Judge to Decide Whether to Keep Motion Sealed in “Lil’ Shop” Dispensary Case

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Judge David Reed continued a hearing to a later date to decide whether a Pitchess motion should be kept under seal in the matter of Paul Fullerton and his wife Maricel, who are charged will multiple felony counts of possession of marijuana for sale stemming from a raid conducted on February 29, 2016.

Defense attorneys filed the Pitchess motion this past fall in order to obtain information about the arresting officers, who were from at least three different agencies.  In a November 30 Fax to the court, the defense then requested “an ex parte hearing (in camera) regarding the applications to seal the Pitchess declarations.”

Attorney Joseph Tully, representing the couple, told the Vanguard on Thursday that the case has been slowed due to the motions filed by the defense.

He told the Vanguard that, with the passage of Proposition 64 (legalization of recreational marijuana), the nature of this case has fundamentally changed.

“The thrust of this case, the majority of the charges instead of being felonies, are now misdemeanors,” Mr. Tully said.  “Where we were looking at a complaint with a lot of felonies on them, those have all been reduced under Prop. 64 to misdemeanors and, along with that, I would hope that the DA’s office is going to listen to the will of the people and adjust their pursuits accordingly.”

The raid was conducted following an extensive undercover criminal investigation by the Yolo Narcotic Enforcement Team, or YONET. The YONET team had received information that Mr. Fullerton was allegedly selling marijuana out of his Woodland, CA, business, and then arranged for an undercover YONET informant to purchase marijuana from Mr. Fullerton.

Mr. Fullerton told the Vanguard from the start, “They were overly aggressive pursuing this case.”

According to an affidavit previously acquired by the Vanguard, during the months of January and February, Mr. Fullerton allegedly sold marijuana to an undercover YONET agent, but that information is sealed to “protect the identity of any confidential informant(s), undercover police officer” etc.

The motion to seal the affidavit and quash the search warrant argued that the affidavit of the undercover officer contained “no particular information relating to the investigation of Mr. Fullerton other than a description of his home and business.”

Mr. Tully told the Vanguard, “If the public knew how much money was put into trying to set up Mr. Fullerton, I think they would be pretty upset.”

At the next hearing it will be Mr. Tully, Judge Reed and a court reporter who review the Pitchess motion in the judge’s chambers for an “in camera” (private) review of the affidavit itself.  They will apparently go through the motion line by line to determine whether the information should be sealed and Mr. Tully will have the opportunity to explain why the defense needs it sealed.

The defense hopes to be able to guard information that they believe that they are entitled to in order to present a strong defense of the Fullertons.

Under California law, a Pitchess motion is a discovery request made by the defense to access personnel information about a law enforcement officer when the defense alleges that the officer either used excessive force or lied about information regarding the defendant’s arrest or investigation.

The motion does not give the defense access to the personnel file, but directs the judge to inspect it in camera and provide relevant information about its contents regarding incidents of use of force, allegations of excessive force, citizen complaints, and information gathered during the officer’s pre-employment background investigation.

The judge would then rule on the sealing of the motion.  “If it’s allowed to stand sealed,” Mr. Tully explained, “then he’ll rule on the Pitchess motion.”

The judge may rule that it all remain sealed or that they have to un-redact portions of the Pitchess motion.  The attorneys for the various agencies, including the Davis Police Department, are the attorneys that defend against the Pitchess motion.

This hearing is scheduled for January 30 and Mr. Tully then anticipates that the attorneys for the law enforcement agencies would get another three weeks to prepare their defense against the Pitchess motion.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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4 thoughts on “Judge to Decide Whether to Keep Motion Sealed in “Lil’ Shop” Dispensary Case”

  1. Tia Will

    “If the public knew how much money was put into trying to set up Mr. Fullerton, I think they would be pretty upset.”

    I am one member of the public who is upset not only about the amount of money put into “trying to set up Mr. Fullerton” but also about the  amount of money and time now being wasted on the legal wrangling of both sides. Who is being made safer by all these legal manipulations ?  At a time when we are told we have legal backlogs and unavoidable delays, we are dealing with marijuana sales subtle enough that they had to use an undercover officer to build a case ?

    Really ???

  2. Shannon Castro

    Wow, please spend my tax payor dollars on real criminals. You are going after a productive member of society…for what?  I think someone has a personal agenda and trying to take down a great family for their gain. 

  3. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

    David

    Do you have copy of the DA  charges against Paul Fularton or  YONET’s  Affidavit   and the and copy of  the judge signed order to raid the  Fullerton’s property by YONET.  This is interesting case. I would like to read it.  What kind business Fullerton’s family have ?

  4. Jaroslaw Waszczuk

    David

    I asked you a few questions because I am not sure if the article is an attempt to present the  police brutality or  the prosecution  misconduct or judge is  the subject of the  mockery due keeping the Pitches motion under  the seal .  If you the  throwing the court case for the discussion than you need  to answer the questions or ask the defense attorney to elaborate about if is no gag order to elaborate . Is the Yolo County Superior Court has option to get copy of the complaint via Internet or court is still operates like it was in 19th Century.

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