Friday, July 29, 2016

Michael Gargiulo Case Pretrial Hearing 35

 Michael Thomas Gargiulo, in custody, date unknown

Full T&T case coverage HERE.
Prior hearing on this case HERE.

July 14, 2016
It's been awhile since I've had the chance to update everyone on the Gargiulo case. Not a lot has changed, except that Gargiulo now has counsel he likes and appears to get along with.

I attended the pretrial hearing on Thursday, July 14 in Dept. 108. The last pretrial hearing I attended was on January 27. I missed pretrial hearings on February 29 and April 11.

8:35 AM
In the hallway on the 9th floor I see Dale Rubin. I reintroduce myself to him. Right beside him is a sharply dressed attorney I've seen many times around the courthouse, but I don't know his name. I introduce myself. He is defense attorney Daniel Nardoni and Rubin's second chair on the Gargiulo case.

8:47 AM

Deputy DA Dan Akemon and his intern arrive on the 9th floor. DDA Akemon goes over to chat with Rubin and Nardoni. Defense investigator Chris Nicely is here. Chis is an exceptionally nice guy and I've enjoyed the conversations we've had over the last few years. 

8:50 AM
48 Hours producer Greg Fisher arrives around the same time as LA County Sheriff's detective Mark Lillienfeld. They chat for a bit before Greg comes over to say hello. Over the years, several of Detective Lillienfeld's colleagues have mentioned what a phenomenal detective he is.  

8:58 AM
There are about three dozen people in the hallway. It's a good mix of jurors, general public and counsel. 

9:05 AM
Down at the other end of the hallway headed this way I see Deputy DA Garrett Dameron, DDA Akemon's co-counsel. 

9:15 AM
Inside Dept. 108, I take a seat in the second bench row. Greg joins me. I give him a short update on the case. As we enter, there is a pretrial hearing in another case. Judge Ohta's regular court reporter and court clerk are at their desks. The other hearing is quickly over. 

9:16 AM
Judge Ohta tells his bailiff, "Let's have Mr. Gargiulo."  A few minutes later, the DA's Chief of Media Relations, Jane Robison arrives.

9:18 AM
While the bailiff is retrieving Gargiulo, Judge Ohta, Rubin and Nardoni have a friendly chat. Rubin jokingly tells the court that he and his new co-counsel can't stand each other.

When Gargiulo is brought out he looks the same as when I last saw him. Orange jumpsuit, bald head and clean shaven. As Gargiulo sits in his assigned chair, Rubin puts his left hand on his client's upper back. Gargiulo then leans right to speak to the bailiff and then his new co-counsel.

The court goes on the record. The defendant is before the court. The parties state their appearances. Daniel Nardoni then tells the court that they have "two Daniels," and asks Judge Ohta if he would like to call DDA Akemon "Dan" and himself "Daniel" or "Danny." Judge Ohta pauses a minute before he responds, "I'll probably call you by your last name."

It looks like this is the first time Mr. Nardoni has appeared on the record in Dept. 108 representing Gargiulo. I recently reviewed all the court clerk's minute notes on this case. It appears Mr. Nardoni was appointed on May 27, 2016 in Dept. 123.

As I've mentioned before, Dept. 123 is the 987.9 judge appointed for this case. This is where all defense requests for expenditures are reviewed and approved.

The case calendar is 3 of 90. Rubin tells the court that the defense team is set now. They are trying to come up to speed on the facts of the case. They request a return date of September 14. By that time they will have "digested" the materials.

The court asks Gargiulo if he waives his right to a speedy trial and that the next hearing will be on September 14. "Yes, your honor," Gargiulo responds.

The people put on the record that they turned over discovery pages numbered 30,904 to 31,491. The discovery has officially passed 31,000 pages. Mr. Nardoni verifies they got the discovery last week.

The defense tells the court that Mr. Gargiulo received from a medical person an order for bottled water. The Sheriff's have not been compliant with that order. The defense asks if the court can order that.

Judge Ohta tells the defense that they need to file a habeas [motion?] that [the Sheriff's?] are not compliant. Judge Ohta adds, "File it with me and I'll look [it] over."

Mr. Nardoni asks the court for an order to be able to take his laptop with him when he visits Gargiulo at the jail. Judge Ohta states he will sign that order.

And that's it. Next hearing is September 14, 2016.

When I step onto the elevator, I believe I recognize a detective. I ask him, "Are you Detective Thomas Small?" He tells me "Yes." He also adds that this is his last day. He's retiring as of today. Detective Small is a legendary LAPD Homicide Detective at the Hollywood Station. He was the lead detective on the murder investigation of victim Ashley Ellerin.

Next pretrial hearing September 14.....


Miranda Phoenix said...

Thanks for the update. Following on behalf of friends and family of Ashley Ellerin.

Unknown said...

You do such a great job keeping up with this case. Thank you, it has to be a lot of work. I heard there was another murder he's suspected of doing in Downey. He was never going to stop killing. I also suspect it never would have gone to trial if he was still pro se

Sprocket said...


Thank you.

The Downey Murder
At one time, LE thought that Gargiulo was involved in this murder but detectives eventually ruled Gargiulo out as a suspect. At one time, LE also thought that Gargiulo was involved in the Juliana Redding murder. The court was informed of the people's position on the Downey case.

Pro per Status
The case would still have gone to trial if Gargiulo represented himself. It would have taken longer, but it would go to trial.

Gargiulo would have been pressed by the Judge to meet deadlines set by the court to respond to motions filed by the prosecution. While he was pro per, Gargiulo only responded to [IIRC], a single motion filed by the prosecution, and that was the Perkin's Operation motion. He did not work on his 995 motion. The 995 motion is the basic, first motion the defense files after the preliminary hearing.

When you make the decision to represent yourself, you do lose some of your rights. You can never claim later that your counsel was ineffective.

Due to his own actions, Gargiulo had lost his law library privileges, and there was no way they would be reinstated by the court. There were several court hearings on the Sheriff's actions that took away Gargiulo's pro per status.

Just because you decide to go pro per does not mean the law is required to provide you with access to a law library. However, in CA they do. If you violate the security/safety rules in place in the jail, the Sheriff can take that privilege away. It's just that simple.

The court would never dictate to the LA County Sheriff's jail, which inmates constituted a security risk. I've never seen a judge do that.

Gargiulo had to have seen the impossibility of the situation which is why re relinquished his pro per status.