The arraignment for 15 indicted South Bay educators and contractors involved in a high-profile corruption case led by San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis was postponed Wednesday morning following a meeting in the judge’s chambers.
South Bay judge Stephanie Sontag and counsel decided it would make more sense to continue the arraignment for a later date.
“The matter will continue on Feb. 15 at 9:30 a.m. in this department unless there is a ruling on the fifth of February that this case is transferred to downtown,” Sontag said.
The Feb. 5 status conference is set in Department 11 with judge Timothy Walsh.
In court, criminal defense attorney Paul Pfingst, who represents former Sweetwater district superintendent Jesus Gandara, told the judge all defense attorneys were on board with filing a 977 motion to seal the grand jury transcripts suppressing the evidence, which was released Wednesday to the defense.
In addition to that motion, a 995a motion was also filed to request the judge dismiss one or more charges of the case.
Criminal defense attorneys often raise this motion when they believe that a judge or grand jury lacks sufficient evidence following a California preliminary hearing or grand jury indictment. Defense attorneys are against the case moving to the South County, where many of the defendants work and live.
The defense attorney for Sweetwater board trustee Pearl Quinones, Marc Carlos, said it would be unfair to allow the general public access to the transcripts.
“Having that circulate would make it difficult to get a fair trial,” Carlos said following Wednesday’s hearing.
There are 27 volumes of grand jury transcripts, according to Carlos.
Defense attorney Vikas Bajaj, who made a general appearance on behalf of former Southwestern College board member and defendant Jorge Dominguez, said there are convenience and legal factors that have to do with judicial efficiency regarding where the case is heard and tried.
Bajaj said defense attorneys need time to review the grand jury transcripts.
Last week the case was ordered by San Diego judge Timothy Walsh moved to the South County and with it any pertaining records, according to San Diego court spokeswoman Karen Dalton.