Fresno County Deputy District Attorney Brian Exline Focus of Scrutiny for Frivolous Political Lawsuit Against Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor

By Robert Haugh

Before he became a Fresno County Deputy District Attorney Brian Exline was a law student at Santa Clara University. He got his law degree in 2019.

As a law school student in 2018, Exline sued Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor. He claimed she didn’t file her financial disclosure forms correctly.

The lawsuit was filed in October 2018. That was just weeks before Election Day when Gillmor was on the ballot for re-election. 

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen reviewed the claim about Gillmor weeks prior to the lawsuit’s filing. Rosen’s office concluded that Gillmor filled out her forms correctly.

But Exline filed his lawsuit anyway. That’s why Santa Clarans called it an “October surprise,” a “political hit,” and a “frivolous lawsuit.”

Exline lost the decision at the Santa Clara Superior Court. He also lost his appeal at the Fourth District Appellate Court.

Gillmor won re-election with nearly 75 percent of the vote over Anthony Becker.

But the controversy isn’t over.

In 2018, Exline hired a major San Jose law firm McManis Faulkner to represent him. A lot of Santa Clarans believe Exline was a frontman for the 49ers.

Exline’s total legal bill to McManis Faulkner could be $200,000 or more, according to estimates. No one believes that Exline could afford that as a law student. No one except the 49ers would pay that bill. 

Also, the McManis Faulkner law firm represented former Councilwoman Patty Mahan. That was when she and Pat Kolstad became the first persons in Santa Clara County history to be admonished by the City Council. Mahan was the 49ers’ strongest supporter on the City Council.

After losing the appeal, Exline must also pay Gillmor’s legal fees in addition to his own. Wow.

At least he’s no longer a law student. He has a job as a Fresno County deputy district attorney. So can he afford to pay a huge legal bill?

According to Fresno County, Exline began his job on August 26, 2019. His annual salary is only $77,298.  

With that salary level, no one we talked to believes Exline can afford to pay his huge legal fees and Gillmor’s. So who’s paying for it? And what does Exline owe them?

Here’s how one retired law professor put it: “He’s created a potential conflict for himself and the office. An ethical cloud will hang over his decisions unless he discloses and recuses himself from cases.”

This is a developing story.


  1. Good news to see a credible newspaper getting involved. Hoping SFChron will focus on the political games played on candidates who have served SC well. I hope the Chron exposes 49er involvement with Exline to hurt Lisa during the 2018 election. How they used dark money in 2016 to prop up their candidates. Let’s not forget some of those candidates like Mahan, Sellers, McLemore and Nadeem. And now getting the City Attorney fired.

    It’s time to expose these cockroaches and see them scurry for cover.

  2. Seems like the 49whiners are good at something, and that is making other people take the blame for their actions.

    Of course it takes two to dance (Counting the “Fab 5” as one), but it appears they have little concern for anyone else as they “Suck” people into their little schemes.

    It’s not easy to be a Public Servant. Let alone when you might actually be beholden to a local Private Company at the same time.
    I doubt they took the time to explain the possible long term effects this one decision might play in his life going forward. Hey, he was a college student at the time. We were all young once… we all made stupid decisions.
    I am still struggling to find out how they convinced 5 adults to do the same??

    1. All Actions have reactions.
    2. All Actions have consequences.

    As for the young man, I hope he can overcome this error and move on with his life.

    As for the Fab 5…. there is no saving this group. All 5 choose to fired a good man. We know who you are. That is public record.
    No discussion.
    Close Door meeting
    Vote done in less than 5 minutes.
    Why does it take 3 hours of going back and forth, over a possible $2.00 increase in our monthly garbage rates? Yet within minutes of a door closing, you come out with a 5-2 vote to fire our Attorney.
    So to sum it all up.
    5 of you thought it was a good move for our City to fire Brian Doyle. Brilliant.

    Brian Doyle is an employee of the City of Santa Clara.
    Brian Doyle is an Attorney in California.
    Brian Doyle record as an employee, as their attorney is stellar.

    So what is coming next?
    If we were watching the old Johnny Carson show, and he was playing the role of “Carnac the Magnificent”, I can see it now.

    He would look at Ed McMahon who would hand him a sealed envelop.
    Johnny would ponder for a second, then say, “Train Wreck, Massive Payout”

    He would then tear open the envelope, blow into the envelop and pull out a card, and it would read, “What happens when you fire, for No Good Reason, the City Attorney of Santa Clara.”

    Burt Field

  3. Does anybody in Santa Clara not think for one second that the 49ers did not pay and were not behind this bogus lawsuit? Of course not, it is right in line with their maximum effort to discredit and replace Mayor Gillmor. The 49ers have plenty of money and don’t mind spending it to control Santa Clara politics.

    On a related topic, campaign donation documents on file with the City show that Suds Jain loaned/donated $20,000 of his own money to his own campaign and Kevin Park loaned/donated $8,100 of his own money to his campaign. Who in their right mind believe that either Jain or Park would spend their own money, many believe these monies were paid back to them by their benevolent Uncle Jed and the 49ers. These donations should be investigated by the Santa Clara District Attorney as well as the State Attorney General.

  4. A fellow Rotarian knows the DA in Fresno from Rotary interactions. Lisa Smithcamp is in the Fresno Rotary. She has integrity and is known for cleaning things up. She won’t allow Exline’s situation to corrupt the office.

  5. The Niners owe Exline more than his legal fees. They’ve destroyed the young man’s professional career. If this story ever gets to the Fresno County Public Defender’s office, they’ll challenge him on every case. Exline is burnt toast as a government attorney. And the Niners are the ones who burned him.

  6. It’s interesting to see how the niners have likely interfered with elections since before they arrived at Santa Clara. But in actuality how many cases would he have to recuse himself from in Fresno County? But if he bosses didn’t know about his involvement in the case it could cast him in a bad light. But he should be used to that.

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