By Amy Berberyan and Sam Alcaraz
RIVERSIDE, CA – During a reporting and sentencing hearing this Friday in Riverside County Superior Court, Judge Matthew Perantoni had to continue the case after self-representing defendant Moses Daniel Arguellez revealed he was still waiting for a transcript.
Problems arose when Arguellez, facing attempted murder charges, told the court he couldn’t proceed because he was “still waiting to develop [his] issues for sentencing” and his transcript.
Judge Peratoni revealed he had “been informed that there had been more than one court reporter on this case” and that the “court reporter that did a large chunk of [their] trial was not able to complete her portion of her transcript” resulting in an incomplete copy of it.
Arguellez agreed and requested the presence of his investigator and the “legal runner.”
“We don’t appoint something called a legal runner,” said Peratoni. “An investigator can take care of issues that you need as far as filing a motion on your behalf.”
Arguellez revealed he had met his investigator “once or twice” when prompted by the judge.
“We did receive word from your investigator earlier in the week that he was reluctant to come in because of this COVID-19 contagion,” said Judge Perantoni. “However, we did authorize him to appear telephonically.”
While the court worked on contacting Arguellez’s investigator, the judge readdressed his issue with the court runner, including one to “help [him] with [his] legal documents.
“Kind of like a co-counsel is what you’re asking for, really,” said Judge Perantoni, and added that he did not appoint co-counsel for those who want to “represent themselves.”
“You’re asking for an advisor or counsel,” he added. “So they can advise you and help you with your legal paperwork and strategies.”
Arguellez denied this, saying his legal runner would just help print out his legal documents since his investigator wasn’t doing such for him.
After securing a call with the defendant’s investigator, Judge Perantoni reported a problem with “someone trying to get into the courtroom.”
Addressing Arguellez, the judge said the presiding judge of the court had ordered the Riverside courtrooms closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, “the only persons allowed in the courtrooms were the parties on the cases, the attorneys; family members are not allowed in at this time as a result of the covid spread.”
Returning to Arguellez’s investigator, Judge Perantoni said “typically, when [the court] appoints investigators to represent parties representing themselves in pro per, the investigators typically assist the defendant, not in preparing legal motions, but at least filing them.
“Are those things that you’re able to do on behalf on Mr. Arguellez as well as other investigatory duties?” he asked the investigator, who answered in the affirmative and mentioned the legal runner Arguellez was attempting to hire.
Arguellez said his investigator had spoken with the man he wanted to be his legal runner, and said his investigator was now saying something different.
“The court isn’t going to end up paying two people to do the same thing,” said the judge. “The investigator, as you heard, can do what you ask a legal runner to do.”
One reason Perantoni was reluctant to appoint a legal runner was that most defendants attempted to hire friends as legal runners, which would allow “extra visits from them in jail.”
“You do not have a legal runner on this case,” Judge Perantoni said. “He’s not a party on this case. He’s not on this case. So I’m not going to bring him in.”
“Was there any way I could relieve my investigator,” asked Arguellez, “and get another that will…”
Judge Perantoni interrupted him with a firm, “No.”
Arguellez then interrupted when Judge Perantoni brought up continuing the case again, and the judge told him to “hold on.”
Shortly afterwards, Judge Perantoni had to stop his proceedings to tell the deputy to ask the man Arguellez wanted to appoint as his court runner to leave because he was “making too much noise.”
“Apparently, we had the legal runner making a commotion in the breezeway,” said Perantoni, “Arguing with the deputy at this point” and “refusing to leave.”
After calling for another deputy, Judge Perantoni remarked, “And in any event, I don’t think I would appoint that gentlemen regardless, seeing how argumentative he was and the commotion that he was involved in with the deputy.”
Afterwards, Judge Perantoni prohibited any further mention of a legal runner by Arguellez.