* Judge Throws Out Grand Jury Indictment
- J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles, California June 5, 2002Judge Throws OutGrand Jury IndictmentAlthough this is a March article (yes, we're behind-- can't be helped), this shows more evidence of the insignificance of the grand juries in today's mock system of "justice." Judges will NOT be throwing out indictments by the statewide Special Grand Juries of J.A.I.L. You cannot view the J.A.I.L. grand jury system with that of the counterfeit system in practice today. There's no comparison.
Ruling on Grand Jury Gets Charges Dropped
Ventura County: Judge says for the second time this year that the panel does not represent a fair cross-section.By TRACY WILSON
TIMES STAFF WRITER
March 12 2002
A judge Monday threw out the indictment against a handyman accused of rape and murder, ruling for the second time this year that the Ventura County Grand Jury is male-dominated and does not reflect a cross-section of the county's population.
The ruling sets aside the indictment against Vincent Sanchez, who is accused of gunning down a 20-year-old Moorpark College student last summer during a rape attempt.
The much-anticipated decision comes more than a month after the same judge, Frank Ochoa in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, issued a nearly identical ruling in a separate death penalty murder case. That decision is being appealed. Sanchez, a 30-year-old from Simi Valley, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the July 5 slaying of Megan Barroso, as well as attempted rape and assault charges involving four other women. All of those criminal counts were dismissed Monday.
However, the court ruling does not affect guilty pleas Sanchez entered in the rapes and assaults of 10 other women during the last five years.
In his 39-page decision, Ochoa ruled that the September 2001 indictment was unlawful because the procedures used to seat the Ventura County Grand Jury are defective.
Currently, court administrators solicit volunteers to serve on the 19-member panel. Ochoa found the selection process does not draw a fair cross-section of the community as required by state and federal law, and has resulted in male-dominated grand juries for several years.
Specifically, he found that women constituted only 30% of the 2001-02 grand jury pool. Of 40 applicants, only 12 were women.
"The disparate representation of women in Ventura's grand jury pool was consistent throughout a five-year period," Ochoa wrote. "From 1995 to 2000, there were a total of 333 grand jury pool members in Ventura. Only 99 of 333 were women."
Although Ochoa found there was no intentional discrimination, he ruled the selection process flawed nonetheless.
Ventura County Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Dee Corona said her office has not decided whether to appeal the dismissal.
"We have to read it and digest it and decide what to do," she said.
The ruling sends the Sanchez case back to the arraignment stage and could force prosecutors to present their evidence at a preliminary hearing.
Prosecutors allege that Sanchez terrorized Simi Valley residents from 1996 to 2001 with a series of rapes before kidnapping and murdering Barroso. They contend he shot at her car as she drove home from a Fourth of July party and then dragged her from the car. At some point, they say, he tried to rape her.
But Deputy Public Defender Neil Quinn argues that there is no evidence to show his client killed Barroso during a rape attempt.
The dispute is significant: Paired with a first-degree murder charge, the rape allegation makes Sanchez eligible for the death penalty.
Court officials said they are now looking at ways to revise the grand jury system in Ventura County.
Times staff writer Holly J. Wolcott contributed to this story.
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