Attorney John Paul Passaglia is facing a $1,000 fine and jail time for allegedly refusing an order by Judge Ross Moody to step away from his client, Michael Bayanos. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Bailiff’s incident report offers new details in contempt case against deputy public defender

A deputy sheriff working as bailiff alongside the San Francisco judge accused of wrongfully detaining a man and charging his attorney with disobeying court orders said the defendant was acting “erratically” and allegedly threatening a court interpreter, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

The deputy, whose identity is withheld due to safety concerns, also claimed the defendant, Michael Bayanos, threatened to “kill himself” after he was booked following his hearing last month. Bayanos, 55, was not in custody prior to his hearing but remained in jail more than a week later.

On Friday, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi defended one of his own attorneys, John Paul Passaglia, who is facing five days in jail and a $1,000 fine for allegedly refusing to step away from Bayanos when ordered to do so by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ross Moody at the Sept. 14 hearing.

SEE RELATED: Public Defender Jeff Adachi faces off with SF judge over contempt charge for attorney defending client

According to Adachi, who also advocated for Bayanos’ release during Passaglia’s contempt of court hearing Friday, Moody grew frustrated and ordered Bayanos detained after the defendant “took too long” to state his plea.

Bayanos is accused of misdemeanor theft and was in the process of entering a “no contest” plea during the original hearing. Passaglia and Adachi argued that his detainment was “invalid” and that the charges brought against Passaglia were “unethical” and retaliatory.

The Examiner obtained an incident report filed with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department in which one of two deputies assigned as bailiffs to the Sept. 14 hearing accused Bayanos of being “loud and disruptive.”

In the incident report, the deputy stated he recognized Bayanos from “prior contact” and that “he has mental health issues.”

At one point, Bayanos “appeared to become hostile toward the [Tagalog] interpreter,” prompting the deputy to ask the interpreter to step away, according to the incident report. However, the hearing continued after the interpreter verified that she was “fine to continue.”

Moody allegedly ordered Bayanos, a Filipino immigrant, to be taken into custody after he requested a Spanish language interpreter, according to Adachi and Passaglia. Passaglia said Moody attempted to “intimidate” Bayanos into a plea by “threatening” him twice with jail time.

Passaglia said he requested through legal processes that Moody state a valid reason for the detainment the next day. Shortly after, Moody also issued a contempt of court charge against Passaglia.

Adachi said the deputy’s account “is clearly without merit” because it contradicts a court transcript of the incident and “because no criminal charges have been filed.”

“There is no indication that Mr. Bayanos was being loud or disruptive and there certainly isn’t anything improper about a public defender putting his arm around a vulnerable client,” Adachi said Monday. “A judge lost his temper and threw a mentally ill man in jail without cause. To focus instead on how quickly or slowly a public defender moved away as deputies suddenly seized his client is preposterous.”

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