Defendant Cameron Brown and Lauren Sarene Key
May 30, 2014
I’m taking the 8:39 AM train today into downtown Los Angeles. Mr. Sprocket is using the car to make sales calls. I don’t mind taking the train. It’s a shorter walk to court than the budget parking lots downtown. The only downside is if I have to take the train and bus all the way home.
As I was saying goodbye to Mr. Sprocket he asks me, “Do you have your phone?” Nope. I forgot it, again. It’s at home, plugged into the charger. Once court is over and I take the train back to the valley, I will have to use a pay phone to see if Mr. Sprocket is nearby to pick me up.
This will be the first hearing that I cover with Brown representing himself.
I’m up on the 9th floor. Patty Brown, the defendant's wife is already here. She gives me a smile and says hello.
A very sharply dressed female attorney arrives. I’m admiring the braided hair band she has on her head. She enters Dept.105 once the bailiff opens the door.
A see a few defense attorney’s who are familiar faces. I don’t know any names I have seen them several times in Dept. 30 or waiting outside courtrooms. One attorney is knocking on the door to Dept. 107.
Judge Ohta’s bailiff comes out of Dept. 108. When he returns he’s carrying a large bottle of water. He unlocks the door for the attorney who is waiting on Dept. 107 to open. The attorney comes back out after having dropped out a large envelope.
Before Brown is brought out, the bailiff tells the court that the defendant has motions. Judge Lomeli responds, “Tell him the next time he has motions, he can’t file them on the day he’s ordered.” The bailiff goes back to the custody area. When he comes back, Judge Lomeli tells his bailiff, “We can go ahead and bring him out.” One of the bailiff's nods to the court. Judge Lomili responds, “Thank you.”
Brown is brought out. His hair is cut short but his beard is quite long. He’s carrying a green, canvas looking satchel with two light colored fabric handles. Brown has filed a request for discovery. Judge Lomeli asks, “I thought he had all the discovery?” Brown tells the court that this is a request for any new discovery.
It appears Brown has also filed a motion for a paralegal. Judge Lomeli states he’s not inclined to appoint a paralegal. Brown has a standby counsel and a private investigator. Judge Lomeli goes on to state for the record that he plans on setting the trial for a September date and that there will be no further continuances. "If Brown states he’s not ready, I’m going to declare him ready," the court states. Judge Lomeli states that the evidence, and all the information is very familiar to both parties. I’ll bring you back in July for status. Or, the court can bring you back in June for your paralegal request. Judge Lomeli states he hasn’t read Brown’s motion yet. Once the court has had the opportunity to read it, then Brown can respond/argue.
Brown’s investigator took possession of the discovery in this case. The court proposes to bring Brown back later, in June, and on the (prosecution’s?) end, they will address any new discovery.
DDA Hum tells the court that there was a prior list of discovery that was presented to the prior attorney, Mr. Laub. Judge Lomeli proposes to bring Brown back on June 27th, that’s a Friday.
Brown objects. Brown states that his motion is an informal request for discovery. “If he [DDA Hum] doesn’t respond within 15 days ...”
I believe the court addresses Mr. Hum, asking if it’s his belief there is any new discovery. Hum replies that he doesn’t believe there is but he will certainly check.
Judge Lomeli rules that he will declare that, June 27, to be zero of 60 at this point. “Mr. Brown, do you agree to this?”
Brown replies, “No I do not agree with that. The reason is that my prior counsel Aron Laub was discussing with you that he had an expert who wasn’t available until November and you agreed with that."
Judge Lomeli replies, “Well, he is no longer your counsel. .. The expert in question, which expert? What expert are you talking about?”
I don’t believe Brown provides a name or even identifies the expert.
I believe Judge Lomeli continues, “But that was because he was counsel on that.”
Brown tells the court that he’s not available (ready?) to go to trial. “My PI told me six months. He hasn’t done anything.”
The court informs Brown, “That’s up to him. You went pro per in April. That would mean you will be going to trial in five months. ... If you don’t agree ..”
If Brown doesn’t agree to the continuance, then legally, he must go to trial in 60 days. Brown doesn’t appear to understand this.
Judge Lomeli asks Brown what the name of his investigator is. He tells his court clerk to get the investigator. Tell the investigator I want to see him. The court will determine if the investigator has done “absolutely nothing.”
The court tells Brown that if he doesn’t agree to the June 27th date, then he goes to trial in sixty days. Those are the terms, after the court consults with Mr. Royce.
Brown tells the court, “But I don’t agree with any of those. ... How is Aron Laub able to delay for three years then I have pro per and I have to go right away?”
The court tells the defendant that he is sadly mistaken if he thinks he will get the same amount of time that Aron Laub had. Brown repeats again, that Aron Laub when he’s not ready there are continuance, but now that he gets the case he has to go to trial. “How come he got special treatment and not me?”
Judge Lomeli tells the defendant that he seems to be implying that this court, because Mr. Laub had continuances grant to him, and that because Brown is pro per, he should be given those same continuances. “That’s not the way it works.”
Brown replies, “I just need some more time. Not three years like him.” Judge Lomeli states, “Right now it’s a September date. If for some reason, a compelling reason, and you are close to trial on that date, if I need to tweak that date..." The court would move the date.
Brown tells the court, “I’m starting from zero on on this.” The court informs the defendant, “You were granted pro per in April.” I believe Brown tells the court that his PI is not cooperating with him. That his PI has not done any work on the case and that he needs a new PI to start over. The court replies that to grant a new PI, he has to talk to him first. He tells Brown that his PI did come over and pick up discovery. There is some discovery that Brown can’t get because it might contain information he is not directly allowed to have. That’s why discovery is going to the PI. The court also mentions security as a reason.
I believe it’s Mr. Hum who tells the court that it was his understanding that Mr. Laub was going to redact information that the defendant was not allowed to have, or the PI was going to do the redaction. Hum states that he remembers the last time they were here, Mr Brown didn’t want the investigator that Mr. Laub had. Mr. Brown wanted a new investigator. Mr. Laub told the court that the investigator he had was very familiar with the case. Mr. Hum states he doesn’t know what the investigator was given (to give to?) the defendant. Now, all of a sudden, the new PI needs to be replaced.
Judge Lomeli tells Brown that his two options are the June 27th date, or go to trial in 60 days.
Brown tells the court that he didn’t want Laub’s investigator because he had problems working with him before. Now the things that Brown wanted the investigator (Mr. Laub's? His new one?) to do, separate than what Aron discussed, he still hasn’t done any of that.
Judge Lomeli tells Brown that he doesn’t want to hear/know what he discussed with his investigator. The court then adds, Mr. Laub noted (in his exparte communications?) that you had some theories that you had, that are not in any way germane to whether you are ready for trial. He is not going to follow leads, or what ever you want him to do. He has an obligation to prepare you for trial. He is under no obligation to follow (these other requests).
The court again asks if he will agree to the June 27 date. He gives the defendant his choices.
DDA Hum interjects and tells the court that possibly there is a misunderstanding. He addresses the defendant directly. DDA Hum spends quite a bit of time patiently explaining in simple terms to Brown what accepting the continuance means. At one point, Brown interrupts Hum and Hum snaps back in a firm voice, “Don’t interrupt me. Let me finish. ... If you want more time then you need to waive.” He adds that waiving means that on June 27, it does not mean that he will go to trial sixty days from that date. He could get a continuance again on that date. Hum continues to go over in minute detail the court process that Brown has experienced ever since the last trial. Judge Lomeli further explains to the defendant what the hold over to June 27th means. “If you fail to waive, then in order to protect your rights under the constitution, you have to go to trial in 60 days.”
Brown at some point, admits that he didn’t understand what it meant to waive. He finally understands and does waive time until June 27.
The last thing Brown tells the court is that he needs a doctor’s order. The judge asks why he needs to see the doctor. Brown replies, “I have a growth on the bottom of my foot that needs to be looked at.” Judge Lomeli looks over at his clerk and asks. “Didn’t we already do that?” Brown tells the court, “I need to go back. I got medication but it expired and I need to go back.”
DDA Hum then tells the court that he needs the name and number of Brown’s investigator. Robert Royce (sp?).
Brown asks the court if he can request a certain investigator. “I have someone I like.” The court tells Brown, “He’s already picked up the boxes and I want to see what he’s done.” Then Brown tells the court he objects to the 6/27 Friday date. The court asks Brown, “Why? Do you have some place to go?” I don’t believe Brown has an answer to that.
Brown is then taken back into custody. After Brown has left, the court clerk tells Judge Lomeli that he has the investigator on the phone. Judge Lomeli gets on the phone with the investigator and tells him that Brown claims that he’s done nothing on the case.
The court tells the investigator that when he meets with his client, to tell him that you’ve have a chance to speak to me [Judge], and you tell him that if he doesn’t provide those things to you then you can’t prepare for the case. Judge Lomeli also mentions something about, “... these theories that are way out there...” and that the investigator is not required to investigate everything that Brown wants the investigator to do.
Judge Lomeli is still on the phone. A bit later, I hear the court say, “... Right. ... and you say that you don’t have all the discovery? ... Mr. Laub. ... Just a mess. ... Okay. When you meet with him the court is not inclined to replace you. ... can’t follow up on it. ... Plain and simple.”
I hear more of Judge Lomeli’s statements, to either the investigator or Mr. Hum. He says he (Brown) wants him to explore all these ... all these things that he can’t do. The investigator has met with Brown almost once a week, so the court is not inclined to replace him.
And that’s it for this hearing.
Here is what I’ve taken away from this hearing. As far as the prosecution is concerned, they handed over all their discover to the defense, via Brown’s prior defense attorney, Mr. Laub.
Mr. Laub was required to hand that discovery over to Brown’s new private investigator. The investigator will give Brown specific discovery he asks for, but he is not allowed to have certain information in his cell with him.
I suspect it’s doubtful that Brown will be allowed to have the 30 plus boxes of trial materials from his first two trials, that his previous defense attorneys turned over to Mr. Laub.
From what the court said today, it’s my impression the court will not be giving Brown any special leeway, or extensive time to prepare his case, unless Brown is able to present reasonable cause for the delay. It’s my best guess that this case could go to trial some time later this year, as early as September if Judge Lomeli holds to his projected trial date.
I have no idea what it is that Brown is asking his investigator to investigate, regarding theories that are not germane to the case.