Defense Claims DA Didn’t Provide Critical Evidence in DUI Jury Trial

By Ivan Villegas and Ruby Mota

WOODLAND, CA – The defense attorney in a felony jury trial was audibly upset Monday morning in Yolo County Superior Court, charging the prosecution had failed to turn over expert witness testimony a day before starting the trial.

The accused is charged with driving with a suspended license, operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock device and six counts of driving under the influence within 10 years of a prior felony in 1982.

Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira asked Judge Tom Dyer if he had the documents for the motion to amend the information requested by the prosecution.

Judge Dyer informed them he only had information from 2021, leading DPD Sequeira to ask if the prosecution was going to retract its motion to amend.

“I apologize… I didn’t get around to filing it, but I can provide a copy to the clerk,” said Deputy District Attorney Jose Gustavo Figueroa.

Judge Dyer quickly dismissed the motion, claiming that it was past the deadline, but DPD Sequeira brought up another issue with discovery and the testimony of a witness the prosecution planned to use.

“The witness itself I did not receive any discovery in connection to so I didn’t understand what the relevance of that witness was,” said DPD Sequeira, explaining she was missing the evidence that the witness, who would be considered an expert in impairment, used to form their opinion and did not have that witness’ testimony.

In response, DA Figueroa explained the reasoning behind the expert witness’ testimony and that other related information was given to the previous defense attorney. Figueroa stated he provided a copy of the expert witness’ resume to DPD Sequeira after finding out she would be taking over the case.

“I emailed Ms. Malik [the expert witness] the hypotheticals in the assumed facts that I plan to ask her as well as her opinion I have not received it yet but as soon as I receive her answers I will be emailing them to Ms. Sequeira as soon as possible.”

Before moving on, Judge Dyer turned once again to DPD Sequeira, who stated that providing a resume of the expert witness does not excuse the prosecution from providing discovery evidence that the witness would be using to form their testimony.

DPD Sequeira added the prosecution was waiting for an email response from an expert witness, which “means they were not ready to fulfill their discovery obligations, nor were they ready to go forward with her testimony, or his testimony, when they called ready a month ago.”

The DPD added, “The defense’s position is that it is not appropriate to do this at the last minute and to sandbag the defense, and that I’m entitled to the discovery and I am asking the court to order the prosecution to provide it to the defense.”

Judge Dyer sternly ordered the prosecution to turn over the responses it received from the expert witness as soon as possible.

The district attorney then requested to dismiss two counts the accused was charged with because the officer he had planned to use as a witness moved and would not be able to testify.

DPD Sequeira then asked to sever two sets of two counts that had been grouped together after Judge Dyer granted the prosecution’s previous motion to dismiss.

DPD Sequeira argued the reasoning behind trying all the charges together was now invalid due to the two dismissed counts, but Judge Dyer ultimately sided with the prosecution and denied the motion on the basis of judicial economy.

Judge Dyer then asked about the amended witness list and no issues were found. The trial is scheduled to begin this week.

About The Author

Ivan Villegas (he/him) is a criminal justice graduate from CSU Sacramento. He wishes to continue his studies in law school starting in fall 2023. He is interested in immigration and international law, and hopes to use his degree for a career as an immigration attorney.

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