Gerardo Sandoval, the San Francisco Superior Court Judge handling the Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi felony grand theft shoplifting case, has delayed for a second time the setting of the preliminary hearing in the case, and has given a second excusal to Assemblywoman Hayashi for appearing in court. Clearly the Constitutional guarantee of a speedy trial is not taken too seriously in San Francisco. At a hearing in court yesterday, Judge Sandoval granted Hayashi’s defense lawyer’s request for a further delay on a hearing simply to set the date of a preliminary hearing. Hayashi’s lawyer claimed they “needed more evidence” from Neiman-Marcus in order to agree to a preliminary hearing date. The position Hayashi is taking is apparently to delay a trial as much as possible to allow her to continue to serve in the Assembly. (If Hayashi is convicted of felony shoplifting, she will be required to resign her office.) Any evidence collection from Neiman’s should be a pretty simple matter, and not affect the setting of a hearing to set a preliminary hearing date. Which is why a second delay in a hearing to set a hearing is suspicious.
A new court date of January 6 has been set for Hayashi’s lawyer to come forward and agree to a preliminary hearing date, which we imagine would be sometime in March given the delays the Judge is allowing. Hayashi would have to appear at that preliminary hearing according to state law.
Sandoval is a “political” judge, having served as a San Francisco County Supervisor. He is surely qualified to be a Judge as he has also been a former Public Defender. But as a candidate for supervisor in 2004, he got into a legal tussle when he was accused of anti-semitism in a campaign mailing against him and decided to sue the sponsors of the mailer, partly funded by Gap founder and San Francisco business leader Don Fischer. Sandoval not only lost the lawsuit, he was ordered to pay the people he sued $82,500 in their attorneys’ fees as a penalty for filing what is known as a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” commonly referred to as a SLAP suit.
As a “political” judge, eyes of the media should increasingly focus on Sandoval’s handling of the Hayashi case, and whether he is cutting her slack against the public interest. If Hayashi is guilty of a felony, delays allowed by Sandoval only ultimately serve the purpose of allowing a felon to continue to make our laws in California.