Suspended California State Senator Leland Yee has dumped attorney Paul DeMeester for a new attorney with a pretty impressive resume – a former federal and state prosecutor – to represent him against federal corruption, bribery and illegal firearms sales charges. Yee on Wednesday hired San Francisco attorney James Lassart to replace Paul DeMeester. DeMeester told the San Jose Mercury News that the court was notified of the change in legal representation on Wednesday.
His first appearance on behalf of Yee will take place next week, when his new client is scheduled to appear again in court. Federal prosecutors will likely get a federal grand jury indictment to replace the current set of charges, and Yee and other defendants in the case will have to be arraigned on the new indictment.
Lassart is part of the San Francisco law firm Murphy, Pearson, Bradley & Feeney. Californians know him very well; his past case work includes representing San Francisco police officers for their part in a 2002 off-duty brawl, and a South San Francisco fire battalion chief charged with running a bookmaking operation.
Prior to becoming a defense attorney, Lassart was a prosecutor for the U.S. attorney's office and San Francisco district attorney's office. He served as a federal prosecutor between 1982 and 1986, and was in charge of the organized crime strike force in Northern California. Lassart also was in the San Francisco district attorney's office from 1970 to 1982, where he eventually rose to the assistant district attorney post.
Lassart was also a finalist for the U.S. attorney's job in 2002 during the Bush administration. He also has close ties to former Republican U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello.
Source: San Jose Mercury News