Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pretrial Hearing (Day 2)... Details

July 9, 2008

8:23 AM: I arrived in the courtroom, and Joe was being led out to use the bathroom, I then sat in the same seat as I did yesterday, in row 3 - right-side. Bryan's family and Fred Kerekes are the only other spectators in the room, they are all sitting in the same location as yesterday. Within a minute of me sitting down, Joe is led back in the courtroom and is again seated on the left-side, and Harlow Cuadra's seated on the right-side. There are 3 sheriff deputies, and one police officer.

8:45 AM: I'm still waiting for the hearing to start. Judge PPO and all of the attorneys are still in the judge's chambers. There are now 12 spectators in the room. 3 of them are witnesses, they'll be removed once the hearing starts, as witnesses are not permitted in the courtroom until they're called to take the stand.

9:10 AM: Judge PPO calls for a delay in the start of the hearing, it's now going to start sometime between 10-10:30 AM.

9:25 AM: I decide to go down to the courthouse basement where there's a small cafeteria, for a coffee. Kocis' family was already down there, along with a couple of other witnesses and a few DA's. I spend about 5 minutes talking with a local reporter, then head out for a smoke.

9:50 AM: Return to the courtroom and wait for the hearing to start.

10:15 AM: Harlow talks with one of his mitigation attorneys. He smiles and laughs a few times.

10:55 AM: All of the attorneys return to the courtroom.

11:00 AM: The hearing finally starts. PPO states that he and the attorneys conducted a conference call with ethics expert Robert Davis, who said the conflict could raise questions of the attorneys' loyalty and confidential dealings with their respective clients. Then Bufalino (Kerekes' attorney) stated that he wanted to file a motion to be removed from the case, Galante (Harlow's attorney) then follows requesting the same thing. PPO asks Melnick for his opinion, and Melnick agrees that both attorneys should be removed. One of Cuadra's attorney's did state that Harlow would be willing to sign a waiver, as he didn't want to lose his attorney. PPO is upset that this conflict wasn't reported earlier, and scolds all of the defense attorneys. PPO then approves both motions, and both attorneys are allowed to withdraw from the case.

PPO then instructs defense attorneys for both sides to speak with their clients to determine whether they're comfortable with witnesses taking the stand today, due to losing 1 attorney each.

11:30 AM: PPO calls for a lunch break, the hearing will resume at 1:00 PM.

12:50 PM: I return to the courtroom, the only spectators there are the Kocis family, Harlow's mitigation attorney, and myself. Joe's reading some documents, and Harlow's just staring down at the desk.

1:05 PM: The hearing resumes, and PPO asks Kerekes' attorneys if they feel comfortable with having witnesses taking the stand, and the attorneys request a continuance. PPO does the same with Cuadra's attorney, and they too request a continuance.

1:08 PM: Melnick argues that the witnesses he wants to call are for the motion to suppress, and that it would cover things that were said by the defendants when they were read their rights after the arrest, "blurt outs" during the transport to Luzerne County from Virginia Beach, and conversations made during phone calls. Melnick states that all of Cuadra's phone calls have been transcribed, but that Joe's are still in raw format.

1:10 PM: PPO states that he will try to schedule the next pretrial hearing in about 3 weeks, and appoint new counsel. PPO also states that he wants the trial to still happen on September 2, and will do everything that he can to ensure that happens.

1:12 PM: Hearing Ends.

On a side note... if you ever go to a hearing, or the trial, bring a cushion... the benches are extremely uncomfortable. :)