It seems that both Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Deanna Hayes and her immediate supervisor Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Steve Mount at various points in time expressed concerns about the case. Deanna Hayes at this time was a probationary Deputy District Attorney. Steve Mount was her immediate supervisor. His supervisor was Deputy District Attorney Ann Hurd (who is now the No.2 person in the department). Robert Day who is now retired, was No.2 under recently retired District Attorney Dave Henderson.
DDA Hayes prior to the trial told a source that she did not want to embarrass herself in court with a goat case, and that she was ready to drop the case if Mr. Berny gave her a check to cover the cost of impounding his goats.
However, DDA Hayes changed her mind apparently on the day of the trial and threatened Mr. Berny with 60 years in prison.
The source became angry that they were told one thing on Friday and the opposite occurred on Monday. So they called a member of the District Attorney’s office to find out what happened.
Mr. Berny played the following message that he captured on tape from one source:
“Hayes stated that her supervisor said that they required that Hayes get a conviction out of it, even though Hayes expressed her concerns about getting a conviction.”
Moreover, they said, “it clear to Hayes that she had to get some form of conviction out of it.”
Furthermore, DDA Hayes added charges: “apparently Hayes did more research in the case and found out that there were complaints from my neighbors, vineyards that were destroyed and tens of thousands of dollars of damages that my neighbors were claiming and that I had to pay restitution to my neighbors…”
According to Mr. Berny’s neighbor, there was no damage and he is outraged that people are falsely using his name and property to “justify their criminal activities.”
According to those involved, Deanna Hayes as a newly hired Deputy District Attorney was highly unlikely to concoct the story herself. More likely, this came from either one of her superiors or the Sheriff’s Department itself.
Moreover, Steve Mount who was the head of the misdemeanor division, told witnesses that he wanted nothing to do with this case and he did not want his name mentioned in association with the case.
Deputy District Attorney Mount however may not be completely candid as he reportedly has a reputation for pushing attorneys to press forward on very weak cases regarding other aspects of the law. Fearing that he would be named in the lawsuit may have given him reason to attempt to distance himself.
On the other hand, we could just as easily go up the chain of command where Ann Hurd, Robert Day, or even then Yolo County District Attorney Dave Henderson himself could have pushed a trial attorney forward even though they believe they could not prove the case. From several sources that I have talked to, this appears to be a characteristic of the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office that is not the case in other jurisdictions.
While this does not resolve the puzzling question of why this case was pushed forward, it does shed some light on the fact that pressure being put on a young and inexperienced Deputy District Attorney perhaps both from Yolo County Sheriff’s Department and from her supervisors. They wanted her to get a conviction and she perhaps felt that she could not or even should not press forward.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting