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Anatomy of a Trial: Santana, Vasquez Delayed Again; Griesa Begins



Posted with permission from Notable Trials


The arraignment of attorneys Jesse Santana and David Vasquez was again delayed to give Judge John Darlington time to read through two lengthy grand jury transcripts, it was decided Monday, June 1.

In the same hearing, Yuba County Deputy District Attorney John Vacek agreed to provide additional prosecution documents the defense side says it needs in order to adequately answer the charges.

Santana and Vasquez allegedly conspired in a bribery scheme against Joseph Patrick Griesa, who now faces trial on multiple sex offenses against minor girls.

The prosecution’s basic claim is that Santana, who represented one of the alleged victims, and Vasquez, who represented Griesa, participated in deal to have Griesa pay $100,000 to keep Santana’s young client quiet.

But every day all across California and the nation lawyers are always reaching such out of court civil settlements so it is difficult to understand what out of the ordinary Santana and Vasquez are supposed have done.

“We still don’t know what we’re being accused of,” said Santana’s attorney, Roberto Marquez.

The defense also contended that the judge must read through the two grand jury transcripts to properly rule in the case. The transcripts run to about 3,000 pages.

“Do I have to read all of the transcripts?” Darlington asked, plaintively.

Darlington agreed to the reading, but needed some time to plow through the pages. He ordered the parties to return 10:30 a.m. June 29.

This case is not as simple as it sounds. In fact, it arguably may be one of the most convoluted political intertwining of cops, courts, DAs and judges in Yuba County history.

When the charges were brought against Santana, he was a lead figure in a short field of candidates for appointment to a superior court judgeship in Sutter County, just across the Feather River from Yuba County.

As soon as his indictment was announced his chances of were killed and another candidate – generally considered much more likely to be prosecution-friendly – was named to the post, instead.

It gets more complicated.

Before the grand jury indicted Griesa had a tow truck service with contracts with the Marysville Police Department and had previously been a county probation officer.

He allegedly bragged to the girls he is accused of molesting about his political and law enforcement connections, apparently to make them believe it would do them no good to complain.

In fact, one of the key claims in the Santana-Vasquez matter is that MPD Detective Randall Elliott investigating complaints first encouraged Santana’s client and her mother to reach a civil, then lied to the grand jury about it.

Some of the records the defense seeks from the DA and police will allegedly reveal what other news sources have called “a pattern of dishonesty” by law enforcement and the DA’s office.

Griesa was also in court yesterday, June 1, to prepare for jury selection, which begins today, June 2.

People v. Joseph Patrick Griesa, case number CRF-08458, carries 18 criminal counts. Fourteen allege felony sex offenses against minor girls The remainder relate to his alleged failure to pay taxes.

Judge Kathleen R. O’Connor is presiding in the case. Deputy DA John Vacek is also the prosecutor in this case.

O’Connor revealed to the parties that she was previously married to former Sutter County Superior Court Judge Timothy Evans and that Evans had briefly represented Griesa.

If Evans were to be called as a witness, would that present a present a judicial conflict, this case, O’Connor asked.

Neither Vacek nor Charles J. Smith, the Redwood City attorney representing Griesa, objected to her continuing as the presiding judge.

Redwood City is 148 miles and 2.5 hours away from Marysville, so you can see how far out of town Griesa had to go to get a lawyer to handle this extremely controversial case.

This case is so controversial and publicized an unusually large number of potential jurors are to be called. Figures as low as 114 and as high as 200 were mentioned. They will begin filing out their juror questionnaires this morning.

Mid-day, the attorneys and the judge will go through the questionnaires and sort out the ones seeking excusal for further questioning.

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