Judge Goes Off on Attorneys for Re-Scheduling without Informing Court

By Linhchi Nguyen

SACRAMENTO – Judge Steve White went off on a group of attorneys here in Sacramento County Superior Court, telling them it is “simply not acceptable” to postpone their preliminary hearings without informing the court.

The tension was especially heightened in court when Judge White lectured Deputy District Attorneys Omar Singh and Nick Karp, and Defense Attorney Charles Pacheco for cancelling their preliminary hearings without noticing the court.

That morning was already going awry after attorney Pacheco arrived late to the hearing because of the weather and traffic. Judge White told Pacheco, “You arrived at 9:06 a.m. This is an 8:30 a.m. calendar. What is the reason for that?”

But despite Pacheco trying to explain himself, Judge White didn’t accept his excuse.

“One leaves earlier because of traffic and particularly when you anticipate it’s going to be a problem…8:30 calendar is 8:30 calendar! It’s not ‘when I feel like showing up.’ You know that.”

Already appearing peeved, Judge White came across another incident regarding Pacheco’s case. “I’ve been informed this morning that neither counsel, for some reason, was aware that this was on for preliminary hearing,” he reported.

The case involved defendant Jorge Vasquez who was facing multiple charges, including one handled by DDA Singh and one handled by DDA Karp. The case with Singh involved a felony robbery, during which someone died. Vasquez is an unjoined co-defendant who is solely charged for the robbery, while the other co-defendant is charged for the robbery and homicide.

“He’s unjoined for the simple fact that I think, based on Mr. Vasquez’s numerous cases and his lesser degree of involvement in the [robbery], we may be able to resolve the case,” Singh explained to the court. “We’ve been trying to accomplish that.”

However, Vasquez wasn’t expected to be heard on this case until Dec. 3 when he can be present with his co-defendant. Meanwhile, Vasquez’s other case brought forward by DDA Karp was initially set to have a preliminary hearing.

Singh believed it would be better to combine all of Vasquez’s cases to appear in court on Dec. 3, so that Vasquez and attorney Pacheco would not have to show up in two different places.

“Our understanding was that it would be too difficult to have Mr. Vasquez appear for his preliminary hearing [today] and also appear at the jail court with his unjoined co-defendant,” Singh stated.

“So when I discussed with Mr. Karp, I said ‘when you’re doing your prelim, can you ask the court to continue the other more serious cases that he has a higher degree of exposure on…to the same date we put his unjoined co-defendant on.’ And that’s the understanding Mr. Karp and I had,” said Singh.

Singh added that he received a text message from Karp that morning, indicating that Karp did not think Vasquez’s preliminary hearing on his other case was going to go because they recently received new discovery.

However, a mix-up occurred where both attorneys were still expected to conduct a preliminary hearing for their case with Vasquez that morning.

“We didn’t believe the preliminary hearing was going to go, and it was not our intention to have my cases to actually be heard,” Singh admitted to the judge. “It was just we felt that it would be easier to continue Mr. Vasquez’s cases altogether instead of trying to have him appear at two different locations and Mr. Pacheco appear in two different locations.”

After hearing all of Singh’s explanations, Judge White responded, “That all makes sense.” But he then added, “Except this amounts to a unilateral decision by counsel to decide ‘what’s going, what’s not going’ and not including the court in this.”

Judge White pointed out that “all of the court’s records in these two cases…show that these cases are set for preliminary hearing this morning. If you don’t want the case to go as a preliminary hearing or the defense doesn’t, you need to apprise the court of that. One of the problems that leads to this dilemma is that neither you nor Mr. Pacheco declared ready or declared anything when you’re supposed to.”

He continued expressing his frustration, noting, “We use judicial resources as efficiently as we can, particularly under these COVID conditions. And for counsel to be so cavalier that they don’t even inform the court that they’re going to withdraw the not-guilty pleas and start trailing and whatever…is simply not acceptable.”

He then addressed the rest of the court to complain about the broader issue of the lack of transparency.

“I want everybody to know, it’s not just directed to the two of you. A whole lot of people are not checking in. So, we don’t know if they’re planning to go or not go or whatever. This is not like a dinner reservation where you’re negligent when you fail to cancel it. This is different. This is worse. It’s just not okay,” said the judge.

Both Singh and Pacheco apologized to the judge for their mistake.

“I understand your Honor,” Singh said. “I understand what you’re saying. And next time, I’ll make sure to email the court and master calendar, and let them know what our intended plan is, and if they would like us to handle it in a different way.” Pacheco agreed with Singh in his apology.

The judge finally allowed Singh to push back the preliminary hearing to Dec. 3 at 8:30 a.m. Thus, the situation was resolved in which both cases are now rescheduled to have their preliminary hearings on that date and time at Dept. 9 in the Sacramento Superior Court.

Linhchi Nguyen is a fourth year at UC Davis, double majoring in Political Science and English. She currently lives in Sacramento, California.

To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9

Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link:

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

Related posts

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for