Sep 17, 2014

"Every week we come back and hear the same excuse"; attorneys in Ferrer case express frustration with delays by Gallegos

Today in Courtroom 4, the Ferrer case was scheduled for status of discovery and a motion to dismiss the case against Sophie Rocheleau. Paul Gallegos, who is prosecuting the case, has missed several court dates and hearings have been continued several times.

That happened again today. ADA Kelly Neel told the court when the hearing was underway that Mr. Gallegos is ill and that decisions regarding issues brought up by Mr. Marek Reavis, who represents Juan Ferrer, and Mr. Benjamin Okin, who represents Rocheleau, be discussed when Mr. Gallegos is back next week.

The next hearing is scheduled for October 6 at 2 p.m. due to scheduling and having everyone present.

"Every week we come back and hear the same excuse," was Mr. Reavis' response and frustration when Ms. Neel responded to his statements.

Several times, Mr. Reavis and the co-defendants' attorneys have requested X-rays and information on autopsy essential to their case, and finally today, only Mr. Reavis received two CDS, both which he said were duplicates. There were two dozen "images that had never been discovered before, according to Mr. Reavis." He told the Judge that "this is material that should have been discovered the first week."

 He told Judge Reinholtsen he renews his request for sanctions. Mr.Okin and Ms. Jennifer Dixon who represents Nicholas Stoiber did not even get these CDS.

Ms. Neel said that she contacted Deputy Coroner Roy Horton and there are two CDS, one from Mad River Hospital, one with Dr. Super. She said she was not prepared to "address discovery issues."

When Ms, Neel requested that the 995 motion to dismiss the case against Sophie Rocheleau be put off until Mr. Gallegos is present., Mr. Okin said he objected. "I have a history of no response. We kept coming back several times for severance of the cases, now twice for the 995 motion. We sit around for two hours every time."

Judge Reinholtsen responded with, "Mr. Gallegos is ill." Judge Reinholtsen also refused the oral request for sanctions stating that he needed both sides to have written statements.

Mr. Gallegos is currently prosecuting the Eddie Lee case which is dark as of today until next Tuesday. He may indeed be ill, but as of yesterday, he seemed fine in Courtroom 1. A search of the posts covering this case on this blog will show that Mr. Okin and Mr. Reavis are correct. Ms. Neel is a trooper but first Mr. Gallegos "hung DDA Zach Curtis" out to dry. Now he puts Ms. Neel in an awkward position at the last minute. He knew this date and the issues that needed to be addressed. He is ill-prepared for a trial he is currently prosecuting. When he does show up for the Ferrer case, he isn't prepared. He has not been ill for the past few months since he first took on the case.

The victim deserves better. The defendants deserve better. The People deserve better.

Some of the previous posts:

Sympathies to victim's family and to the officer's family in the Allard Avenue incident

The investigation is still ongoing. The title is my only comment.

Press Release:

Members of the multi-agency officer involved shooting investigative team are investigating an officer involved shooting in Eureka.

On September 16, 2014 at about 11:00 p.m., officers from the Eureka Police Department were in the area of 1600 Allard Street looking for two subjects wanted on felony warrants. A short time later an officer observed two men arguing on 1600 Allard Street. During the argument one of the men appeared have a handgun. Fearing the argument was escalating he summoned additional officers who then confronted the man with the gun.

As officers gave commands to the man with the gun which was now visible, the subject grabbed for the gun. A Eureka Police officer fired his weapon striking the subject. The wounded man was transported to Saint Joseph’s Hospital by paramedics where he was pronounced dead. His name is being withheld pending notification of family members.

The officer’s name will be released at a later time. He has been a police officer for 13 years.

Anyone with information about this shooting should call EPD investigators at (707) 441-4060.

Community leaders say yes on Z

The Yes on Measure Z campaign, a coalition of emergency responders, community leaders, and citizens working for a safer and stronger Humboldt County released a second advertisement today with the campaign’s theme: “We’re All In This Together.”
“There is no doubt that Measure Z will improve public safety and vital emergency services in Humboldt County,” said Humboldt County Undersheriff Bill Honsal.  “A safer and stronger community benefits everyone who calls Humboldt County home.  When it comes to public safety and essential services, we really are all in this together.”
The advertisement urging support for Measure Z entitled, “We’re All In This Together” can be seen along with the other Yes on Z videos at the official Yes on Z webpage here:
A direct link to “We’re All In This Together” video is here:
More about Measure Z:
Humboldt County’s budget has been hard hit by the recession, and Sacramento politicians have taken $286 million dollars from Humboldt County over the past 22 years.  Measure Z keeps local tax dollars here in Humboldt County.

Measure Z was created in response to the public’s concern regarding the lack of funding available for public safety and other essential services.  In June of 2014, a countywide poll by respected California-based public opinion research firm, Fairbank, Maslin, Maulin, Metz & Associates showed nearly two-thirds of Humboldt County voters support supported the county pursuing Measure Z.   The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors agreed, and with a unanimous 5-0 vote they placed Measure Z on the November 4, 2014 General Election ballot for public consideration.
Measure Z - Improves emergency response times.  Today, in neighborhoods across the county it can take over an hour for law enforcement to arrive in an emergency.  Measure Z will help us reduce 9-1-1 response times by bringing back 24-hour patrols, ensuring a more timely response to calls about violent or property crimes.

Measure Z - Helps address Humboldt County’s growing meth and hard drug problem by fighting drug-related crimes, targeting meth labs, and providing drug prevention and rehabilitation services.

Measure Z - Restores funding to rural ambulance services to provide life-saving care and emergency transportation throughout the County.

Measure Z - helps our volunteer fire departments work to protect life and property in Humboldt County, by supporting volunteers and providing the resources and training they need to better protect us.

Measure Z – helps victims and witnesses of child abuse by restoring protective and counseling services that have been severely reduced in recent years.

Measure Z – expires in 5 years and includes strong fiscal accountability, by requiring annual financial audits and public citizen oversight—ensuring funds are spent responsibly.

Measure Z will appear on the November 4, 2014 ballot as:

Measure Z, 
Humboldt County Public Safety/Essential Services Measure.

To maintain / improve essential services, such as: 24-hour Sheriff's patrols; 9-1-1 emergency response; crime investigation / prosecution; drug / illegal marijuana growhouse enforcement / prevention; services for abused children / mentally ill; rural fire protection; road repairs and other County services, shall County of Humboldt pursuant to County Ordinance No. 2517 enact a 1/2 % sales tax, for five years, all revenue for the County, none for the State of California, with annual audits and public review?

Thank you to Court Services management

I would like to thank the I Street management staff for their prompt response and resolution regarding my complaint yesterday.

Sep 16, 2014

DA elect Maggie Fleming and Probation's Bill Damiano make an excellent case for Measure Z

DA elect Maggie Fleming and Probation's Bill Damiano gave a presentation on Measure Z at today's Eureka City Council meeting.

Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills, Maggie and Mr. Damiano before the meeting exchanged brief pleasantries. Supervisors Virginia Bass and Rex Bohn attended the Council meeting to support Maggie and Mr. Damiano.

This was the best presentation I have attended at any government meeting. Maggie passed out a handout to the audience and at the conclusion of their joint presentation, Maggie said that she and Mr. Damiano would be glad to speak to any group interested in learning more about Measure Z.

Measure Z is on the November ballot and it is one half cent sales tax that expires in 5 years and "it will maintain and improve essential Humboldt County Services."

Maggie and Mr. Damiano took turns reading highlights from their presentation, giving key points on why Measure Z is needed.

Mr. Damiano said that these funds are to be used locally and cannot be taken away by the State. In the past 22 years, Sacramento has taken significant revenue from Humboldt County, decreasing public safety and essential services.

Due to budget constraints, Sheriff's patrols have been greatly reduced and this means when someone calls, it can take several hours for  Deputy to respond. Maggie used the example of Sohum saying when someone calls, they want to know when a Deputy can get there. Measure Z would help with response times.

Mr. Damiano said these funds could be used to deal with eradicating meth labs and cleaning up large marijuana grows that harm the environment. Treatment and prevention programs for people suffering from drug addiction could be funded as well as assistance for child abuse and elder abuse victims.

A Citizen's Advisory Board would advise the Board of Supervisors on usage of the funds, said Mr. Damiano.

Councilmember Marian Brady brought up that the City has a  measure on the November ballot, Measure Q with the same amount of tax. The City estimates a total of 4 million in revenue. She said the County estimates 6 million. Will spending be proportional to what Eureka contributes with prosecution and increase in jail space? She brought this up stating it seems Eureka would provide the bulk of revenue for Measure Z.

Mr. Damiano said the County already provides services to Eureka such as the jail, fire services in the greater Eureka area and the Coroner. "60 per cent of the offenders in my
department have Eureka listed as their residence. You are already getting those services."
He added that it would be the Board of Supervisors who will decide how the money is spent."

In 30 days, it will be a misdemeanor to steal shopping carts in Eureka

Today was the second reading of the abandoned shopping cart ordinance. Since August 5, City Attorney Cyndi Day Wilson and City Manager Greg Sparks met with many of the retailers which included Grocery Outlet, Eureka Natural Foods, Winco, Costco. The retailers are in support of the ordinance.

It passed with an unanimous vote. Mayor Jager was absent today so Mayor Pro Tem Melinda Ciarabellini presided over the meeting.

3,500 plants found in marijuana bust on Salmon Creek Road

On 9-15-14 at about 0900 hrs. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Drug Enforcement Unit served a Humboldt County Superior Court search warrant on a parcel of land on Salmon Creek Road. At that location Deputies located (5) five large greenhouse with growing marijuana. The (2) two larger commercial size greenhouse measure 200 ft. in length by 50 ft. wide. All five of greenhouses contained growing marijuana that later totaled 3,500 plants.

Also, located on the property and later arrested for cultivation of Marijuana and Cultivation for the purposes of sales was a 61 year old male, Joseph Collier. Collier had been living on the property in a travel trailer. Deputies also located and seized over $37,000.00 in cash that was found in the Collier’s travel trailer. During their search, Deputies discovered 283 lbs of processed marijuana buds packaged in one pound oven bags.  Collier’s last known address was in the Monterey area.

Further investigations into environmental damages on the large grow site were conducted by California Fish and Wildlife, California State Air Quality and the County Building Department.

What you get with no accountability; complaints are ignored

I have a request in for an appointment with Kerri Keenan who is in charge of the Humboldt County Superior Court staff. There are some good people that work in court staff but there are numerous problems in two areas. I have written about the court tech department whose incompetence continues.

The other problem area is the criminal clerks at 4th and I street. The civil clerks are great, the family law clerks are great. Ms. Keenan reports to no one locally so going to the Board of Supervisors or anyone to get resolution is not an option. I heard the Judges can have some say but they are busy with court and try getting a request in to have a Judge look at which is unrelated to a case.

The only person who has been helpful and responsive is Sara Biasca.

This morning, when I saw that there was a motion for a new trial in the Bodhi Tree case, I wanted to look at the documents for the reason. Sometimes you can access documents on the public computers. I went to the I street office and was told they could not locate the file. It did not say it was with court staff or Judge in the computer and the clerk verified that. They also told me they could not print the document. I had the case number, the date, the name of the document. This was approximately around 9 a.m. I went back and asked them for the file and I also told them that in the past they had printed documents. Now I was told that the file is with the Judge and they do not scan documents. This was at 10:19a.m. Since they can update the system whenever they like, they could change it to reflect anything after the post.

The clerk also told me that the Judge had the file because the case was on yesterday. The 9/15 date was vacated at the last court hearing on September 5 when the new sentencing date of October 10 was scheduled. There was no court date for the Bodhi Tree case and if there was, the computer system and calendar did not reflect that. What the clerk said was the date was in the computer.

The clerk argued with me that the case was heard yesterday. I went back and checked the computer even though I know that was not true. So she flat out lied. The only reason she even answered her window was no one else was waiting in line, which is rare.

This particular criminal clerk has an attitude. I know they are over worked and not properly trained but this kind of behavior is normal on I street. This is what you get when you tenure people who know that they can "just get by" with incompetence; this is what you get when you have a person in charge not accountable to anyone who can ignore citizen complaints.

I am not the only one who has problems with this, attorneys have, other citizens do. I had to go through security three times to check stuff, even though I knew she was lying and then go back out. Fortunately a public computer was available.

Jobs are scarce in this County. Not all government workers can be painted with the same brush but this tenure mentality breeds an attitude. I am safe unless someone can spends time and money proving egregious behavior.

Being in public service is hard. The Humboldt County Superior Court gives worse customer service than a fast food joint.  These jobs pay well. The fault is not of the staff but the person in charge who allows this kind of behavior to go on.

I think department heads that do not give a damn about the public do not deserve a job paid for by tax dollars.