They are front line warriors in California's prison industrial complex. They also handle felony matters from arraignment through preliminary hearing. After that, of the remaining few criminally accused who deign to exercise their 6th amendment rights, the cases are turned over to the trial unit. Some were bullied as kids and now seek revenge on the most dispossessed in society. Others bide their time before they receive their lucrative pension packages. All work for the dark side. But I digress.
It appears to be a horizontal unit that does nothing other than hear prelims. Why do you ask?
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It's a specialized unit in the DA's office that handles preliminary hearings and nothing else.
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It is the unit that handles all felony matters before and during preliminary hearing. This proceeding is to determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. Of course the case may be resolved before preliminary hearing and still be handled by this unit.