Maintain that Case Could Set Precedent for Foreign Nationals
BY ANNE SOBLE
Stefan Eriksson, the former Gizmondo executive who crashed a million-dollar-plus Enzo Ferrari on Pacific Coast Highway last February, could “help set a legal precedent for immigrants to the United States who have had prior legal troubles in their homeland,” according to his attorneys.
The seven felony charges that have kept Eriksson, 44, in menís county jail since early May include three charges each of embezzlement and fraud, as well as one charge of gun possession by a convicted felon resulting from a prior conviction for crimes in his native Sweden.
Counsel for Eriksson contends although California penal code section 12021(a)(1) forbids possession of a firearm by persons convicted of felony crimes in the United States or other countries, “there is no reported case where a person has been prosecuted in California for firearm possession on the basis of a foreign conviction.”
In legal papers filed last week by Eriksson’s defense team, they request that the court set aside and dismiss the possession accusation against Eriksson, stating that he did not violate California firearm laws.
The basis for the request is the “fact that the convictions occurred in a legal system that lacks the due process guarantees that are guaranteed by the United States and California constitutions.” In one of four pre-trial motions in the case, attorneys argue that the gun ban does not apply because the Svea Court of Appeal in the Kingdom of Sweden does not have the right to a trial by jury and its concomitant waiver.
Regarding the other six felony charges, as well as an additional two misdemeanor DUI charges, the legal team is asking that they be dismissed. On May 30, the attorneys entered not guilty pleas and denials on all charges. If convicted on all charges, Eriksson faces a possible 14-year prison term.
Among counsel Eriksson has hired for the case is Jim Parkman and his Alabama law partners, Martin Adams and William White, all of whom worked as co-counsel on another highly media scrutinized case, the HealthSouth/ Scrushy trial, where they prevailed.
Legal team members say they encountered obstacles trying to represent Eriksson, indicating they were not allowed to meet with him privately, got a court order on this, then went back for a second court order at a June 23 hearing where the obstacles were described as a “bureaucratic mistake.”
The recently expanded defense team includes California criminal law attorney Alec Rose of Imhoff and Associates, who has handled the courtroom appearances. Motions will be heard in downtown Superior Court on Friday, July 7.
Rose told The News that the defense team will file the four pre-trial motions on July 14, including one seeking dismissal of all changes, dismissal of the gun charge, a motion for severance of the two DUI misdemeanors and a suppression motion related to testimony about an April 7 search of Erikssonís residence and a statement taken at the time.
Rose said the legal team is “working very hard to get the case ready for trial.” He added that he is astounded at “the use of public resources in this case, noting that Eriksson’s “business dispute with an auto broker in England is of very little concern to the people of Los Angeles.”