Garcia v. City of Santa Clara et al

Filing 191


Download PDF
1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 DANIEL C. GARCIA, 8 Plaintiff, 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 v. CITY OF SANTA CLARA, et al., Defendants. Case No. 10-cv-02424-SI ORDER GRANTING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS AD TESTIFICANDUM Re: Dkt. No. 175 12 Before the Court is plaintiff Daniel Garcia’s motion for issuance of a writ of habeas corpus 13 ad testificandum. Dkt. No. 175. Mr. Garcia is currently incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison 14 for an unrelated crime and seeks this writ in order to testify in person at his civil rights trial set to 15 begin on May 30, 2017. Mr. Garcia’s trial will focus on whether defendant Officer Alec Lange 16 used excessive force during Garcia’s May 2008 arrest and later, in the Santa Clara County Jail. 17 A district court has discretion to issue a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum to permit a 18 state prisoner witness to testify at trial. See Wiggins v. Cnty. of Alameda, 717 F.2d 466, 468 n.1 19 (9th Cir. 1983). In doing so, courts are guided by the following four factors: (i) “whether the 20 prisoner’s presence will substantially further the resolution of the case”; (ii) any “security risks 21 presented by the prisoner’s presence”; (iii) “the expense of the prisoner’s transportation and 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 safekeeping”; and (iv) “whether the suit can be stayed until the prisoner is released without prejudice to the cause asserted.” Id. (citation omitted). Mr. Garcia is serving a life prison term, so a stay is not an option. The Court will focus on the first three factors. First, Mr. Garcia’s presence at trial will, without question, substantially further the resolution of this case. Considering the evidence likely to be presented at trial, the jury’s verdict may be largely based on a credibility determination – specifically, whether the jury believes Mr. Garcia’s testimony or Officer Lange’s. Defendants suggest, as an alternative to live testimony, 1 either playing video of Mr. Garcia’s deposition or having Mr. Garcia testify via video feed from 2 state prison. Neither is an acceptable substitute in this case. Mr. Garcia’s presence in court is 3 essential to the jurors’ ability to fairly assess his testimony. 4 Second, Mr. Garcia poses minimal security risk. Although Mr. Garcia is currently serving 5 a life prison sentence for conspiracy and murder for financial gain, Garcia himself did not commit 6 violent acts, and there is no separate evidence that he is a violent or dangerous inmate. See Shaffer 7 Decl. (Dkt. No. 175-2) ¶ 18; Garcia Decl. (Dkt. No. 175-22) ¶¶ 2, 5. Defendants argue that Garcia 8 is a security risk because of his conviction. But Garcia represented himself during the 12-week 9 murder trial, unrestrained, in “civilian clothing,” was permitted to walk freely in court to present 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 his defense, and did so without incident. Garcia Decl. ¶ 2. The Court does not view Mr. Garcia’s appearance at trial as posing a heightened security risk. Third, although transporting and housing Mr. Garcia during trial will not be inexpensive, 12 13 14 any associated costs are reasonable in light of the importance of Mr. Garcia’s live testimony in reaching a fair resolution of this case. On balance, the relevant factors weigh in favor of permitting Mr. Garcia’s live testimony at 15 16 17 trial. Accordingly, plaintiff’s petition for writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum is hereby GRANTED. The Court will issue the form of petition docketed by plaintiff as No. 175-1. 18 This order resolves Dkt. No. 175. 19 IT IS SO ORDERED. 20 Dated: March 27, 2017 21 22 23 ______________________________________ SUSAN ILLSTON United States District Judge 24 25 26 27 28 2

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?