District Attorney Refuses to Provide Full Discovery to Defense

By Citlalli Florez

MODESTO, CA – The accused’s felony case was filed in 2021, and in a Stanislaus County Superior Court hearing last Friday, the District Attorney’s Office maintained it will not provide certain discovery to the defense—at least not yet.

The accused was in the courtroom, Deputy District Attorney Fawn Smolak was present in court and Defense Attorney, Hans Hjertonsson, was virtually present through Zoom. The judge overseeing the case was Dawna Reeves.

The accused’s case had already had its pretrial, preliminary examination, and felony pretrial already completed by the time the case management conference took place, in anticipation of a trial on charges unspecified by the court.

Friday morning, DDA Smolak said the DA’s office was filing a motion for an in-camera hearing. According to the DDA, the trial was vacated because the DA received information that a firearm from this case is also believed to be related to a different case. 

When the DA’s office contacted the Modesto Police Department, it learned the other case is still open and is being investigated.

Because of the relationship between both cases, the defense asked the DA’s office for police reports regarding this case.

However, the judge ruled Friday the request by the DDA for an in-camera hearing was granted and that will determine whether or not the DA’s office needs to turn over the police reports. The linked case is allegedly concerning attempted murder.

The DDA said they do not want to turn the reports over now to the defense because it is an ongoing investigation and may allegedly put witnesses at risk.

The DDA said their office will turn over the hits from the firearm but the office’s opinion is that disclosing the reports from the case, which is still being investigated, could cause issues.

Judge Reeves decided not to choose a trial date until the issue is resolved. The law in motion hearing will begin Jan. 20 of next year. The same day will serve as a jury trial setting date.

About The Author

Citlalli Florez is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently majoring in Legal Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Art Practice. She intends to attend law school in the future with the purpose of gaining skills to further serve her community.

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