Influential mother appeals to top criminal defense attorney to fight Petaluma charges
The Sonoma influencer accused of false reporting after accusing a Petaluma Latino couple of attempting to kidnap their children has hired a high profile lawyer in her defense.
Katie Sorensen, 28, who faces jail time on two felony charges centered on providing false information to police and police dispatchers, appears ready to fight the case, with a GoFundMe launched on her behalf seeking to raise $ 50,000.
And she hired “tenacious lawyer,” Gail Shifman, a San Francisco-based criminal defense attorney with experience handling dozens of major cases to bolster her defense, which began in earnest Thursday.
During his arraignment in Sonoma County Superior Court on Thursday, Sorensen asked the court for a demurrer, sometimes referred to as a motion to dismiss, stating that even though the allegations it faces are true, they are insufficient to establish a valid cause of action.
“Simply put, they say, ‘If all the facts are true, then these facts are insufficient,” said Sonoma County Assistant District Attorney Bill Brockley.
Sorensen’s defense will have until Thursday to make their case in favor of the legal maneuver.
Shifman, a white-collar criminal defense specialist whose clients included the IRS analyst who pleaded guilty to leaking the banking information of former Trump associate Michael Cohen, did not respond to the messages phone calls or emails Thursday and Friday to ask for feedback.
In her LinkedIn and Super lawyers profiles online, Shifman touts his success in representing clients accused of sexual and gender-based harassment, domestic violence and rape and securing acquittals or reduced sentences for others facing serious criminal charges.
She has also represented clients facing a variety of other charges including insider trading, large scale drug offenses, counterfeiting, racketeering, child pornography and homicide.
In his LinkedIn profile, Shifman also highlights his ability to close deals.
“Gail is also a master of winning quietly, outside the courtroom, away from the glare of unfavorable publicity,” according to Shifman’s online profile.
Sonoma County prosecutors confirmed Sorensen’s two misdemeanor charges on April 29, and each carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail, Sonoma County Deputy Chief Prosecutor Brian Staebell said last month. .
The district attorney’s office’s decision to indict Sorensen, a Sonoma-based Instagram influencer, came nearly four months after she accused Petaluma’s parents, Eddie and Sadie Martinez, of attempting to kidnap both of her kids on Dec. 7 at a local Michaels craft store. Sorensen would later document the allegations, now widely regarded as racial profiling, in two Instagram videos that garnered 4.5 million views and sparked a storm of media attention.
In videos released on December 13, Sorensen recounted in heartbreaking detail how she narrowly avoided two buyers who were trying to kidnap her two young children.
In the days following the high-profile accusations, Petaluma Police announced that Sorensen’s allegations were unfounded and cleared the couple of any wrongdoing. But the episode left the Martinez family in shock, after their harmless journey to buy a decorative baby Jesus last December launched them into the public eye.
The family learned of their role in the story that had circulated like wildfire online only after Petaluma police released security camera footage of the Martinez.
“My kid came up to me and showed me the picture, and said, ‘Mum, that looks like you,’” Sadie said in an interview with the Argus-Courier in December.
In the months that followed, the couple, who are parents of five, grappled with the accusations, recently turning to activism and community engagement.
Petaluma Mayor Teresa Barrett appointed Sadie to the city’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Policing and Race Relations, where she recently launched her version of the San Francisco Caren Act, which made racially-motivated 911 calls a crime.
Sadie has also long defended the consequences for Sorensen, whom she blames for propelling her family into the national spotlight with accusations Sadie has called cases of shameless racial profiling.
Following the district attorney’s office decision to indict Sorensen in this case, Sorensen’s mother, Jill Turgeon, set up a GoFundMe with the aim of raising $ 50,000 for Sorensen’s legal defense.
In GoFundMe’s post, Turgeon calls the accusations “completely wrong” and says the goal of the $ 50,000 fundraiser is to pay attorney fees and possible legal proceedings, signaling that Sorensen is ready. to fight the charges.
Since its inception on May 9, the campaign has raised $ 2,250 through 27 mostly anonymous donations.
Brockley said it would likely take a few more weeks before the court has a chance to decide on the overestimator and whether or not to move the case forward.
“If the overestimation is granted, the court will dismiss the complaints. Or, the overestimator can be turned down, and if that happens, then (Sorensen) will enter a plea, followed by a conference and a jury trial date, ”Brockley said.