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San Diego : Martinez Lawyer Wants Hearing

The attorney for San Diego City Councilman Uvaldo Martinez told a Superior Court judge Monday that he wants to go forward with a preliminary hearing on allegations of Martinez’s misuse of a city-issued credit card.

Judge Richard D. Huffman ordered Martinez to report June 30 to the San Diego Municipal Court’s presiding department, where his preliminary hearing on 28 counts related to allegations of his misuse of public funds will be assigned to a judge for hearing.

Martinez, 43, was indicted by the San Diego County Grand Jury on March 12 on charges that he dined at some of the city’s finer restaurants with staff members and friends, then billed the city for those meals, which he listed as business-related. He could have waived the preliminary hearing and proceeded directly to trial.

But Martinez’s attorney, Jerry Coughlan, said he made the decision “to take advantage of every legitimate legal proceeding, and the preliminary hearing is the normal next step in this case.”

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“The preliminary hearing is a valuable opportunity for a defendant because he gets to hear the government’s case and have it judged by a judge of the court,” Coughlan told reporters after the brief court hearing.

Coughlan said he could have challenged the grand jury’s indictment, but believes it would have been pointless.

“Even had we been successful in doing that, the grand jury still can bring the charges again, so it probably would have been a futile effort,” Coughlan said.

Martinez, who has said sloppy record keeping in his office is behind spending report discrepancies, said he is looking forward to the preliminary hearing.

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“When we put on our case, we still feel we’ll be vindicated,” he said.

Coughlan said he hasn’t decided whether to present Martinez’s case at the preliminary hearing or simply rebut evidence presented by Deputy Dist. Atty. Allan Preckel.


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