Results tagged “Satnam Singh” from The Court Reporter

Ms. Haverland's Victim Impact Statement

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During the sentencing of the man who killed her son, the mother of Nick Haverland gave an victim's impact statement that seemed to move many people in the packed courtroom.

Susan Haverland described her 20-year-old son Nicholas "Nick" Joel Haverland  as her touchstone, alter ego, inspiration, challenger and conscience.

She wanted the community to know what kind of man her son was and why his loss impacted so many lives.

Nick Haverland had many dreams and inspired to do great things, his mother said.

is curiosity and vivid imagination let him see nature and science in ways that were unique, she told the judge.

She proudly remarked that her son was accepted into the prestigious ethno-botany program at the University of Hawaii.

"He was going to find a cure for cancer in the rain forest," she told the judge.

Singh, 50, was sentenced to 15 years to life on Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

"He brought a light to our lives that we never knew could be possible. He fulfilled my deepest dreams - the ones that for years I dared not to dream. And now, I have no idea how I'm going to get over losing him, Mr. Singh, you took that from me."

Adding, "How do you say goodbye to the son that fulfilled my deepest desires and loved so wisely, so simply, and so purely? What do I do with Nick's hopes and dreams? His future? Our future as a family?..."

Outside the courtroom, I asked Ms. Haverland if I could post her victim impact statement on my blog and without hesitation and a smile, she said "yes, I would love that."

To read the entire victim impact statement click below:

The Court Reporter's Notebook

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Hells Angel Sentenced to 90 Days in Jail for Misdemeanor Assault with a Baseball Bat


A member of the Hells Angels was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years probation for misdemeanor assault this afternoon stemming from an incident that happened earlier this year in Ojai.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Nancy Ayers reduced a felony assault charge to a misdemeanor against Archie Schaffer after commenting that the facts in the case "appeared quite muddled."

The judge also noted the 39-year-old  Schaffer, of Ojai, had a minimal criminal record.

In an interview, prosecutor Tate McCallister declined to comment on the details surrounding the incident which occurred on Feb. 14.

Court documents indicate that Shaffer allegedly used a bat on a female victim.

In court, McCallister opposed the reduction of the felony to a misdemeanor. But he agreed to dismiss other two other felony counts against Schaffer - vandalism over $400 and that he was under the influence of a controlled substance.

Schaffer's lawyer Anthony Zinnanti  also declined to give details about the crime, saying only that he believes this case was completely blown out of proportion because it involved the Hells Angels.

He said the decision was fair given the facts and circumstances.

Zinnanti declined to say whether Schaffer was still the president of the Santa Barbara Hells Angels.

Schaffer also declined to comment.

Zinnanti said his client was arrested several days after the incident. Schaffer, who owns a business,  declined to comment after the sentencing. He will report to jail on Nov. 26 to serve his sentence.

In September 2009, Shaffer was found not guilty of brandishing a weapon and reckless driving, felony crimes.  The judge dismissed a remaining felony.  Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on two other counts.

The following month, the judge blocked an effort by prosecutors to retry the counts where a verdict wasn't reached.



Satnam Singh's Lawyer Asked Judge to Reconsider a Preliminary Hearing Ruling Made by Another Judge.

Defense Attorney David Lehr filed a 995 motion which in the California Penal Code means asking a judge to dismiss one or more counts of a criminal complaint.

Lehr appeared today in a pre-trial hearing of his client Satnam Singh before Judge Bruce Young.

Singh, 50, is accused of hitting and killing bicyclist Nick Haverland last year in Ventura.

He is charged with second-degree murder, felony drunken driving, felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor hit-and-run. He also is charged with two counts of inflicting great bodily injury.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Defense lawyers filed 995 motions when they believe a judge or grand jury incorrectly held their client to answer to charges.

Most of the time, a 995 motion is filed after a preliminary hearing, which is a mini-trial where a judge determines if there is sufficient evidence to hold a defendant for trial.

The legal standard at a preliminary hearing is if there is probable cause to hold someone for trial. This is a much lower legal standard in criminal court than beyond a reasonable doubt.

Lehr said his client was intoxicated, sat in his vehicle for 20 minutes after the crash and wouldn't get out when ordered to do so by police who finally had to use a K-9 to get Singh to comply with their orders.

The judge noted that Lehr was arguing under the "implied malice" theory of second-degree murder.

Basically, Lehr is saying that the second-degree murder charges with implied malice haven't been legally met. 

Basically, the law states that implied malice means committing an act with a "wanton disregard" to human life or an act where there is a high degree of probability that death will result or a "conscious disregard" to human life.

Lehr said his client was intoxicated, sat in his vehicle for 20 minutes after the crash and wouldn't get out when ordered to do so by police who finally had to use a K-9 to get Singh to comply with their orders.

Prosecutor Richard Simon countered: "If he was so unconscious, how did he find his way home?"

 DA Investigator Cautions Parents of Victim Allegedly Murdered by Satnam Singh

District Attorney Investigator Adam Witkins politely cautioned the   parents of Nick Haverland who sat in the front row before today's pre-trial hearing that there were autopsy and crime photographs that they don't want to see.

In an interview, Susan and Jim Haverland said they understood what Mr. Witkins had told them  and will leave the courtroom when they know these images will be shown.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Bruce Young has to decide which  autopsy photographs have probative value and will be admitted during Singh's trial, sorting out what photos might be prejudicial  and could inflame the passions of  the jury, denying Singh a fair trial.

Usually, prosecutors trying murder cases will explain and caution the relatives and friends of victims that it is best that they aren't in court when these images of their loved ones go up on the screen.

As a journalist, I have sat through more than 100 murder trials in nearly 20 years of court reporting. I've covered federal and state courts during that time.  Like clockwork, as soon as the autopsy photos are shown in a trial, sometimes, and understandably so, I have seen the victims' family or friends of the victims burst out crying, storm out of the courtroom and  a few times, they have screamed at defendants.

 Most of the time, family and friends will just quietly sit in court and weep and sob, comforting one another. Heads bowed and eyes avoiding these images.

I can only imagine the hurt.



Ventura Man Wants to Move His Gross Vehicular Manslaughter Trial to Another County

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A defendant accused of being involved in a crash that killed a 20-year-old Ventura College student last year will ask for a change of venue on Wednesday when the case is set for a jury trial.

Businessman Satnam Singh's lawyer David Lehr has a tough legal road ahead to prevail in changing his client's jury trial for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated to another county.

The law states that simply saying that Singh got bad press doesn't mean that he will get his trial moved.

Singh, 50, of Ventura, struck Nick Haverland, who was riding his bike to Ventura College for an exam, and narrowly missed a friend riding with him. Singh then drove to his Ventura home less than a mile away, police said.

Police officers said Singh, who appeared to be very intoxicated, had been involved in a series of accidents before he hit Haverland, including crashing into a mother and her 13-year-old daughter who were on bikes. Both suffered broken arms.

Basically, a defendant is entitled to a change of venue if his attorney can prove that an impartial jury cannot be impaneled.

The California Supreme Court adopted a standard set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court's 1966 Sheppard vs. Maxwell: The state guideline is set in the 1968 case of Maine vs. Superior Court: A criminal action must be transferred if there is a "reasonable likelihood" that without a change of venue, the accused will not receive a fair, which violates due process clause of the constitution.

The law states that a defendant cannot simply say that because of "adverse publicity" he is entitled to a change of venue. But a defendant must prove in court through public opinion surveys or testimony that this adverse publicity has saturated the jury pool, according to the 1970 case Clift vs. Superior Court.

Under the California penal code there are five factors a court needs to consider in deciding to grant a change of venue: 1) the nature and gravity of the offense. 2)size of the county. 3)The status of victim and accused. 4)the nature and extent of the publicity. 5)the existence, if any, of political overtures in the case.


The Court Reporter
Raul Hernandez has spent years writing stories about the drama that unfolds in the courtroom. Here he answers common questions, share some insights on the judicial system and passes along some of the little things that make the Ventura County courts an interesting place to be. You can contact him at