Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Michael Gargiulo Case: Pretrial Hearing 13, Part II

Michael Thomas Gargiulo, possibly on arrest date.

Complete Case Coverage

Continued from Gargiulo Pretrial 13.....

November 22, 2013
Mr. Sprocket drove with me down to court today. It was a quick, easy drive.

Up on the 9th floor, the hallway is pretty empty when we arrive. Not long after, a large family, almost two dozen people arrive and wait quietly on the hall benches.  When DDA Daniel Akemon arrives, I introduce him to my husband. We have a quick chat about the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination.  While we are waiting Judge Ohta leaves his courtroom.  DDA Akemon greets him as he passes.

8:50 AM
We're inside Dept. 108.  Judge Ohta is back inside his courtroom.  LA County Sheriff Detective Mark Lillenfield is here. I first saw Detective Lillenfield testify in the Phil Spector trial. Not only is he involved in the Gargiulo investigation, he had a small part in the Cameron Brown case.  DDA Garrett Dameron, DDA Akemon's co-counsel, is not here for today's hearing.

As soon as we take a seat in the second row, Mr. Sprocket points out a large bowl of candy on the court reporter's desk. He wants to know if he can go up there and get a piece of candy. I have to tell him "No, you can't."  I remind him that he can't have his cell phone out when Judge Ohta takes the bench.  There is a suited gentleman with a briefcase sitting in the back row.

There is a female prosecutor sitting at the people's table, most likely for another case.  I overhear that Gargiulo's case will be heard first. Judge Ohta, still out of his robes, chats with the woman at the prosecution table. He then leaves the bench.  DDA Akemon drops off a stack of papers on the defense table. These documents will go directly to Gargiulo.   Judge Ohta asks DDA Akemon if Mr. Filipiak will be here today.  Akemon responds, "No, your honor." The pretty court reporter comes out and starts setting up her equipment.

8:58 AM
Judge Ohta has put on his robe and takes the bench. We are now waiting for Gargiulo to come out. Wheneve Judge Ohta takes the bench, his black robe looks dark brown to me under the florescent lighting.  I whisper to my husband to keep his eyes on the door off to our right where Gargiulo will emerge.

Once Gargiulo sits at the defense table, he gives a quick look back to the gallery. Mr. Sprocket whispers to me that Gargiulo specifically looked back at me. I don't believe that's true, however, I can't recall the last time that I saw Gargiulo look back at the gallery.  The other possibility, is that Gargiulo was looking for his other court appointed investigator.

The man sitting in the last row of the gallery steps up and stands beside Gargiulo in the well.  In a prior pretrial hearing, Gargiulo had told Judge Ohta that he needed a new investigator because the woman who was doing research had been on vacation for a month and (I believe) was also studying for the bar. This must be the new investigator Gargiulo has been assigned.

It's my understanding that the US Supreme Court ruled that defendants facing the death penalty (and typically unable to pay for their own counsel) should have two defense attorneys and two investigators. I believe the reasoning behind it is, that a defendant (whose defense counsel just lost the case on the guilt phase) should not have the same attorney then arguing before the jury to spare the defendant's life in the penalty phase. Since Gargiulo chose to represent himself, he doesn't get a second counsel, but he does still get two investigators.

There are two casually dressed young men sitting on the bench to our left.  They are engrossed with their smart phones with in-ear headphones.  The man beside Mr. Sprocket, is nervously tapping his leg and it's causing the bench to vibrate a bit. It's driving Mr. Sprocket crazy and he wants us to move to a different row.  I tell him he's just going to have to deal with it. We're not moving since the judge is about to take the bench.

We go on the record in People v. Gargiulo and the appearances are documented.  The investigator who joined counsel in the well states his name as Chris Nicely. Judge Ohta states for the record that as of today the case calendar is zero of 90.  I believe Judge Ohta asks DDA Akemon if he has turned over any more discovery to the defendant.

DDA Akemon states that he has delivered document pages number 28,168 through 28,600 to the defendant.  Akemon states he has also provided a copy of the papers to defense investigator Christian Filipiak.  Judge Ohta asks, "Do you have that in front of you, Mr. Gargiulo?"  "Yes, I have," Gargiulo responds.

Judge Ohta notes, "Last time ... in court, ... Mr. Akemon, you filed a (bound? large?) volume, ... 402 Motion in Limine.  In terms of the discovery process, are we (close?)?  Akemon responds, "Almost, your honor. ... We are epecting a report from an expert in mid January."  Akemon suggests that they come back in late January.  "When that happens, the discovery process, ... (will be) more or less complete," Akemon adds.

Judge Ohta comments that there are quite a few documents to look through in that last motion the people filed. He then asks DDA Akemon about the report he's waiting on. "The expert is preparing a crime scene linkage report," Akemon explains.  Judge Ohta then addresses the defendant, explaining to him that he also has a discovery obligation under 1054, if he has something to turn over to the prosecution.

Judge Ohta then asks Gargiulo once the prosecution hands over it's last discovery, "Do you have any idea in your mind... [how long you will need to prepare?]..?  I believe Gargiulo responds "At least within a year. ... I don't really have a date. ... I have a lot of motions to file. ... [there's] lots of discovery."  Gargiulo tells the court there are things he has asked for, things that the DA says he doesn't have, so he's trying to find them. I believe he states he's issued subpoena's, but nothing has come back on them yet.

Then Judge Ohta asks the defendant if he truly plans to go forward with representing himself. "In my years of experience as a judge, I've dealt with many pro per's. ... Some try to see it (all the way through) [to trial] ... and some see it .... I've had many who ... had to gain control of the case. ... Some I think (always?) ... to do it ... and some (?) before finding ... thinking that (they) can prolong the case and then have an attorney step in. .... I just want to make sure this is something you've come do on your own."

I believe Gargiulo replies, "Yes."

Judge Ohta continues, "I don't want to wait a year then you relinquish, and then (ask for an attorney)."  Gargiulo replies, "Your honor. That's not my intention."

Gargiulo explains to the court that he has a conflict with (?) He's not going to trial with an attorney he has a strong conflict with. (I believe that Gargiulo is referencing his former court appointed attorney, Charles Lindner. Then he goes into a long explanation that he's had a (recent?) conversation with another attorney (Gayle?) Rubin, who was also assigned to his case but that counsel had to drop out due to financial difficulties. So Rubin had to file a conflict and was taken off. Gargiulo kept in contact with Rubin, who told him that at any time he would step in and take over as first chair.

Judge Ohta explains to Gargiulo that he's not involved with that. "I'm not privy to that or am I concerned about that. ... What I'm concerned is keeping the trial on track and not derailed. ... I don't want to see it hamstrung. ... Mr. Akemon seems reasonable."  I believe Gargiulo states that's (derailing his trial?) not his intention.

A date to return is chosen: Friday, January 31, 2014.  Judge Ohta gets Gargiulo's waiver to have his trial within 90 days of today's date.

At the last moment, Gargiulo addresses the court. "Someone told me that you might be leaving. Someone told me that you applies to the California Supreme Court."  Judge Ohta responds, "No. Where did you hear that? ... I'm still here."

We're done and the court goes off the record.  DDA Akemon informs the court that Mr. Gargiulo signed for the discovery he handed over today.   Judge Ohta addresses Gargiulo. "Sounds like, Mr. Gargiulo, you want me to do your case?"  Gargiulo replies, "I do."

The defendant is taken back into custody. In the well, DDA Akemon and Gargiulo's new, second investigator shake hands and introduce themselves. They have a short chat before exiting the courtroom. Once Mr. Nicely leaves the courtroom I stop him to ask for his business card so I can get the correct spelling of his name.

And that's it for this hearing.

P.S. I almost forgot to mention that I asked Mr. Sprocket what he thought of Gargiulo. Mr. Sprocket thought Gargiulo's sideburns went well with his long face. 


Anonymous said...

Your very last sentence about your husband's response sent me into gales of laughter. So typical male. I was waiting for a deep thoughtful response about Gargiulo's demeanor. Happy Thanksgiving!