By Mansour Taleb
OAKLAND, CA – A man accused of misdemeanor petty theft here late last week in an Alameda County Superior Court pretrial hearing appeared to do a decent job of job of representing himself despite having little knowledge of the law and court procedures.
The man managed to request full discoveries from Deputy District Attorney Jake O’Malley, and set the stage for filing a “Pitchess” motion requesting details of an involved police officer.
Judge Clifford Blakely noted there was a trial date set for June 28, and asked the accused if he was able to speak with DDA O’Malley and if he received an offer on how the case could be resolved without trial.
The accused stated he was not worried about the assistance of an investigator and claimed he did not have a trial date or had yet received general discovery from O’Malley.
O’Malley explained that he did remember when the accused made a request for an investigator and that he was waiting for the investigator’s contact info during this time, adding, “The moment of the initial discovery we requested supplemental discoveries and body-worn cam footage.”
The DDA added, “As of now, we did not hear anything back from the agency.” O’Malley suggested to the court, “If it is helpful now to get (the accused’s) discovery, I could send a digital version of the initial discovery package, if madame clerk is kind enough to print it now, to avoid any delay.”
Then he was asked for his offer to settle, and he said, “To plea, in this case, then no time waiver, one count of PC 484 petty theft, one-year probation for time served and to stay away from 265 Telegraph and 1339 Philmont Street. Restitution was reserved and to dismiss his other pending jury trial. The time waiver is currently set for July.”
After Judge Blakely asked the accused if he planned to resolve both matters, he expressed his concerns by stating, “Not necessarily because I do not have anything in order yet. I don’t really know how to respond to what O’Malley said.”
The accused explained his reticence was because he has no idea what O’Malley has prepared, adding, “I did not have access to the police report, (and) for me whether or not he goes to an investigator is irrelevant. What is relevant for me today is the discovery, most precisely the police report and videos considering these things are general discoveries.”
Referring to the offer, he stressed, “I don’t know exactly what he has prepared and I would like to know.”
After the request, DDA O’Malley finally printed out the police report for the accused to review.
Judge Blakely said the accused was in custody when he entered his plea of not guilty and that he is now out of custody. Therefore, he asked if he was interested in waiving time so the court could provide the discoveries.
The accused decided to view the police report before deciding on that. After a break, Judge Blakely reminded him he had a trial date set for June 28.
Additionally, the charged man requested a “motion for the investigator, to possess relevant video recordings, the one from CVS, and video from the police officers involved,” adding, “And don’t forget that I will need a Pitchess motion for Officer (no first name made available) Elliot.”
The judge said the request for the Pitchess motion brings up a different issue because there was no time waiver within the June 28 trial date. He explained those motions require statutory notice. He underlined that it will surpass his trial date, and if he really wants the Pitchess motion he would have to consider waiving time.
When it was time for the accused to decide what to do with his time waiver, overwhelmed by all the information thrown at him, he argued, “I am not sure and I got to ask you this: Is it obvious why I’m not sure about waiving time?”
(Editor’s Note: Waiving time would require the accused to waive his constitutionally protected right to a speedy trial, which is often done to better prepare for trial by the defense.)
Judge Blakely assumed that since he is not an attorney and he is representing himself, it made sense. Moreover, Judge Blakely noted, “You own the speedy trial right, I am not here to advise you about what to do with your speedy trial right…it’s up to you.“
The accused explained to the judge that as of right now what he was considering are “ready motion and dismissal of the authority.” He stressed, “I don’t have the discovery pertaining to a lot of stuff useful. I am assuming that Mr. O’Malley doesn’t have that right now, bringing the issue of dismissal pertaining to the lack of evidence, but I don’t know.”
The judge reminded the accused that pretrial hearings are not dedicated to arguing on such issues. Additionally he reminded the man, since he motioned for discovery, the district attorney is obligated to provide that to him.
The judge asked, “Do you want to maintain your trial date and make those decisions on time waiver later or, make the decision now?”
Overwhelmed and confused, the accused said, “I want to make a motion to dismiss for lack of evidence and time for discovery.” It was denied by the judge.
The accused maintained his June 28 trial date and his readiness hearing was set to June 16.