Dumanis deposition: Marine widow's attorney has 'vendetta' - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Dumanis deposition: Marine widow's attorney has 'vendetta'

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - San Diego County attorneys defending the District Attorney's office have filed a summary judgment motion requesting that a $20 million lawsuit filed by marine widow Cynthia Sommer be thrown out of court.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has been deposed as part of the lawsuit, which is set to go to trial soon, just as the DA's mayoral campaign is heating up.

The motion, filed Dec. 16 in federal court by Senior Deputy County Counsel Morris Hill, claims prosecutorial immunity for Dumanis and Laura Gunn, the former deputy district attorney who brought murder charges against Sommer in the death of her husband.

It has been almost a decade since Sgt. Todd Sommer, 23, died inside his family's home on the Miramar Marine base in February 2002. It took investigators more than three years to bring murder charges against his 32-year-old widow.

At the time of her arrest in November 2005, Cynthia Sommer was the mother of four children, three by a previous marriage and one by Sgt. Sommer.

In 2007, a jury convicted Sommer of murdering her husband by poisoning him with arsenic, though prosecutors never established in court how Sommer may have obtained the poison. The alleged motive was a quarter million dollar life insurance policy.

The defense contended Sgt. Sommer died of a heart attack and the arsenic found in his tissues was the result of lab contamination.

The judge later overturned Sommer's conviction, saying her original trial attorney, Robert Udell, was ineffective and prosecution evidence presented to the jury concerning Sommer's sexual lifestyle was overly prejudicial.

Cynthia Sommer spent two and a half years in jail, and during the criminal trial details of her sex life were aired in open court.

Sommer was freed from jail in 2008, after new testing showed no arsenic present in previously unanalyzed tissue samples from Sgt. Sommer's body.

Sommer's federal lawsuit alleges prosecutorial misconduct and civil rights violations. The suit is set to go to trial in the coming months and the mudslinging continues as the case proceeds.

During an Oct. 24, 2011 deposition, District Attorney Dumanis claimed Sommer's criminal defense attorney, Allen Bloom, has a grudge against her stemming from a 25-year-old prostitution case involving the so-called Rolodex madam, Karen Wilkening.

"Mr. Bloom has quite a vendetta against me," Dumanis said during the deposition. "I was involved as a deputy district attorney in the Rolodex case... in which Mr. Bloom was caught in an undercover operation where he solicited a high-class prostitute from Ms. Wilkening."

Attorney Bloom is not involved in Sommer's lawsuit and did not respond to News 8's messages seeking an interview.

The county included excerpts from the Dumanis deposition in the court filings.

In its motion for summary judgment, the County also claims Sommer's lawsuit was filed in an untimely manner, and the tissue testing that led to Sommer's freedom was flawed.

"It was plaintiff's extreme good fortune that the District Attorney's Office moved to dismiss the criminal case quickly," the motion concludes.

DA Dumanis, as well as Sommer's civil attorney, Robert Rosenthal, declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.

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