Jan 4, 2018

How a two minute court hearing turns into a 45 minute debacle in Humboldt Superior Court

The real story this morning was not the setting of a jury trial date but how long it took to get there and the "off the record" courtroom chat between the attorneys.

First, Visiting Judge David Devore could not call the case because one of the co-defendants was not there. So, the Judge, court staff, the attorneys sat around for 15 minutes. Deputy District Carolyn Schaffer decided to leave the courtroom. The moment she left the  Jonah Little was brought into the courtroom.

Her colleague, Ms. Barnes was trying to get hold of her, the defense attorneys looked for her, the bailiff looked for her, the court reporter looked for her, with no response from her. This took another 15 minutes.

After she finally came back to the courtroom, there was more talk between the attorneys. Jonah Little and Lorence Bailey decided to chat while sitting in the box but were quickly admonished by the bailiff. Little who has racked up several charges, some in custody, thought this was amusing. After all, it's just another rule and law he can ignore. Bailey, by himself had been behaving up to that point.

I will spare you the details of another 15 minutes to set the dates. Little's case is also on 1/8 for intervention but not all his cases. Bailey has another case on 1/11. The logistics of getting one setting date with all cases on for both on the same day is a challenge with the scheduling, not enough Judges to cover the courtroom, jury trials and fallout from the previous schedule changes to clear court backlog.

Several attorneys leave the courtroom instead of waiting another 5-10 minutes, (private, public defender, deputy DAs). When attorneys just disappear (not to go to another courtroom) and there are no other cases to be called, a two minute hearing turns into a 45 minute debacle.

This happens often. No one wants to sit around in the courtrooms for minutes or hours but that is 90% of the time covering any Humboldt Superior Court case. And there are multiple cases on at the same time and other work that others need to do. So, it becomes a lot of fun trying to corral all parties in one courtroom to get the court calendar moving.

The bonus for sitting there for almost an hour was listening to the off record quips and case discussion. I won't share all of it.

The attorneys discussed a possible motion to sever, to be filed by Bailey's attorney if Little's case did not resolve in a plea. Deputy District Attorney Roger Rees, who is not prosecuting this case, said, "We should sever the cases and try them separately and send Mr. Little on his way. We can't have him assaulting our deputies."

The attorneys were not concerned I could hear them. Trust me, if they want to discuss in private, they make sure I cannot hear.

Setting for  Bailey and Little, the two inmates charged with assaulting Correctional Deputy Dillon Huffman finally got continued to January 9 by stipulation.

Little is represented by Ms. Christina Allbright. Bailey by Mr. David Celli. The case is being prosecuted by Ms. Schaffer.

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