Mary, Mary, why you buggin’?

Dec. 20, 2011 | The attorney for disgraced Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi is angling for probation and a downgrade of her charges from grand theft felony to a misdemeanor.

Hayashi’s attorney Douglas Rappaport was heard in court discussing his plan with an unidentified member of Judge Gerardo Sandoval’s court where he indicated he would ask for probation.

Such a move is common. The stigma and lasting ramifications of life as a convicted felon is harsh. In addition to losing certain rights going forward, the mark of a felony can make finding suitable employment a nightmare.

Hayashi pleaded not guilty to shoplifiting over $2,450 in clothing last October from a Neiman Marcus in San Francisco.

The gentleman in court last week humorously chided the prosecutor to accept Rappaport’s proposal to which they both sheepishly grinned.

Rappaport was also overheard citing Penal Code 17b in the conversation. The section refers to downgrading a felony to a misdemeanor.

Despite the large price-tag involved in the alleged theft the judge may not throw the book at Hayashi. Taking into account her personal history and lack of a criminal record, the liklihood of probation is high.

There is also speculation over how conclusive the surveillance footage of Hayashi purportedly shoplifting the items at Neiman Marcus may appear. Curiously, a follow-up item by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier & Ross detailing a Neiman Marcus employee reportedly recognizing Hayashi as a customer suspected of stealing clothing a week before her arrest has more than a whiff of a strategic leak by the San Francisco D.A.
According to the ethics rules in the assembly, a felony conviction would not necessarily be cause for Hayashi to resign her seat, although it could be reason for her to lose her seat on various assembly committees.

Hayashi’s termed-out seat in the assembly ends in the fall of 2012. Before her arrest, most observers believed she would sit out the next two years and run for Sen. Ellen Corbett’s termed-out seat in 2014. There were also speculation she had alternative plans to run for Rep. Pete Stark’s congressional seat that same year. Most, though, believe her political career is finished regardless of the outcome of the charges against her.

Hayashi’s next preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 6. Judge Sandoval will again allow her to skip the hearing despite opposition from the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.