By Catherine Hamilton
RIVERSIDE, CA — A Riverside County Superior Court judge this week granted Daniel Carlos Garcia access to a thumb drive to use for his retrial with his newly-appointed defense counsel, but revoked the additional one hour of phone time a day granted earlier while the Garcia was searching for an attorney.
Garcia had been one of four co-defendants accused in a 2008 murder of a Palm Springs retiree. All four were granted a retrial after allegations against the judge for being biased during the original trial.
Garcia had originally planned to defend himself, but was appointed an attorney to help him; however, his new defense is about 15 months behind everyone else on knowledge and preparation for the retrial set next spring.
The defense requested the judge allow Garcia to continue having an extra hour of phone time each weekday that had been granted when Garcia was self-representing.
The defense attorney has to drive two hours to get to Riverside to speak with Garcia, and was arguing that the extra phone time would help his communication with his client.
The prosecution contended that allowing Garcia to have the extra time will have a negative effect in the jail. And said such an allowance would take the staff away from their other duties in order to watch over Garcia and would use up telephone time for other inmates who are actively representing themselves, which Garcia is no longer doing. She also predicted that allowing Garcia this privilege would incentivize other inmates to ask for a similar grant.
The judge ruled in favor of the prosecution’s argument, and suspended Garcia’s extra five hours a week of phone time. However, Garcia will still retain his right to use the phone during set hours that every other inmate also has.
Another arguing point for the defense was the request for Garcia to have access to the jail’s law library and a thumb drive so that he could help his attorney with the case.
Taking into account how far behind the defense is in the trial process, and how little he gets to visit with his client, he argued that allowing Garcia increased technology access relative to other inmates would help the trial to start on time.
The defense attorney also made clear he believed Garcia should be able to “effectuate his fundamental right to assist in his own defense,” and it would be able to do so easier if he had this ability to store information and documents on the case.
The prosecution again disputed that there is no reason for Garcia to have this privilege since he is no longer representing himself, and it could also start a ripple effect of other inmates asking for this same access.
However, taking into consideration the ease that this arrangement would provide the defense in making sure the trial was able to start on time, the judge granted Garcia use of a thumb drive.
Both sides agreed that the only people who would have access to the thumb drive information would be the defense attorney and Garcia, and that it would stay in the sheriff’s possession when not in use.
The two rulings are still up for debate if new factors come into play on misuse of the thumb drive or inability for the defense to speak with his client without the extra hours of phone time.
The retrial is scheduled for April 2022.