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Retired Judge, Ardent Civil-Grand-Jury Supporter to Santa Clara Politician: “We Are Coming At You”

A former judge and mouthpiece for the California Civil Grand Jury Association hassled Santa Clara’s vice mayor nearly two months before the release of a civil grand jury report.

Quentin Kopp, a retired judge who penned the foreword to the 2022 edition of “California’s Civil Grand Juries,” sent menacing letters to Santa Clara Vice Mayor Anthony Becker as recently as the end of last year. The civil grand jury report “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” was released in October 2022, but Kopp sent letters to Becker two months prior in September.

That report, which Becker is slated to go on trial for leaking later this month, hurled many allegations of corruption at Becker and his Council colleagues. The tenor of Kopp’s letter, scrawled in flourish script and mailed to City Hall — making them public record, is similar, albeit with much more colorful verbiage, to the grand jury’s conclusions in 2022.

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Kopp, who turns 96 next month, is highly decorated, having served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1971 to 1986 prior to a 12-year stint on the California State Senate. He studied at Harvard University and Dartmouth College and is a Korean War veteran. He has been a steadfast supporter of civil grand juries.

The Weekly learned of the letters while investigating civil grand juries for another article. Those inquiries attempted to determine who, besides the grand jury, would likely have access to information in a report prior to its publication. Questions toward that end were met with silence from the court and the Civil Grand Jury Association, which publishes the 54-page informational guide for which Kopp wrote the foreword.

Whether outsiders have access to conclusions in grand jury reports prior to their publication is relevant in light of Becker’s trial and the potential for jury contamination.

The most recent report, titled “Irreconcilable Differences,” was released last month, a little over a month before Becker’s trial. The aforementioned report that Becker allegedly leaked saw release just prior to the mayoral election, where he ran against incumbent Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor.

Both reports give his public image a huge black eye and are politically expedient for his opponents, which calls into question whether grand juries are evolving into political hit squads.

Kopp comes out swinging starting with the envelope’s address line, addressing it to “Anthony (Slime Ball) Becker.”

And it only gets worse from there.

In his first letter, dated Sept. 12, 2022, Kopp opens by telling Becker he should be “thrown out of public office.” Kopp is just getting started, going on to claim Becker has “a foul mouth” and is “bought and paid for by the Mafia-originated DeBartolo family.”

Edwin DeBartolo is the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers. His involvement in a 1998 corruption case landed him felony charges. That case involved then Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, who DeBartolo gave a $400,000 bribe to secure a riverboat license.

In a verbal coup de grace, Kopp tells Becker, “We are coming at you for violating the Brown Act.” The Brown Act is a sunshine law that aims to secure the public’s access to government meetings. The letter does not clarify to whom Kopp is referring when he writes “we.”

He goes on, calling Becker “corrupt,” telling him to “wait until the U.S. [Attorney] files his criminal action.” He closes with “deploringly” [sic] before signing the letter.

Along with that letter, Kopp included a clipping from a “San Francisco Examiner” article featuring Becker. Atop that clipping, Kopp wrote, “Becker: You’re no good and will lose despite Mafia DeBartolo owning you!!!!!”.

Another card addressed to Becker in December 2023 shows a cartoon woman saying, “Don’t give up!” and “I need help!” Over her reddish-orange dress, Kopp wrote, “I’ll say you need help. Talk to Eddie D.”

Becker declined to comment on the letters, directing inquiries to his attorneys. Becker’s attorney, Chris Montoya, declined an interview for this story.

Apparently, Kopp is known for sending critical letters, as a “San Francisco Chronicle” reporter learned in 2020. Those letters, along with those sent to NPR’s Tamara Keith calling her a “moronic school girl,” take aim at slipshod language.

But this is a different animal.

Grouchy letters to journalists about their language usage seem kind of quaint. Mailing a politician vitriolic letters, accusing him of corruption and crime shortly after representing the Civil Grand Jury Association, when two grand juries have treated that politician like a punching bag, is much less innocuous.

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5 Comments
  1. Fred 2 weeks ago
    Reply

    Is this a symptom of his senility, or something deeper?

  2. RJ 2 weeks ago
    Reply

    Ah yes, Quentin “Great Dissenter” Kopp. In 2009, Kopp wrote a letter to then Senator Feinstein trying to convince her to focus on particular build locations for California High Speed Rail instead of those already approved by California High Speed Rail Authority. At the time, Kopp was a member of the CHSRA Board, used official Board letterhead, but didn’t receive prior approval from the Board of Directors (sound familiar? search Lisa Gillmor letter to Gov. Newsom). When another board member obtained the letter, Kopp apparently tried to keep the letter from official record and attempted to conduct an ad hoc vote without any advance notice to the public which was considered a clear and egregious violation of the Brown Act.

  3. The Dude 2 weeks ago
    Reply

    So Tony will give you the letters, but not give a comment for your article???

  4. GoodShipSantaClara 2 weeks ago
    Reply

    What did Quentin know and how did he come to know it would seem to be natural questions.

  5. Jim 2 weeks ago
    Reply

    The kangaroo approves of Kopp.

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