Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 28
Technology talk takes up the latest Ibarra pre-trial hearing
BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
Family members of defendants waited in the Santa Maria Juvenile Hall lobby, seemingly banished from watching the latest pre-trial hearing in the Anthony Ibarra murder trial.
Some traveled from as far as Bakersfield for the Sept. 12 hearing, only to sit and wait for an intercom to be turned on so they could hear what was happening in the courtroom. But the sound never came.
Several of the defendants’ loved ones did make it through the juvenile courtroom doors, but by the time some people got inside, there weren’t any chairs left for them to sit on.
A courtroom deputy told the Sun that such challenges happen all the time.
Proceedings for the 10-defendant case—defendant Carmen Cardenas pleaded no contest to the charges of being an accessory to murder after the fact with a gang enhancement—were moved to the juvenile facility because that structure has enough space to comfortably accommodate the defendants and their attorneys. While there’s ample space on the gallery side of the courtroom’s swinging doors, actual viewing seats are limited.
As family members fretted over the hiccup in the Sept. 12 pre-trial proceedings, concerns boiled inside the courtroom over significantly different burdens. Attorneys talked about the need for more private and technologically advanced equipment when they visit their clients in jail.
Attorney Steve Balash filed a motion asking to use his iPad Mini during non-contact visits at the Santa Barbara County Jail. Other defense attorneys joined the conversation, saying that being forced to use county equipment hampers their ability to effectively do their job.
“Everything is done electronically nowadays, and this system is archaic,” Balash said. “It’s a very simple request.”
County Counsel John Ready argued that allowing any technological device into the jail—specifically access to the outside world via wireless devices and Internet capabilities—raises security concerns.
“The rules are the rules,” Ready said. “No one brings outside electronic equipment into the jail.”
Superior Court Judge Rick Brown sided with defense attorneys, saying he believed access to personal laptops would enable attorneys to more effectively defend their clients.
He said the court had to balance the rights of defendants “with the very real concerns of the county jail.”
Brown ruled that attorneys could bring in personal laptops—and in the case of Balash, his tablet—for non-contact visits as long as they signed a petition stating they wouldn’t use the Internet. Attorneys asked Brown to extend the ruling for contact visits as well, but he said he didn’t want to move down any road too fast, but rather wanted to see how things roll out.
“Let’s get it working, let’s get it going,” Brown said. “Let’s take it one step at a time.”
Cardenas is the only defendant to enter a plea in court. The next pre-trial arraignment hearing is scheduled for Oct. 18.