By Alexander Ramirez and Michele Chadwick
SACRAMENTO, CA – Judge Patrick Marlette welcomed a packed courtroom and jam-packed docket in Sacramento County Superior Court, Dept. 63 this week that included multiple drug cases, and a public defender who accused prosecutors of using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to unfairly delay a case.
That “delay” case was for Tawni Bueno, who is charged with four separate felony counts for the possession of a firearm after a prior conviction, and one misdemeanor count for possession of methamphetamines.
Bueno entered court, and her defense attorney, Kimberly Miller, introduced herself.
Before matters continued, Deputy District Attorney Kristin Hayes let the court know of a previously filed demurrer and requested more time before the trial date.
She explained that her team was trying to get the transcript for a Texas strike offense so she could know how to proceed with her own case. As for the date, an extension to Nov. 3 was suggested by Hayes.
PD Miller quickly objected to any date past the original date of Oct. 4, which is in line with the 60-day trial date requirement.
“The People are seeking to use our emergency order to come up with proof. This has nothing to do with COVID. They’re using the extension, essentially, to work up their case that’s not a COVID issue. That’s a proof issue that would have existed without a COVID emergency order,” argued PD Miller.
Judge Marlette said that the court usually defaults to accepting the extension, but he didn’t see good cause in this case. He did, however, question whether the DDA had a proper amount of time to respond to the demurrer.
As DDA Hayes explained her process of responding to the demurrer, she also argued that it was never stated or established that the emergency order was only used for court availability and that many other things, like investigation and the obtaining of documents, have been affected by the pandemic.
Judge Marlette once again stated that he won’t default to the extension but does believe that Hayes will need some time to argue the demurrer. But because PD Miller was steadfast, the original date of Oct. 4 was kept.
In another drug-related case, the defendant’s car was searched during a probation search, leading to the discovery of .4 grams of heroin. During the search, the police found a Ruger 57, a semi-automatic handgun, lodged under the steering compartment of the defendant’s car. The gun was loaded and operable.
The accused—whose name wasn’t available—pleaded no contest to all charges, including possession of a controlled substance, possession of ammunition and a firearm while in custody, resisting an executive officer, and possession of a substance while armed.
The defendant received a minimum two years in a state prison and court mandated fines for restitution and court fees totaling $370. In addition, the gun was confiscated.
Another drug case began with a failure to appear. The defense attorney claimed that an issue with courtroom assignments led to confusion and asked to reschedule the trial.
In doing so the warrant would be issued after the new trial date should the defendant fail to appear once more.
The judge declined the rescheduling due to previous failures to appear in court and the severity of the current charges, including substance possession and unlawful possession of a firearm.
The judge issued a no bail bench warrant.