A ‘Cat Fight’ Over Late Discovery Breaks Out Between Opposing Counsel

By Aishwarya Rajan

WOODLAND – A “cat fight” of sorts took place here in Yolo County Superior Court Tuesday when private defense attorney Jose Gonzalez and Deputy District Attorney Jordan Greenberg sparred over late discovery.

Defendant Terry Chafin, although not present for his hearing, according to his defense, was not granted his procedural rights because “the People want their cake, and they want to eat it too.”

The defendant was scheduled for two consecutive hearings that morning before his jury trial: a violation of community supervision hearing and a pretrial conference.

Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) is a type of supervision for an offender released from state prison that requires, upon their release from prison, the offender be supervised by an assigned agent from his or her county.

Chafin’s pretrial conference was scheduled to address his misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance prior to his jury trial hearing that evening.

Defense attorney Gonzalez requested two motions to compel discovery for both hearings before he received the evidence catalog resulting in this pretrial conference. He was sent this evidence only one day before the scheduled jury trial, and viewed more evidence the day of.

It was requested that all evidence of audio from any 911 calls and radio dispatch logs were to be turned over to the defense. But Gonzalez claimed that “I have these things, but these things themselves don’t turn into admissible evidence” due to the proximity of its retrieval to the trial.

He continued with this argument by explaining that he needed time with the evidence to properly proceed and be best prepared for the trial.

Frustrated, he expressed that “never have I fought so hard for a continuance on a hearing when it is so clear that the People had an obligation to get me evidence, and they hadn’t.”

He went further to claim that, throughout his correspondence with the prosecution, DDA Greenberg blatantly disregarded his request to not move the drugs from the DOJ as it could “prejudice their ability to test the drugs.”

Attorney Gonzalez went so far as to accuse Greenberg of having “the audacity in his papers to blame me.”

In addition to that, Gonzalez enumerated the several other unreasonable requests made by the prosecution.

In particular, he outlined the prosecutor’s request that they view the evidence with their investigators at 5 a.m.

To this, prosecutor Greenberg responded, “the People gave multiple times for Mr. Gonzalez to view the evidence; we ultimately landed on this morning being the best time for him to view that.”

To Judge Peter Williams, it appeared that the basis for the defense’s argument was that there was a small window of time to review the retrieved evidence.

There “are likely subpoenas that need to go out for witnesses based on this information and I’m still not ready for the hearing this afternoon,” defense later pointed out.

Judge Williams agreed that “having time to prepare for a hearing would be part of due process,” but further noted the defense’s inability to build a case using the evidence “can’t be an invitation for gamesmanship where you don’t like the PRCS date so you ask for discovery upon discovery until you get, eventually, where you want in the process.”

The attorney would need to properly display the details of his request for extended time, outlining the exact evidence that he would need in order to be granted a continuance, the judge said.

Gonzales proceeded to make a staunch accusation, saying that “the reason why the People want to hurry this up is precisely because they want to get Mr. Chafin to jail so fast.”

Judge Williams said he would release his decision soon.

Aishwarya Rajan is a first year Political Science Public Service major and Cognitive Science major at the University of California Davis. Her various experiences living in her hometown in Danville, California, have shaped her passions to deliver justice through a career in law.

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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.

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