By Roxanna Jarvis and Layla Mustafa
SACRAMENTO – Late last week, what appeared to be a routine bail review hearing in Sacramento County Superior Court quickly morphed into a sometimes heated exchange between defense and prosecution lawyers over discovery issues.
The defendant, Clenton Drew, was initially in court to review his bail amount. But his private defense attorney, Alexander Asterlin, suggested Deputy District Attorney Mark Ott was withholding information.
Asterlin started the hearing by noting two issues about Drew’s case. The first was access to emails promised by the DDA, and the second being the release of confidential calls by the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department (SSD).
Asterlin requested Ott resend the emails, as well as respond about the calls forwarded to the attorney general. Asterlin concluded that he would be unable to move forward with the bail motion until all issues were resolved.
Ott claimed he had sent Asterlin 17 emails on May 6 and 11 that linked to police reports on the case, but expired 30 days after being sent.
Ott said that Asterlin’s inability to access the emails were due to Asterlin’s “own malfeasance,” and that Asterlin “allowed them to waste away and they timed-out after 30 days.”
Court Commissioner Kenneth Brody was quick to reprimand Ott for his harsh criticism of the defense attorney, noting “Mr. Ott, that’s a personal attack. Please don’t…Please. Tone it down.”
Ott then told Commissioner Brody he will resend the emails to Asterlin within a week and a half.
When Brody asked Asterlin if he wanted to proceed with a bail motion, Asterlin said he did not, and then asked for Ott to respond to the charge that confidential calls between him and defendant Drew were released by the SSD to the attorney general.
Ott responded by not only claiming he would never receive confidential communication between Asterlin and Drew, but that it would be illegal for him to be in possession of the calls. “I would assure the court I don’t have any. I don’t have any.”
In addition, Asterlin accused Ott of ordering that Drew be placed in total separation, known as “T-SEP,” from other inmates.
DDA Ott explained he doesn’t have influence over the jail, but admitted, “We intercepted a jail conversation–scrap that–a witness who was about to be released…Mr. Drew had employed to go kill the main witness in this case.”
After hearing the claim, Drew leaned forward from where he stood. After a few moments of stillness, Drew stood up straight, looked at the ceiling, and shook his head.
Ott claimed he only told the SSD a T-SEP would be appropriate after they suggested it be used. He repeated that he has zero control over what the sheriff decides to do. “Quite frankly, how my name got associated with this is a bit baffling to me.”
Commissioner Brody attempted to get some clarity on what to do next, but then said, “I don’t think this is really necessary. Or something the court has to put on record.”
Brody gave the parties two weeks to resolve the issues before returning to court.
Before the hearing, Drew was charged with attempted robbery and carjacking, vandalism, assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, and preventing or dissuading attendance of witness by force or threat. His bail is currently set at $750,000.
The case is set to reconvene on July 16 at 8:30 a.m.
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