Robert Bush 6:31 p.m., May 18
Another delay for arraignments in South Bay corruption probe
Will the venue be changed again?
Fourteen defendants of alleged corruption in three South Bay school districts — Sweetwater, Southwestern and San Ysidro — appeared in a South Bay court this morning only to be told the trial might be moved back to the San Diego courthouse. Only Monday was it learned that the cases were being transferred to the South Bay. Former Southwestern superintendent Raj Chopra did not appear in court.
The packed courtroom was told this morning that San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis filed a motion to reconsider returning the cases to the downtown courthouse. The hearing on this motion will be held in the San Diego courthouse, Department 11 on February 5.
Vikas Bajaj (pictured), attorney for former Southwestern college trustee, Jorge Dominguez, said that he and his client just learned of the motion to reconsider when they arrived at the courtroom this morning. Bajaj said he is considering the question of location in relation to "the content and quality of the jury pool."
The fifteen defendants face 232 varied charges in alleged pay-to-play schemes.
Attorneys for the defendants received 27 volumes of grand jury transcripts today and have moved to have the transcripts sealed. Marc Carlos, attorney for Pearl Quinones, a Sweetwater Union High School trustee, said that the transcripts are filled with testimony gathered from witnesses when no cross-examination was possible. Carlos stated that it would not be fair to defendants to have this material circulating in the community right now.
The Chula Vista courtroom over which judge Stephanie Sontag presided could not seat all the defendants, media, friends and family who wished to attend the arraignment. Many people had to wait outside the courtroom.
Sontag set the arraignment for February 15 if the cases are to remain in the South Bay