Saturday, February 08, 2014

Tree's double murder trial set for March 24; defense withdrew time waiver Friday

The trial for a man accused of murdering a teenage girl and the man who was apparently trying to defend her was set Friday for March 24. - Lorna Rodriguez/The Times-Standard

Bodhi Tree is accused in the shooting deaths of Alan “Sunshine” Marcet and Christina Schwarz at an Eye Street house in Arcata last May 18, and for reportedly shooting Rhett August in Eureka last May 15. August survived. Tree faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted....

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos said the timeline of proceeding to trial is set by the defendant.

”It's always tough on victims, it's always tough on the community, when these things get protracted,” Gallegos said. “But the defendant does have the right ... although we all have differing opinions on how much time it takes to be prepared, it's important to understand we're all invested. Everyone who is prosecuted gets all the protections of the law.”

...Judge Dale Reinholtsen presiding. Elan Firpo, prosecutor. Attorney for Tree, Heidi Holmquist.... - John Chiv/Words Worth


  1. Andrew Isaac2/08/2014 10:22 AM

    Mr. Gallegos is correct, a defendant can largely control the time of trial by waiving, or refusing to waive, time. If a defendant is ready for trial, and wants a trial, that trial must go forward.

    The converse is not the case. Defendants may almost always advance, but may not always delay, trial. Experience shows, and has even shown the State Legislature, that defendants often have reasons, tactical or otherwise, for delaying trials, and will waive time hoping crowded courts will let other cases proceed ahead of them. This can cause interminable and painful delays, and may even effect the ability of the prosecutor or victim(s) to proceed.

    Accordiingly, the law says that a defendant’s request for a continuance is not to be automatically granted. The Legislature, via the Penal Code explicitly deprecates continuances. See PC § 1050(a). The law gives certain cases, such as homicides and sexual assaults, precedence over others, and moreover lays out rules and procedures controlling whether and when a case may be continued. See, e.g. Penal §§ 1048-1050.

    Perhaps more significantly, in 2008 with the passage of Marsy’s Law and Prop 9, the People decreed that victims have the Constitutional right to a speedy trial, and the District Attorney’s Office is explicitly charged with enforcing that right and the other rights enumerated in Section 28 of the State Consitution. Victims have the right to be informed as to any motion to continue, to have the District Attorney object on their behalf to that motion, and to be present in court during said motion. See Article 1, Section 28(b), §§ 6, 7, 8, and 9, and 28(c)(1) of the California Constitution.

  2. Andrew Isaac2/08/2014 11:25 AM

    Most welcome.
    See also
    CAL. PEN. CODE § 679.026
    (c) (1) Every law enforcement agency investigating a criminal act and every agency prosecuting a criminal act shall, as provided herein, at the time of initial contact with a crime victim, during follow-up investigation, or as soon thereafter as deemed appropriate by investigating officers or prosecuting attorneys, provide or make available to each victim of the criminal act without charge or cost a "Marsy Rights" card described in paragraphs (3) and (4).  
    (3) The Attorney General shall design and make available in ".pdf" or other imaging format to every agency listed in paragraph (1) a "Marsy Rights" card, which shall contain the rights of crime victims described in subdivision (b) of Section 28 of Article I of the California Constitution, information on the means by which a crime victim can access the web page described in paragraph (2), and a toll-free telephone number to enable a crime victim to contact a local victim's assistance office.

    See the card here. It’s available all over the web in every language on the planet.


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