Almost two years after making headlines for being the highest public official to ever be indicted in Orange County (this was pre-Carona), ex-superintendent James Fleming, and indicted ex-assistant superintendent Susan McGill, walked out of the Orange County Courthouse today unfazed by the court trial that never was.
For the fifth time in two years today, when a jury trial was (finally) set to begin, Judge Thomas Goethals allowed the case against Fleming and McGill to be delayed yet again. This despite Goethals' irritation with Fleming's sluggish attorney and what seemed like a promise made back in February to not delay the case again.
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But he allowed it. And why? It's not a murder case. There are no DNA samples to analyze or hidden surprises witnesses to track down and subpoena. It's mostly just tons of school documents which Fleming and McGill's lawyers can't seem to get through, and which allegedly outline how Fleming, with the help of his underlings, used taxpayer money to create enemies lists and send moles into the living rooms of members of the OG Capistrano Unified recall group back in 2005. The official charges are misappropriation or embezzlement of funds by a public officer, use of school funds for political purposes and conspiracy to act in a manner injurious to the public against Fleming; and perjury and conspiracy to act in a manner injurious to the public against McGill.
Today's request came from the usual delay suspect: Fleming's lawyer, Ron Brower, who, in a surprise move (if its still possible to be surprised in this case) asked to be removed from the case because of a "legal and ethical" conflict of interest.
Brower outlined the "conflict" in a statement to Judge Goethals that was immediately sealed by the court. Goethals authorized Fleming's new attorney and--surprise!--the new guy, John Barnett, knows nothing about the case! So, of course, he needs more time to sift through the 15,000 pages of documents and tape recordings subpoenaed from the district.
Judge Goethals granted Brower the request. Prosecutors were pissed. Fleming and McGill went home to rest easy. The next pre-trial date is scheduled for May 1, and a jury trial has been tentatively scheduled for June 1, barring, that is, any requests by Fleming's new attorney, for more time.