Judge Balances Defense Counsel Requests with Busy COVID-Struck Court Calendar

By Alex Klimenko   

RIVERSIDE, CA – A defendant here—facing charges from 2019—attempted to speed up the process, despite knowing that because of COVID-19 the courts are backed up for a long time.

It didn’t stop Erin Leah Richey from trying. And trying hard.

But the department of Judge Otis Sterling, III, as well as other departments in Riverside County Superior Court, had full court calendars for the week of July 23-July 30, and it made it difficult to impossible to accommodate all of the countenances that various prosecutors and defendants proposed. 

As defendant Richey found out. She was charged with assault with a deadly weapon that did not involve a firearm. Due to a motion that she argued on Feb. 8, Richey is representing herself. 

And, Richey has been attempting to move the case along because years have gone by.

So, Richey and Deputy District Attorney Karen Salas were in court July 23 for various hearings related to the case. These hearings were originally scheduled for June 11. 

Richey requested Judge Sterling to hear her motions on July 30, and for her jury trial to start July 30.  However, Judge Sterling could not accommodate the date she requested due to the aforesaid full court calendar. 

Judge Sterling then cited various reasons why he could not grant the request. First, he explained about his full schedule. And then Sterling tried to put the hearing in a different courtroom, but they were also full.  After hearing the judge’s response, Richey still continued to ask for July 30.

Judge Sterling then explained how there were more serious cases that get priority in the calendar. He also explained that the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to meet the schedule requests that various parties have. 

In the end Judge Sterling put the dates on the calendar for a different date.

About The Author

Alex Klimenko is a 4th year political science major at UCLA. He is from San Francisco, CA.

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