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San Diego courts work at half shut-down

“Well, so much for security at Las Colinas.”

Judge Elias tried tele-conferencing seven hearings.
Judge Elias tried tele-conferencing seven hearings.

The defense attorney appeared wearing a silky scarf around his face, with tiny tassels jiggling as he talked, and someone in the courtroom joked, “He’s going to start belly dancing in a minute.” Attorney Matthew Roberts held up his hands so everyone could appreciate that his scarf and gloves were all color co-ordinated with his suit and tie.

It was the first, experimental day of video-teleconferencing-hearings in San Diego’s North County Superior courthouse, on April 9.

Four men from the court’s IT Department sat on the edge of their chairs, each had his obligatory backpack in a chair next to him, and they swiftly resolved problems that came up during each of the seven hearings heard Thursday morning. The virus scare and mandated distancing has created strange circumstances in the justice system.

Honorable judge Harry Elias heard the first tele-conferenced hearings in the Vista courthouse.

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The first three cases needed a Spanish-speaking interpreter, and she was in the courtroom in Vista. This made for some awkward moments which were resolved by the computer wizards.

The first two cases were telecast from Las Colinas women’s jail in Santee.

A female defendant names Ramirez put down the old-style phone handset she had to her face, and she walked away from the camera to find a deputy, after one IT guy told her to find a guard to take the call off mute. Ramirez was seen walking down a hallway and opening a door to call for a guard; apparently she had been left alone for a private, tele-conference-session with her defense attorney. The judge remarked, “Well, so much for security at Las Colinas.”

Ultimately, all charges were dropped against Ramirez, who was seen crying into the phone as she said, “Gracias.

Defendant Argelia Murillo, 43, pleaded guilty to concealing and disguising a transaction that exceeded $25,000, last January. She could have gotten four years in prison. Judge Elias warned her that is an aggravated felony, and she can be expelled from the USA if she is not an American citizen. She responded through the interpreter that she did understand and she wanted to go forward with her plea deal. Murillo will be released the same day, with credit for time served.

When defendant Fidel Moreno appeared, the judge noticed he was turning 24 next week and wished him a happy birthday, the defendant thanked the judge. Moreno pleaded not-guilty to attempted murder, assault with a firearm, and mayhem. His next court date was set for June 25.

(Between defendants, a deputy was seen cleaning the stainless steel seat and armrest, upon which each inmate was seated.)

Fernando Castaneda Oliveros, 24, pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual abuse of child, he switched out from a public defender to a private defense attorney, and got May 27 for his next court date.

Angel Alberto Rivas, 37, pleaded guilty to auto theft, and he admitted two prior auto thefts. He will be released immediately on his own recognizance, and is required back in the court June 8 for sentencing. He could get up to four years prison. A prosecutor remarked that Rivas phoned his girlfriend with the victim’s phone while he was stealing her car, but this did not concern the judge. “The main thing is don’t steal a car between now and June, that shouldn’t be that difficult I should think,” judge Elias said to the defendant, who replied, “Yes sir, thank you sir.”

Defendant Matthew Elias Toll, 22, admitted stealing $10,000 worth of lottery tickets from a Mosen gasoline store last September. His attorney, Charles Millioen, wore a black velour scarf with a rust-colored foliage pattern, no fringe. The plea deal for Toll was 16 months local prison time that would run concurrent with another conviction out of Los Angeles County. The next court date for Toll is June 8.

From a jail in Chula Vista, Joseph Rodriguez, 24, pleaded guilty to assault for benefit of a criminal street gang. He will be released immediately on his own recognizance, and is next expected in court July 9, when he could be sentenced to up to a year in custody. Judge Elias warned Rodriguez that his sentence could go up, if he re-offends while out of custody.

Defendant Nhat Vo, 46, pleaded not-guilty to felony animal abuse, and misdemeanor vandalism and trespass. The coordination between attorneys and a Vietnamese interpreter (somewhere) and the judge in the Vista courthouse proved insurmountable, and this matter was delayed until next week. Defense attorney Joe Hallare requested Nhat Vo to be moved from the downtown jail into the Vista jail, but he was informed that because of the virus scare, the sheriff was not moving inmates around.

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Judge Elias tried tele-conferencing seven hearings.
Judge Elias tried tele-conferencing seven hearings.

The defense attorney appeared wearing a silky scarf around his face, with tiny tassels jiggling as he talked, and someone in the courtroom joked, “He’s going to start belly dancing in a minute.” Attorney Matthew Roberts held up his hands so everyone could appreciate that his scarf and gloves were all color co-ordinated with his suit and tie.

It was the first, experimental day of video-teleconferencing-hearings in San Diego’s North County Superior courthouse, on April 9.

Four men from the court’s IT Department sat on the edge of their chairs, each had his obligatory backpack in a chair next to him, and they swiftly resolved problems that came up during each of the seven hearings heard Thursday morning. The virus scare and mandated distancing has created strange circumstances in the justice system.

Honorable judge Harry Elias heard the first tele-conferenced hearings in the Vista courthouse.

Sponsored
Sponsored

The first three cases needed a Spanish-speaking interpreter, and she was in the courtroom in Vista. This made for some awkward moments which were resolved by the computer wizards.

The first two cases were telecast from Las Colinas women’s jail in Santee.

A female defendant names Ramirez put down the old-style phone handset she had to her face, and she walked away from the camera to find a deputy, after one IT guy told her to find a guard to take the call off mute. Ramirez was seen walking down a hallway and opening a door to call for a guard; apparently she had been left alone for a private, tele-conference-session with her defense attorney. The judge remarked, “Well, so much for security at Las Colinas.”

Ultimately, all charges were dropped against Ramirez, who was seen crying into the phone as she said, “Gracias.

Defendant Argelia Murillo, 43, pleaded guilty to concealing and disguising a transaction that exceeded $25,000, last January. She could have gotten four years in prison. Judge Elias warned her that is an aggravated felony, and she can be expelled from the USA if she is not an American citizen. She responded through the interpreter that she did understand and she wanted to go forward with her plea deal. Murillo will be released the same day, with credit for time served.

When defendant Fidel Moreno appeared, the judge noticed he was turning 24 next week and wished him a happy birthday, the defendant thanked the judge. Moreno pleaded not-guilty to attempted murder, assault with a firearm, and mayhem. His next court date was set for June 25.

(Between defendants, a deputy was seen cleaning the stainless steel seat and armrest, upon which each inmate was seated.)

Fernando Castaneda Oliveros, 24, pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual abuse of child, he switched out from a public defender to a private defense attorney, and got May 27 for his next court date.

Angel Alberto Rivas, 37, pleaded guilty to auto theft, and he admitted two prior auto thefts. He will be released immediately on his own recognizance, and is required back in the court June 8 for sentencing. He could get up to four years prison. A prosecutor remarked that Rivas phoned his girlfriend with the victim’s phone while he was stealing her car, but this did not concern the judge. “The main thing is don’t steal a car between now and June, that shouldn’t be that difficult I should think,” judge Elias said to the defendant, who replied, “Yes sir, thank you sir.”

Defendant Matthew Elias Toll, 22, admitted stealing $10,000 worth of lottery tickets from a Mosen gasoline store last September. His attorney, Charles Millioen, wore a black velour scarf with a rust-colored foliage pattern, no fringe. The plea deal for Toll was 16 months local prison time that would run concurrent with another conviction out of Los Angeles County. The next court date for Toll is June 8.

From a jail in Chula Vista, Joseph Rodriguez, 24, pleaded guilty to assault for benefit of a criminal street gang. He will be released immediately on his own recognizance, and is next expected in court July 9, when he could be sentenced to up to a year in custody. Judge Elias warned Rodriguez that his sentence could go up, if he re-offends while out of custody.

Defendant Nhat Vo, 46, pleaded not-guilty to felony animal abuse, and misdemeanor vandalism and trespass. The coordination between attorneys and a Vietnamese interpreter (somewhere) and the judge in the Vista courthouse proved insurmountable, and this matter was delayed until next week. Defense attorney Joe Hallare requested Nhat Vo to be moved from the downtown jail into the Vista jail, but he was informed that because of the virus scare, the sheriff was not moving inmates around.

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