Thursday, February 6, 2014

Restauranteur Joshua Woodward Arraigned on 4 Counts of Attempted Murder of a Fetus

Joshua Woodward at a previous court hearing.

UPDATE 12 NOON: spelling, clarity, links

I'm at the downtown Los Angeles Clara Shortridge-Foltz Criminal Justice Center for the Joshua Woodward case. Woodward's preliminary hearing took about six days, spread out over three months from October to January. On January 21, Judge Michael Pastor ruled there was sufficient evidence for Woodward to stand trial on four counts of attempted murder of a fetus. His arraignment is scheduled for this morning in Dept. 111, Judge Henry T. Hall's courtroom.

During the preliminary hearing, Detective John Shafia testified that when Woodward was arrested in the early morning hours of October 25th, he pulled his hands out of his pockets and dropped a cellophane bag on the ground that had a white powder substance in it.  Later, via a search warrant of Woodward's restaurant, Table 8 (aka 8 oz. Burger Bar), investigators discovered 22 tablets (19 white and 3 blue) in a backpack along with Woodward's laptop. The 19 white tablets were Misoprostol, 

Misoprostol, 100 microgram tablets

an abortion drug that's used through vaginal insertion.

Also found on Woodward's laptop were computer searches starting on August 26, through October 20, 2009, looking for abortion drugs and how to administer them. A sampling of the computer searches included:
"unwanted pregnancy" - legal rights men, 
evil ways to terminate a pregnancy, 
misoprostol insertion,
safest way to knocksomeone out,
8:00 AM
I'm in the cafeteria.  Woodward and a small part of his defense team are here. Janet Levine, Megan Weisgerber and one of the younger gentlemen who sat in the gallery during the prelim.  While in the cafeteria, I write up my notes on the Cameron Brown hearing yesterday. I missed the Brown hearing because Bryan Barnes was being sentenced. Barnes pled guilty to two counts of first degree murder in the deaths of the USC Chinese grad students who were murdered during a robbery. His codefendant, Javier Bolden at this point, is pleading not guilty. Barnes' sentencing was heart wrenching. I hope to have my notes up on that hearing in a few days.

8:30 AM
I'm on the 11th floor and Judge Henry Hall's court room just opened. The hallway is mostly empty. Just a few jurors and general public. Woodward's defense team, who came upstairs before I did, head inside. I have not seen DDA Habib Balian or DDA Marguerite Rizzo yet. I'll wait a few more minutes then go in. I'll have an update as soon as the hearing is over.

8:40 AM
Inside Dept. 111. It's a large courtroom with six rows of gallery seating. The jury box contains 14 seats. There are several additional seats directly in front of the jury box in the well. There are some notebooks in the jury box so I'm guessing Judge Hall might be in trial.

 Judge Hall comes out from the back rooms. He's a tall, silver haired be-speckled white man. His face is open, friendly.  There is no glass around the bailiffs box.  A man enters and checks in with the bailiff. DDA Balian arrives and speaks to Ms. Levine. From what I'm overhearing, they are working on scheduling dates for the next hearing. It's a pleasant conversation.  I'm wondering what types of cases Hall usually handles.

Two maintenance men enter and head to the back rooms.  The clerk asks if everyone is ready.  DDA Balian asks for five minutes. Ms. Levine tells the clerk that everyone is here but the prosecutor just needs to get some dates.

There is a nicely dressed woman sitting in the jury box. She has a rolling cart with her.  I don't see a juror badge on her clothing. She works on some files. When she picks up her phone, that reminds me that I need to put mine in silent mode.

8:53 AM
DDA Balian returns.  Another prosecutor enters and starts to set up at the prosecution table.  The court reporter is a handsome man with a hint of gray hair. A few moments later Judge Hall takes the bench and asks counsel to state their appearances.

Judge Hall tells counsel that for some reason, his court ended up getting many copies of the preliminary hearing transcripts. He doesn't know how that happened and they will take up too much space. Ms. Levine states they would be happy to take the extra copies.

Ms. Levine starts out by saying she wanted to inform the court of Judge Pastor's thoughts on the case. Judge Hall politely interrupts her and informs her that he's read the preliminary hearing transcripts.  He ran the case past Dept. 100. The only question Dept. 100 had was, should the matter go to trial, putting aside 402 hearings, etc., is that three weeks would be the cut off time. He was to hang onto the case at this time.

Ms. Levine tells the court she feels not including jury selection, jury selection would be lengthy, she expects that with expert testimony it's at least three weeks but no more than five.

Judge Hall said he would take that back to Dept. 100. The next court hearing would be in Dept. 100. Ms. Levine is concerned about the case calendar and 0 of 60. She asks to delay the arraignment and have it in Dept. 100. Judge Hall informs her that arraignments are not taken in Dept. 100. The arraignment will be here.

The arraignment is quick.  Woodward pleads not guilty to all charges and allegations. The case calendar is set at zero of 90. There is some discussion about the next date.  Monday March 10 or Friday February 21.  DDA Balian states he does have another pretrial on February 21. Judge Hall states that Monday's in Dept. 100 are pretty busy so he sets the date for February 21.  Bail stands.  I believe Judge Hall states that if the people hang with more than three weeks then the case will go to the 9th floor.

And that's it.  There is a long hearing in the Michael Gargiulo case on February 21, so I will probably miss the Woodward hearing in Dept. 100. I'll have to find out afterwards what the decision is on where this case will land.