18 January 2011
The courtroom was packed again this morning. The day began with some drama. Court was in session as we took our seats, and there was palpable tension. When the hearing broke last Thursday, the witness (call him Witness Z) was a former gang leader, whose testimony had been central to the state’s 1990 case against Jarvis Masters. Having pleaded the 5th Amendment on Thursday, he was ruled “unavailable” by Judge Duryee. Over the weekend, for reasons that are unclear, Witness Z decided that he wished to testify after all. There was back and forth between the judge and the Masters legal team over whether to allow him to testify, particularly after a number of documents had been entered as evidence at the end of Thursday, documents that he had access to over the weekend and conceivably might have wished to rebut. Actually no one knew what he would do. So, after a huddle, the Masters team decided not to contest the judge’s Thursday ruling of “unavailability,” and did not call him. End of drama.
The rest of the day was spent examining three licensed private investigators, working for the Masters team, who had interviewed and obtained signed declarations from Witness Z. The first of these declarations dated from 2001. Two of the investigators, who had worked on the Masters case early on, laying groundwork for the 1990 trial, traveled to an out-of-state prison to interview Witness Z, who signed a statement recanting his testimony at the original trial, clearing Jarvis of any involvement in the planning or attack against Sgt. Burchfield. One investigator testified that Witness Z, who had no advance notice of the purposes of their visit seemed relieved, more than ten years later, to speak and set down the burden of his false incrimination of Jarvis.
In the second declaration, taken by the team’s current lead investigator in May of 2010, Witness Z confirmed his 2001 statement in all details. He also confirmed Witness Z’s full and willing cooperation. All three investigators, who met with Witness Z in different prisons, found him to be relaxed, friendly, and forthcoming with details about gang activities within the San Quentin in 1985.
Court is NOT in session tomorrow — Wednesday.
The hearing will resume at 10am on Thursday 20 January.
The hearings are winding down this week. Most likely the last witnesses will be called Thursday and Friday. But tune in here Thursday for the latest word in scheduling.
— Alan Senauke