Hayashi’s ‘Tumor’ Defense
Katy Grimes: The late Friday news reported that Castro Valley Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi has a benign brain tumor, and that is what caused her to shoplift $2,500 in clothing from Neiman Marcus in San Francisco.
Interestingly, the judge assigned to her case reduced her felony grand theft charge to a misdemeanor. Hayashi’s husband is Alameda County Judge Dennis Hayashi.
But the tumor defense was not used in court yesterday, when Hayashi pleaded no contest to the reduced charges. The court was given nothing indicating that Hayashi had or has a brain tumor.
The tunor defense, similar to the Twinkie defense, only came up after she plead guilty to the charges. And it was after leaving the court room that her attorney mentioned it for the first time- late on Friday.
Prior to yesterday’s court appearance, Hayashi had been saying that she was innocent and her attorney told everyone in the media that this was a “silly case.” Hayashi spokesman Sam Singer has called the incident “a mistake and a misunderstanding.”
Her attorney and spokesman have stated that she had intended to pay for the items but became distracted by a cellphone call and a snack at the cafe and inadvertently left the store without paying. “According to sources close to the case, a week before the Neiman bust, a store saleswoman noticed that a dress was missing after a woman matching Hayashi’s description tried it on. The saleswoman did not know who Hayashi was, but when Hayashi showed up Oct. 25, the clerk alerted store security and they began tracking her with surveillance cameras,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Drudging up the Carole Migden defense, Hayashi’s attorney, now says that a “brain tumor” is the real culprit. In 2007, Migden smashed her state-issued SUV off a concrete median on Interstate 80 and nearly ran other motorists off the freeway before slamming into the back of another vehicle. Former State Sen. Carol Migden, D-San Francisco, said she was reaching for her official cell phone when the wreck occurred. But many of the other motorists said that she had been driving erratically for miles. And 9-1-1 tapes proved it. Migden claimed she was under medical treatment for leukemia, and the medication she was on caused her to crash.
But amazingly, she was cured of the dreaded disease and back at work in no time. Midgen subsequently lost her reelection attempt.
A medical excuse is actually brilliant because no doctor will release medical records to prove or disprove it. It’s the same as running into a church for refuge.
However, Hayashi’s case of forgetfulness doesn’t remotely ring true. She doesn’t just casually stop by Union Square on her way somewhere. Hayashi had to make the 30 miles drive from her home in Castro Valley, cross a bridge, and find parking in Union Square, in order to shop at Neiman Marcus. She brought her own shopping bag with her into the store. And it was reported that store employees said they were already on the look out for Hayashi because they suspected she had shoplifted from that store only weeks before.
Now, the “brain tumor” PR campaign is in full swing. But her attorney said she’s out of the woods and has a clean bill of health.
Several years ago, Hollywood actress Winona Ryder was caught shoplifting at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. Ryder was ordered to pay restitution, and had to serve hundreds of hours of community service. The judge told her that if she was ever in his courtroom again, he’d send her to jail.
Many are questioning why Hayashi has not been asked to take a leave of absence from the Assembly.
But Hayashi’s charge was miraculously reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. She now only has to pay a $200 fine, and did not receive any community service time as a punishment. But the biggest gift to Hayashi with the misdemeanor charge is that she does not have to give up her Assembly seat. A felony would have required her resignation.
That’s too bad – if she had resigned, Gov. Jerry Brown could have provided her a soft landing and appointed her to the new state department he created to manage California’s mental hospitals – the Department of State Hospitals.
JAN. 7, 2012
May 23, 2013