Court Rules and Non-Rules:
(They depend on who you are.)
What's it like to prosecute in Onuska's court? Below are just a
couple of examples of Onuska's obvious bias in favor of his friends.
The following is an excerpt from the Peters suppression hearing,
which is described in detail in Kangaroo
During the Peters suppression hearing, the prosecutor,
Terry Breen, offered to show the court a photocopy of an appellate
case he thought the judge would find helpful. For his troubles,
Breen was curtly rebuked for not following Onuska's special rule:
attorneys are to show him any cases "as soon as you have something
new"-not during the hearing.
The exchange went like this:
Breen: Judge, I have a case I'd like to give the court.
And I've given a copy to the . . .
Onuska (interrupting and obviously cross): Has it
been presented to the court before?
Breen: Not that I'm aware of.
Onuska: Is there some reason why you did not?
Onuska: We don't do that. Well-you get to do whatever
Judge Thrower or Judge Eastburn want to do. When you show up here
again I'd like to read this stuff and be prepared. If you have
new cases-Mr. Jolley doesn't decide these things-I do. Get them
to the court as soon as you have something new. What is it?
Onuska, however, forgot about this rule of his when his old friend
(and the defendant's attorney) Val Jolley did exactly the same thing
as Breen, and offered the judge a case during the hearing. Indeed,
instead of being cross, Onuska was overjoyed to hear
his friend announce he had a case for him. Here's how it went:
Jolley: If I may approach, your honor. And give the
court State vs. Melendrez 49 N.M. 181 . . .
Onuska (interrupting): Oh I figured you would have
a case Mr. Jolley! I figured you would have a case!
Thereafter Onuska and Jolley continued to have a two-way conversation
in which Onuska ridicules the prosecutor. When the prosecutor tries
to take part in the discussion, Onuska mostly ignores him. Most
people learn this kind of boorish behavior is unacceptable by the
time they graduate from the first grade. Not so Judge Onuska.
Jolley: Directing the court's attention to . . .
Onuska (interrupting): Oh that's black letter law
(i.e. law that is commonly known). Everyone knows that-have him
(gesturing to Breen) read it.
Breen: Page three, State vs. Ramero: "Repeals
by implication are not favored, but will be declared by the courts
in cases where the last statute is so broad in its terms and so
clear and explicit in its words as to who it was intended to cover
the whole subject, and therefore to displace the prior statute."
Onuska: But no but under Mr. Breen's thing, this would
not be broad enough. We just call it the Uniform Traffic Code,
we didn't name every section. And therefore anything that wasn't
named you get to have conflicting sections.
Jolley: Well, that seems to be what he uhh . . . .
Onuska (interrupting): Yeah, that does seem to be what
he is arguing.
And so it went for the entire hearing. Onuska made no attempt
to hide his bias, so certain is he that he is accountable to no
one, that he is above the law.
Want to hear the actual hearing itself? District Court hearings
and trials are recorded on audio cassettes. Copies can be ordered
from the San Juan County District Clerk's Office (tel. 334-6151)
at $4.00 a cassette. If you want to hear this hearing, in all its
nastiness (and that really is the best way to understand just how
rude and biased Onuska really is) ask for tapes one and two of State
vs. Peters, CR-418-4; 5/28/96.