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People v. Flores

February 27, 2009


Appeal from an order of the Superior Court of Riverside County, Helios J. Hernandez, Judge. Affirmed. (Trial Court: SWM073520).

Per curiam.





On March 11, 2008, the Riverside County District Attorney (District Attorney) filed a misdemeanor complaint charging Defendant Guadalupe Flores with one count of simple battery (Pen. Code,*fn2 § 242), one count of spousal battery (§ 243, subd. (e)), and one count of trespass (§ 602, subd. (m)). At Flores's continued arraignment on April 7, 2008, she pleaded not guilty and remained free on bond. Because Flores was not in custody, her trial was required to commence within 45 days, on May 22, 2008. (§ 1382, subd. (a)(3).)

The minutes of a trial readiness conference on May 5, 2008, indicate trial was set for May 22, 2008. At a May 12, 2008 trial readiness conference, the matter was assigned for jury trial to the master calendar department at the Southwest Justice Center. The minutes show Flores waived time for the May 22, 2008 trial date (plus the ten-day grace period), and the parties stipulated to the last day for trial on June 2, 2008.

On May 22, 2008, the parties appeared before Judge Freer in the Southwest master calendar department and announced ready for trial. On his own motion, Judge Freer trailed the matter until May 29, 2008, "due to courtroom unavailability." The parties provided a time estimate of three days for trial. Under the "previous time waiver," the last day for trial to commence remained June 2, 2008.

The District Attorney filed a motion to trail the matter within the ten-day grace period, and on May 29, 2008, Judge Freer granted the motion and assigned the matter to the master calendar department at the Hall of Justice in Riverside. The matter was again trailed until June 2, 2008.

On June 2, 2008, Judge Hernandez in the Riverside master calendar department called the matter. Judge Hernandez addressed counsel: "I just got off the phone. I couldn't find any courtrooms, so any suggestions?" The prosecutor inquired whether there were any available criminal courtrooms, then presented the court with a list of questions. Judge Hernandez addressed the apparent concern by the prosecutor that the court might "have some hidden courtroom" as follows: "I have checked out every one around through the entire county. All criminal courtrooms are available to us, but they're all engaged in jury trials. A number of civil trial courtrooms are also available to us. They are all engaged in criminal trials. We do have one for you. Are you going to let one of your criminal trials go to Judge Tranbarger?"

The prosecutor responded, "If the Court is going to assign us out to Tranbarger, I believe we will be filing a paper*fn3 in regards to that." Instead, the prosecutor suggested that Judge Tranbarger be assigned to the master calendar "to free up yourself as another trial court," but Judge Hernandez noted that "your side filed 170.6s against him as a calendar judge too." The prosecutor could not remember whether a peremptory challenge could be filed against a calendar judge who is "not making any legal decisions," but said he would check into it. Judge Hernandez responded, "If he's okay to be in calendar court, I'm putting him in [Department] 51 starting tomorrow."

Moving back to the prosecutor's list, Judge Hernandez made findings about the unavailability of courtrooms throughout the entire court:

"So there are some civil courtrooms available, but one of them is Judge Tranbarger, [whom] the D.A. regularly papers a hundred percent of the time. The other one is our Hawthorne judges. We have three civil judges doing civil trials at the Hawthorne School. They were given to us by AOC, [the Administrative Office of the Courts], just to do civil. That was the condition on which we got them, and the security at Hawthorne School is inadequate to assure the safety of jurors, witnesses, attorneys, court staff, or the public.

"We will not use family law courtrooms. They have no jury boxes, and even the ones that do, it's not appropriate. The judicial officers that are assigned to family law have huge [caseloads]. A significant part of that [caseload] is protecting children and spouses. Emergency protective orders and emergency hearings are frequent.

"We will not use probate or guardianship courts. They protect the mentally disadvantaged who are constantly the targets of the greedy. They also protect children who are without parents.

"We will not use juvenile court. Most of them have no jury boxes and the judicial officers assigned to juvenile court have huge [caseloads]. The Juvenile [section] 300 [of the] Welfare and Institutions Code calendar protects children who have been removed from their homes due to neglect or abuse. The Juvenile [section] 600 [of the] Welfare and Institutions Code calendar takes care of crimes committed by juveniles. The [section] 600 cases have strict time guidelines and reassigning a judicial officer from [juvenile court] would create a public safety issue, since juveniles who have committed crimes would have to be released."

The prosecutor then asked Judge Hernandez a series of questions from his list regarding potentially available courtrooms:

"[Prosecutor]: [A]re there any cases that have been sent to criminal trial courts already that still have statutory trailing time that could be taken out and a new case[] taken in?


"[Prosecutor]: Are any P.P.C.D.*fn4 courts available? I know that in the P.P.C.D. court here, Judge Moran hears trials in the afternoon, but I know that neither the Southwest Court P.P.C.D. nor the Indio Court P.P.C.D. hears trials in the afternoon. Are either one of those available?

"THE COURT: I did send one out to Southwest.

"[Prosecutor]: So that still leaves Indio.

"THE COURT: The Indio one is not available.

"[Prosecutor]: Okay. Is there any criminal courtroom that could take a short misdemeanor matter, such as ...

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