Lawyer and Intern Charged With Robbery and Murder After Celebration At Bar

Screen-Shot-2015-09-15-at-5.42.09-PMThere is a tragic but interesting criminal case set for trial in San Francisco involving a tenants rights attorney and a claim of self-defense during a robbery. Eviction Defense Collaborative staff attorney Carlos Argueta, 31, and former intern (and Swiss native who lives in London) Pascal Krummenacher, 21, are charged with murder after they alleged were robbed outside a bar where they were celebrating the end of Krummenacher’s internship. Argueta is accused of stabbing to death James Thomas, 61. There is a videotape in the case reviewed by the Examiner.

The two men say that they were leaving the bar on September 3rd and Krummenacher was wearing a backpack while Argueta was wearing a messenger bag. Prosecutors say that they two men were stumbling drunk and even threw up in the bar.

The defense says that four men then set upon them and knocked off Krummenacher’s glasses and shoved Argueta against a car and hitting him with some type of weapon. Krummenacher then broke loose with the messenger bag while the four men are seen surrounding Arguetta. The videotape reportedly shows the attacking men armed with a bat, a cane and a skateboard. At some point, Arguetta stabs Thomas twice.

According to prosecutors, the scene was quite different. They say that “Krummenacher saw Thomas pushing a shopping cart with a messenger bag that he mistakenly thought was Argueta’s missing bag and took it…Thomas took the bag back, but Argueta then took the bag again, gave it to Krummenacher and allegedly stabbed Thomas twice during a struggle.” They further maintain that the video shows “Argueta stick the older man with a knife. The man later identified as Thomas drips blood on the sidewalk, stumbles and falls over.” After they were surrounded by an angry crowd, prosecutors say that “a drunken Krummenacher hopped on a BART train, passed out and woke up at the end of the line.”

The common law does not allow the use of force calculated to cause serious bodily injury or death in protection of property. In famous cases like Bird v. Holbrook, 4 Bing. 628, 130 Eng. Rep. 911 (1825), courts have ruled that “[n]o man can do indirectly that which he is forbidden to do directly.” Not only are such devices viewed as immoral (because human life is more valuable than property), but dangerous because such devices cannot tell the difference between friend and foe. The case however also has been cited for the long-standing rule that no property is viewed as more valuable than a human life. That does not mean you cannot take steps to protect your property and a case of protection of property can become protection of self (with the right to use higher levels of force) when the suspect resists or attacks.

Prosecutors see this case as exceeding any justified self-defense. They apparently believe that the messenger bag did not belong to Arguetta and have charged the two defendants with robbery and possession of stolen property as well as the murder of Thomas. Reports state that the video shows Argueta walking alongside the alleged assailants but no longer holding his bag and, in the next video clip, Krummenacher is seen holding a messenger bag.

If the initial violence was due to the bag, it would appear a mistaken defense of property with force calculated to cause serious bodily injury or death. That is prohibited under the common law and can be litigated as a tort of battery. It obviously can also be a crime. however, despite the videotape, there remains room for the defense to claim that confrontation quickly escalated from defense of property to defense of self. There were weapons used on both sides and rivaling claims of self-defense.

Argueta remains in jail but Krummenacher posted on a $1 million bail.

61 thoughts on “Lawyer and Intern Charged With Robbery and Murder After Celebration At Bar”

  1. My original comment was basically a response to your erroneous statement that “in fact, guardians ad litem are rarely appointed in tort cases” and was really limited to addressing that issue. It continued after your comment regarding “hornbook law” reflected a misunderstanding as to how the law has developed, and could be misleading. Hornbooks are general legal treatises dealing with legal concepts usually rooted in the common law, and “hornbook law” is generally a phrase used to reference an established legal principle. However, the manner in which minors may appear or must be represented in court action is largely determined by statutes or rules enacted state by state rather than common law. A guardian is not the same as a guardian ad litem in California. As most children are in the care of their parents, and the existence of a personal injury action would not establish the need for a guardian, they can only appear in court through a guardian ad litem except in the extremely rare circumstances under which they might have a conservator of the estate. While the statute says the court “may” appoint a GAL, refusal to do so would be an abuse of discretion and probably unconstitutional for a minor who lacks a guardian or conservator of the estate (a group which includes most of the children in California) as it would bar the minor from access to the court. The specific provisions vary greatly state by state. As I previously pointed out, in California a minor must have a guardian ad litem appointed to litigate unless he already has a guardian or conservator of the estate. I know that North Carolina has a similar provision (Rule 17). In other states, a guardian ad litem is not required under the goverrning statutes but as a practical matter, attorneys will ensure appointment of a GAL because the litigation or any settlement may not be binding without one. (ex. Florida in any case of $50,000 and, I believe, Connecticut.). In MIssouri a minor can sue by a court-appointed next friend or GAL. However, I have been told by one practitioner there that they routinely request appointment of a GAL, as a next friend is personally liable for costs and a GAL isn’t.

  2. well, well, well.
    “paulie” … errrr … “richard” has been resurrected. nevertheless, this is even more bad news for the third-string junior assistant gofer.
    richard does his best to dance around the point, but reiterates: “The existence of a possible injury action alone does not meet the legal criteria for the appointment of a guardian or conservator of the estate.”

    in other words (using plain english), appointment of a guardian ad litem is *not* automatic in california.

    the situation is the same. it remains a fact that neither richard, nor the third-stringer, nor any of the third-stringer’s friends (::: koff, koff :::), nor any of the third-stringer’s unnamed lawyers who specialize in both criminal law and tort law, nor *anyone else* has been able to name any one of the “many states” where “any personal injury lawsuit automatically has a guardian ad litem appointed to make sure the kid is protected from bad parents.”

    the third-string junior assistant gofer’s lie from august 20, 2015, at 10:55 am, won’t go away.

  3. Anyone who has been reading this blog has seen me disagree with Nick S. Although I do not comment often, I have done so for years and disagree with Nick S. fairly often (I believe I used to comment here as blhlls). I have commented less recently as the comment sections so rapidly descend into exchanges of insults rather than offer interesting ideas or information.

    Alan T., I am licensed to practice law in California, and do so full time. Perhaps I don’t express myself in the manner you expect of attorneys, and my desk certainly is not as you apparently picture an attorney’s desk to be (piled high with books and various practice guides). The reason I mentioned section 372 crossing my desk, was that a Petition for Appointment citing that section had, literally, just come across my desk in connection with a new action. Otherwise, I would not have had the code section handy, as it is almost never an issue since the California Judicial Council form petition is generally prepared as a matter of course by attorneys representing minors. While I never stated that the appointment of a guardian ad litem was to protect a child from bad parents that is, essentially, what the statutory scheme is intended to do to a limited degree–ensure that the person making decisions on behalf of the minor is competent and free from conflicting interests. As to your citation of California case law, I believe I addressed that in my comment some time back

    “Granted, there are two exceptions to the need for a guardian ad litem. However, since most minors are in the care of their parens[sic] and so do not have a guardian or a conservator of the estate, they must appear through a guardian ad litem. The existence of a possible injury action alone does not meet the legal criteria for the appointment of a guardian or conservator of the estate.”

  4. Everyone who was here when it happened knows exactly what happened, it was common knowledge.

  5. Some guy named Nick: “LOL! I swear, under oath, I am not Richard.”

    No, of course he’s not. Technically, he’s not “Richard” — he’s still Nick”, while possibly posting/posing as Richard… which doesn’t make him “Richard”… because he’s just Nick. But for the sake of argument, let’s agree that he’s not Richard.

    The facts?

    There’s some history, here. We know that he’s done it before. And past behavior is a great predictor of future behavior, in many cases. (He didn’t confess before, but rather was caught red-handed, by that little thing known as one’s IP address.)

  6. the giveaway clues to the sock puppet were all there, open and obvious. even a second-class investigator could have figured out the evidence.

    1 “richard” blew it on his third post: “California Code of Civil Procedure section 372 just passed over my desk as one example.”
    a) no real lawyer would ever say such a thing.
    b) good lawyers keep close at hand on their desks a compilation of important statutes and court rules, and refer to it regularly (various “practice guides” and handbooks for stuff that lawyers use every day are published in all states). they do this in order to quickly double-check what they already know. no one who had any idea about what lawyers really do might ever say that a statute “just passed over my desk.”
    c) a real lawyer might say that he just used the statute, or that he just had a case about the statute, or that he just read that the statute was recently amended. most likely, a real lawyer would tell a “war story” about his last case involving the statute and how he won millions of dollars. a california lawyer might even cite some learned treatise (for example, by law professor gerald uelman, the leading expert on california procedure – and part of o.j. simpson’s backroom legal team!), but a real lawyer would never say that a statute “just passed over my desk” like yesterday’s newspaper.
    (n.b.: ccp § 372 has not been amended.)

    2 “richard” suddenly popped up out of nowhere and posted anonymously. can anyone think of a regular poster who ridicules and lambastes anonymous and pseudonymous posters? well, except when i pointed out that such friends of his as “dust bunny queen” are also pseudonymous. how can that ridiculer/lambaster instantly fall in love with a previously-unknown and anonymous source?

    3 can anyone name the most venomous, virulent, hate-filled, anti-lawyer bigot on mr. turley’s blog about law? might it be the third-string junior assistant gofer? how can that bigot instantly fall in love with someone who claimed to be a lawyer?

    4 “richard” actually identified the correct california statute about court appearances by infants. it’s not hard: a google search for california + infant + guardian ad litem will do it. unfortunately, neither he nor the third-stringer ever read the law. similarly, neither “richard” nor the third-stringer was able to explain why or how the plain words in the statute, “either by guardian or guardian ad litem,” actually mean “only guardian ad litem.”

    5 “richard” also fell silent when confronted with actual rulings from the supreme court of california. of course, in mr. turley’s blog about law, the third-stringer has *never* **ever** made ***any*** specific reference in any thread to any published and reported legal case (or to any statute!), in any state or federal court.

    6 “richard” has vanished. i wrote earlier, “it’s too bad that we won’t be seeing “richard” any more.”
    this was a veiled reference to underboss peter clemenza (played by richard castellano in “the godfather”) who said, “oh, paulie? won’t see him no more!” 😉

    7 neither “richard” nor the third-stringer has yet identified just one of the “many states” where “any personal injury lawsuit automatically has a guardian ad litem appointed to make sure the kid is protected from bad parents.” they/he haven’t explained why they/he have not. does anyone else wonder why not? could it be a total fabrication?

    8 most significantly, the third-stringer has now demonstrated just how casually and cavalierly he takes an oath.

    i hope that you folks have enjoyed this little adventure. even better, this has given me an ace or two which i’ll keep up my sleeve, and that i will use, sooner or later. maybe not tomorrow; maybe not the day after; but it’s there … and will be played on the third-stringer. i will *surely* have the opportunity to do so. i’ll just wait for the right time. here’s a hint: it’s about jury instructions (and if that gives those of you who know something about law a clue, *please* don’t blow it for the rest of the gang). with all his experience, the third-stringer knows all about jury instructions, right? lol!

    of course, if the third-stringer would ever admit that he lied …

  7. LOL! I swear, under oath, I am not Richard. And, I haven’t a clue who he is. However, he seems like a knowledgeable, nice guy who made the mistake of engaging someone who is neither.

    “You’ve gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY AND WHEN TO RUN.”

    1. Inga – if anyone can identify a sock puppet it is Inga, the sock puppet Queen. It takes one to know one, right Inga?

  8. alan,

    Sparing you the details, it wouldn’t be the first time. Has the same feel and flow as a prior incident. Similar language, as well.

  9. lol!

    it surely did sound like – and it unmistakably smelled like! – a sock puppet.

    it’s too bad that we won’t be seeing “richard” any more.
    “California Code of Civil Procedure section 372 just passed over my desk as one example.”


  10. Richard, See what I mean! It’s tough, but ignoring the insipid and vapid questions is the only way to deal w/ this ilk.

  11. let’s see.
    richard, who does not disclose his surname, cites california law, apparently claiming to be licensed to practice law in that state.
    the statute cited by richard, ccp § 372, says that minors shall appear *either* by a guardian *or* a guardian ad litem.
    nevertheless, richard says, “In many states, including my own, a guardian ad litem *must* be appointed for a minor to appear as a party in personal injury actions.” (n.b.: he does not specify any of the “many states.”)

    richard? is there any law in california which says that the plain black-letter words “either by a guardian or” in that statute must be ignored? why did the legislature include those words in the first place?

    in Spear v Ward, 20 Cal 659, the supreme court of california held “…general guardian is entitled to institute and prosecute actions on behalf of his ward.”
    in Crawford v Neal, 56 Cal 321, the supreme court of california held that an infant can appear only by general guardian or guardian ad litem.
    more recently, see, in general, Poaster v. Superior Court, No. F018643., COURT OF APPEAL OF CALIFORNIA, FIFTH APPELLATE DISTRICT, 20 Cal. App. 4th 948; 24 Cal. Rptr. 2d 582; 1993 Cal. App. LEXIS 1213.

    richard? is there any law in calfornia which says that the holdings of the supreme and appellate courts of california must be ignored?

    richard? keeping in mind california bpc § 6125 – 6133, are you licensed to practice law in the state of california? are you listed in martindale? how long have you been listed there? what is your rating?

  12. Nick S., I sometimes can’t help myself even when I can feel the conversation making the universe a poorer place. Must … try … to … resist …..

  13. Richard, You have the patience of Job. You do realize this gents other assertion is there are NO attorneys that specialize in both criminal and personal injury law. I have not wasted my time answering that, nor did I waste my time answering the guardian ad litem vapid questions either. You’re a good chap, sorry you ended up in this debacle.

  14. Alan Tiger, as long as you are clear that my statement that the existence of a personal injury action would not meet the criteria for appointment of a guardian does not apply to appointment of a guardian ad litem. As I previously said, in many states including my own, the court must appoint a guardian ad litem in most personal injury cases involving minors as they cannot otherwise appear.

  15. When a man is drowning, he will grab ANYTHING to try and stay afloat. Anyone know how much ocean condos in Margate are going for?

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