Side Post – A Court Update

Daniel was in court again on Monday June 13. This time, I was able to go.

You might be thinking, “Hey, I thought the jury already gave him a death penalty verdict. Why isn’t he languishing away in San Quentin by now?” There’s a big difference between a jury’s recommendation and actually being sentenced.  Until Judge Conley makes his final decision, Daniel will remain in the Orange County Jail.

If you’re wondering what’s holding up the decision, I’d say it’s the tenacity of Daniel’s defense attorney, Scott Sanders.

The Inmate Informants Controversy

Throughout this entire process, Scott Sanders has claimed the Orange County Sheriffs and the Orange County District Attorney’s office hid evidence from the defense, and this evidence was a result of an illegal use of inmate informants at the OC Jail.

From the beginning, all the accusations were denied. But when Sanders dug up proof of an informant network, Matt Murphy claimed that it was a moot point anyway because he wasn’t going to use the information during Daniel’s trial. There was nothing relevant learned about Daniel’s case.

I’m pretty sure Scott Sanders would respond with a “Let me be the judge of that.” Especially since he ended up finding proof of what he’s been claiming all along.

But Sanders isn’t the judge, so he needs to convince Judge Conley that the defense has the legal right to see ALL the information that was collected on his client. Matt Murphy does not agree, and so, even though his trial ended over four months ago, Daniel still hasn’t been sentenced.

Now, before you get all pissy at Scott Sanders and blame him solely for the seemingly endless delays in Daniel’s sentencing, you should know that Sanders has repeatedly stated the defense is not trying to free Daniel or contest the guilty verdict. Sanders does want the death penalty removed, and he wants to make sure Daniel got a completely fair and legal trial.

That is his job, after all.

Obviously Matt Murphy has a job to do as well, and it’s a damn important one: get justice for the victims. With Daniel’s sentencing repeatedly delayed, it’s no surprise the victims’ family members are frustrated and angry.

In recent weeks, though, new revelations pointing to information being hidden has surfaced. Sanders has learned of the existence of over 1,000 pages of records kept by OC Sheriff’s deputies who were in a “special handling” unit in charge of those previously non-existent jailhouse informants.

Matt Murphy and the DA’s Office have stated that they were unaware of this “blog” kept by the Sheriffs. Murphy still stands behind his assertion that none of it is relevant in Daniel’s case.

But if Scott Sanders is a tad doubtful, and he wants to look at this “blog” for himself, then he should get to look at it… and he shouldn’t be blamed for the time taken to do so.

How Does The Informants Controversy Matter In The Wozniak Case?

You know what? There probably isn’t a damn thing in those notes that will change the outcome of Daniel’s sentence. That’s not the point.

Murphy is asking for the death penalty, so doesn’t it make sense to at least confirm that Daniel’s rights weren’t violated? For those of you who want him dead, think about it this way: do you want Daniel coming back on appeal?

While I was sitting in the courtroom Monday, listening to the back and forth between Murphy and Sanders, a ridiculous analogy popped into my head.

A couple is having an argument because the woman thinks the man is cheating on her. By the way, for the purpose of this example, I’m using a male / female couple to simplify my pronoun use.

Anyway, he profusely denies cheating, but she just doesn’t believe him. She asks to look at his texts. He says he doesn’t have any texts on his phone. She still doesn’t believe him. She’s heard rumors that he cheated on past girlfriends.

She points out that his clothes smell like another woman’s perfume, and he explains that he was attacked by one of those scent sprayers in Macy’s. He promises that there’s nothing tawdry to be found in his texts, and it would be a waste of everyone’s time for her to read them.

Wait a minute.  Did he originally say there weren’t any texts at all?

Then she points out a lipstick stain on the collar of his shirt. He tells her that it’s from his grandma hugging him when he picked her up from the old-folks home to take her to lunch. She doesn’t believe him. She wants to see the texts and she’s not giving up.

So he lets her see two of his texts. One is from his boss and one from his sister. He tells her that all the texts are that innocent, and there is no need for her to look at the rest of them. But there were hundreds more texts, and she refuses to believe they are all from bosses and sisters. “Who’s Brittany? Your sister’s name isn’t Brittany.”

It’s not impossible that the guy has a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of it. Brittany might even be grandma’s caretaker, for all we know.  He even has a logical reason why there was a receipt for the No Tell Motel in his pants pocket. But with all that explaining, why not just let her read the texts?

I know it’s a silly comparison, but also I think it’s a silly argument.

Judge Conley (Would he be the couples’ therapist in my scenario?) decided today that Scott Sanders would not get to see the rest of those secret “blog” notes.

Not much of a surprise there. Conley decided that since the DA didn’t know about the notes, there was no way they could have used them against Daniel during his trial.

Judge Conley did set a new sentencing date. On September 23, he will decide whether or not to uphold the jury’s recommendation to send Daniel to death row.

That’s the schedule for now, at least…

It’s worth noting that Californians will vote on whether or not to repeal the death penalty this November.

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