Yesterday’s pre-trial court hearing in the case against Rancho Cucamonga City Councilman and former Assessor’s employee Rex Gutierrez was interesting to say the least.

Between Friday and Monday’s proceedings you would have thought it was two different cases.

Friday’s hearing was to determine readiness for trial and whether or not developer Jeff Burum would take the stand.

On Friday Superior Court Judge Duke Rouse set the trial process in motion and denied a Motion to Quash a subpoena issued to Burum. Rouse also told prosecutors he didn’t see any evidence in the preliminary hearing transcripts or in a Motion to Allow Hearsay Testimony of Co-Conspirator Adam Aleman that met the threshold of proof as to any conspiracy between Burum, former Assessor Bill Postmus, and Gutierrez to effect Gutierrez’s hiring with the understanding Gutierrez would perform no work for the county, but instead do Burum’s bidding in Rancho Cucamonga business.

The prosecution made it clear to Rouse that Burum was going to be a witness in the case. Burum’s attorney John Vandevelde made it clear that dependent upon the questions being asked of Burum he would likely invoke his fifth amendment rights since he was once again being targeted.

This seemed to be a significant change in the prosecution’s theory of simple time-card fraud. Something that is never prosecuted and usually handled through discipline.

Now the case is about an uncharged conspiracy!

Rouse set an evidentiary hearing for Monday and requested Burum be in attendance in order to establish whether or not he could testify if called.

In Monday’s proceeding the temperature increased somewhat.

The prosecution now opposed any move to determine Burum’s availability as a witness stating for the record that it was uncertain whether he would be called as a witness and that the court was premature in making any determination as to Burum’s status as a witness until he was actually called as a witness by the prosecution.

In other words the prosecution wants to force Burum to the witness stand, inquire about anything they want including the Colonies matter, and force him to take the fifth in front of the jury, thus tainting Gutierrez’s defense.

Gutierrez’s defense attorney Jim Reiss said this to Rouse who seemed to get it. Rouse determined he would suspend the trial and hold a hearing outside of the jury in the event Burum was called by prosecutors.

In the matter of a prosecution Motion to Admit Hearsay Testimony of Adam Aleman regarding his conversations with Bill Postmus, the dialogue became more interesting.

If you will recall, Aleman was charged with various counts to include falsifying records he gave to the Grand Jury and vandalism of government property. He has subsequently plead guilty to four felony counts, which may be reduced to misdemeanors at sentencing, in exchange for his cooperation as a witness. So for the time being Aleman is a convicted felon under California law.

The prosecution verbally gave additional facts as their offer of proof. Facts they said would be established during the course of the trial in order for the court to grant the motion to admit hearsay statements Aleman says were made to him.

Reiss countered by saying the whole case was a farce and that Adam Aleman “is a convicted felon who is trying to save his own skin”. Reiss further said that Aleman was the linchpin of the entire case. Reiss also asked the court when had it become a crime to recommend someone for a job.

Rouse told the prosecution their was no evidence in the record or proffered in court, that convinced him there was a conspiracy in Gutierrez’s hiring.

Rouse denied the motion without prejudice, meaning the prosecution can try again during trial.

Trials are suppose to be about justice and getting at the truth. Since when is it necessary to concoct schemes in order to embarrass witnesses and unduly harm defendants?

Jury selection commences tomorrow with likely testimony starting Monday morning.