A Trial Involving 10 MS-13 Gang Members Will Require Courtroom Changes To Accommodate All Defendants

An upcoming trial involving a whopping 10 defendants — all with ties to the violent MS-13 gang — will require courtroom remodeling in order to accommodate all involved.
Santa Barbara media outlet Noozhawk reported that the defendants are facing trial in connection with 10 murders and 14 attempted murders. Superior Court executive officer Darrel Parker has been tasked with finding a courtroom that can accommodate all the accused — and their attorneys. Parker told the outlet that he tried to look for off-site rooms for the trial, but costs prohibited that as an option.
“We looked at commercial space in the community to see if that would have more viability, but it’s prohibitively expensive,” Parker told Noozhawk.
Parker said that using a commercial building as the courtroom for the trial would cost an estimated $2 million to $20 million — nearly his entire annual budget for the county.
“I couldn’t do it. It was a fiscal impossibility,” he told the outlet.
He found that the biggest courtroom in Santa Maria — Department 8 — would be the best room for the trial.
“It’s the biggest courtroom we have, and we used it for Michael Jackson trial,” Parker told the outlet.
That doesn’t mean the courtroom was sitting there perfectly all along, it will still require renovations to accommodate the large number of defendants. From Noozhawk:
While court staff has not yet finalized plans, Parker said the project proposes removing most of the audience seating from Department 8.
That will allow moving the rail back to fit all 10 defendants, 10 defense attorneys, at least three prosecuting attorneys, and court staff in the newly created larger well, or area for non-audience members.
The jury box also will be made bigger to accommodate seating for the 12 jurors and likely equal number of alternates.
This work reportedly will cost about $140,000, money not included in the 2019-20 budget. He has asked the California Judicial Council for funding.
Parker also said the court would look to the holiday period to make the necessary renovations, since that is typically a slow time for the court system.
In 2015, the county faced another large trial, involving six defendants accused of murder. The trial was held at the Santa Maria Juvenile Court with additional jury seating.
Parker previously had used some creativity to figure out how to accommodate alternate jurors in the Michael Jackson case. The original estimate for the additional chairs was $10,000, but Parker looked to eBay and ended up spending no “more than $45 a chair,” he told Noozhawk.

MS-13 is a violent gang operating in numerous states across the country. The gang is responsible for hundreds of murders throughout the United States. Many of its members are illegal immigrants.
A Trial Involving 10 MS-13 Gang Members Will Require Courtroom Changes To Accommodate All Defendants A Trial Involving 10 MS-13 Gang Members Will Require Courtroom Changes To Accommodate All Defendants Reviewed by Your Destination on November 07, 2019 Rating: 5

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