In a Chula Vista courthouse on January 24, Paul Pfingst, defense attorney for Jesus Gandara — the former Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent indicted on corruption charges — asked for a postponement of the trial that’s scheduled to begin February 18.
The other Sweetwater school district defendants are former trustee Greg Sandoval and current trustees Jim Cartmill, Bertha Lopez, and Pearl Quiñones.
Pfingst brought the motion before judge Ana España because, he said, he is scheduled to be in court for several cases in the coming months.
España said she thought she had made it clear that the trial was set for February 18 and that schedules should be kept open for at least six months.
Pfingst said that he made these commitments because at one time he “had assumed this case was not going to trial...now it looks like the case must be tried.”
Several attorneys joined Pfingst in the request and bandied about the possibility of a summer trial.
Deputy district attorney Leon Schorr argued that the date has been set since August. He said, “Our position is, we’re ready to go.”
Schorr says the district attorney’s office believes the trial will last for at least four months and that they plan on calling over 200 witnesses.
Schorr added that his office continues to interview and gather material for the trial. He said he has an additional interview next week.
Judge España was unwilling to accept the summer offer and asked the attorneys to confer among themselves and come to an agreement on a date “reasonably soon.”
The new date for a trial is set for April 28. España emphasized she wants to begin empaneling a jury on April 20.
Outside the courtoom, Pfingst was asked if he thought any of the recent allegations regarding district attorney Bonnie Dumanis and money laundering would play into the politics of the case.
Pfingst said, “I don’t know enough about it. I’m reading the newspapers like everyone else.”
Marc Carlos, defense attorney for Quiñones, said, “I am looking into it.”