Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Moncia Sementilli & Robert Louis Baker, Pretrial Hearing 14

Fabio Sementilli

November 13, 2019
I almost didn't make it to the hearing on time. I was held up at the 9th floor Los Angeles County Sheriff's security station. I'll talk about the ever changing security policy for the 9th Floor in a new post next week.

I ran into Deputy DA Beth Silverman on the 9th floor elevator bay She was in front of me at the scanner. She appeared quite rushed and not her usually cheerful self.

Inside Dept 101 8:36 AM
When I enter Judge Coen's court he is already on the bench. There is a pretty prosecutor at the people's table I don't know. Two of the defense attorneys, Michael Simmrin and Hans J. Allhoff are chatting with the court off the record. Deputy DA Beth Silverman is nowhere in sight.

I'm not certain, but I believe it is the court who asks where Ms. Silverman is. There is some speculation chatter that maybe Deputy DA Melissa Opper will be here and not Silverman. Then I believe one of Judge Coen's clerks informs him that Deputy DA Silverman went to Department 104 first.

Checking the DA's daily court calendar, there is a hearing in Dept. 104 where Deputy DA Tannaz Mokayef  of the Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting defendant Patrick Watkins, charged with capitol murder and two dozen attempted murders. It's a good bet Deputy DA Beth Silverman is co-counsel on that case.

When the parties in the well of the court hear that Deputy DA Silverman went to her hearing in Dept. 104 before her hearing before this case, Judge Coen has a look on his face and I hear this multi-voiced "oooooooooooooooh" coming from the well of the court. I'm not sure if Judge Coen's cryptic response was related to the news or not.

Defense counsel and the court chat off the record about potential trial month dates in 2020. Judge Coen states he has two death penalty cases and that ".... Beth says this case will take eight weeks." I believe it's Mr. Simmrin who states he can't believe the trial will take that long.

Judge Coen's clerk indicates the court does have some time in January 2020, but not the full 8 weeks. One of the defense attorneys asks if Judge Coen has anything in April. The court responds to the April request, "That's also a death case." There's also a trial in mid May that's a death penalty case. Judge Coen tells the parties, "It looks like I have June and July open ... that's how it looks now."  Mr. Simmirin tells the court, "You're a popular judge." Then there is a change in what I'm understanding about April. Now I hear that as April stands now, there's no more that six weeks available. [I'm taking that to mean April and then two weeks in May, since a death case starts mid May.]

Sprocket Note: Understand that cases are fluid and things can change at the last minute. A defendant can take a plea or a case with multiple defendants can successfully argue to sever their cases. These are the things that make judges court calendars change. Attorney's sometimes take their chances when juggling their own case load to get a favorable trial start date.

We are waiting for Deputy DA Silverman. The pretty prosecutor at the table approaches me and asks if I am "... on the Raymond case." I tell her, "No, I'm sorry. I'm not."  The court is waiting for the defendants in the other prosecutor's case and the sheriff's have no news on when they will arrive. The last news was the defendants were ten minutes out.

Judge Coen addresses the pretty prosecutor. "The job as Assistant Head Deputy is really hard." He then tells her that he read that a new "DA" has come into the race. District Attorney Jackie Lacey is running for reelection in 2020 and there are a few challengers.

I believe Judge Coen is talking about former defense attorney Rachel Rossi, who is joining former San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, and two Los Angeles County Deputy DA's, Richard Ceballos and Joseph Iniguez in their bid to take over the coveted LA County DA spot. The prosecutor is cautious since press are in the room. She asks the court, "Your honor, may I approach?" He grants the request and she goes to the bench to talk to the court privately.

8:48 AM
Deputy DA Beth Silverman arrives, greeting Judge Coen's staff and opposing counsel. There is a bit of small talk between counsel about hard drives and when they will be ready.

Very quickly, Sementilli is brought into court. She doesn't look to cheery today. She takes her seat and Mr. Allhoff leans in to whisper to her.

Daniel Nardoni, one of Michael Gargiulo's defense attorneys, enters Dept. 101 and takes a seat in the gallery.

The court asks off the record about a return date for the Baker/Sementilli case. A date of January 9, 2020 is proposed. Deputy DA Silverman quickly agrees. The deputies bring Baker out. He sits in his usual spot on the end. 
8:51 AM
The court goes on the record for the next pretrial setting. Mr. Simmirin speaks for the record to set the case for January 9 and the case calendar for zero of 90 with the "reasonable people's continuance." Counsel agrees.

Judge Coen then asks each defendant if they agree to put their case over until January 9th. Both defendants respond yes. And that's it. Over in less than two minutes max. It looks like as Sementilli is getting out of her seat to return to the custody area, she quickly looks back to the gallery. After Sementilli, Baker is taken back into custody.

As I leave Dept. 101, I stop to ask Mr. Nardoni if he and co-counsel Dale Rubin will be representing Gargiulo through his appeal. Mr. Nardoni says they will not.

Next court date is January 9, 2020.