Monday, February 11, 2008

Juarez enters plea of not guilty for third time


A 15-year-old Santa Barbara boy pleaded not guilty yesterday in Superior Court to murdering another 15-year-old during a March 14, 2007 gang brawl on State Street.
The scene was familiar, as it was the third arraignment for Ricardo “Ricky” Juarez in the past year and his first since the case against him was dismissed last month.

The same day his case was dismissed due to a procedural error made by the District Attorney’s Office, Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer had the defendant rearrested and filed the same charges the following day.
Those charges consist of murder with a gang enhancement. The District Attorney has opted to try Juarez as an adult.
Dozer said he expected yesterday’s plea and noted that the only thing he was surprised about was that Juarez’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Karen Atkins, did not move to disqualify Superior Court Judge Brian Hill from acting as the magistrate during future proceedings.
While Atkins did not move to disqualify Hill, who oversaw the first preliminary hearing, she made it perfectly clear to the court how she feels about the judge’s ability to conduct a fair hearing.
“I do not believe it would be appropriate for him to be the preliminary hearing magistrate on this matter,” Atkins said. “It’s somewhat akin to asking the same panel of jurors to listen to a case dismissed on appeal. We believe Judge Hill should disqualify himself from being the magistrate.”
Dozer said he is confident Hill can be an impartial fact finder during Juarez’s second preliminary hearing and any future proceedings.
“I’m content to be in front of Judge Hill,” he said. “We’ll put on a preliminary hearing as we’ve done.”
Dozer noted that judges are supposed to be impartial regardless of what they have seen or heard in the past.
In Hill’s case, he heard quite a bit, overseeing one of the lengthiest preliminary hearings in Santa Barbara County history, which ended with a ruling Atkins was less than pleased with.
If Hill does not disqualify himself, Atkins said she would not exercise her right to do so, which Dozer said passed yesterday when the case was assigned to Hill for “all purposes.”
“It would be hard for him to be completely neutral,” Atkins said of Hill. “If he wants to do the preliminary hearing recognizing the potential problems that might be there, the onus is on them. To me it doesn’t make sense for him to do it.”
A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 19 where a date for a new preliminary hearing will likely be set.
Atkins, who said last week that she planned to meet with District Attorney Christie Stanley to discuss the case, said she hopes a settlement can be reached before a new preliminary hearing is necessary.
Atkins wouldn’t say if she has met personally with Stanley, but said, “There are some discussions going on.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

reconsider !!!
they need to change the judge to another one for the prelim