Friday, May 30, 2008

Cameron Brown Pretrial Hearing, May 13th, Part II

The first part of this story can be found here.

Finally, Pat Harris shows up. Now I'm sure that I am in the right courtroom. Another case goes before the Judge. "The defendant ordered released on his own recognizance. Ordered to return in six months. Keep up the good work," the judge tells the defendant.

And, then another. VA10033 Addressing the defendant, the judge says, "Bench warrant is recalled and quashed. Set this for one month. Ordered to probation. Defendant released on his own recognizance. Go to the third floor and check in."

There is a recess for a few minutes and I wonder how long it will take the sheriff's to bring Brown up to the 13th? It's a small courtroom and the jury box is on the far right, just the opposite of Fidler's and exactly like Pastor's courtroom. There are now about eight to ten people waiting for their case to be heard. There are attorneys milling about in the front. I see two deputy sheriff's sitting in a row off to the far left, near the door.

At 9:17 am, Brown is brought in. Pat Harris is at the defense table. I don't hear the prosecutor's name. There are two people at the table, one a woman sitting down and there is a man to her left. Brown and Harris are in intense discussion, and we wait for the judge to get back on the bench.

A sheriff walks over to Brown and uncuffs one handcuff for a moment and then it looks like he recuffs him. There are quite a few big binder folders on the prosecutor's side of the table all spread out. I can't see if Brown is cuffed to the table or not.

9:25 am, Judge Sterling takes the bench. "#1 people verses Brown BA335360." I don't have in my notes who says this; I believe it's the judge. Pat Harris for the defendant. Gary Gross filed a motion to quash. Harris is seeking a long list of videos.

Judge: Does defendant waive reading and enter a not guilty plea?

Harris is subpoenaing records from the Sheriff's Department, the arresting agency. And the penal code 1054 comes up. The Judge says, "We'll not order anything produced outside of 1054. I'll hear argument..." (1054 is part of the penal code that has to do with the rules of discovery.)

Harris goes onto say there is a long history... two and a half years of history...."

And then I miss the rest of what is said. There are Cameron Brown support blogs out there that claim Brown has been repeatedly harassed (accusations include withholding special dietary needs, not receiving prescribed medication, personal items urinated on, hot water turned off and phone access interrupted) by sheriff deputy's while housed at the Los Angeles County Jail. It's not like harassment of those incarcerated in the LA County Jail system by officers is something new. Far from it. Here's an LA Weekly story from 2003 along similar lines. I'm not saying that the harassment and abuse Brown has claimed is true. What I'm saying is, it's quite possible. It's my understanding that child molesters are at the bottom of the heap in prison or jail hierarchy, and those who are accused of killing their children must be just a few rungs above them.

Brown looks over his shoulder at his wife.

One of the parties states that there are sheriff's here in court, ready to testify.

Like I mentioned before, it was hard to hear, and my notes unfortunately are sketchy. I apologize my notes are not clear as to who said what.

I believe Harris says, "Offer of proof. In jail for 4.5 years. There have been a number of incidents. A number of situations..."

Judge: Why do you want them on the witness stand?

Harris: To show history and pattern of behavior.

Judge: We're not going to conduct depositions or interrogatories. You must establish that through argument. If we need testimony, we will schedule a hearing.

And a date is set to return to court. May 28th (which I missed going to) at 15 of 60. A trial date is set for July 2nd.

Prosecution table: (PT) The man from the prosecution's table speaks about the video's the defense is seeking. "Some of the video tapes requested ...are on a hard drive. It's not possible we don't have those records."

Harris: Order them not to tape over.

PT: Not possible.

Judge: You can make a motion under (? Young ?) ... (I'm sorry that I missed getting the statute the Judge mentioned.)

PT: It's all erased. It's copied onto a hard drive and copied over. It's too late to preserve it.

And that's all of the hearing I have. Like I said, I couldn't hear well, and it wasn't clear who was speaking. I find out later that the gentleman at the prosecution's table wasn't the prosecutor at all. He is a legal advisor for the Sheriff's Department. I ask him if he heard the prosecutor's name and he said that he didn't catch it. I thought that was interesting. Maybe he didn't want to tell me.

I head back into Sterling's courtroom and sit through a few hearings until think I hear a name for the prosecutor, but I later find out the name I heard was not it.

It appears to me that the defense might have demanded these tapes early on and there is an issue as to whether or not the Sheriff's Department destroyed potential evidence by not turning over these videos or hard drive or whatever medium they were housed when they were requested.

Today, I spoke to the Public Liaison's office (they were quite helpful) and also called Department 133. At the May 28th hearing, the case was held over until June 18th for a discovery hearing and then June 26th for a pretrial conference. The July 2nd trial date is still set. At the hearing I attended on May 13th, the prosecutor was Eloise M. Gillott. However, on the May 28th hearing I missed, Dennis Lockfield is listed as the DDA of record, with Marcus Musante filling him for him. According to the Public Liaison's office this often happens pretrial where cases are shifted from one prosecutor to another.