By Amy Berberyan and Keana Sauray
RIVERSIDE, CA – Facing attempted murder charges in Riverside County Superior Court Friday, Joseph Lee McDonald expressed frustration during his preliminary hearing after Judge Timothy Freer issued another continuance.
Judge Freer made this decision after McDonald’s attorney prepared a declaration that said he was not ready.
Judge Freer said he had to review this declaration in order to provide McDonald the effective assistance of counsel he was required by law.
“This is good cause to continue a matter because if he doesn’t do that,” said Judge Freer, “then he can’t provide you effective assistance of counsel and you’re looking at real serious charges here so you want the best that counsel can give you.”
He acknowledged McDonald’s displeasure with this decision, but maintained that this move would be beneficial for him.
“In other words,” said the judge, “I’m not telling you what you want to hear. I’m telling you what you need to hear.”
McDonald expressed understanding, but added, “Every time I come in, it’s two more months, three more months, and how long does it take to do something of the magnitude that needs to be done before…I’m not trying to be smart or anything.
“I guess some of this comes from being frustrated as well,” he admitted, “but I understand what you’re saying.”
When Judge Freer asked whether McDonald agreed to a later date, McDonald remarked, “Well, doesn’t seem like I have a choice, so yeah.”
Deputy Public Defender Ryan Ahern expressed his client’s issues regarding his limited ability to get in contact with his attorney when necessary. While in custody, McDonald was frustrated about only being permitted 30 minutes a day to make phone calls to his attorney.
However, Judge Freer was skeptical about interference with the sheriff’s department rules, asking, “Is that going to cause a significant problem or disruption at the jail to your [defendant’s] knowledge?”
Eventually, Judge Freer extended permission for more phone time, noting, “I’ll put on the defendant’s break time that he will be permitted to call his attorney within regular business hours.”
PD Ahern added, “I will be giving him my cell phone, so hopefully I can get ahold of him even if I’m not sitting in my office.”