Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi’s felony theft prosecution by the San Francisco District Attorney for stealing over $2,000 in merchandize from the Union Square Neiman-Marcus store has seen two delays now in simply setting a date for a preliminary hearing. Some observers believe the delays in what would otherwise be a very routine shoplifting case are occurring because the Judge handling the case, Gerardo Sandoval, is himself a former partisan Democrat and elected official, having served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, is giving special privileges to fellow Democrat Hayashi so she can buy time to stay in the Assembly as long as possible. This is because if Hayashi is convicted of the shoplifting (which will surely happen in a quick trial if the case gets to a jury) she will have to resign from the Assembly, and her seat will become vacant (for a period until a special election is held) thus threatening the Democrats near super-majority hold on the lower house of the Legislature. Sandoval has also excused Hayashi from even having to personally attend the two hearings already held.
The Hayashi felony theft case is now scheduled to be in Sandoval’s court again this Friday, January 6, where attorneys for the prosecution and defense are supposed to agree with the judge on a date for a preliminary hearing. Under state law, Hayashi must personally attend the preliminary hearing, Sandoval cannot excuse Hayashi again from that one. After giving Hayashi two excusals and two delays, the big question for this Friday is, will Sandoval continue to allow the game playing or get down to the people’s business of dispensing justice? The case is not complicated at all. A third delay in simply setting a preliminary hearing date would be ridiculous and a grave offense to the judicial system.