Michael Thomas Gargiulo, date unknown
February 21, 2014
I’m on the 9th floor of the downtown Criminal Justice Center. The hallway at this end has a scattering of people. There are more people down at the other end of the hall including media. I think I see the famous AP reporter as well as Miriam Hernandez from local ABC 7. I also see Terri Keith from City News. Terri is the most talented reporter covering the criminal courts. She often juggles 40 cases at a time.
I see the media head into Dept. 109 so I’m betting it’s for the Bell corruption fiasco that’s still ongoing.
There is also a Woodward hearing in Dept. 100 on the 13th floor that I will miss. I will try to find out when the next hearing date is and where the case gets assigned.
Shortly after I arrived Chris Nicely, one of Gargiulo’s private investigators (Nicely will handle the death penalty phase) arrives. I note that Nicely is left handed, like myself.
There are several people here from the general public that have children with them. There are also several attorneys. It’s not too difficult to tell who is a DDA and who is a defense attorney. There’s also the regular bunch of court appointed defense attorneys that I usually see in Dept. 30, arraignment court.
I see Judge Lomeli, (Dept. 107) out of his robes and wearing a short sleeve navy shirt, unlocking his front door. A few attorneys try several of the doors on this end of the hallway but Dept.’s 108 and 106 still remain locked.
DDA Akemon is usually here by now, and I’m wondering if he has a hearing in another courtroom. I see Mark Werksman, who defended James Fayed on murder for hire charges. It looks like he has a hearing in Dept. 108 this morning. He’s currently chatting with a few other attorneys.
A quick glance at the entrance to the security station, and I see DDA Habib Balian who is prosecuting Woodward. I’m wondering if the Woodward case got transferred already. It looks like he went into Dept. 103 with another attorney I don’t recognize.
Dept 108 opens and I debate going inside or stay watching the activity in the hallway. I decide to go inside.
Inside Dept. 108
There are a few people already inside. There is another case that will also be heard today, and it will probably go first. I hear Mr. Werksman, who is over at the clerk's desk, state that they are here for the Yang/Kim matter. When Werksman see me, he smiles, but I get the sense that he doesn't remember who I am.
A few moments later DDA Daniel Akemon, DDA Garrett Dameron and LA Co. Sheriff's Detective Mark Lillienfeld (pronounced Lilly-field) enter. I get a quick greeting smile from everyone. Dameron leaves the courtroom a moment later.
Akemon goes over to the clerk's desk to check in. Afterwards, he places a short stack of papers at the defense table. Werksman and Detective Lillienfeld enter into a lively conversation in the well.
I ask DDA Akemon about the Ka Pasasouk case. There was a pretrial hearing in that case yesterday in the San Fernando courthouse. He tells me that the case was transferred downtown to Judge Larry Fidler's courtroom. I have no idea why the case was transferred. The next hearing is February 28 and will most likely be short.
Akemon and Nicely are having a quick chat. I catch a few words of their conversation and it appears they might be talking about whether or not Gargiulo received the DA's latest motion filings.
DDA Garrett reenters.
Judge Ohta's pretty court reporter sets up. Chris Nicely has moved from the last row of the gallery to the well of the court. I note that Judge Ohta's hair looks a little fuller today. Maybe it's just tossed up a bit higher.
Judge Ohta enters the courtroom, putting on his robe as he approaches the bench. He addresses counsel in the well. "Counsel on Yang & Kim, approach please."
After a discussion at the bench the court goes on the record to set the case over to April 11th. Ms. Kim's court approved Korean interpreter is also ordered back on that date.
Gargiulo is brought out. He still has the gray and black goatee. His hair looks like it's been recently trimmed. He's not wearing his glasses. To me, he doesn't look anything like the booking photo at the top of the page. He's lost his color from being incarcerated for so long, and he appears like he's lost weight.
Judge Ohta asks the defendant if he's ready, or if he wants some time to talk to his investigator. As Gargiulo and Nicely chat, Gargiulo puts on his glasses.
Judge Ohta goes on the record and documents the appearances. "The last time we talked about SDT's issued for police records." Judge Ohta mentions the filing motions he has in front of him, most likely from the DDA. There are four motions filed, three responses and a motion to compel. Judge Ohta tells the parties he needs to read through them. He asks Gargiulo if he has received them and if he needs to read through them. The court also indicates that there are four envelopes here (subpoenaed documents). "I don't know what they are. ... I think we should come back ..."
I believe Gargiulo is asked what he wants to do. Gargiulo replies, "My understanding ... that I didnt' want the prosecution (interfering?) in (my defense?) ... I think I'm being (?) ... I'm asking the SDT's to be held ex parte ... "
Judge Ohta tells the defendant, "They (DA) say they have standing to quash." Gargiulo replies something to the effect that what he is requesting is the Sheriff's Dept. medical disbursement procedures, that they have no objection and that they handed over the SDT. The court replies, "So respond to it and give me authority that they are prohibited from (participating?) from this process." Judge Ohta is basically telling Gargiulo that he needs to give him case or code law to support his position that the DA has no standing to quash the SDT's he's sent ut.
Judge Ohta also tells Gargiulo that just because he's issued an STD, that doesn't mean the party being served can't appear. Gargiulo tells the court that his understanding is that party he's serving would be the one's challenging his subpoena. The court tells Gargiulo that the DA believes they have standing to challenge.
The next court date is March 7th, and Gargiuo is asked if that will be sufficient time for him to write a response. Gargiulo responds, "That should be okay." Gargiulo then adds, "The last time [he was here] I withdrew the subpoenas. ... I went under informal request. ... It's a protocol to determine who is authorized to disburse medication."
Gargiulo at some point, believes that the DA is trying to get inside his defense, his work product by trying to quash these SDT's.
Judge Ohta replies. "I have no idea what you are talking about. ... I understand the procedure. I just don't understand the content."
It appears Gargiulo is looking for policies and procedures for "who" at the LA County Sheriff's is authorized to disburse medication to detainees at the jail. Gargiulo then goes into this long ramble about how he was told by a deputy that he was ordered to take a medication. "Now the prosecution says I'm not allowed to have that, quoting 105.4.1. ..."
Judge Ohta responds, "You speak specifics and then you go global on me and I'm trying to follow you."
At the last hearing, Gargiulo withdrew some SDT's he issued, requesting the protocol and procedures of disbursing medication. He was supposed to request this information informally of the DA. On February 9, 2014, hi filed (an SDT?) for LA County Sheriff's protocol for disbursing medication at the Men's Central Jail for June and July 2008. Gargiulo points out that there was a typo in the DA's response (they quoted criminal procedure 104.5.1 and it should be 105.4.1) saying this information is not discoverable. Gargiulo states something about this material being exculpatory.
Judge Ohta interrupts Gargiulo and tells him to stop. The court says something to the effect of kudos to Gargiulo for finding that error in the DA's motion. He then explains the standard procedures these requests need to go through. It depends on each and every item, the specific item, what steps will be followed. "The item dictates what happens, " Judge Ohta explains. Gargiulo is allowed certain information under an umbrella. That's the discovery process. There is other information that he can obtain, that's outside the umbrella. "Not everything you ask for are you entitled to." The court explains that the opposing party can contest the other side gets this information. "The prosecution says they have standing to quash. ... It must be resolved individually. ... Are you with me so far?" Gargiulo responds, "Yes, yes."
Judge Ohta continues, "I haven't read this motion to file and motion to quash. " DDA Akemon explains that the motions he filed today are related to the SDT's that were discussed at the last hearing. Akemon believes they target law enforcement.
Gargiulo asks if he can make a suggestion, if it's convenient for both parties. Juge Ohta tells Gargiulo, "How you want to hand this is completely up to you. ... If you want to let the DA know what it is (the SDT's) that's completely up to you. ... We all don't know what's in there."
DDA Akemon adds, "One of the remedies that I suggested, it seems it would be appropriate for the court to look at the documents to see if it's discoverable." Akemon adds that, "I'm not in a position to argue on the SDT's ... I don't know what' in the envelopes." Akemon's position is, "... we can't litigate in the dark. ... People's rights may need to be protected."
Judge Ohta tells Gargiulo, "I'm going to hand you the envelopes. You are not to open them. This is to determine if these are the matters that you issued SD'Ts for."
While Gargiulo is looking over the envelopes with his investigator, a man with a badge on his belt comes in to speak to Detective Lillienfeld. I see Lillienfeld hand the officer his parking stub. The deputy quickly leaves.
Judge Ohta addresses the parties, "What's that code for in camera procedures regarding SDT's? Is it 1326c?" After Gargiulo looks through the envelopes, the court asks, 'Are all these documents here, documents you issued an SDT for?" Gargoulo states that there is one envelope with the name of his other investigator, Christian Filipiak. He's not sure what that one is, because all the SDT's he issued under investigatory Nicely.
Judge Ohta asks the prosecution if they would like to look over the envelopes. The two prosecutors and their detective look over the envelopes. DDA Akemon tells the court that all the envelopes appear to be SDT's issued by Gargiulo, with the exception of the UCLA Medical Center envelope. He believes that envelope is his subpoena.
Gargiulo thinks that might be his medical records.
Akemon tells the court, "I believe those are records for a victim. ... This is a prosecution subpoena. ... One of the victims was treated at UCLA." Judge Ohta explains to Gargiulo that this is the prosecution's subpoena. The court asks Gargiulo if the prosecution can open the envelope, copy the information, give the defense a copy and return the original documents to the court." I believe Gargiulo agrees.
Judge Ohta continues, "That leaves seven big envelopes. I think some of these contain smaller envelopes." I believe Gargiulo asks, "If there's no objection the the DA's behalf, ... okay if the court opens [his] the subpoena's and identifies each of the items."
Judge Ohta tells Gargiulo, "Doing that bypasses the motion to quash. ... but if some one's quashing, I need to deal with that." There is a bit more explanation about the quashing process.
DDA Akemon states he's going to object to the court opening the subpoenaed documents without first knowing who what subpoenaed. Judge Ohta tells the parties he is not going to open them at this time. The next step then, is Gargiulo needs to respond the the motion to quash the subpoenas. Gargiulo is asked again if the next scheduled hearing date, March 7, is enough time to respond to the prosecution's motion. Gargiulo agrees that this is enough time.
DDA Akemon then tells the court that there is one last housekeeping matter. The DA's office has turned over discovery pages 28,697 through 28,775 of the murder book to the defense. The court asks if Gargiulo received the documents. He did. The court signs the receipt as does Gargiulo. And that's it for today's hearing.
Here is my understanding of what's going on with the case at this point.
Basically, just because Gargiulo issued a subpoena for documents doesn't mean he has the right to see the material he's requesting. What if Gargiulo issued a subpoena for my phone records and the carrier turned them over? Does Gargiulo have a right to that material? How relevant would it be? The prosecution's position is, they will question any subpoena Gargiulo issues, when they don't know 'who' he is issuing a subpoena for.
After the hearing, I head to Dept. 100 on the 13th floor to see if I can find out where the Woodward case was sent. A sheriff's deputy kindly told me that Woodward was transferred to Dept. 103, Judge Curits Rappe. I've never been in his court before. The next hearing date is March 21.