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Name: Galindo v. Superior Court
Case #: S170550
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/22/2010

Although a defendant may pursue discovery through a Pitchess motion prior to the preliminary hearing and, within the discretion of the magistrate, use the results of the motion at the preliminary hearing, he is not necessarily entitled to a continuance of the preliminary hearing to pursue the motion. Appellant’s Pitchess motion, filed prior to the preliminary hearing, was denied by the magistrate which found that ordinarily Pitchess discovery would be pertinent to trial issues and, even if a Pitchess motion was permissible pre-preliminary hearing, petitioner had failed to establish that discovery sought would affect whether there was probable cause to hold him to answer. On review, the Supreme Court evaluated the impact of Proposition 115 on the discovery statute codifying the judicially-created right to discovery set forth in Pitchess v. Superior Court (1974) 11 Cal.3d 531. Because Proposition 115, which defines the purpose of pretrial discovery in the context of the trial process, does not specifically prohibit the filing of a Pitchess motion prior to the preliminary hearing, such a filing is permissible. And, subject to review for abuse of discretion, discovery obtained through a Pitchess motion may be used at the preliminary hearing. Proposition 115, as codified in Penal Code section 1054, also amended the Constitution to provide the People with a right to a speedy trial and stressed the need for speedy resolution of criminal proceedings. Because Pitchess discovery, by its nature, is not a rapid process, to permit delay of the preliminary hearing to allow a defendant to obtain evidence through Pitchess discovery to use at the preliminary hearing would defeat the voter’s intent in passing Proposition 115. Accordingly, in this case, the magistrate did not abuse his discretion in denying petitioner’s request for continuance of the preliminary hearing to pursue a Pitchess motion and any discovery resulting from it.