Sep 29, 2016

"This is the United States, we don't do things in secret"; Visting Judges should come to Humboldt more often


If you are local media, you expect your media request to be denied.

Today, kudos to KIEM for still trying. They hit the jackpot with a Visiting Judge. I was too busy trying to call other media to let them know about the Goldberg arraignment and another last minute change, or I would have submitted mine.

I hope what Visiting Judge Leonard La Casse started today catches on.

He let KIEM in early to set up. No other inmates were in the box, he did the Goldberg arraignment first as to avoid "distraction." Goldberg was not present as first as his attorney was challenging the request.





Public Defender Casey Russo tried to get tve Judge to ban cameras. Same, "small community, highly prejudicial, " and went on to add that  with very few media outlets, we would all be using his client's picture.

First of all, we ask each other permission if we use photos and give credit and Goldberg was dressed in a jumpsuit but other than that he did not look any different than his booking photo. This wasn't his jury trial, it was his arraignment.


(Photo used with permission from KIEM)

Visiting Judge LaCasse made that point, "in terms of legal proceedings, this is an arraignment." He asked Mr. Russo for any "reasonable limitation."

The People had no objection. He asked if any media had a lawyer present.

And he let the order stand. He said he had to weigh public interest against defendant's rights. These proceedings took place in an open courtroom. "This is the United States, we don't do things in secret."


Things have improved greatly with the new Humboldt Superior Court CEO Kim Bartelson; she has been wonderful in explaining rules and procedures and very helpful in access to media and public, even when I contact her frequently.

I have written before about Humboldt courts system having their own "local customs". Like the "intervention"; certain lax rules on granting continuance after continuance, gag orders for every high profile case, even arraignment, largely misused by certain public defenders.

Two high profile cases, Bullock and Warren, that received publicity and had gag orders had no problem finding a jury with excellent questionnaires and a vigorous jury selection process.

Sometimes, it may be neccessary but locally it is a given. It varies from Judge to Judge; Judge Dale Reinholtsen, Judge Christopher Wilson and Commissioner Eannarino have made exceptions.



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