Rhonda Parker / Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 @ 2:12 p.m. / Courts
Fortuna Murder Trial Put Off Until Next Year Due to Shortage of Public Defense Attorneys
October trial of murder suspect Jon David Goldberg has been delayed
until February because of a dire shortage of attorneys in the Public
This morning visiting Judge Marjorie Carter reluctantly granted Deputy Public Defender Casey Russo’s motion to continue the trial because he fears his overwhelming caseload will prevent him from providing Goldberg with a proper defense.
told the judge a caseload that should be split by six or seven
attorneys is being handled by 2.5. “This is an extenuating
circumstance,” Russo told the obviously frustrated Carter. “I’m
concerned about my ability to provide a (competent) defense.”
Carter noted that Russo has had the case since it began a year ago, and with Humboldt County’s jammed court schedule it’s difficult to reschedule a seven-week trial.
Deputy District Attorney Luke Bernthal said that as the prosecutor he’s concerned that Goldberg’s constitutional rights are protected. He didn’t object to the continuance motion, saying he understands Russo is in a predicament because of “the responsibilities that have been forced on him.”
Bernthal added, however, that murder victim Timothy Smith’s family opposes any continuance.
Goldberg allegedly killed Smith after learning he was having an affair with his wife, Rachel Goldberg. The Fortuna fire captain was shot multiple times in his front yard. His wife and son were witnesses.
This morning Judge Carter and the court staff looked for several minutes at court calendars before setting Goldberg’s trial for Feb. 5.
“Will you guarantee that you will not quit your office and be ready (for trial)?” Carter asked Russo.
“I have no plans to quit,” he said.
“Did I give you a bad enough time?” Carter said. “That was the intent.”
Right now one deputy public defender is out on paternity leave. Three others have either left or are planning to exit soon. Other lawyers in the office are handling juvenile cases or misdemeanors, and at least one is newly hired and can’t take on serious felonies.
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- ’Fortuna Police Release Statement on Today’s Homicide; Shooting Resulted From ‘Personal Dispute’
- Fortuna Murder Suspect Arrested by SWAT Team East of Bridgeville; Victim ID’d
- Jon Goldberg, Suspect in Fortuna Murder, Appears in Court; Victim’s Wife Testifies
- Goldberg’s Attorney Says He Needs More Time
- New Charge Added in Goldberg Trial: DA’s Office Alleges Suspect Beat His Wife Before Killing Her Lover in Fortuna
- Surprise Witness Delays Hearing on New Spousal Battery Charges for Accused Murderer Jon Goldberg
- Accused Murder Suspects in Eureka, Fortuna Shootings Both Appear in Court
- Fortuna Murder Suspect Jon Goldberg’s Attorney Asks Judge For Closed Hearing
- Fortuna Murder Suspect Jon Goldberg’s Legal Team Continues to Push for Closed Courtroom for Hearing on Wife-Beating Charges
- Goldberg Hearing Delayed Again; Wife of Suspect in Slaying of Fortuna Firefighter Unable to Make Court Date
- Fortuna Murder Suspect Jon Goldberg’s Wife Held in Contempt for Refusing to Testify; Wife’s Friend Provides Testimony About Alleged Spousal Abuse
- Trial for Fortuna Man Accused of Killing Wife’s Lover Postponed Four Months
- JUDGE AFFIRMS: Murder Suspect Jon Goldberg Will Also Face Charges of Threatening Wife With Gun
- Judge Says That Jurors in Goldberg Murder Trial May Hear Evidence in Spousal Abuse Case Against the Accused