Ed Bedford 11:44 p.m., June 19
Two month delay for alleged South Bay corruption cases
Frustrated South Bay residents unable to be seated in tiny courtroom
Once again on February 15 the wheels of justice did not roll forward. Arraignments for 14 defendants in alleged pay-to-play schemes were postponed until April 12. (One defendant, Yolanda Hernandez, has already been arraigned.)
The South Bay courtroom gallery seats approximately 35 people. Residents and media started lining up as early as 8:00 for a 9:30 hearing; more people were left outside the courtroom than gained access inside.
When court was finally in session, Judge Stephanie Sontag informed the courtroom that all future proceedings would be assigned to Judge Ana Espana.
When Judge Ana Espana materialized approximately an hour later, she told the court that the demurs and a motion to seal the transcripts would be continued until April 12.
Speaking for the district attorney's office, Leon Schorr pointed out that these proceedings have been deferred since January 7. After the hearing, Schorr's only comment was "We're ready to go."
Judge Espana continued the case because she wants to "review the material and understand what the issues are."
Trustees and administrators from three school districts are involved: Southwestern College, San Ysidro and Sweetwater Union High School District.
Judge Espana presided over a controversial Sweetwater case last May. Sweetwater board member John McCann sought a permanent restraining order against Stewart Payne. Payne is the parent of a Sweetwater student and one of the five people who initially took complaints of alleged corruption to the district attorney's office.
Espana dismissed McCann's request.