Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Joshua Woodward Trial: Pretrial 1

UPDATE 10/23: spelling DDA Habib Balian's name

September 11th, 2013
There was a pretrial hearing in the Joshua Woodward case today in Dept. 30 at the downtown Criminal Justice Center.  Woodward has been charged with four counts of attempted murder of his girlfriend's fetus.  He's currently out on 4 million bond.

As I was in the security line on the main floor about 8:15 AM, only one of the two scanners was open to clear the general public.  At the other scanner, there were four individuals that appeared to be with a film crew.  They had several cases and bags with them and I didn't see any network logos on any of the equipment.  After they were through, one of the senior deputies I've seen before told the security crew to "take them up in the freight elevator."  That was unusual because the elevator bay was virtually empty.

8:35 AM
I'm in the hallway on the 5th floor. I don't see DDA Habib Balian, who is prosecuting the case. I don't know who is representing Woodward at the moment.

8:45 AM
Dept. 30 finally opens.  Judge Torrealba is still on the bench of arraignment court.  After I take a seat in the center section, second row, I wait for an opportune time to catch one of the two bailiff's attention to ask about the case.  The attractive Latino deputy I first saw at the Lazarus case is checking in defendants who are scheduled today. The other female deputy tells me that the Woodward case is on the morning calendar and not the afternoon.  I'm relieved. If the case does not go to prelim today, I did not want to be stuck downtown for the next several hours.

8:57 AM
The well of the court is a bustle with various counsel checking in with the court clerk.  I finally spot DDA Balian and DDA Marguerite Rizzo checking in.  I didn't know that Ms. Rizzo was working this case.  She's co-counsel with Beth Silverman on the Lonnie Franklin, Jr., "Grim Sleeper" case.

9:05 AM
There's a very pretty court reporter at the desk directly in front of Judge Torrealba's bench. I've never seen her before.  She has jet black hair and perfect make-up.  To my left, I see a cameraman from local Channel 5, and I ask him what he's here for.  He shows me his paper and it's where I learn that four Irwindale public officials will be arraigned again today.

9:10 AM
Judge Torrealba takes the bench.  The large computer screen on the wall to my left has a defendant at the jail. The defendant agrees to have his arraignment by remote verses the courthouse.  The defendant waives his right to fight extradition to Arizona. After Judge Torrealba gets his statements on the record she says, "Good luck to you sir." There is a second defendant being arraigned from the jail who is wanted in Nevada.  He also waives his right to fight extradition.

City News reporter Terri Keith arrives and she takes a seat beside me. I'm always happy to see Terri because she knows so much about how the court system works and often manages about 40 cases at a time.   Terri is here to cover Woodward and the Irwindale public officials cases.  I mention the film crew to Terri but she couldn't think of any high profile case that was in trial at the moment.  This is just a guess, but the film crew could be here to interview someone from the district attorney's office.

Terri tells me that Woodward is represented by Janet Levine. (This looks like her, but I'm not positive. Sprocket.) I see Levine in the well talking to Balian. She's wearing a conservative gray suit with a black scoop neck blouse.  She has short brownish hair and glasses.

9:45 AM 
Judge Torrealba is still on the bench, there's quite a bit of activity in the well but no cases are being heard.  Balian and Rizzo are in the gallery, first bench row on the left. They are sitting with another young woman.

Finally the Woodward case is called and the parties step forward.  I see Woodward walk up to the well from the very back of the courtroom.  He's an attractive, sharply dressed man that looks older than the images I've seen of him on news stories.

The parties tell Judge Torrealba that they want to  resolve one outstanding issue and come back in two weeks on Sept. 23rd to set the prelim at zero of 30.  However, I believe that date doesn't work well for Judge Torrealba's calendar. The defense states they would like to see what is in the last big piece of documents they've received from the prosecution before they schedule the prelim.

Judge Torrealba throws out a date of Friday, Sept 27th, and I groan internally.  That date is the next hearing in the Michael Thomas Gargiulo case, which I don't want to miss.  The defense attorney tells Judge Torrealba that she will not be here on that date.  Judge Torrealba asks all parties to approach.

While counsel are at the bench I observe Woodward as he's standing in the well. His arms are crossed over his chest. He's wearing a light gray suit with a faint hint of color in the threads. In the florescent lighting, his hair appears jet black with a touch of gray.  Here is how Woodward appeared at a prior hearing, while in custody.

Joshua Woodward, at a prior court hearing.

Back on the record. Judge Torrealba states there is a preliminary "go date" reserved for October 21st. It's set as 8 of 10.  There will be a status hearing on October 2nd.  That date can be a non-appearance date for the defendant if everything is set to go forward.  However, if there are any outstanding issues, then Woodward would have to appear on Oct. 2nd.

DDA Balian tells the court that they have a subpoena out for medical records. It's a small amount of documents. Judge Torrealba states that they are probably in a stack somewhere and as soon as they are located the court will contact him.

And that's it.  I make my way back home.  It's my understanding that the prelim could take anywhere from one to three days.