Sometimes you just got to wonder what people are thinking. Especially when they have a J.D. that must have popped out of a box of crackerjacks.
Such is the case with Court Commissioner Gregory Saldivar, whose ignorance of the law allowed two San Jose towing firms owned by father and son to game the small claims court system and scam innocent parties for more than a million dollars worth of judgments based on dubious interpretation of the law.
Vincent Cardinalli of Hollister and his son, Paul Greer, formerly of San Jose both owned tow companies who would, among other things, steal vehicles from people’s driveways and impound them and then sue the owners in court for towing and storage fees.
In some cases, these two gentlemen would file suit against numerous previous owners of the vehicles going back as far as eight years to recover towing charges and impound fees and in some cases, they would file against all of the previous owners of the vehicles at the same time. They targeted people with questionable immigration status, knowing that they wouldn’t likely fight. They targeted insurance companies and auto brokers who had sold vehicles many years before these gentlemen impounded them and in Saldivar’s courtroom, they would often win under the theory that an untimely transfer of ownership of the vehicle years before made the transfer invalid. This argument only succeeded in Saldivar’s courtroom so Mr. Greer and Mr. Cardinalli made it a point to file in Saldivar’s court.
They found refuge in conducting their scam from the courtroom of Commissioner Gregory Saldivar who presided over – according to press reports – 199 of these shakedown small claims and won them in Saldivar’s courtroom. If they were appealed out of Saldivar’s courtroom, these cases – and the novel interpretations of the law from the bench were routinely overturned.
Mr. Cardinalli was sentenced to 14 years in the big house. Mr. Greer will be spending 8 years in the big house. And to the utter amazement of the people of south county, Mr. Saldivar still holds a seat on the bench.
It is the near universal opinion of residents in this rural south county community that Mr. Saldivar should be removed from the bench and they are up in arms that a thing like this could have happened in their community. And yet, they watch the judicial branch protect one of their own with no action against the commissioner and wonder what the hell is going on.