Sunday, November 1, 2009

Melissa Huckaby Has New, High Profile Lawyer

~Sandra Cantu

~Melissa Huckaby

It’s been seven months since 8-year-old Sandra Cantu went missing from her Tracy, California home. The last images of the pretty little girl, captured on video, show Sandra joyfully skipping through the trailer park where she lived. A week later her body was found stuffed in a suitcase and tossed into a drainage pond and Melissa Huckaby was arrested for Sandra’s kidnapping, rape with a foreign object, and murder.
San Francisco attorney Michael Burt has now joined Sam Baher for the defense. Burt is considered highly qualified as a death penalty attorney and has defended several high profile criminals including Lyle Menedez, Charles Ng, “Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez as well as others. Michael Burt’s resume may be found here. Burt’s fees will be paid from a special fund from the Public Defender’s Office.

In a hearing Friday, Sam Baher motion to dismiss the indictment against Huckaby as well as a motion to suppress evidence were ordered sealed by Judge Linda Lofthus as they contain information from the grand jury transcripts.
Prior to the hearing, Behar met privately with the judge and Lofthus told prosecutor Thomas Testa, “I’m very pleased to reveal this. Mr. Behar is making tremendous progress.” She also noted that Behar’s other cases are done and he is now working 24/7 on the Huckaby case.
Testa, who has been repeatedly frustrated by the defense delay tactics was unimpressed and said, “Unlike Mr. Behar, I do have other cases, other special circumstances cases that are percolating.”
It had been expected that Loftus would set a trial date during Friday's hearing however, Michael Burt was unavailable, and Huckaby’s public defender, Sam Behar, said he didn't feel comfortable going forward without him.
There will be another status hearing on December 4 and - as we have heard many times in the past - a trail date is expected to be set. Behar said Burt would be present for the hearing and will “be able to provide enough information” to choose a trial date.
A hearing on the motion to suppress evidence will be held February 12.
While Huckaby is entitled to a proper defense as our justice system dictates, I can’t help but believe that for Sandra’s family the lengthy wait for justice and closure must seem interminable.


Katprint said...

I don't know if it is completely accurate to characterize attorney Michael Burt as a "High Profile Lawyer." Certainly he is not a limelight-seeking celebrity lawyer who appears on TV talk shows. It is true that he represents "high profile" clients i.e. people accused of committing crimes so heinous that they should be put to death. In my opinion, the interests of justice are served by assigning competent, experienced death penalty attorneys to defend anyone facing the death penalty. Given the negative connotations that have developed concerning the term "high profile lawyer" as a result of attorneys like William Ginsberg (Monica Lewinsky's first attorney), Mark Geragos and, most recently, Jose Baez taking their cases on the media circuit, I daresay most serious defense attorneys would prefer NOT to share that label.

donchais said...

Burt is considered very competent, highly skilled in research and case preparation and ethical by his peers and the 'high profile' connotation is bestowed by them. He has decades of experience and is recognized as one of the top in the field.

You are correct about his clients being high profile - he is not a media whore like some we know.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if there is a chance this trial will be televised? Given this judge's decisions so far I guess no way.

September moo

Sprocket said...

California does not have Florida's sunshine laws, nor do they have cameras in all the courtrooms. Cali is very broke at the moment.

Remember, the Scott Peterson case was not televised. Spector 1 being televised was an unusual event for Cali courts, imho.

The ultimate decision will be with the judge and the media has to petition. Have zero idea of any media has pursued this for camera coverage.

CaliGirl "might" have some insight into this county and it's camera coverage.