Monday, May 19, 2008

Kazuyoshi Miura Case: Pre-Trial Hearing May 9th

I apologize that it has taken this long to get a story up. Blogging has taken a back seat to RL priorities in the last few weeks.

I take the train today to save on expenses. Unleaded gas in Los Angeles is fluctuating somewhere between $3.85 to $3.95 a gallon. Mr. Sprocket drops me off at the train station in North Hollywood. He's on a bit of a forced work break having injured his arm just two weeks ago today.

The NH station is virtually empty and as I get down to the train platform there is a train just about ready to leave. I pick up my pace walking down the escalator and just make the train. I'll call donchais as soon as I get back above ground. Just passing the Universal City Station, there is a group of young teenage boys that, even though I'm terrible at judging ages, must still be in school. I wonder why they are all off today.

The car is about 3/4's of the way full and not very noisy at all. I can't help but listen in on the teens conversation and try to keep from rolling my eyes or laughing.

"Dude! If you had teleportation powers, you wouldn't have to pay for anything! Teleport on some's skateboard! They'd be like, WTF? Teleport into someones car..."

All this dialog is accompanied by sound effects to represent the teleportation and the astonished individuals faces when you would teleport next to them. Passing the Wilshire/Vermont station the car starts to fill up and I continue to wonder where the teens are headed. Right before I get off at Civic Station, I overhear that they are headed into Chinatown.

I finally get to the courthouse and through the first floor security. When I reach the 13th floor, I'm told that they will not be drawing tickets because they believe they will be able to get everyone in this time. In the large crowd, I see Miriam Hernandez from local ABC Ch 7. They public liaison clerks start calling out the accredited paper's names and the Japanese journalists line up.

Associated Press! GG Press! NHK! Sun K Shinbushin (sp?)! LA Times! Fuji TV! City News! Channel 7! KNX Radio! KTLA! CNN! Japanese Broadcasting! US Frontline News!

After most of the reporters are lined up, Alan Parachini speaks to the crowd. "We don't know if there will be a ruling today. If there is a decision, don't assume there will be a written decision along with it."

I see the cute Japanese reporter Mirei Sato again and we exchange greetings. This time, her paper US Frontline got on the reserved list for a seat and she joined the line when her paper was called. I also see Mary Plummer from The Yomiuri Shimbun and she introduces me to her associate, Caleb (sp?) who knows more about the Miura case.

Caleb and I chat about the types of stories that interest him the most and if he ever gets the opportunity to choose the stories he reports on. Caleb has an interest in anything science or medicine related and we discuss what he's followed in neuro-physics, black holes and the atom smashing machine (particle accelerator) on the border of France and Switzerland. The machine hasn't been turned online yet and there is fear that the machine could create a miniature black hole in the center of the earth. Apparently, the machine that was planned in Texas was abandoned and there is one planned for somewhere in California. I mentally shake my head at the thought of building one of these machines in a state rife with earthquakes.

We're finally let into the courtroom and I take a seat in the center back row. It's not a great seat, but I can see a bit more than I did at the previous hearing. It's 1:35 pm and court hasn't started yet. I see Sandi Gibbons is in the front on the very far right of the courtroom. She's wearing a really nice black suit and white blouse. I have a feeling she's going to be speaking to the cameras today after the hearing, and not Alan Jackson.

I see the AP photographer in the jury box along with the video camera and other photographer. We are just waiting for the judge, who just now takes the bench.

Judge Van Sicklen: "I've had a chance to review everything, and will give both sides (time) to respond. Mr. Geragos has the burden and the motion."

I don't know what it is, but I just have a hard time listening to Geragos. Geragos goes over the points in his motion saying something about "the tortured meaning about 656..." He goes onto say, "The second thing is the Mallord case. The Superior Court case said that the language shall not apply." (I'm lost here. I'm not getting what shouldn't apply.) He brings up another case. "Michael Conolly, (sp?) 1936 case, the Superior Court ha said, no prosecution can be made against this witness." Then he mentions something about 804 and 977 and that the people are somehow making it out that 977 "is the trump card" but Geragos also mentions that the California Supreme Court "...does not require the defendant's presence, it's called the Beardsley Analysis." People vs Beardsley is a 1991 case. "656 is implemented at trial. 793 is prior to trial," Geragos says. There are more rulings and cases quotes and I'm totally lost again.

"866 section specifically says that you can present a defense at preliminary hearing. If there is no preliminary hearing then why do we need Division 30?" Another case is mentioned but my notes on it are not clear.

Alan Jackson gets up to speak for the people. "Mr. Geragos misses the entire point. We are not trying to be creative as to what the statue states. Prosecutions will be prosecuted by indictment or an information (process). 682: The only way a felon can plead, specifically hold that there are five exceptions to that broad rule."

"Why do we have Division 30? Common sense. Because the prosecution has not begun until a prelim or exam. (There are) separation of powers. The judicial branch is examining evidence." And he goes on about the separation of powers between the various branches to support his point. Jackson mentions 1016, and something about "a plea of once in jeopardy, the prosecution (?) an indictment. Under 977, he has to come back. But let me say about the cases presented. Six cases. Valiant effort, but all the information (decisions?) was post indictment, or post trial."

"If you follow his (Geragos) reasoning, this would be the first time in California history that this would be done. (Not requiring an accused to be present.) There are many stages between now and then. There are many stages and arguments. 793 has to be litigated. What was he tried for. What was the conviction? Was there an acquittal? Are those the same acts he will be charged for here?"

I write in my notebook: Jackson is magnificent!

"These are all things that must be litigated. He can't phone in a defense." I look up at the right wall of the courtroom and there are photographs of 29 Criminal Supervising Judges up high on the wall.

The Judge finally speaks. "I want to resolve some of the glaring issues, and will prepare a tentative ruling. Bottom line, absolutely right on point. Geragos did not present anything of a legal nature to prove that Miura was convicted and the decision overturned. His motion would fail at least because of that. You (Geragos) have not shown that jeopardy would attach."

"Whether or not he can waive his appearance on 793....whether he is here or not, there's no reason that I could anticipate that I could ask him about....the people can not explain how the people are prejudiced by him not being here....." And Jackson gets up and apologizes for interrupting the Judge.

"No prejudice exists. There is a procedural prejudice," Jackson replies.

I agree if there was just 656. I would agree," the Judge responds, and then goes on to give an example of a person acquitted and then confesses. "The people, under our law could not convict. 973 says you are immune from doing that. We are dealing with constitutional question not just statue questions."

The Judge then says he's going to table the matter until May 23rd as to that issue, and it looks like Geragos is going to win Miura not having to come to the US just yet. The Judge asks Geragos if he can get Miura connected to the courtroom for the next appearance via a video feed. Geragos babbles something about getting a hook-up via his son's Apple computer.

I have a note here, but I'm not sure who said it; Geragos or the Judge. You arrange for a video screen. We can ask him for his waiver via the video feed.

The Judge goes onto say that, "Just dealing with 793 excludes 656." And then it's like he's pondering some things over in his mind. "When does a prosecution actually begin? The arrest warrant begins," and then he calls off cases to support his point. "(It) starts from complaint; not from information." Another case example is given. Hannon. Case starts one a complaint is filed. Immunity is granted long before a case is filed. Not an offense, an immunity.

Jackson steps up to speak again. "These are due process rights to that particular procedure. I don't know that we've had a case where we've...." The Judge and Jackson argue case points, and then Ric Ocampo also joins the banter, but I was scribbling so fast, I'm not exactly sure who said what.

If prosecution ignores defenses or immunity exists, they shouldn't be doing that. (Judge?)

If we don't like the law.... (?)

Ric Ocampo argues, "We disagree in the interpretation on the double jeopardy issue."

I don't know if we've ever seen this before... a person with extradition. (Judge?)

We have an immunity issue. It's a (?) of law and enormous expense. In the Judge's opinion, a prelim won't make a difference. (Judge)

Alan Jackson: "This is an important issue and I appeal that the court takes the time. How can we even make a determination if the acts are the same? How can we determine that?"

Judge: "You lay out in your complaint in great detail. We can determine that from the documents in Japan. I think we all know that we are all dealing with the same case."

There's lots of commentary by the Judge that the case has been heavily in the media, and the media has reported that this is the same case, however, we don't have any judicial documents to substantiate that.

And I write a note here that it now sounds like Geragos has won, well, at least has stopped the extradition in it's tracks.

Judge: "My ruling is against the people on whether he has to be here. My ruling is that we can proceed without him. On the issue of judicial notice, I think you (people) prevail." Then there is quite a bit of wrangling to try to get a date to come back that everyone can agree on. The Judge did state that he needs documents from Japan, translated, from three different court rulings. The arraignment, the trial court, and Japan's high court that over ruled. We're talking about thousands of pages of documents, translated. That's going to take a while.

Gerago's motion to quash the arrest warrant would fail because he did not include these documents in with his motion to show his client had legally been prosecuted before. A date is finally chosen to reappear. June 16th.

As I'm leaving the courtroom, I see over on the far left side of the courtroom in the almost the back row, Pat Dixon sitting by himself in casual clothes.

The press conference is held in the same place on the Temple Street plaza. It's not really a big "plaza" like one would think but just the small open space in front of the building.

Smiling, Geragos tells the dozens of Japanese reporters, "The judge ruled that Miura didn't have to be here. (At the next hearing) at that time, we are hopeful that the case will be thrown out. The judge decided that Miura didn't need to be here. We've won that we won't have to drag him here. I'm disappointed only in that he has to sit there for another five weeks. Miura will be on video for the next hearing."

Then Sandi speaks to the press, and I can't hear her over the street traffic. I'm too far back in the crowd.

"The Judge says that Miura doesn't have to be here for the double jeopardy ruling, but that he also needs to see the rulings from the Japanese court before he can rule ( on double jeopardy)."

Sandi goes onto say that these are hundreds of pages of documents and it will take some time to get them from Japan and translated. She sort of hinted that the date of June 16th will probably be delayed again depending on how long it takes to get these documents and get them translated.

And that's it. I give donchais a call to update her on today's proceedings and I take the train back home.