Prosecutor Wonders If Questioning Should Continue after Defense Objections

By Nicole Mayer and Ivan Villegas

WOODLAND, CA – Deputy District Attorney Frits Van Der Hoek considered this week in Yolo County Superior Court whether questioning could continue in light of the many objections defense attorney Alan Donato made during a trial setting conference for a felony case involving alleged gang activity.

As a previously convicted juvenile, the accused faces two felony charges of possession of a firearm and carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle. This also included multiple sentence enhancements of criminal street gang activity.

After Donato began to question Deputy Probation Officer Juan Gil about their police report, DDA Van Der Hoek objected, stating:

“Your Honor, I have been very careful in my questioning in not making references to reports, due to the ongoing A27 objections. But I don’t think we can have any A27 objections and then reference things that would be subject to A27 objections.”

DDA Van Der Hoek was responding to the various objections, including lack of foundation and hearsay, Donato made while Van Der Hoek was questioning the various police officers who appeared as witnesses.

Woodland Police Officer Richard Rayls was one of the first to take the witness stand. While being questioned by DDA Van Der Hoek about the alleged gang affiliated paraphernalia found in the accused’s bedroom, Donato objected several times on the grounds that there was a lack of foundation for the questions.

DDA Van Der Hoek quickly retracted and established the foundation for his questions before moving on.

When it was the defense’s turn to cross-examine the witness, Donato questioned whether Officer Rayls’ testimony was valid at all.

“Nowhere in your report (does it) mention(s) his [the accused’s] mother telling you which bedroom is his correct? You would agree with me that your recollection of the event was fresher in your mind when you wrote this report back in April 2018 than it is today when you testified?” said Donato.

Officer Rayls responded to the latter with a flat “yes.”

When DPO Gil first took the stand, he was asked by Judge Daniel Maguire, “[did] you have access to the juvenile case filed under [the accused]?”

Officer Gil replied, “No.”

Once DDA Van Der Hoek began questioning Officer Gil about the search of the accused’s bedroom, he asked “did you find anything illegal?”

“I personally didn’t, but my coworkers, other officers did,” replied Officer Gil, and after being asked what it was the officers found he replied, “A firearm.”

This prompted Judge Maguire to interrupt the questioning, asking, “Did you see the firearm?” And after Officer Gil said it was only after the search that he saw it, Judge Maguire responded, “All right, well, you need to testify to what you saw.”

It was only after defense attorney Donato started questioning Officer Gil that DDA Van Der Hoek interjected and asked Judge Maguire that the police reports not be brought up during questioning.

DDA Van Der Hoek stated, “I just need it to be referred to something else like notes or documentation, but to explicitly say that it’s a police report I think violates the A27 [objection].”

Judge Maguire responded, “Well, I’m not sure calling it something different solves it.”

Ultimately Donato moved on with the questions, stating it wasn’t important. The hearing resumed.

About The Author

Nicole Mayer is a second year student at UC Davis, pursuing a degree in Economics. She is passionate about advocating for others and truthful reporting. She intends to attend law school after completing her undergraduate degree.

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