SAN JOSE, Calif. The trial date in the revived criminal case against Avanti Corp. has been set for Feb. 12, 2001, as the Santa Clara County district attorney's office takes another crack at proving Avanti officials stole trade secrets.
Two charges have been added to the original case: concealing and withholding stolen property, and conspiracy to do so. The heart of the case is the same: Avanti executives and others are accused of stealing software code from Cadence Design Services Inc. (San Jose, Calif.). In addition, defendant Eric Cho, who had been dismissed from the original case, has been reindicted.
All eight defendants, including Avanti chief executive officer Gerald Hsu, appeared at the Aug. 21 arraignment to plead not guilty.
As in the original case, defendants face the possibility of 12 years in prison and a $27 million fine, assistant district attorney Julius Finkelstein said.
On Aug. 14, the Santa Clara County district attorney filed a new set of criminal charges against Avanti (Fremont, Calif.) and the eight individual defendants of the original case. The original case had been dismissed on procedural grounds on April 28, just weeks before the trial was set to take place.
Because the dismissal was not based on the evidence in the case, Finkelstein decided to refile charges. "The evidence of guilt remains as strong as it ever did," he said.
Pretrial arguments are due to be heard by Judge Kevin Murphy, but Finkelstein has filed an affidavit asking that Murphy be pulled from the case, citing a possible prejudice against the prosecution's case. Murphy was the judge who dismissed the original criminal case.
Attorney conflict cited
Finkelstein also has suggested that the defendants sign waivers regarding potential conflicts of interest concerning their attorneys. Most of the defendants presumably qu alify for an Avanti indemnity clause that allows the company to pay criminal-defense costs. Because Avanti is a defendant itself, "there is a potential that [a defendant's] lawyer is being paid for by someone with a different interest," Finkelstein said.
The waivers would also cover the instances where a defendant's attorney represented a different defendant in the original case; in such circumstances, it's possible that actions that serve one client could end up harming the other, Finkelstein said. At least two of the defense attorneys have moved from one client in the previous criminal case to another client in the current case.