Monday, October 18, 2010
Power Failure Forces Closure of Orange County Courthouse
Hearing in Case of Accused Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Postponed One Week
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Two courthouses in Orange County had to be closed Friday due to a power failure, necessitating postponement of a number of matters, including the case of a Los Angeles Superior Court judge facing felony charges.
An Orange Superior Court spokesperson said the Central Justice Center and the court’s civil complex, both located in downtown Santa Ana, lost power at 7:05 a.m. due to problems at the county’s nearby cogeneration plant. While power was raised briefly later in the day, that was temporary and officials decided shortly after noon to close the buildings for the day, the spokesperson said.
Normal operations are expected today, she added, saying that a request for a declaration of judicial emergency had not been made, to her knowledge. Such a declaration, which—unlike a temporary courthouse closing—requires action by the chief justice of California, would extend various deadlines in criminal cases.
Other facilities, including the courtroom at the county jail, were fully operational and available to handle emergencies diverted from the Central Justice Center, the spokesperson said.
Among Friday’s scheduled proceedings were motion hearings in the case of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Harvey Silberman and campaign consultants Evelyn Jerome Alexander and Randy Steinberg. Those matters were rescheduled for this Friday.
The three are charged with felony solicitation to induce a candidate not to run for public office. A grand jury indictment alleges they offered monetary inducements to Deputy District Attorney Serena Murillo, whom Silberman—then a Superior Court commissioner—defeated in the June 2008 primary, to withdraw from the contest.
Pretrial matters are being heard in Santa Ana because Orange Superior Court Judge Richard M. King is hearing the case on assignment. King announced at an earlier hearing that any jury trial would be held in Norwalk, but Silberman, represented by Los Angeles attorney Daniel Nixon, has moved for a separate trial and a change of venue.
Other motions filed by the defendants seek to dismiss the action on various grounds, including a claim that the statute, Elections Code Sec. 18205, is vague and overbroad, and to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a search of computers at the offices of SJA Strategies, the consulting firm operated by Steinberg and Alexander.
One of the grounds on which suppression is sought is that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carla Kerlin, who signed the warrant, was a contributor to Murillo’s campaign.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company