A Santa Barbara Superior Court judge denied a request from defense attorney Darryl Genis to hold a hearing on whether or not to sanction a prosecutor and two police officers for what he claimed were violations of court orders. Judge Brian Hill said Wednesday morning that there was no violation of his order by Deputy District Attorney Justin Greene or Santa Barbara police officers Kasi Beutel and Mark Corbett, who are married.
Genis, in documents filed with the court, said Greene, Corbett, and Beutel violated a court order that all potential witnesses be excluded from the courtroom during a recent DUI trial. Greene was the prosecutor in the case, while Beutel was one of his main witnesses. Corbett sat in the courtroom for much of Beutel’s testimony. Hill noted that Corbett wasn’t listed as a witness or potential witness on either the prosecution or defense witness lists. Genis pointed out that during a pretrial hearing, Hill had Corbett step out of the courtroom while Beutel was on the stand. But Hill disagreed that meant Corbett was not allowed to be present in the courtroom during trial. Corbett was taking notes during Beutel’s testimony and during a break could be seen talking with his wife. Genis said that from looking at the notes — which the court seized — it was clear Corbett was coaching Beutel on her testimony. While those notes are sealed, both attorneys have seen them.
But Corbett’s mere presence in the courtroom was not a question of violating a court order, Hill said, but a question of misconduct. During the trial, Hill held a hearing after Genis made the allegation of witness coaching. While he found no misconduct had occurred, he did give Greene a talking-to. Hill said it “amounted to an appearance of impropriety. I don’t think there was anything substantive.” Genis said that when the notes are unsealed, “It will be apparent that Officer Corbett lied to the court.” The hearing came a couple of weeks after Genis was sanctioned by the same judge for three violations of court orders. In his request filed with the judge, Genis said that “to neglect to hold all parties’ feet to the same fire with the same intensity just reeks of unacceptable bias.” Greene, meanwhile, said he was pleased with Hill’s “appropriate” decision. [Full disclosure: Greene was represented in court by fellow Deputy DA Michael Carrozzo, who is currently this reporter’s professor for a summer class at the Santa Barbara College of Law.]