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Justice's Hearing Delayed Till April

Arraignment date for the Trojan offensive lineman is put off when his attorney argues he wasn't properly notified of Monday's hearing.

March 30, 2004|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

An arraignment hearing for USC offensive lineman Winston Justice has been postponed until next month, but not without confusion.

Justice, 19, was scheduled to appear Monday morning in Los Angeles Superior Court after the city attorney's office filed misdemeanor charges against him Wednesday for exhibition of a replica firearm.

Justice, however, was not present Monday. One of his attorneys, John Nagle, told Commissioner Donald S. Kennedy that the city attorney had failed to notify Justice's legal representatives of the arraignment date. Nagle said he had learned of it from a story that appeared in Monday's edition of The Times.

Nagle asked for a 30-day continuance, but Kennedy set a date of April 19. Kennedy also set aside a bench warrant that had been issued for Justice for failure to appear at a previously scheduled hearing.

"There was a giant snafu between the city attorney's office and the district attorney's office," Nagle said after appearing at court.

The district attorney's office is not responsible for providing notification of court dates once a case has been referred to the city attorney, spokesperson Jane Robison said. Prosecutors in the city attorney's office could not be reached for comment.

Justice, a sophomore starter for the Trojans, was arrested March 3 on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon in an incident that occurred in a parking lot near campus on Feb. 24. He was suspended from school after the arrest and is ineligible for spring practice.

Justice appeared Wednesday morning for his scheduled arraignment. He left with his attorneys before the court session began after they were told by courtroom personnel that the district attorney's office had declined to file charges and had sent the case to the city attorney for possible filing of misdemeanor charges.

Later that day, the city attorney filed three counts against Justice for exhibition of a replica firearm. If he is convicted, the penalty for each count is from 30 to 180 days in jail.

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