By Mia Machado
RIVERSIDE – Judge Anthony Villalobos shut down the defendant’s claim that he was wrongfully deprived of a speedy trial, saying it appeared the defendant has been “playing games with the court.”
Court convened Friday in Riverside County Superior Court to review several motions brought forward by defendant Daniel Carlos Garcia, who motioned to dismiss his case.
Garcia, representing himself, is facing several felony charges related to his involvement in the alleged murder of a 74-year-old man in 2008. Pleading not guilty to all charges, the defendant motioned to dismiss his case due to the lack of a speedy trial.
Pointing out that he had formally withdrawn his time waiver for the case, the defendant argued that a trial should have been set within 60 days of withdrawal, something that did not occur.
Judge Anthony Villalobos, however, disagreed, recounting several times the defendant indicated that he was not ready to proceed with his trial or simply refused to say.
Arguing that Garcia lacked good cause to withdraw his time waiver and that emergency Covid-19 orders allow cases to be continued past their last days, Judge Villalobos denied his motion.
Court began with a statement from Garcia, explaining why he was motioning to dismiss his case, explaining that, despite formally withdrawing his time waiver in front of the court, a trial date was not set within the following 60 days.
Deputy District Attorney Robert Hightower, in response, was quick to point out that “the only reason this case didn’t go to trial” was because the defendant indicated he was not ready to proceed.
DDA Hightower explained that he had “worked very diligently to secure for him his right to a speedy trial,” but even when the prosecution was ready to start to bring in jurors, the defendant announced that he was not ready for trial, and specifically asked for a continuance.
Reviewing the history of the case, Judge Villalobos explained that the time waiver entered by the defendant back on Aug. 26 was not a general time waiver, meaning good cause must have been proven for the defendant to have officially withdrawn.
Agreeing with DDA Hightower, Judge Villalobos argued that Garcia “refuses to tell me when he’s going to be ready to go, and in fact told me that if I called in a jury panel that I would be running a circus because he would not participate.”
Judge Villalobos continued to argue that not only did Garcia “freely and voluntarily” enter his time waiver, but several emergency Covid-19 orders issued by the Chief Justice allowed for cases to be continued past their last day.
“It’s very clear that these orders, even if the defendant objects and says he doesn’t want the matter continued, allow the court to continue matters over,” Judge Villalobos explained.
Unhappy with the judge’s explanation, Garcia referenced the recent decision of Stanley v. Superior Court which dealt specifically with the emergency shutdown over Covid-19.
“I believe it’s important for the court to recognize what the Chief Justice’s orders did and what the line of cases cited by Stanley refers to,” Garcia reasoned.
He explained that in every one of those cases, the delay had to be attributable to the actual medical emergency and not because of some other administrative issue, adding the Chief Justice’s orders “are not meant to just grant the court carte blanche authorization to extend trials, over and over again, over defendant’s objections, unless it relates to the Covid-19 emergency. Otherwise, it would be an extreme use of discretion.”
Judge Villalobos simply reiterated that, even if that were the case, the defendant did not waive time through a general time waiver. Based on this, Garcia would have needed good cause to withdraw, which, again, he did not have.
Judge Villalobos denied Garcia’s motion of dismissal.
Mia Machado is a junior at UC Davis, currently majoring in Political Science-Public Service and minoring in Luso-Brazilian studies. She is originally from Berkeley, California
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