June 5, 2002
Judge Throws Out
Although 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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
J.A.I.L. is an acronym for Judicial Accountability
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"..it does not require a majority to prevail, but
rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.."
- Samuel Adams
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil
to one who is
striking at the
-- Henry David Thoreau