The trial for iV Menus owner Patrick Galoustian will now begin in January 2020 at the request of Galoustian’s lawyer and at the displeasure of prosecutor Jennifer Karapetian, who emphasized to the judge the lengthy nature of the case and noted that it had been in court for over a year.
At Galoustian’s Wednesday afternoon court appearance, his lawyer, Leonard B. Levine, presented a Pitchess motion, which is used in instances when a defendant wants to request information from a police officer’s personnel file. The motion was originally filed with the court on Oct. 3, 2019. Levine’s motion resulted in the trial being pushed back to January 2020; it was initially scheduled to begin on Dec. 4, 2019.
Levine was particularly interested in investigating Officer Ryan Hashimoto, who allegedly circulated a video “of an alleged sexual assault that was evidence in [Galoustian’s] case” and was an initial investigator in Galoustian’s case, which began in December 2017, when he was first arrested.
This incident was detailed in a lawsuit filed against the UC Santa Barbara Police Department in March, in which Officer Ryan Smith, who is referred to as John Doe in court documents, alleged widespread racism, misconduct and conspiracy within the department.
Alison Bernal, an attorney for the Regents of the University of California, and Lieutenant Robert Romero of UCPD, appeared as representatives of the department at the Wednesday afternoon court appearance. The two confirmed to Judge James Herman that an internal affairs investigation had just been opened against Hashimoto and that it would take approximately six months for it to conclude.
Herman ruled against Levine’s motion, which named multiple officers — Hashimoto, Officers Michael Little and Tiffany Little and Lieutenant Mark Signa — who Bernal, Romero and Karapetian confirmed were not involved in the case, but still granted Levine the additional time to investigate Hashimoto independently.
Herman initially considered pushing the trial back a full six months to allow Levine access to the internal affairs findings, but Karapetian, who is also a senior deputy district attorney for Santa Barbara County, pressed the judge to consider the victims, who she said were “eager” and “anxious” to get the trial over with.
“We would be in strong opposition to any continuance of this case,” Karapetian said.
Levine, who expressed frustration that he first learned about the civil suit from Daily Nexus and Santa Barbara Independent newspaper articles, argued that the defense needed time to conduct its own investigation, particularly since Levine was without the resources and results of the internal affairs investigation.
Lawyers for the University of California Board of Regents, including Bernal, filed an opposing motion on Oct. 18, arguing that because many of the officers named in the motion were not involved in Galoustian’s investigation or arrest, Herman should exclude them from his decision.
At the same time, Herman emphasized that the defendant had a right to “exculpatory” information — evidence that clears the defendant from guilt in a criminal trial — which could arise from an investigation of Hashimoto.
Levine also said the defense would be interested in calling Hashimoto as a key witness for the trial, even as Karapetian stressed to the judge that the prosecution would not be calling him or using his statements because of the allegations.
Galoustian, who is currently facing 33 felony charges on behalf of two victims, was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair wearing a large brace on his right leg at the Wednesday afternoon court appearance.
According to Levine, Galoustian has been “very ill” and received medical treatment. Levine did not comment further on Galoustian’s condition.
The trial is currently scheduled to begin on Jan. 8, 2020 and is expected to take approximately 15 court days.
A version of this article appeared on page 1 of the Oct. 24, 2019 print edition of the Daily Nexus.