphabet murder. He was arrested and put in prison in 1978. The alphabet murders in California stopped in 1978, and did not begin again until nearly 20 years later.

The person’s name is Kenneth Bianchi. When he moved to California he teamed up with his cousin, Angelo Buono. Together, they were known as the Hillside Stranglers. The victims in the alphabet murders in both Rochester and California were girls or young women. They were sexually abused and strangled. The Hillside Stranglers’ victims were girls and young women with ages ranging from 12-28. They were sexually abused and, as the killers’ names suggest, their victims were strangled.

Bianchi remains as a suspect in the Rochester killings. He has repeatedly denied responsibility for the killings and has demanded that he be taken off the list of suspects.

According to the Rochester police, Joseph Nasso has been eliminated as a suspect in at least one of the the Rochester murders, that of Wanda Walkowicz. It is reported that there was nothing found during searches of Nasso’s home that would link him to the Rochester murders.

Bianchi could not have committed the most recent California murders, those of Tafoya and Parsons, because he was in prison when these crimes occurred.

The bottom line is that, from what we presently know, it appears that no one person could be responsible for all seven murders. But, the connection seems to be too much for coincidence. Bianchi was practically unique as a serial killer in that he worked with another man as a part of a team. Could Nasso have been his original partner? Could one have been a mentor for the other? Is one a copycat killer?

Only time will tell. We are at the very early stages of this case. Law enforcement is, wisely, keeping the details of their evidence out of the media. Nasso is presumed innocent of all the charges unless and until prosecutors prove otherwise in court. But, expect this story to take some bizarre twists and turns before it is done.

One last thought: in The ABC Murders, Agatha Christie’s ace detective, Hercule Poirot, solved the crime and the killer was arrested and charged. The strongest evidence against the killer was evidence that had been found in the killer’s home. In the last chapter, it was revealed that Poirot, for the first and only time in his career, got the wrong guy.



Law Offices of Dean Johnson 




May 3, 2011


The case between the NFL and it players is important for football fans and for all fans of pro sports, but it may also have dire implications for the labor movement.

First, the outcome could decide whether there will be a football season at all.

Second, and perhaps of lesser importance to some people, both the players and the league are playing a very dangerous legal game. They are raising issues that could affect the future, not only of pro sports, but of all of organized labor.

The entire litigation is a bargaining ploy by both sides designed to give them leverage in contract negotiations.

To understand the legal background, you have to know a little labor history. Here it is in a nutshell:

1. Labor law and Antitrust Law potentially conflict with one another. Antitrust Law, specifically Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits “all contracts, combinations and conspiracies in restraint of trade.” Theoretically, both unionization and sports leagues violate antitrust laws. When union members combine into a single organization-a union-to negotiate wages, and when employers bargain exclusively with a union, both employers and employees are engaged in a “combination in restraint of trade.” When team owners form a league, refuse to hire any players except through a draft, and set salary caps, they are engaged in a classic “combination in restraint of trade.”

Yet, recognition of unions and collective bargaining are not only allowed, but required, by federal law.

Congress resolved this conflict in part by granting an exemption from the antitrust laws for employers who bargain with a union. The courts have also granted a partial exemption from the antitrust laws for labor related activities.

A Union must be “certified” by the NLRB in order to become the exclusive bargaining unit for a group of workers. Workers can also “decertify” a union, if they no longer wish to be represented by a union. If there is no certified bargaining unit, the antitrust exemption goes away. In other words, if there is no certified union, each employer must bargain with each individual worker as to wages and working conditions.

For pro sports, this means, effectively, no player draft. Each team is free to bargain for the service of any player at any price.

2. Injunctions have traditionally been used as a weapon by management to stifle actions by employees. Historically, employers who were faced with a strike, or with threatened unionization, would seek and obtain injunction prohibiting collective action by their employees.

For this reason, the Norris-LaGuardia Act and other provisions of federal Labor Law prohibit Federal Courts from issuing injunctions in labor disputes.

In March, NFL players started this battle by decertifying the NFL Players’ Union. This meant that the NFL’s antitrust exemption went away. Players, led by quarterback Tom Brady, then sued the NFL for antitrust vioaltions.

The NFL treated the action as a strike, and locked the players out.

Players then argued to the Minnesota District Court that they would suffer “irreparable harm” from the lockout, and so asked for an injunction. The League responded that this was a labor dispute, and that, therefore, the federal court could not issue an injunction.

The trial judge disagreed. She said that this was an antitrust dispute, not a labor dispute and that, therefore, she could issue an injunction. So she enjoined (stopped) the lockout.

The league went to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.** The court temporarily lifted the injunction. The decision was 2-1. So the bottom line is the lockout is back on for now.* But, the Eighth Circuit has yet to make its stay permanent. The Court will hear arguments from both sides before it decides. The future of the football season could hang in the the balance.

But there is a lot more at stake than one football season. The game that is being played here is dangerous for both sides, for pro sports and for labor-management relations everywhere. Pro football, and pro sports in general, have long feared the loss of the antitrust exemption. If the players’ tactic is successful, it might well be followed by players in other sports. The loss of the Antitrust exemption could make pro sports leagues unworkable.

The injunction is traditionally a weapon used by management against labor. If the players are successful in convincing the Eight Circuit that the injunction is available in labor disputes in certain contexts, they see it used against them, against players in other sports and against union members everywhere.

Both sides are aware that they are playing a high-stakes game of chicken, with potentially disastrous consequences. Neither side wants to kill the goose that laid the golden egg, but, with $9 Billion dollars in revenues at stake, games of brinkmanship can get out of hand.

The eighth circuit will set briefing schedules shortly to decide whether the their stay should be made permanent.

The case can be followed on PACER.

The case is Appeal No. 11-1898 Tom Brady, etc., al v. National Football League, et al..

*If this confusing process of injunctions, stays, stays of stays and so on on sounds familiar to those of us in the Bay Area, it is because we went through the same thing in the Prop 8 litigation. By the way, David Boies, counsel for the Prop 8 plaintiffs, also represents the NFL in this case.

**The choice of the Eighth Circuit as the venue for this case may be strategic. The Eight Circuit was the first to articulate the Mackey test. This test restricted the application of the NFL Antitrust Exemption.

Will Barry Bonds do jail time?

April 26, 2011

ABC7 Sports Director Larry Beil and legal analyst Dean Johnson discuss the outcome in the Barry Bonds case.

Law Offices of Dean Johnson

Bonds friend: I saw Barry and trainer with syringe – No Smoking Gun

April 26, 2011

“There’s no smoking gun here. There are statements from which one could infer that Greg Anderson is injecting people with some unknown, unspecified, undetectable substance. There are statements where one could infer that Greg Anderson is injecting Barry Bonds,” said ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson.

Law Offices of Dean Johnson

Athletes will testify about steroids during Bonds trial

January 22, 2011

“The government is going to say that Greg Anderson distributed steroids to athletes, he told them that they were steroids, the athletes knew that they were steroids and they were in fact steroids and the government is going to ask the jury to infer if Anderson did that with all the other athletes, he must have done the same thing with Barry Bonds,” ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson said.

Law Offices of Dean Johnson



Dean Johnson breaks down Prop 8 hearing

December 6, 2010

ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson discusses the legal issues the court will address regarding Prop 8 on Monday.