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Here's what attorneys in Scott Peterson case had to say about canceled hearing

The Modesto Bee logoThe Modesto Bee 11/30/2022 Erin Tracy, The Modesto Bee

Nov. 29—When the hearing for Scott Peterson to learn the biggest decision in his case in almost two decades was abruptly canceled, the speculation began in online forums and social media.

Was it a sign Peterson would be granted a new trial on the grounds of juror misconduct, or an indication that he wouldn't? Was it to avoid a media frenzy or some type of retaliation?

"I have no idea if any of that is true; that seems to be more people reading tea leaves," said Peterson's attorney Cliff Gardner.

Judges have very busy schedules, Gardner said; it could be that the hearing no longer fits into Judge Anne-Christine Massullo's schedule or that she needs more time to complete her written decision.

Stanislaus County District Attorney Birgit Fladager agreed.

"It's only a guess, but I would imagine that the judge just needed additional time to finish writing the decision and didn't want to set another court appearance, especially during the holiday season," she said.

Canceled and continued hearings are common in court, and it's happened in Peterson's case several times, for a variety of reasons. But this time, no reason was given.

By law, Massullo must issue a written decision about whether Peterson's convictions for the 2002 murders of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Conner, should be overturned based on a claim in his petition for habeas corpus that one of the jurors in his case was biased against him.

Typically in habeas cases, only a written decision is issued.

It was "a bit unusual to call us into court, but other courts have done it," Gardner said.

Massullo never indicated she would issue a decision other than in writing until Nov. 7, when she set a Dec. 2 hearing to announce her decision in court with the plan to simultaneously release her written decision.

She also issued an order for Peterson to be transferred from prison to the San Mateo County Jail so he could be present in court and on Nov. 21 approved a request by Court TV to take video and livestream the hearing.

But on Monday, she canceled the hearing without explanation.

Massullo has until her deadline of Dec. 16 to issue the written decision.

(c)2022 The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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