I’ve been trying murder cases in Van Nuys now for the past 26 years. I have a pretty good feel for how these cases are litigated, what some of the biggest issues are, how the judges will make rulings on particular motions related to these murder cases, and obviously how prosecutors will handle these cases.
This is all important information and important facts to have if you’re going to try to defend a murder case in the Van Nuys courthouse. See CALCRIM 520, murder with malice aforethought, and CALCRIM 521, murder degrees.
Conservative Jury Pool in Van Nuys
One thing that is of key importance is to kind of assess the jury pool there. It’s a conservative jury pool, basically pooled from members of the San Fernando Valley.
Members of the San Fernando Valley are going to get a jury summons and are going to be sent into the Van Nuys court and then ultimately, a pool of about fifty or sixty jurors will be sent into the courtroom where the case is going to be tried.
Then of course, the attorneys will go about asking questions along with the judge in what’s called voir dire, which is basically the process of selecting a jury to be heard for the murder case.
The jury will be told what the charges are. They’ll be told approximately how long the case is likely to last and then ultimately, there will be a trial and the prosecution will have the burden of trying to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
So, that’s one of the first things you need to decide if you’re going to do a murder case in the Van Nuys court, which is are you going to try the case in front of a jury or is there going to be some sort of a resolution attempted between the prosecution and the defense attorney.
Usually in the Van Nuys court on these murder cases, the prosecutor and the defense attorney meet, discuss the case and make a decision on whether or not it’s a case that can be resolved or not.
Reviewing Strengths and Weaknesses of the Murder Case
Before any of that happens, I like to sit down with the client and sit down with the client’s family and really look at the case. To see the strengths and weaknesses of it and make a decision whether it’s the type of case which should be resolved by way of a plea agreement or whether it’s the type of case that should be resolved by way of a jury trial.
Obviously, you have to decide whether you have any defenses. If you do have defenses, whether or not if you utilize those defenses you would be successful and get a complete not guilty verdict; or, whether even if you use the defenses the defendant will probably still be convicted of something.
If the defendant would still be convicted something in the murder trial then you probably want to try to see if you can resolve the case with that in mind. So, dealing with the prosecutors is kind of a special thing.
You have to know the prosecutors in Van Nuys court. You have to know what their tendencies are. You have to know what’s going to make a difference to them.
Familiarity with the Judge in the Murder Case
Then of course, you have to look at the judge. Who is the judge? Is that the type of judge you want making rulings on your case? Once your case gets in the court system it will get matrixed to one of the trial courts in Van Nuys so you’ll have an idea of who your judge is before you even do the preliminary hearing in the case.
So, after the preliminary hearing you have to decide whether that’s the judge you want ruling on all the motions and presiding over your trial, or whether it’s better to have another judge and then if you think another judge is more appropriate or if you think the judge is biased against you then you could file a motion to get a new judge.
It’s called a Penal Code Section 170.6 motion. There’s certain requirements that have to be complied with in order to file that motion and then you can get a new judge. But the judge is important because the judge is going to make rulings on motions and make rulings during the trial.
So, if you have a murder case and it’s in the Van Nuys courthouse, then your best bet is to hire somebody like me who’s been doing this for 26 years and knows exactly how to deal with these murder cases in Van Nuys, knows the jury pool, knows the judge, knows the prosecutors and knows what it’s going to take to get you the best result.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0940.