Saturday, June 5, 2010

1861 Colusa courthouse gets improved

California’s second oldest still-standing county courthouse will soon get some $250,000 in improvements to its interior.

Improvements to the Colusa County courthouse include a new heating system and asbestos abatement that will force some interior changes to the historic courtroom and offices first built in 1861.
The "green" improvements will allow the county to remove the swamp cooling system from the Hall of Records and the row of tiny box air conditioning units from the windows along the west side of the courthouse, which has long-given one of the oldest courthouses in the state a shoddy appearance, county officials said.

"It won't be completely energy efficient," said Supervisor Kim Dolbow Vann. "Because the courthouse is an historic landmark, we can't modernize the windows. But it will still save us a fortune on heating and air conditioning costs."
--Tri-County News
The $250,000 includes about $45,000 for removing the asbestos, a process that will, unfortunately, require lowering the high-ceiling in what was once the district attorney’s office... Read more »

Friday, June 4, 2010

Santana judge nixes immunity;
ponders defense move to dismiss

Waiting to hear what Judge John Darlington’s latest action would be in People v. Jesse Santana and David Vasquez, case #08-825, took longer than learning what it was.

Defense attorney Michael Barrette arrived 30 minutes late in Yuba County Superior Court Department #4 , while Darlington was done ruling on two critical defense motions in 20 minutes.

Kibbitzers in the jam-packed gallery speculated that Barrette had been unavoidably delayed by a reported traffic jam on one of the two bridges between Yuba City and Marysville.

The rulings, one by one...Read more »

Thursday, June 3, 2010

'Crucial' Santana, Vasquez case
resumes today in Yuba Superior

The parties return to Yuba County Superior Court today to finish up a major hearing in the matter of People v. Santana, Vasquez.

Attorneys Jesse Santana and David Vasquez have yet to be arraigned on the alleged charges of bribery, conspiracy and obstruction of justice originally brought some two years ago.

The case got bogged down yet again last month when a key witness “took the 5th” in order to avoid commenting on his part in the legally crucial case.

With his own separate, but related criminal trial expected to open in the next week or two Joseph Griesa invoked his right to remain silent in an evidentiary hearing on allegations that two lawyers broke the law and violated legal ethics by arranging a $100,000 payment to settle a teenage girl’s sexual harassment lawsuit.

Griesa initially objected to testifying at all on a defense “points and authorities” motion in People v. Jesse Santana and David Vasquez, case #08-825.

Griesa’s Sacramento-based attorney, Kenneth L. Rosenfeld, told Judge John Darlington that any questions defense attorneys might have for his client had either already been asked and answered in grand jury hearings, or he would decline to answer them now under provisions of the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution.

Griesa was previously convicted of some charges related to his alleged unlawful sexual conduct with a 17-year-old girl who was working for him at Mitchell’s Towing Service.

A second trial on unresolved charges in that case was expected to begin June 8, but there has been another complication.

Retired Nevada County Judge Ersel Edwards had been named to preside over the Griesa trial, but defense recently filed a motion to disqualify him.

It is not yet known how that motion fared.

Reasons Santana, Vasquez is "crucial" are manifold... Read more »

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hagins verdict: surprises all around; innocent of biggies; guilty of lessers

A Yuba County jury found Marcus Charles Hagins innocent Tuesday on two of the five crimes he was accused of in a 2009 home incursion and bondage incident in Plumas Lake.

He was found guilty of three related lesser charges.

This mixed verdict was particularly noteworthy. Sacramento defense attorney Michael G. Bowman had declined to call any witness or mount any defense other than his closing argument – a dicey strategy seldom dared by any defense attorney, no matter how seasoned.

Instead of spending his life in prison, the 19-year-old Elverta man is now looking at doing as little as four to five years, with credit for one year already served awaiting trial.

Advisors familiar with the ins-and-outs of sentencing terminology said that, with luck, the kid could do even less.

Hagins’ precise prison term depends on how Judge Kathleen O’Connor interprets the sometimes obscure sentencing rules when she hands down the formal sentence 9 a.m. June 28.

The courtroom drama... Read more »

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Child's death could mean life terms
for 'disciplinarian' couple in Butte

A Butte County couple suspected of killing their 7-year-old adopted daughter waived their preliminary hearing last week. They return to court June 24 to learn their trial date.

Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, of Paradise, each face life prison terms on charges of murder, torture and child abuse for the Feb. 6 death of Lydia Schatz. They are also accused of beating her 11-year-old sister seriously enough to out her in the hospital.

Paradise and Chico newspapers reported:
“Both girls reportedly had whip-like marks, allegedly from being beaten for hours with a quarter-inch plumbing supply line.

The girls were both adopted from an African orphanage about three years ago, along with an infant girl. They joined the Schatz family, which included six biological children.

According to authorities, the Schatzes followed child training and disciplinary methods espoused by Michael and Debi Pearl. Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz both retained attorneys and pleaded not guilty to all charges in March.
The pair is being held in the Butte County Jail in lieu of $2 million bail each.

The Pearls favor a “spank and save” theory of child-rearing in their so-called No Greater Joy ministry, their web site states.Read more »

Monday, May 31, 2010

Judge limits news on 'juvie' rape trial

A Stanislaus judge recently limited media access to the trial of two teenagers accused of sexually assaulting another teen at the county juvenile hall, the Sacramento Bee reported May 22.
Judge Nan Cohan Jacobs was asked by the district attorney’s office to exclude the media to guard the privacy of the 17-year-old victim. The Bee — which is not identifying the victim or suspects because of the nature of the charges and their age — argued the trial should remain open with minor restrictions.

“He’s a vulnerable young man,” Jacobs said of the victim in announcing her decision. ...More@SacBee
It seems judges are getting as high-handed about excluding the press from public trials as street cops are getting arrogant about arresting people who record them in the midst of wrong-doing.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Act I? Afghan vet's severed head found

As many know, I'm an ardent fan of live theater and dead bodies. When the two become one, I become fascinated.

Eyes glued to the tube, I sent out for food during the O.J. Simpson trial.

This Costa Mesa, Calif. beheading/dismemberment story could be a good one to follow:
LA Times: Costa Mesa police detectives found the severed head of an Army veteran at a Long Beach park, the latest twist in a bizarre double slaying.

The discovery was made Saturday. The victim's hand and arm were found there in recent days.

On Friday, police said a community-theater actor had been arrested in the killing of Samuel Herr, a 26-year-old Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and was attending Orange Coast College. Police allege the suspect dismembered his body and then killed Herr's tutor, Juri Kibuishi, staging the scene as a sexual assault. They said the actor was the one who had invited Kibuishi to the apartment, using Herr's cellphone.

Daniel Wozniak, 27, who lived three floors below Herr, had recently wrapped up a nearly monthlong performance of the musical "Nine" at the Hunger Artists Theatre Company in Fullerton and was to be married Friday at a park in Long Beach, police said. He had financial problems, owed money to several friends and was about to be evicted from his apartment, said Costa Mesa Sgt. Ed Everett. The case broke when they linked Wozniak to ATM withdrawals from Herr's account, police said. ...More@LATimes
The only problem is the link doesn't say whether the mugshot is an old one of the victim or a new one of the suspect.