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    State courts across California have implemented a variety of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

     “Jurists and lawyers have struggled and continue to struggle to balance the health and safety needs of their local communities with the civil and constitutional rights and liberties of individuals and groups”, stated Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye at an emergency meeting of the Judicial Council earlier this month.

    “…As part of our ongoing collective efforts to flatten the curve, stem the spread of the virus and assume the responsibility delegated to us by Governor Newsom … we seek to address the issues of the faces behind the cases and those that support them seeking relief, resolving disputes or having their voice heard by the court”, Cantil-Sakauye said.

    Rules have allowed courts to conduct proceedings through video feed or other remote technology—with the consent of defendants, but measures have seen in-person oral arguments being suspended, as well as the suspension of jury trials in all superior courts for 60 days. John Klopfenstein summaries below the impact it has had on criminal law attorneys and concerns he has for his clients.


    The COVID-19 virus has turned the California justice system upside down. A criminal defendant who is in custody has a right to be arraigned within 48 hours of arrest. Further, he or she is

    entitled to a preliminary hearing within 10 court days of the arraignment to know if he or she is going to bound over for a court of jury trial and has the right to have the trial 60 days from the date of being re-arraigned after the preliminary hearing. This is called a “no time waiver” scenario.


    However, with the courts being currently closed because of the Governor of the State of California issuing a “Shelter In” order, imposing social distancing measurements, the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court has, therefore, now ordered all jury trials, both criminal and civil, to be continued to a minimum of 60 days; this means our clients are being denied due process in violation of both the US Constitution and the State of California constitution.


    What that means is your client is going to spend more time in jail when it is not necessary. Given this fact, there has been some talk about releasing nonviolent felons because of the strain on the judicial system and with them being out of custody, the hope is they would then waive time and not be subject to a “no time” scenario.


    The California Attorneys for Criminal Justice is urging criminal defence attorneys to fight this order by objecting to the continuance and preserving it for appeal. Obviously, the health and welfare of court employees and the public are important, but in my opinion, they do not outweigh a criminal defendant’s right to fight his or her case within the constitutional rights guaranteed by our 4th, 5t h and 6th amendments of the US Constitution.


    Many people who live in small, cramped apartments or homes often have unpleasant personal experiences. Some are truths and some are not.  In one case my client, a young man in his late twenties, was accused of sexual, child molestation by those in his cramped living quarters. The defendant was charged with five accounts of molestation with multiple victims.

    The maximum sentence was 75-years to life, however, with successful plea bargaining the defendant will serve only twelve years and when released from prison he will still be a relatively young man.

    John Klopfenstein, Attorney for the Defendant


    This case, is a case involving my client who worked as a foreman for a large ranch in King City, California.  He went out to check the ranch and while doing that he drank over 20 beers.  When he returned home he found his wife with another man.

    Becoming jealous he threatened the man with his 9mm revolver.  They struggled and the revolver went off, hitting his 9-year-old son in the temple.  Killing him instantly.  Now enraged, he turned his gun on his wife and her lover.  He shot them both over 12 times.  He then gathered his 3 remaining children, gave them a hug and kissed them and went to Mexico for 20 years.  He assumed a new identity.  Remarried and had a new family.

    He returned to his little home town in Mexico where he was identified and captured by the Federalies.  He was extradited back to San Jose, California and met by the District Attorney of Monterey investigators.  On the drive back down from San Jose to Salinas, California the investigators interrogated my client and secured a complete confession without giving him his Miranda rights in Spanish.

    The Miranda issue was litigated and now we have taken the issue to the court of appeals and all the way to the California Supreme Court.



    My client stabbed and a taxi cab driver and then attempted to flee by carjacking another person at knife point.  He was arrested and taken to the Monterey County jail.  I was hired by his family to defend him.  I went to interview him at the jail and found him to be suicidal.

    I notified the Sherriff’s department who run the jail about putting him on suicide watch.  I informed the family that he was on suicide watch and found out some days later that he had been placed in general population.

    He ultimately hung himself and died.  A lawsuit for wrongful death has been brought on behalf of his mother against Monterey County Sherriff’s Department.  Taylor Fithian the psychiatrist, City of Monterey Police Department and Community Hospital of Monterey.  The case is currently set for a Jury trial sometime in April of 2016.  The family is asking for millions of dollars in damages.

    I am working in conjunction with the law firm of Hadsell and Stormer with Dan Stormer as lead attorney.  Who has in the past been able to win millions of dollars for his clients and is considered one of the top 100 lawyers in the United States.  We expect to win a judgment of over $5 Million Dollars for our client.




    I once represented a client who lived in Davis, California and worked in the Sacramento County morgue as a janitor. He had access to body parts that he stole from the morgue in order to conduct medical experiments.

    He always wanted to be a doctor and so he thought that by conducting these medical experiments they would somehow help him to get into medical school. After he finished with the experiments he disposed of the body parts in a large trash container and those body parts were discovered and turned over to the police.

    At one point the police thought that there was mass murderer in the Davis area which became national news. One evening when my client was disposing of these body parts he was seen by a neighbor and arrested.

    In the jail my client became delusional thinking he was seeing crawling bugs and a ghost that were talking to him. As a result I disclosed this to the judge who decided we needed to have a hearing regarding his sanity. Two psychiatric experts testified. One said he was competent, while the other disagreed and said he was incompetent.

    The judge ruled, my client was competent but incapable of committing the crime and ended up pleading to a lesser offense that resulted in him being released from jail.