Huizar Wins Bid to Inspect Grand Juror Selection Records

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Attorneys for suspended Los Angeles city councilman Jose Huizar were handed a win today by a federal judge who granted a defense motion to inspect the records showing the process by which the grand jurors that indicted him on public corruption charges were chosen.

Defense lawyers indicated in a court filing earlier this month that they wished to challenge whether the grand jury in Huizar's case represented “a fair cross-section of the community.''

Attorneys aren't seeking juror names, but requested, among other things, attendance records and reasons for the possible absences of any grand jurors who indicted Huizar. Such information “may reveal the demographic effects that the current pandemic had on the operation and composition of the grand jury in this case,'' defense attorneys wrote.

A joint notice of motion to inspect grand juror selection records, filed last week in Los Angeles federal court, contains the response of prosecutors to each of the defense requests.

“Defendant has not offered any explanation as to why he requires these particular records to prepare to challenge the Court's grand jury selection procedures'' was a response repeated several times by the prosecution, which agreed that Huizar has a right to inspect much of the information.

In an order filed Thursday, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter vacated a status conference set for Monday on the matter and wrote that Huizar is “entitled to inspect, reproduce, and copy certain types of juror selection records'' related to the 2019 Western Division master jury wheel, from which prospective juror names were drawn.

Huizar's side wants to discover exactly when grand jurors were summoned, as well as the juror number assigned to each grand juror who returned the 34-count federal racketeering indictment on July 30.

“Although 23 persons were initially seated on the grand jury, as few as 16 could have constituted the quorum which deliberated and returned Mr. Huizar's indictment,'' according to the defense.

Huizar, 52, is accused of accepting $1.5 million in bribes from developers in exchange for his support of downtown building projects. He has pleaded not guilty and faces trial next June.

The councilman was stripped of all his committee assignments in November 2018 following FBI searches of his home and offices and was suspended by the council in June of this year. Huizar would have been termed out after next month's election.

Kevin de Leon, a former California Senate president pro tem, was appointed Oct. 13 to fill the District 14 seat.

Huizar and five others were charged as a result of operation “Casino Loyale,'' an FBI investigation into corruption at Los Angeles City Hall. The other defendants have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

Prosecutors told U.S. District Judge John Walter that they expect the Huizar trial to last about 20 days, and that it will involve between 40 and 45 witnesses.

Photo: Getty Images

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