Lawyer freed after smuggled pills revealed to be sleep aid 

click to enlarge Erika Jordening was arrested in December at Serramonte Mall for petty theft. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Erika Jordening was arrested in December at Serramonte Mall for petty theft.

The Pacifica lawyer who was arrested on suspicion of passing pills to an inmate at San Mateo County Jail will not be charged, prosecutors said Wednesday, after the “contraband” was found to be over-the-counter sleep medication.

Erika Jordening, 43, was arrested Tuesday while meeting inmate Aaron Rauls, also 43, at the Maguire Correctional Facility in what authorities initially reported was an attorney-client visit.

However, it turns out Jordening might be Rauls’ lover, not his lawyer, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. And those pills she “smuggled” in for Rauls, who is awaiting sentencing for felony methamphetamine possession, were determined to be melatonin, a natural hormone used to promote sleep, Wagstaffe said.

“We declined to file charges today and released her because the drug is not a controlled substance,” he said.
Rauls is scheduled to be sentenced next week. The attorney representing him in his drug case is not Jordening, whose past work includes divorce and child custody cases.

But the justice system is not finished with her just yet. Prosecutors say she is still battling petty theft charges stemming from a Dec. 2 incident at the Daly City shopping mall Serramonte Center. Her jury trial is set to begin in September. She’s also been convicted of the same crime for a 2004 incident, prosecutors said.

And Jordening is not living the high life like some attorneys, Wagstaffe said, as she needed representation from a court-appointed attorney for her latest case.

In fact, Jordening has at least one black mark as a lawyer, according to court records. Her license was temporarily suspended by the state bar in 2003 when she failed to respond to charges made by a client. Jordening did not finalize an Orange County woman’s divorce after abruptly closing her law practice in 1998 to pursue a different career, the records said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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