By Saghi Nojoomi
Prosecution and Defense Attorneys Question Potential Jurors on Past Experiences with Officers – On Monday, before the first witness’ testimony, Defense Attorney Peter Borruso questioned potential jurors on their past experiences with police officers, while Deputy Attorney General Craig S. Meyers inquired about their definition and beliefs on reasonable doubt.
When Defendant Patricio Rosas, Jr., was pulled over on February 25, 2014, for a vehicle violation, Deputy Sheriff Charles Hoyt discovered the possession of a controlled substance.
Jury selection proceeded as the defense attorney asked seven new potential jurors if they could recount any experience of being pulled over by an officer. All seven jurors admitted to being pulled over by an officer for speeding, while one even admitted to an encounter with an officer after she sped on the off ramp of a freeway in an effort to arrive somewhere on time.
Mr. Borruso repeatedly asked each defendant if they were nervous during their encounter with the officer, in an effort to garner members of the jury who identified with the defendant. When several members admitted to a sense of nervousness around officers, Mr. Borruso asked if an officer’s testimony would appear truer than a civilian’s testimony. Several members answered that it would not.
Deputy AG Meyers focused, during jury selection, on the potential jurors’ definition of reasonable doubt. According to the Deputy AG, reasonable doubt is the highest burden of proof, requiring the highest level of evidence and he questioned each juror on their standard of reasonable doubt. Before concluding jury selection, Judge David Reed clarified that no jurors maintained consistent contact with methamphetamine users.
During his passionate opening statement, Mr. Meyers explained that, while the defendant’s offense is “not the crime of the century,” it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. Meyers recounted the events that transpired on February 25, 2014, before claiming the facts of the case will prove the defendant guilty. According to the Deputy AG, the jury will learn through his two witnesses that a brown Explorer driven by the defendant was pulled over by Yolo County Deputy Sheriff Charles Hoyt for a simple vehicle violation.
After the deputy sheriff explained to the defendant that his license plate was not illuminated, he asked if the vehicle contained any illegal substances. When the defendant replied by saying “not that I know of,” a suspicious Dep. Sheriff Hoyt asked to search the defendant. Defendant Rosas allegedly reached into his right pocket and dropped a stash of white powder as he turned around for the search. According to Mr. Meyers, “that’s the facts of the case,” and they prove the defendant guilty.
In his simple and powerful opening statement, Defense Attorney Peter Borruso claimed that the jury will find the defendant not guilty. Although he states that it “is not a complicated case,” Mr. Borruso explained to the jury that “as jury members [they] can see his [the defendant’s] license plate fully illuminated,” in video evidence.
When Mr. Borruso stated to the jury that they will see that drugs were not on the defendant, Mr. Meyers objected, claiming the statement cannot be counted as evidence. After being overruled, Judge Reed clarified that opening statements are not seen as evidence. Mr. Borruso finished his opening statement by claiming that the jury “will see nothing illegal in [defendant’s] car,” and at the end of the trial the jury should find the defendant not guilty.
The people’s first witness, Deputy Sheriff Charles Hoyt, explained that he maintains excessive experience with recognizing drug users from six years of sworn officer duties and many courses. According to Mr. Meyers, Dep. Sheriff Hoyt became suspicious when he pulled the defendant over for a vehicle violation involving a non-illuminated license plate. Mr. Meyers displayed People’s Exhibit 1, a picture of the license plate, before he had the witness draw on People’s Exhibit 2 the exact route Hoyt took on February 25 as he followed the brown Explorer.
When the deputy sheriff noticed that the defendant was sweating profusely, he asked to search the vehicle. The compliant defendant allowed the officer to search the vehicle after admitting that he knew of no illegal substance inside the vehicle.
Dep. Sheriff Hoyt explained that the defendant’s excessive sweating made him suspicious enough to conduct a body search. A body search requires a person to face away from the officer. According to Sheriff Hoyt as the defendant turned around he reached inside his right pocket with his right hand and removed a stash of white powder, dropping it to the ground.
The trial is set to continue Tuesday.