Acting as Own Attorney, Defendant Frustrates Judge, Claims He’ll ‘Blow This Case Up,’ Attempts to File Dismissal Motion

By Sally Kim

ALAMEDA – Defendant Zachary Running Wolf Brown, acting as his own attorney here, appeared to try the patience of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Delia Trevino this week.

The defendant said he was filing a motion to dismiss his charges in Alameda County Superior Court, noting that he had been charged on a marijuana count four years ago and this time, as he put it, on a “ridiculously trumped up charge.”

Judge Trevino asked if he had prepared the paperwork for this motion and filed it with the court.

The defendant—who is in custody—said he has paperwork but has not had the chance to file it, adding his “campaign manager” was sternly aware of the need to do so, predicting it would be done the next day.

Elaborating, he said that he will be stuck (in custody) with no ability to contact his campaign manager, but will send an application electronically as well as discuss expert witnesses.

Judge Trevino was unfamiliar with the timeline required for the motion and informed the defendant that the motion may have certain requirements for the time frame it can be filed in. After looking it up, she said there is no indication of a specific timeline but that normally this motion is filed after a preliminary hearing, a couple of weeks out but before the trial.

“We’re doing it late in the game, I know that much, but I don’t know there is any authority saying you can’t bring it at this point in time,” Judge Trevino added, who then asked the defendant, given that he hasn’t brought the motion, if he is ready for trial. He confidently replied that he is ready.

Judge Trevino clarified that Brown had acknowledged he hasn’t reviewed the electronic evidence yet, which includes hours of body-worn footage of officers investigating the charged incidents, his own interview with the police, and three different surveillance videos.

She noted that, given that all this information has not been reviewed by the defendant, she is not sure whether he was ready for trial.

Brown skirted around the question, asserting that the evidence received through discovery by the DA contradicts the evidence given by the public defender, said therefore, “It’s amazing how much evidence I have to blow up this case.”

Judge Trevino interrupted as Brown started delving into another past case and asked Brown sternly to narrow his focus on this particular case. She asked once again, “The evidence and witnesses in this case, you believe you have all those ready to go?”

Brown said he will be ready by the time of jury selection, although he will have to hustle and use his two-hour phone call to discuss this all with his campaign manager but that he will be ready.

Judge Trevino continued to ask questions about his readiness. She stated that the defendant hasn’t actually been able to name any witnesses and she asked for the names.

Brown went on to name one of his witnesses, his legal aide, saying how he was with him four years ago.

Judge Trevino interjected, saying “Let me stop you there. We shouldn’t discuss four years ago, tell me what other …” and was then cut off by Brown.

Judge Trevino had to interrupt again as she raised her voice, “Let me stop you there. We are getting far away from the topic.”

He quickly replied, “No, we’re not.”

Frustrated, Judge Trevino said to respond to her specific questions and asked how many witnesses he has under subpoena. He said there aren’t any, as Judge Trevino clarified that giving a list of names is not the same as subpoenaing somebody.

She then asked how many witnesses he will call. Brown said he plans to call eight to nine witnesses, and five to six of those have prior knowledge that they will be called. Brown added there are three to four more witnesses who don’t know they will be called but, with the free phone calls, he will contact them as well.

Judge Trevino said, “If you recall, I can’t make that order until you give me the names and phone numbers,” when Brown interrupted again.

“Give me a second, I’m still speaking,” Judge Trevino asserted over Brown’s interruption, as she continued explaining how she can write an order and transport it to inmate services with the one witness he had named so far.

Brown added that he also has another witness named “Shane,” but Judge Trevino explained once again that she needs both the first and last names of the persons and their phone numbers.  But Brown did not recall the last name of Shane. Judge Trevino said she cannot make the order without specifics.

Judge Trevino stated that they could continue arguing about these motions, but her focus is his readiness for trial because she is not convinced that he will be ready.

She explained that she has to physically type up the order, transmit it to Santa Rita, and a staff member at inmate services has to set up an account all before 3 p.m.

Off the record, they discussed the timing, when he would get back to his housing unit and make phone calls, and it appeared that Judge Trevino had to start making this order immediately so the account would hopefully be set up that afternoon before he got back.

Wrapping up, Judge Trevino said there will be a status check to see how far along Brown is. If he has been able to reach these witnesses and know if they will be available, wjether there are any additional motions to file, and then be able to set a trial hearing if necessary.

She made it clear that she is not calling a jury panel the next morning because there is still a lot of business to do before a panel comes to court.

However, if he is not ready, she will have to continue—even if he wants to go forward.

Sally Kim is a senior at UCLA, majoring in Sociology. She is from the East Bay Area.

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