Wednesday, June 9, 2010

2 items of interest: Griesa, Hutchings

Two items of interest to court-watchers are working: the state prosecutions of Joseph Griesa in Yuba County and Jeffrey Hutchings in Sacramento County superior courts.

Both were in court Tuesday; both seem to be reaching some sort of conclusion. Fuller stories will be available tomorrow. For the moment, though, here is a brief recap.

An impartial judge appointed by the state Supreme Court has rejected a defense motion to recuse a visiting judge from trying the case of People v. Joseph Griesa.

Griesa, a former tow company executive, is now in his third or fourth lawyer, his second trial and is still embroiled in legal problems stemming from allegedly sexually bothering under-aged female employees at Mitchell Towing Company.

His disputed testimony in also a key issue in the separate but linked matter of People v. Santana and Vasquez.

Griesa’s attorney, Kenneth Rosenfeld of Sacrament, had claimed that out-of-town judge Ersel Edwards might be too prejudiced against Griesa to rule fairly in Griesa’s second trial in the sex allegations case.

San Joaquin County Judge Bernard Garber ruled Tuesday that while Edwards may have set views on how the Griesa trial should be conducted, it does not mean he is prejudiced against any case the defense might present.

The trial in that matter is now expected to continue, but only after a number of last-minutes motions have been dealt with in another hearing Yuba County Superior Court hearing slated for June 15.

Notable Trials correspondent Sam Pierce has been following the Griesa proceedings closely. We’ll have a fuller joint report tomorrow on what’s up with that controversial case.

Meanwhile, another case of interest has suddenly popped up in Sacramento County Superior Court.

Court clerks, lawyers and others tuned to the everyday doing in that courthouse steered Notable Trials to a new and rather odd trial now underway before Judge Lawrence Brown in Department 38.

While some called the matter of People v. Jeffrey Hutchings “first of its kind,” prosecutor Darren K. Indermill of the state Attorney General’s Office, would only go as far as calling it “unusual.”

Hutching is charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence of the “rave” substance nitrous oxide in January of this year.

The circumstances described by several prosecution witnesses, primarily arresting and investigating officers from a variety of local law enforcement agencies certainly did make it seem unusual.

The officer who first stopped Hutchings just off Highway 50 near Folsom called it “unique.”

Some 40 or so expended canisters of nitrous oxide were reportedly found littering the inside of the car operated by Hutchings with a companion passenger.

Two unexpended canisters and another box of multiple unexpended canisters were founding the vehicle after it was stopped for weaving drastically around the roadway.

I came into the case late and not all details were immediately available, but they are expected to be recapped in closing arguments scheduled to occur today.


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