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     The far more serious "violent counts" which would form the basis for later controversy--namely, kidnapping for extortion, residential robbery and assault with a semi-automatic firearm--were added against Jin and Chu on April 16, 1996--13 months after the arrest. Ostensibly, the beefed-up amended indictment was based on Yan's testimony at the preliminary hearing that Jin had forcibly detained him and his wife and pistol-whipped him.
As a term of her probation Trammell ordered that she visit a psychologist once a month to learn to be more independent.
     Why the violent counts weren't included in the original indictment is one disturbing question that arises. One possibility is that Yan didn't initially make an issue of the facts supporting the kidnapping and assault charges, perhaps, as Jin suggests, to see if he could extort Jin into paying money for not pressing them. Another possibility is that the DA's office decided later that Jin was a dangerous man to be put away for the longest possible term.
     In either case, it's apparent to legal observers that the DA was overreaching in trying to prosecute Jin for kidnapping for extortion, residential robbery and assault with a semi-automatic weapon.
     On October 10 the case was assigned to Judge George Trammell, III, who presided over Department H of the Pomona branch of the California Superior Court for Los Angeles County. The balding, bespectacled Trammell was tall, heavyset and physically imposing. His face was often set in a characteristically stern and impassive expression. He had become a judge in 1971 when, after eighth years as an assistant district attorney, he was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court. In 1988 he had been promoted to the Superior Court. Since then he had worked in the main courthouse in downtown Los Angeles until being transferred to Pomona in 1995. He was divorced from his first wife by whom he had two grown daughters, one of whom worked as a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney. Trammell lived alone in Phillips Ranch, a quiet, green and well-kept Pomona neighborhood about a five-minute drive from the courthouse.
     The Deputy District Attorney assigned to prosecute Jin, Chu and Lo was Larry Morrison. It soon became aparent to Morrison that the case against Pifen Lo was weak as to the violent felonies. He struck a deal with Lo's attorney Dale Rubin to dismiss the violent counts in return for Lo pleading no contest to the nonviolent counts.
     On January 18, 1996, 10 months after her arrest, Lo pled no contest to money laundering and child endangerment. Three months later, on April 26, Judge Trammell surprised Morrison by his leniency when he sentenced Lo only to five years probation. Suddenly, she was a free woman, while Ming Ching Jin and Yu Chu remained locked up in the county jail. Judge Trammell's decision to let her off with probation may have disappointed Morrison, but it wasn't out of line with the circumstances. Lo's attorney had produced an expert witness who had testified that she suffered from a severe case of the dependent-wife syndrome.

Pifen Lo met Judge Trammell for sex in his house in secluded Phillips Ranch, five minutes from the Pomona courthouse.

     As a term of her probation Trammell ordered that she visit a psychologist once a month to learn to be more independent. The judge could have decided that Lo's involvement in Jin's criminal enterprise was merely from lack of sufficient strength of personality or independence of mind to protest. What's more, Lo's early release would help ensure the welfare of the three Jin children.
     "She presents a good impression of a gentle, soft-spoken woman," says Jin's attorney Montie Reynolds.
     No improper motive on Judge Trammell's part showed itself until April 29, when he called Lo into his courtroom, complimented her on her appearance, touched her shoulder and winked at her. It wasn't until much later that Lo made any mention of this incident. And it wasn't until the next day when Reynolds made the Motion to Suppress Evidence that anyone else had reason to question the Judge's mindset. The Motion was made to keep the prosecution from showing the jury the bulletproof vest, firearms and explosives seized in Jin's home during the arrest and various snapshots showing Chu holding a pistol grip shotgun. Since none of this paraphernelia was used in the alleged kidnapping of the Yans and had no logical connection to the piracy and money-laundering charges, the attorneys for Jin and Chu argued, letting the jury to see them would serve no purpose but to taint their view of the legitimate case. The motion was both valid and important and should at least have been heard, and probably granted. Page 6

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