I've been an attorney practicing criminal defense in the City of San Fernando now for 27 years. I remember in 1994 shortly after I started there was an earthquake that took out the San Fernando courthouse and they actually had to have cases heard in one of the out-buildings.
It was one of the commerce buildings close to the courthouse while they repaired the courthouse. So, I got my first taste of defending people through a small set-up building.
At the time, in the early 1990's, San Fernando was very viscous on crime — very trough. The DA's office, the City Attorney's office the Judges — for a long time they've been very tough on crime — guns, domestic violence, DUI, gangs, drugs. Probably one of the tougher courthouses when it comes to those issues and a lot of other criminal issues in the 38 courts in Los Angeles county.
San Fernando Police and Prosecutors
If you anything about San Fernando, it's its own jurisdiction. There actually is a San Fernando city. Even though it's part of Los Angeles county, it still has its own identity, its own police force and in a lot of respects, it is its own little city.
If you're a criminal defense attorney practicing in that particular courthouse you sure better know all of the ins-and-outs, the prosecutors, who's in charge, what the hierarchy is.
In the San Fernando courthouse, the District Attorney has a good showing there. They have a head prosecutor, an assistant head prosecutor and they also have what they call a VIP prosecutor — Victim Impact Prosecutor — who prosecutes sex crime cases, domestic violence cases and the like. They have a slew of deputy District Attorneys that handle the rest of the felony cases.
District Attorney's Office in San Fernando
The City Attorney also in San Fernando city has an office there — a very small one inside the building on the 4th floor. The District Attorney is on the 3rd floor and they are in three of the courts — Department M, Department A and Department B — that's usually where you're going to find most of the misdemeanor cases being prosecuted and most of the City Attorney cases in San Fernando being prosecuted.
So, unless you know the structure of the San Fernando court, unless you know how the city works — what types of crimes they prosecute, how they prosecute them — you're going to put yourself in a very difficult position if you're a criminal defense attorney trying to practice there.
I've handled thousands of cases there over a long career. I know what type of motions to file when appropriate. I know how San Fernando city deals with certain types of offenses. I also know how the community will deal with a jury trial.
That's a very conservative community. Even though some of the jurors will be pooled from San Fernando city, which is fairly small, you're also going to get a lot of jurors from Santa Clarita, Canyon Country — a very conservative lot.
So, if you're going to take a case to trial in the City of San Fernando in the San Fernando courthouse, you better have a good case because you're going to have a tough jury pool and you're going to have to be ready to fight and I've fought many cases there and been successful.
Judges in the San Fernando Court
The judge I think is a very good bench in San Fernando — probably one of my favorite benches in the San Fernando Valley and even in Los Angeles — fair, even-handed, but also very tough.
So, you really want to be careful taking a case to trial or trying to negotiate with the judges if it's not the right case to do so. Only a seasoned criminal defense attorney is going to know exactly how to handle a case in the city of San Fernando.
They will know what factors to bring up to the prosecutors, what factors to bring up to the judge, when the judge might actually get involved in trying to resolve the case or when you're going to have to solely deal with the City Attorney's office.
They will also know when you're going to have to take your case to trial if your client is saying that they're innocent, that needs to be well-defended in that regard.
So, if you've got a case in the city of San Fernando, you or a loved one was arrested, pick up the phone now. Ask to speak to Ron Hedding. I've been doing this a long time. I really enjoy what I do, and I look forward to helping you.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in the San Fernando Valley at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.