By Silverio Rizo Llamas
MERCED, CA – Merced County Superior Court Judge David Moranda presided last Friday over a tense courtroom in which the accused was hesitant about waiving time for his preliminary hearing and was visibly upset with his attorney.
That stubbornness paid off—the judge agreed to an earlier hearing.
His attorney repeatedly reminded him that they had agreed to waive time, emphasizing that it was “her last day” and that a new attorney was taking over.
Able Salinas was noticeably upset with his attorney, Tina Hutson, for failing to meet with him. Salinas said he did not want to waive time and wanted to get the issue resolved sooner but was advised by his counsel to waive time.
Salinas ultimately relented but was noticeably bothered that his attorney had failed to meet with him at a predetermined time.
Attorney Hutson asked the court to set the case for pre-preliminary hearing for Nov. 12. Judge Moranda reminded Hutson that her client had not waived time and that his case was scheduled for a preliminary hearing.
Attorney Hutson stated that she believed that he waived time. Salinas affirmed her comment saying, “Yea, but you were supposed to come see me,” but was ignored. Hutson continued her petition to have the pre-preliminary hearing pushed to a further date.
Attorney Hutson acknowledged that her client wanted an earlier court date, but stated that there was no time for discovery. Hutson stated she wanted time for the new attorney to look over the case.
Judge Moranda informed Salinas that a new attorney was coming on and would have to look at his case, and because of that he was continuing the next hearing to Nov. 12, as his attorney requested.
Salinas responded to Judge Moranda, complaining that he was told that if he waived time “they would see (him) before this (preliminary hearing)” and they could have it “finished today instead of prolonging everything.”
Judge Moranda stated that he was not aware of his arrangement and informed Salinas that there was a “new attorney onboard,” asking the defense when the new attorney would be able to “get in and talk to Mr. Salinas.”
Defense Attorney Hutson stated that the new attorney would be starting Wednesday of the next week. She told Judge Moranda that she had already explained to “Mr. Salinas why we need to waive time.”
The defendant interjected, stating, “You didn’t come see me on Thursday though.”
Judge Moranda asked Salinas “to hold off a second” and informed him that the new attorney would be coming in with a “bunch of new cases.” Judge Moranda told Salinas that he would ask “Ms. Hutson to tell Mr. Siegal, the new attorney, to try and get in there as soon as possible and make (his) case a priority.” However, he would be setting the case for the 12th and that he “would see him then.”
The court clerk informed the judge that time had not been waived. Judge Moranda affirmed her observation, stating that he “did not have any record that it was.”
Attorney Hutson stated that she thought Salinas had waived time. Judge Moranda told Salinas that he could set the matter for the following Friday but emphasized that his attorney would be “starting Wednesday and probably would not be ready.”
Cutting off Salinas, Attorney Hutson asked Public Defender Michael Noguera whether she had correctly understood that time had been waived so that her office could take over all the cases.
Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby interjected, stating that he had the same understanding of the events. He stated that they had agreed that this would be the best way “to approach it given the global offer.” DDA Colby stated that if the case was set for prelim he would “pull all offers and go forward on the case.”
Hutson advised Salinas that he hold off until the new attorney could take over. Hutson explained that she was very limited to what she could do because it was “last day.”
Salinas responded, “It would have been better if you came when you said you would.”
Judge Moranda gave Salinas the option for a preliminary hearing the following Friday, but advised him to speak with his new attorney first. Salinas stated he would waive time if the hearing could be set for two weeks.
Attorney Hutson again emphasized that they did not have discovery, citing an issue at the Public Defender’s office.
DA Colby informed the court that he had in place a global resolution offer that he would sustain until the day of the preliminary hearing, now that time had been waived.
Judge Moranda scheduled Salinas for a pre-preliminary hearing on Nov. 5.