A Superior Courtroom decide declared a mistrial Wednesday in a case in opposition to a person dealing with life in jail as a result of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Division stored him in jail cells with out beds or blankets for 2 nights.
“There’s completely no manner, if there was a conviction, that it will stand,” Choose Daniel Lowenthal mentioned in the course of the listening to on the Lengthy Seashore courthouse, in line with a transcript reviewed by The Occasions. Lowenthal cited arguments by the person’s legal professional indicating that his consumer was shedding focus in the course of the trial and unable to assist together with his personal protection.
“I’ve misplaced confidence within the sheriff’s capacity to offer the requisite assist for this trial,” Lowenthal added. “A mistrial is granted.”
Courtroom information present the person, Vamazae Banks, 24, is charged with three counts of theft and one rely every of assault with a firearm and making felony threats. Banks was within the third day of his trial when his legal professional raised issues over his therapy in L.A. County jail.
“My consumer, due to not his personal fault, has been disadvantaged of sleep throughout a trial during which he faces life as a result of they gained’t give him a spot to sleep with a mattress or a blanket,” mentioned Alan Nakasone, a public defender representing Banks. “I imagine that’s unconstitutional.”
He added: “That is most likely crucial three days of his life.”
The Sheriff’s Division, which runs the county’s jails, didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark Thursday afternoon.
In making his ruling, Lowenthal listed different failures by the Sheriff’s Division to adequately deal with the case. He mentioned the company final week defied his order to maneuver Banks from the North County Correctional Facility in Castaic to Males’s Central Jail in downtown L.A. in order that he might be nearer to Lengthy Seashore.
That will imply he wouldn’t need to be woken up at 3 a.m. to make it to court docket on time, and never threat getting held up by the Sheriff’s Division’s “well-known” jail bus scarcity, Lowenthal mentioned.
“Primarily based on these two causes, I ordered the sheriff to maintain him at” Males’s Central, he mentioned. “They didn’t.”
After his first day of trial Monday, Banks was taken to Males’s Central Jail. As an alternative of being positioned in an everyday cell with a mattress, sheriff’s deputies positioned him in a cell meant to carry individuals for brief durations of time.
“They … stored him within the holding cell with no mattress or blanket all evening — actually all evening,” Lowenthal mentioned.
The following afternoon, Lowenthal mentioned, Banks’ legal professional requested to chop the day quick as a result of his consumer couldn’t keep awake.
When the Lengthy Seashore Police Division, which has a jail throughout the road from the courthouse, agreed to carry Banks in a single day, sheriff’s officers refused the supply.
“The Sheriff’s Division, inexplicably, refused to launch, regardless of this court docket’s order, the gentleman to Lengthy Seashore police custody,” Lowenthal mentioned. “I used to be knowledgeable that they had been requiring that he be transported again downtown.”
He mentioned the Sheriff’s Division promised him that Banks would get a mattress and be dropped at court docket the following morning. “Neither occurred,” Lowenthal mentioned.
As an alternative, Banks was not put in a cell with a mattress till 3:30 a.m. and didn’t arrive to court docket till late within the morning Wednesday, the decide mentioned.
The prosecutor argued in opposition to a mistrial, requesting that the decide postpone testimony within the case till the person was in a position to get relaxation.
“It isn’t honest to punish the individuals for the Sheriff Division’s failures to offer what the court docket requested and ordered,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Tricia Halstead mentioned.
She mentioned a mistrial could be unfair to the three victims within the case who’ve testified.
“We don’t know if the defendant contributed to any of the problems that induced him to not get a mattress,” Halstead mentioned.
Lowenthal mentioned he was additionally “horrified” that the victims could be required to relive their expertise by having to testify once more.
On the finish of the listening to, he despatched the jurors dwelling.
Together with the bus scarcity the decide talked about, the county’s sprawling community of jails has been beset by a bunch of issues in recent times stemming from the outdated, insufficient amenities, inadequate staffing and area for the mentally unwell, and allegations of abusive deputies.
For a decade, county officers and others have known as for shutting down Men’s Central Jail, which is antiquated and overcrowded. At one level, elected leaders got here out with a severe plan for building a replacement. These plans had been scrapped in 2019 amid rising unease about whether or not they targeted sufficient consideration on psychological well being therapy.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors then voted in 2020 to develop a plan to close the decrepit facility because it sought to seek out alternate options to incarceration for the hundreds of people that filter out and in of the county’s sprawling jail system.
However little has been performed to observe by.