The August 17 readiness hearing for seven of the Santa Cruz Eleven drew to a close with optimism for the defendants, and a weekend of work for District Attorney Rebekah Young. Judge Burdick issued an order that DA Young produce a detailed inventory of all evidence in the case, when it was, or was not, provided to each of the defense attorneys, and the methodology used to transmit the evidence, particularly the videos.
Alexis Briggs, representing Cameron Laurendeau, immediately and authoritatively detailed inappropriate procedures by DA Young, including Young’s failure to provide a full discovery of evidence, and tainting witness testimony by bringing SCPD officers into court at the wrong time. Furthermore, Briggs and Jesse Ruben, the attorney for Franklin Alcantara, were not notified by DA Young that charges were refilled against their clients and a new arraignment had been scheduled on May 25. Briggs also talked about DA Young’s untimely 170.6 motion, which amounted to “judge shopping” since Young did not like the rulings issued by Judge Burdick in previous Santa Cruz Eleven hearings.
Defense attorneys stated that, despite making request after request, and receiving excuse after excuse, they still had not obtained a full discovery of videos and photos being used in the case by police and the district attorney’s office. DA Young retorted that the district attorney’s office set up a YouTube channel with raw video, and that they think they copied and provided all the DVDs, but she’s not sure, because the process is difficult and confusing.
Law enforcement have been using video to confirm who was where, and when, during the occupation of the vacant Wells Fargo bank at 75 River Street in downtown Santa Cruz. Judge Burdick, who appeared irritated with DA Young, stated that he did not know why all the defense attorneys did not have the videos.
DA Young replied that she did provide the videos. Alex Briggs quickly responded that the DA’s assertion is simply false, and that she keeps asking for video and photo evidence allegedly showing her client, which the DA planned to introduce into the preliminary hearing on Monday August 20 as part of SCPD witness testimony.
At this point in the readiness hearing, Judge Burdick intervened saying it was no longer necessary for the defense attorneys to continue asking the district attorney to provide evidence, because he was issuing an order that the DA provide documentation of the differences between the videos that have been provided to the defense, and those that have not been provided.
Judge Burdick, speaking in a tone where one could visualize him throwing his arms in the arm and shaking his head, stated, “Eight months into this case, and we still have not received video?!” DA Young curtly replied that she will ask Detective Gunter for more video. Burdick then said he was inclined to dismiss the case.
Defense attorney Brian Hackett, representing Gabriella Ripley-Phipps, argued that the Internet is not an adequate method for handing over discovery evidence. Other defense attorneys agreed, and asked to join the motion to dismiss the case.
Judge Burdick stated that on Monday, instead of beginning the preliminary hearing, DA Young was being ordered to show cause as to why the case should continue, as opposed to all remaining charges being dismissed. If a preliminary hearing moves forward, it would have to be held at a later date.
In addition to the failure by the district attorney’s office to provide video evidence, defense attorney Dan Clymo, representing Becky Johnson, stated that the damage reports at 75 River Street have not been provided to him. Judge Burdick, still annoyed, stated that damages are an important factor in this case, and asked the DA, “Why have those not been provided?”
Judge Burdick elaborated on his order to District Attorney Rebekah Young that she provide an inventory as to what evidence has been provided, when it was provided, and the methodology used to transmit all video. Burdick concluded, “I’m really unhappy about this Ms. Young. This is inexcusable. … It’s absolutely inexcusable. It’s doubtful we’re going to proceed.”
The defendants and their attorneys are due back in court on Monday August 20.
For more information about the Santa Cruz Eleven, you can visit:
Seven Remaining Santa Cruz Eleven Defendants Return to Court August 17th & 20th
Bradley Stuart Allen is a photographer, Indymedia volunteer and website developer living in Santa Cruz, California. Allen, a longtime volunteer photojournalist and editor for Indybay.org, is one of the Santa Cruz Eleven. The charges against him were politically motivated, but legally unjustified. All charges against Allen were dismissed on May 14 2012, thanks to legal support and organizations including the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP), Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ NorCal), and the American Civil Liberties Union (Santa Cruz County and Northern California ACLU).