LAW REVIEW: S.F. dog case gets even odder |

LAW REVIEW: S.F. dog case gets even odder

The San Francisco dog attack case gets more bizarre every day.

It turns out that the owner of the dogs that attacked and killed Diane Whipple is Paul “Cornfed” Schneider, who is serving a life sentence in Pelican Bay. He earned the nickname Cornfed because he is the “baddest of the bad” according to prison authorities. Cornfed is 6-foot-2, 226 pounds and a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. He has strong opinions about race relations in prison.

Schneider robbed four armored cars before finally getting caught and ultimately sentenced to 17 years. He stabbed a guard at Folsom and was moved to Pelican Bay. Later he smuggled a homemade knife into a Sacramento courthouse and stabbed an attorney who was representing a fellow Aryan Brotherhood member, apparently not pleased with the attorney’s performance.

By all accounts, Cornfed is one scary dude.

But not according to Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller, who agreed to care for Cornfed’s two Presa Canario-mastiff dogs, the ones that attacked and killed their neighbor Diane Whipple.

As we all know, Noel and Knoller adopted Schneider. He was the son they never had. Knoller allegedly described Cornfed as “handsome, articulate, intelligent and charming,” and Noel added, “he is a man of character. If you treat him with respect he treats you with respect.”

What they didn’t add is if you diss him, you take a shiv in the ribs.

A San Francisco Grand Jury is gathering evidence to consider whether to indict Noel and Knoller for failing to control a dog “trained to fight, attack or kill” or for failing to use “ordinary care” to control a “mischievous animal” whose attack results in death.

According to news sources, a search of Schneider’s Pelican Bay prison cell uncovered very personal photos of Knoller – not the family snapshots you and I have of our “Mom.”

Both sides are trying the case in the press. Cornfed, through his attorneys Noel and Knoller, filed a $100 million claim against the California Department of Corrections for violation of the right to privacy, defamation, and for damages. They claim the C.D.C. unlawfully disclosed the adoption of their sweet son Cornfed, and also dispute claims there is a dog-fighting ring and that the dogs were trained “to protect meth labs for the Mexican Mafia.”

There is no doubt the prosecutors or C.D.C. are attempting to prejudice the case. The search warrant was for recovery of materials “describing sexual acts by Noel or Knoller that involve dogs.” No evidence that I am aware of. Yet.

On the other side, Cornfed is conducting prison interviews and going after the C.D.C. and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, which is headed by liberal Terrance Hallinan, brother of defense attorney Patrick Hallinan, who was charged (and acquitted) of criminal conspiracy by his former client Ciro Mancuso.

One thing for sure, this isn’t the Ozzie and Harriet Nelson family. Noel, Knoller, Cornfed and the two dogs, now one dog, are a family deserving of each other. Their case is receiving national attention and giving all of us a heightened sensitivity about dog attacks. Trial by press or not, it is interesting reading.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter/Simon, with offices in Truckee and Reno. He may be reached at or at the firm’s Web site

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