Defense Rebuffed in McMartin Hearing : Judge Refuses to Modify His Ruling Halting the Proceedings
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge Monday denied a defense request in the McMartin Pre-School molestation case that he modify a previous order halting the proceedings, so that the judge in charge of the preliminary hearing could rule this week on whether the defendants should stand trial on some of the charges.
Attorney William P. Powell Jr., who represents defendant Mary Ann Jackson, 57, argued that prosecutors had sought a stay only of proceedings on 40 counts involving proposed closed-circuit television testimony by five child witnesses. Since his client is charged with four counts of molestation and one count of conspiracy based solely on testimony already given by one child, Powell urged that Jackson either be bound over for trial or that charges against her be dismissed.
Most Charges Dismissed
Municipal Judge Aviva K. Bobb, who last week dismissed two--thirds of the charges against the founder and six teachers at the Manhattan Beach nursery school, had said she would rule this Friday on the remaining charges, including about 90 on which there has been testimony.
But Judge Paul Turner, after a few moments with his hand to his forehead in thought, explained Monday that it had “seemed to me appropriate to delay everything” to avoid splitting the case and the possibility that Jackson’s trial would get under way before the preliminary hearing for the other six defendants ended. He said that it would be “more uneconomical and more unfair to proceed by vacating the stay.”
Turner let the order he issued last Friday stand unchanged: All proceedings in the case will be halted, pending his determination as to whether Bobb erred in refusing to allow televised testimony.
In accordance with Turner’s order, prosecutors wheeled two doubled-shelved carts holding more than 400 volumes of transcripts from the preliminary hearing into the judge’s courtroom at precisely 1:30 p.m. Monday. Arguments from both sides are due Thursday morning.
Costs to Be Considered
Turner told defense attorneys he will consider requests that the county pay the cost of any extra work and court appearances that result from his order, if such services were not covered in the defendants’ retainer agreements with their lawyers.
The judge said he could not predict when he, or another Superior Court judge, might deny the prosecution’s request that Bobb’s closed-circuit television decision be overturned or set a hearing date to consider the matter. He indicated that it was not likely to be resolved Thursday.
However, when defense lawyer Walter Urban, who represents Betty Raidor, 65, assured him that written defense arguments would be brief, Turner smiled.