LOS ANGELES — A Superior Court judge said Tuesday that he will not immediately rule on whether Beverly Hills Unified must provide email records to a defense attorney representing its former schools chief, who is now superintendent of Newport-Mesa Unified.
Judge Stephen A. Marcus told attorney Sal Ciulla that he needs to prove that the emails are essential to defending his client, Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard.
Hubbard, 54, is facing two felony counts of misappropriating public funds when at his previous job in Beverly Hills. Hubbard and a co-defendant, former Beverly Hills administrator Karen Anne Christiansen, 53, have pleaded not guilty to charges that he authorized payments to her without required approval from the school board.
Ciulla contends that unrecovered emails from Beverly Hills would help prove Hubbard’s innocence. Recovering the data, however, could cost $10,000 to $15,000, according to estimates given in court.
Attorneys for Beverly Hills would rather not incur the costs, which they argued are growing.
“Every time we come into court, it gets more and more burdensome,” for the school district to produce the emails, Ciulla said.
“My reactions are the following: You [Ciulla] are going to prove to me there aren’t alternative methods to get this,” Marcus said, adding that there may be other evidence that would be equally as useful and not as costly as subpoenaing email recipients who can testify to their content.
He also criticized Beverly Hills lawyer Stan Karas for arguing civil precedents, which place a greater onus on the defendant when paying for evidence gathering, in a criminal case.
In criminal cases, the defendant is “not handcuffed [by] having to pay,” Marcus said.
“If Mr. Hubbard was indigent, I would agree with that,” Karas argued.
The court also listened to expert testimony who claimed about a month of full-time work would be necessary to process the tapes that have the snapshots of all the district’s emails from the time when Hubbard is accused of misappropriating funds.
To recover from the tapes, the data would first need to be sent to a third-party disaster recovery firm that would restore them and make them available on a CD-ROM or hard drive.
The school district would then have its technology experts rebuild and restore the server before beginning the search for the emails that Hubbard’s defense said could clear him of wrongdoing.
Hubbard was excused from having to appear in court Tuesday, but is expected back in court Sept. 15.