Judge Fall Revokes Plea Agreement for Former CASA Director

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Yolo-Count-Court-Room-600Last summer, to the shock and dismay of many volunteers and board members of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), an organization that advocates for foster children as they move through the court process, the former Executive Director was given a plea agreement of no prison time after pleading no contest to embezzling $46,000 from the non-profit.

Deputy DA Michelle Serafin filed a motion with the Court to reject the no contest plea entered by the defendant on October 14, 2010, arguing that the plea offer “was based on the belief that the defendant had only one prior arrest that resulted in a misdemeanor embezzlement conviction in Sacramento County.”

Instead she claimed, “The People have since learned that the defendant was actually convicted of a felony embezzlement charge in Sacramento.”

On Thursday, she made the same argument to Judge Fall.  Ms. Serafin further claimed on Thursday that the DA’s Office now had information that defendant Ms. Claudean Medlock had forged a judge’s signature in an MOU between the Court and CASA.

This was a difficult case for the Vanguard because initially it appeared that Ms. Medlock had received favorable treatment by the DA’s Office.  The plea agreement had shocked and outraged those involved with CASA, who complained that they were not consulted.

At the same time, we felt that overturning the plea agreement would validate the DA’s Office’s failure to perform due diligence in their background research of Ms. Medlock. 

According to the CASA webpage after a meeting with CASA, “Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven did some additional investigation and learned that Ms. Medlock’s RAP [Record of Arrest and Prosecution] Sheet issued by the CA Department of Justice was incorrect.  He discovered that Ms. Medlock is serving a felony probation charge in Sacramento (as opposed to misdemeanor probation, as indicated on the DOJ RAP Sheet).  These charges were filed against Ms. Medlock after she was hired by Yolo CASA and therefore were not picked up by a security screening conducted by the organization prior to her hiring.”

Had the DA met with CASA before the plea agreement as required by victim’s rights law, this would be a non-issue.

The question is really whether the DA’s own error is sufficient to invalidate a plea agreement that was entered into by both sides and accepted by a judge.

CASA Board President Mila Spengler has repeatedly expressed her anger at the plea agreement, in particular the lack of consultation with CASA on the plea agreement.  “We were very disappointed and upset by that,” Ms. Spengler told the Davis Enterprise.

CASA might not have known until her arrest that their former executive director was on probation, but they clearly knew that there was a felony probation when the Vanguard spoke to Ms. Spengler for the first time on October 22, 2010.

It seems likely that CASA learned of the felony conviction before the plea agreement on October 14, not in the eight days between the plea agreement on October 14 and the Vanguard’s conversation on October 22.

Therefore, it seems that the DA’s Office, as well, could have and should have known that Ms. Medlock was on felony probation prior to their meeting with CASA on November 17, and had they simply followed the law that they have advocated – the victim’s rights bill of rights – they, in fact, would have learned this information prior to the October 14 plea agreement.

Judge Fall, however, dodged the issue of the DA’s lack of scrutiny into this case.  He told the court on Tuesday that he would not act on the prosecutor’s motion since it was not clear that it had legal foundation.

Nevertheless, he made the decision to throw out the plea agreement since he believed that the agreement was not in the interest of justice to grant probation in a case where the individual had two similar convictions.

In a statement from the President of the Board, Mila Spengler, CASA said, “The Yolo County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is pleased with Judge Timothy Fall’s ruling earlier today, which set aside a plea agreement with defendant Claudean Medlock in the “interest of justice.””

She added, “We appreciate the efforts of the District Attorney’s Office and will continue to work with them to ensure that the final outcome takes into account the detrimental impact of Ms. Medlock’s actions on foster youth of Yolo County, as well as the calculating nature of her alleged crimes and her record of  past criminal activity.  Yolo CASA will continue to be a strong voice in the courtroom in this matter, as we are in other matters, to protect the interests of the children that we serve.”

Deputy Public Defender Monica Brushia was less pleased, stating in an email, “With her plea, Ms. Medlock had accepted responsibility for the crimes alleged. Now, unfortunately, due to the actions of the court, we are back to square one.”

While I believe Judge Fall is correct that probation in this case is not in the interest of justice, we are less than pleased that the DA has been given a free pass for their failure to perform due diligence here.

We believe, despite the Judge’s side-stepping the motion, this sets a bad precedent that could undermine the credibility of the DA’s Office in reaching plea agreements.

Ms. Medlock will now have to proceed to a preliminary hearing unless there is another plea agreement, this time undoubtedly involving prison time.

CASA should feel vindicated.  In a county where people have gone to years in prison for minor crimes such as stealing cheese, to allow someone who stole $46,000 to get off scot-free did not sit well.

Hopefully the DA’ Office will learn a lesson from this, but that does not seem likely, after Judge Fall bailed them out.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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37 thoughts on “Judge Fall Revokes Plea Agreement for Former CASA Director”

  1. Mind_hunter53

    We are apparently dealing with a repeat offender who appears incapable of learning from experience. A message must be sent — crime doesn’t pay. Send her to prison, fine her and confiscate her assets for restitution.

  2. Rifkin

    [i]”Send her to prison, fine her and confiscate her assets for restitution.”[/i]

    She stole $46,000. It costs us roughly $47,000 a year to imprison her.

    I would far rather force her to work to pay back the money and to pay damages. What job could she do to earn those funds? Make her an advance scout for our troops in Afghanistan. She could make sure the roads are clear of land mines and IEDs. If she survives for one year, CASA gets $46,000 from the DoD. If she gets blown to bits, lesson learned. Either way it saves us from feeding, housing, clothing, doctoring and guarding another inmate in California.

  3. mercy for all

    The point missed is that Ms. Medlock under the plea agreement was not being “let off scot-free”. She would have suffered another felony conviction, up to a year in the county jail which she could be ordered to do as straight time, no alternative programs allowed and pay full restitution. Also, this violates her probation(s) across the river which might not be reinstated based on this more aggravated theft from CASA. That would have changed yolo’s probation grant to a consecutive 3rd the base (middle) term consecutive prison sentence. This will all, I believe, be ultimately decided (assuming the prosecution can prove it which the plea indicates they can) by whether or not Ms. Medlock can find a way to pay full restitution, up front and quickly. You’d be surprised how often that happens. Also, a great job to date by Ms. Brushia. Another example of fine work by a public defender.

  4. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “While I believe Judge Fall is correct that probation in this case is not in the interest of justice, we are less than pleased that the DA has been given a free pass for their failure to perform due diligence here.
    We believe, despite the Judge’s side-stepping the motion, this sets a bad precedent that could undermine the credibility of the DA’s Office in reaching plea agreements.”

    1) What is more important here, that justice is done, or that the DA is somehow “punished” (by allowing an offender to get off w almost no punishment so she can commit this crime yet again? geeeeeeeze!) for having made a “mistake” in relying on the incorrect DOJ Rap Sheet (which the DA SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO RELY ON)?
    2) Usually the judge has a certain amount of discretion as to whether or not to accept a plea agreement – and wisely chose to throw this plea agreement out bc it was a) completely unjust and b) founded on false information (no good faith basis in the law).
    3) “…defendant Ms. Claudean Medlock had forged a judge’s signature in an MOU between the Court and CASA.” (which indicates to me the defendant knew perfectly well that a mistake had been made) How is that the DA’s fault that the defendant forged the judge’s signature?
    4) How is it the fault of the DA that the DOJ Rap Sheet was incorrect?
    5) The DA was not on trial here – the defendant was however.

    Frankly, I have to ask the obvious question: What are you more interested in – justice being done, or that the DA be pilloried in public for what YOU DEEM TO BE “NEGLIGENCE” (you have essentially set yourself as judge, jury and executioner in the trial of the DA on negligence charges) in trusting a DOJ Rap Sheet that was clearly and inexcusably incorrect? A serial criminal should walk just bc the DA inadvertantly relied on an incorrect DOJ Rap Sheet? Really? With all due respect, your sense of proportion (or lack thereof) and sense of who should have been actually on trial here astounds me…

    dmg: “Hopefully the DA’s Office will learn a lesson from this, but that does not seem likely, after Judge Fall bailed them out.”

    1) Don’t you think it is likely the DA will double check info it gets from DOJ Rap Sheet in future? My guess is they will, after this fiasco…
    2) Don’t you think the DOJ bears some responsibility here for having correct info on its Rap Sheets? I would hope the Yolo County DA alerted the DOJ: what has happened in this case; and that the DOJ’s mistake on its Rap Sheet almost resulted in a career criminal being let off w almost no punishment…
    3) Don’t you think the defendant bears responsbility for the crimes she committed, including theft from at least two different non-profits, omitting crucial info about her criminal conduct on her CASA employment application, and falsifying a judge’s signature?
    4) The judge did not “bail out” the DA – no bail was paid, the DA was not in jail, the DA was not even charged or on trial for any kind of crime…

    High praise goes to Judge Fall for making sure justice was done in this case, which is what trials are supposed to be all about…

  5. CASA

    Yes, very much agreed! Well played ERM.

    It is becoming embarrassingly obvious that the Vanguard is using Ms. Medlock’s case to accomplish it’s own personal agenda of drawing negative attention and creating drama for the DA. Although distracted from what this case is about, it is disgusting that a person who knows the overwhelming need for the CASA program, and also was aware of the lack of funding for the program, is still capable of embezzling a relatively tremendous amount of money from the program. The case is about this woman, Ms. Medlock. This most definitely is not a case about the DA’s office and any mistakes that they may or may not have made. In trying to accomplish a negative image of the DA and ADA, the Vanguard has successfully turned the attention away from the Victim, the children who are represented by CASA.

    “Mila Spengler has repeatedly expressed her anger at the plea agreement, in particular the lack of consultation with CASA on the plea agreement. “We were very disappointed and upset by that,” Ms. Spengler”.

    This statement is now obsolete and insignificant. It was made very early on in the case and is now being used by the Vanguard in every article regarding this case. There is no reason it should be in current news, CASA has nothing but gratitude towards the DA’s office that immediately apologized and redeemed them selves.

  6. David M. Greenwald

    Elaine: In answer to your question, the most important thing is that proper procedure is followed by all sides. I do not believe that probation was appropriate in this case, on the other hand, I don’t think the DA provided sufficient and compelling reason from their end why it should be revoked. Moreover, would Fall have done the same in a case where the defense screwed up? I somehow doubt it.

    “Don’t you think it is likely the DA will double check info it gets from DOJ Rap Sheet in future? My guess is they will, after this fiasco… “

    Maybe but a few months earlier they got burned when they failed to confirm whether a victim had died before filing murder charges. This was not an isolated incident.

    “Don’t you think the DOJ bears some responsibility here for having correct info on its Rap Sheets?”

    Some perhaps, but CASA knew and had the DA met with CASA before October, they would have as well. BTW, they are required by Marsy’s Law to inform CASA prior to the plea agreement, ironically since they hold Marsy’s Law to such high esteem.

    “Don’t you think the defendant bears responsbility for the crimes she committed, including theft from at least two different non-profits, omitting crucial info about her criminal conduct on her CASA employment application, and falsifying a judge’s signature?”

    By all means. The DA is free to charge additional charges in this case if she committed additional crimes.

    “The judge did not “bail out” the DA – no bail was paid, the DA was not in jail, the DA was not even charged or on trial for any kind of crime… “

    LOL – I meant politically.

  7. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “Elaine: In answer to your question, the most important thing is that proper procedure is followed by all sides. I do not believe that probation was appropriate in this case, on the other hand, I don’t think the DA provided sufficient and compelling reason from their end why it should be revoked. Moreover, would Fall have done the same in a case where the defense screwed up? I somehow doubt it.”

    Proper procedure is more important than justice? Really? That exalts form over substance… not where I would want to go. Justice should be foremost in everyone’s mind – procedure is just a means of arriving at justice…not an end onto itself. This sort of thinking (exalting procedure over justice) is what leads to innocent people not being freed when evidence turns up to show otherwise. The less than ethical DA will argue “well proper procedure was followed…”, so then it often takes a governor’s pardon to see that justice is done. A good DA will fight to free the innocent party (which has occurred by the way)…

    From the Davis Enterprise: “Yolo Superior Court Judge Timothy Fall said it would “not be in the interest of justice” to grant probation to Claudean Sue Medlock, who is aleady on felony probation for similar conduct in Sacramento County…DDA Michelle Serafin announced that her office is investigating another possible crime by Medlock involving the alleged forging of a judge’s signature in a memorandum of understanding between CASA and the courts…Fall, who accepted the original plea deal, said while the DA’s Office lacked standing to make such a request [motion seeking a rejection of the plea agreement], “the court is hard put to say that Ms. Medlock, with this offense and the extensive work she put into committing this fraud, should be put on probation…Court documents indicate Medlock carried out the fraud by forging checks and falsifying expense reports. At CASA, she allegedly used the agency’s Visa card to obtain about $30,000 in cash advances that were gambled away at area casinos. CASA representatives also claimed that Medlock’s crimes extended to taking gift cards that were intended for children the agency served. Deborah Allison, a CASA attorney, said a volunteer once approached Medlock about obtaining a donated gift card for one of the children she served – a young boy who had only sweats to wear in the brutal summer heart. Medlock reportedly rejected the request. “We now know that she took that gift card for her own personal purposes,” Allison said. “She was out there pretending to be the face of the organization, and behind the scenes she was stealing from it.””

    I, for one, think Judge Fall did absolutely the right thing in this case. The plea agreement was based on false information – and thus had no good faith basis in the law. It believe it was within Judge Fall’s discretion to reject this plea agreement…

    One additional note – none of us is free from making mistakes, including DA’s. If there is any opportunity to right a mistake to bring about justice, it should be done, mistakes notwithstanding. “Judge not lest ye be judged”?” “To err is human…”; and all that sort of thing…

    And by the way, in this case, it was the DOJ who made the mistake…

  8. E Roberts Musser

    mercy for all: “The point missed is that Ms. Medlock under the plea agreement was not being “let off scot-free”. She would have suffered another felony conviction, up to a year in the county jail which she could be ordered to do as straight time, no alternative programs allowed and pay full restitution.”

    From the Davis Enterprise: “A Carmichael woman who came to court Thursday hoping to be placed on probation for embezzling more than $46,000 from an agency that advocates for at-risk youth left the building facing possible prison time in the case.”

  9. David M. Greenwald

    Elaine:

    So let me push this point here. You know that a guy killed someone. Do you give him a fair trial or just summarily execute them? Now let’s go a step further, what if the police “know” that a guy killed someone, they can’t quite prove it, so they plant evidence to bolster their case, it comes out, the evidence is excluded, should the guy free even if you know they did it?

    The right to due process is the most important right we have and the right to that process is much more important than any individual outcome.

  10. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “The right to due process is the most important right we have and the right to that process is much more important than any individual outcome.”

    And where did this woman not get due process?

  11. David M. Greenwald

    I want to address one other point here by CASA, who there is no evidence actually represents the organization for the record.

    But they write, “It is becoming embarrassingly obvious that the Vanguard is using Ms. Medlock’s case to accomplish it’s own personal agenda of drawing negative attention and creating drama for the DA. “

    If I want to go after the DA’s office, I have plenty of cases that I have written about and am working on to do so. I don’t need to go out of my way to do it when I have great examples like Artz and another example with Valenzuela that just happened yesterday to shed light.

    My problem here – and I don’t think it’s the biggest problem in the world – is that I don’t think the DA did their due diligence on this case, CASA is happy and rightfully so at the decision as the penalty to Medlock was not strict enough initially, however, I just don’t agree that a plea agreement should be revoked based on the DA’s failure to do proper research on the individual at first. I don’t think the defendant whose attorney failed to do their proper research would be granted the same courtesy by the judge. In fact, I have watched a number of times when the Judges refused to grant the request – even though it was clear that they had not received adequate defense on several occasions. That is my problem with this arrangement. Yeah we end up with a more reasonable sentence, but I think at a high cost.

  12. Sara Sue

    From the Davis Enterprise: “A Carmichael woman who came to court Thursday hoping to be placed on probation for embezzling more than $46,000 from an agency that advocates for at-risk youth left the building facing possible prison time in the case.”

    These words in the Davis Emptyprise are just more of the misinformation surrounding this case. It WAS 5yrs probation and 1yr jail and full restitution-mercy for all had it right. I am of the opinion that this woman has not been interviewed or made comments to the press–so the statement is made for what purpose?

    I have read many articles and postings regarding this case. The most alarming is what it is costing and will cost (not just financially). I am also concerned about the CASA organization posting comments on this site. Surly they know about PR protocol in a crisis situation and would issue a statement via press releases. They are harming themselves, or as posted on another site “the mob is burning down the house”.

    Can you imagine if a new plea is developed what will happen. I think that the DA should ask CASA before hand what they expect and make sure that Judge Fall is aware before proceeding or this will just continue to be a joke and waste of taxpayer monies.

    I appreciate the Vanguard’s information on this situation and hope that you will continue to give us all something to think about.

  13. David M. Greenwald

    I want to reiterate the point that there is no evidence that the CASA organization was the poster named as “CASA” – I would assume unless someone with a name that can be verified comes forward, that it is simply an individual who called themselves CASA.

  14. E Roberts Musser

    Whoa! dmg: “process is much more important than any individual outcome”? Are you saying that as long as we give a person their “due process” regardless of mistake, even if that person is innocent, they should be punished anyway bc correct process was followed? That makes no sense! Justice is paramount, above all else. Process is never perfect.

    Let me give you an example. Rape case in Washington D.C. Man w engineering degree was convicted of rape – based on eyewitness testimony of victim. Even tho the defendant’s 32 co-workers insisted he was at work at the time of the rape, the defendant was still convicted based on the victim’s testimony – and despite the defendant being given all his due process rights. The defendant was sent to prison for a number of years (cannot remember the exact number). After two years, the real perpetrator of the rape was caught (I believe in another rape case). The newspapers published pictures of the perpetrator and the wrongly accused side by side. The two could have been twins. They were both African American, had the exact same goatees, same hair style, same facial features – it was uncanny. The DA worked to free the wrongly accused, and was successful. Of course by that time the wrongly accused’s wife had divorced him, he had no job. But he had been given all his due process rights. By the way, he did not blame the victim in any way. Mistakes are made, no matter how much proper process is followed. What is important is that justice is done…

    I agree that due process rights are extremely important, and must be followed. But in the case we are talking about (defendant Medlock), the defendant was given all her due process rights. A mistake was made by the DOJ, and the DA inadvertantly relied on that mistake. I also believe the defendant knew perfectly well that the DA had made a mistake (perhaps the reason for the forged judge’s signature?). The plea agreement was based on false assumptions, and needs to be corrected. However, the defendant HAS NOT HAD ANY DUE PROCESS RIGHTS DENIED BY THIS ATTEMPT AT CORRECTION OF A FLAWED PLEA AGREEMENT.

  15. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “My problem here – and I don’t think it’s the biggest problem in the world – is that I don’t think the DA did their due diligence on this case, CASA is happy and rightfully so at the decision as the penalty to Medlock was not strict enough initially, however, I just don’t agree that a plea agreement should be revoked based on the DA’s failure to do proper research on the individual at first. I don’t think the defendant whose attorney failed to do their proper research would be granted the same courtesy by the judge. In fact, I have watched a number of times when the Judges refused to grant the request – even though it was clear that they had not received adequate defense on several occasions. That is my problem with this arrangement. Yeah we end up with a more reasonable sentence, but I think at a high cost.”

    The DA did not make the mistake, the DOJ made the mistake. What the judge would or wouldn’t do in some other case is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand.

    Sara Sue: “It WAS 5yrs probation and 1yr jail and full restitution”

    Now, however, the sentence will be based on ALL THE RELEVANT INFORMATION, and thus is apt to be more just, especially in light of the fact that the defendant was already on probation in Sac County for the exact same crime and chose to repeat it in Yolo County…

  16. Sara Sue

    The real mistake is that the DA did not consult the CASA organization regarding the plea deal. The DA was told by the CASA organization that this woman had a prior felony in October. Then all were on the same page. Again lets just hope that the new plea is agreed upon and things move forward. Three months to get a ruling on a motion is ridiculous. Oh I forgot this is Yolo County and this case is very politically motivated.

  17. E Roberts Musser

    SS: “Oh I forgot this is Yolo County and this case is very politically motivated.”

    How is this case politically motivated?

    dmg: “I want to reiterate the point that there is no evidence that the CASA organization was the poster named as “CASA” – I would assume unless someone with a name that can be verified comes forward, that it is simply an individual who called themselves CASA.”

    I feel compelled to comment here – when someone writes in as if they were a juror on a case that bolsters your world view the Yolo County DA is at fault, you do not question it. Yet when someone who indicates they are from CASA writes in and makes a point counter to your arguments, suddenly you bring their credentials into question. As long as you have a policy that allows for psuedonymns, then you really shouldn’t be questioning the credentials of any commenter, or at least be fair-handed about it. Something you might want to talk to your Board about…

  18. David M. Greenwald

    The subtext Elaine is the presumption of innocence, which means the judicial system needs to err on the side of innocence not guilt. That’s where the better 100 guilty men go free than the imprisonment of one innocent individual.

    Again, my problem is in part that the judge never would have changed the plea agreement in reverse. I have seen numerous cases of it. Next time I see that happen, I will document it and report it.

    I agree with Sara Sue exactly. That’s my take on the problem here.

  19. David M. Greenwald

    “I feel compelled to comment here – when someone writes in as if they were a juror on a case that bolsters your world view the Yolo County DA is at fault, you do not question it.”

    To be honest, I did the same thing for both. I was able to verify the individual in question was the juror and in fact I exchanged emails with her this morning.

  20. Superfluous Man

    Sara Sue: “It WAS 5yrs probation and 1yr jail and full restitution”

    I believe it was up to one year county jail, but that was to be determined by the judge during sentencing. The previous plea was such that Ms. Medlock could have not been incarcerated at all.

  21. Superfluous Man

    ERM, “The DA did not make the mistake, the DOJ made the mistake. What the judge would or wouldn’t do in some other case is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand.”

    The criminal background check error (RAP) is on the DOJ, but what do you say to the DA not meeting with CASA or listening to their concerns…if CASA knew Medlock had a felony and had they had the opportunity to meet with the prosecution prior to them agreeing to the plea deal w/Medlock and her attorney maybe this would’ve been avoided.

    If it were not for Fall’s ruling, Medlock’s punishment would most certainly have been much lighter. So, the fact that all this happened bothers me because to avoid it could have been as simple as opening up the lines of communication with CASA…as they should’ve from the onset. How much does the prosecutor get paid, 100K+?

    BTW, have we discovered if relying exclusively on the DOJ RAP sheet is standard practice for prosecutors when making these deals?

    Here’s the thing, whether or not the DA’s Office thought her prior embezlement conviction was a misdemeanor or felony, Medlock still had a record of committing similar offenses against charitable organizations. The fact that Medlock plead to her previous crimes and but a few months later began embezzling money from CASA…was not effected by the DOJ error. She stole from CASA while on probation in Sac Co for her crimes (similar unlawful conduct), for which I believe she spent no time in jail/prison…probably b/c it was her first offense, nature of the crime, etc.

    Even with the DOJ error, I still don’t understand the prosecution’s decision the first time around to open up the possibility that Medlock could receive a relatively light sentence when she was a decent candidate for a stiffer one…perhaps one which would gurantee incarceration…regardless of the prior embezlement being a M and not a F.

  22. Superfluous Man

    ERM

    You’ve emphasized the fact that Fall has made his decision in the interest of justice and that that’s really what matters at the end of the day, in your commenting here. However, it’s easy to make such a descision when the ruling would ensure that an admitted criminal get a tougher punishment…but would he do the same if the circumstances were altered and the defendant were to catch a major break/walk…”in the interest of justice?”

    Is it only in the interest of justice when the people have a second chance at nailing the defendant and not when the “errors” benefit the defense/defendant?

  23. Mr Obvious

    [quote]Here’s the thing, whether or not the DA’s Office thought her prior embezlement conviction was a misdemeanor or felony, Medlock still had a record of committing similar offenses against charitable organizations.[/quote]

    I’m pretty sure the same thought process would apply to the cheese bandit. A history of criminal behavior is a history of criminal behavior.

  24. David M. Greenwald

    Mr. Obvious: I just have to ask, do you think budget cuts should just go to schools, or do we have to change who and when and under what circumstances we put people in prison?

  25. Superfluous Man

    Mr. Obvious,

    “I’m pretty sure the same thought process would apply to the cheese bandit. A history of criminal behavior is a history of criminal behavior.”

    If the same process was applied then why did they not push for a tougher deal or holdout for a trial, so as to ensure Medlock would not just get probation again? Point being, even w/the DA’s office thinking Medlock had a prior misdemeanor she was still a good candidate to push for jail/prison time considering the victim, timeline, similarity/escalating crim behavior, disregard for the conditions of her probation/justice system, etc…but they chose a deal that limited that possibility greatly. In the cheese case, the prosecutor literally used the fact that the defendant had no family as a compelling reason why the defendant should spend the rest of his life in prison. Where was this zealotry in the CASA case?

    My point: I agree with you regarding the thought process the DA’s office went through with the cheese guy, as I don’t doubt that that’s how they approach cases, which makes it all the more perplexing for them to have not acted so “tough” in the CASA case.

  26. Superfluous Man

    BTW, Obvious, I don’t believe the two cases are comparable. In this case, you have a woman who pleads to a felony charge for embezzling money from a charitable organization. As part of this plea, which I assume she took as to avoid jail time, she received probation/restitution and no jail/prison time. Then, like three months after that, she does the exact same thing to a more vulnerable population, IMO (abused and neglected children/those sworn to advocate on their behalf). The audacity of this woman and sheer disregard for the legal system is self-evident. As I see it her criminal behavior escalated and did so pretty fast, right after she just received her punishment from her previous embezzlement.

    In the case of the cheese guy, a lot of time lapsed (I think) between his priors (burglary) and the crime for which he had been convicted…stealing cheese. What’s more, his crime was relatively minor and I don’t consider breaking into a dwelling and stealing cheese from a store to be similar unlawful behavior. Seems senseless to put a man in prison for the rest of his life for that crime, even when considering his past crimes.

  27. Mr Obvious

    [quote]Mr. Obvious: I just have to ask, do you think budget cuts should just go to schools, or do we have to change who and when and under what circumstances we put people in prison? [/quote]

    I think we need to find a cheaper way to house our criminals and educate our children. If there is no punishment for “minor” crimes these people will continue to commit them. The problem I see is we are spending to much to house criminals. There are things we could cut. I like tent cities for our “minor criminals”. These “minor” criminals are people who break into our cars, houses, and steal or stuff. I don’t want those people walking around on our streets. Many of these people are “low level” drug offenders trying to get money for drugs. I think they should be locked up, away from society, and unable to victimize the rest of us.

    I think the main issue in the CASA case was the DA relying on the DOJ RAP sheet and seeing the past misdemeanor conviction. If that is a way of checking past convictions, and we don’t have a history of that error in the past, I don’t see how you can be so mad at the DA for a mistake made by someone else. I think we would have seen a different plea deal if the RAP sheet showed a felony conviction.

  28. E Roberts Musser

    SM: “You’ve emphasized the fact that Fall has made his decision in the interest of justice and that that’s really what matters at the end of the day, in your commenting here. However, it’s easy to make such a descision when the ruling would ensure that an admitted criminal get a tougher punishment…but would he do the same if the circumstances were altered and the defendant were to catch a major break/walk…”in the interest of justice?”
    Is it only in the interest of justice when the people have a second chance at nailing the defendant and not when the “errors” benefit the defense/defendant?”

    Each case should be judged on its own merits. What the judge would or would not do in any other case is irrelevant to the issue of whether this particular plea agreement should have been set aside bc of inadvertant error.

    If a mistake was made on the part of the DA which would exonerate/exculpate a defendant, the DA has a DUTY to bring forth such information and fight for what is just. An ethical DA will do just that…

    dmg: “The subtext Elaine is the presumption of innocence, which means the judicial system needs to err on the side of innocence not guilt. That’s where the better 100 guilty men go free than the imprisonment of one innocent individual.”

    This woman admitted guilt, so the issue of presumption of innocence is absent here. Would you have preferred this woman received an unsuitably light sentence, just bc the DOJ made a mistake the DA inadvertantly relied on? If yes, then we will have to agree to disagree on this one. I do not believe in exalting form over substance…

    SM: “The criminal background check error (RAP) is on the DOJ, but what do you say to the DA not meeting with CASA or listening to their concerns…if CASA knew Medlock had a felony and had they had the opportunity to meet with the prosecution prior to them agreeing to the plea deal w/Medlock and her attorney maybe this would’ve been avoided.”

    As long as the DOJ rap sheet is incorrect, and it is what the plea deal was based on, then I feel it is appropriate/proper for the judge to withdraw the plea deal based on a mistake and as not having a good faith basis in the law. In hind sight, it would have been nice for the DA to have checked w CASA (is it required?); and to have double-checked the DOJ rap sheet (is it required?). But that does not change my opinion one iota – the ultimate outcome is supposed to be what is just…

  29. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “Mr. Obvious: I just have to ask, do you think budget cuts should just go to schools, or do we have to change who and when and under what circumstances we put people in prison?”

    In the current budget situation, I think every issue has to be on the table. And certainly the bloated CA prison system has to be at the top of the list for revamping. But we also need to look at the underlying causes of crime (e.g. border problems where criminals are coming up from the south) and prevention programs (especially youth programs)…

  30. Superfluous Man

    ERM,

    “As long as the DOJ rap sheet is incorrect, and it is what the plea deal was based on, then I feel it is appropriate/proper for the judge to withdraw the plea deal based on a mistake and as not having a good faith basis in the law. In hind sight, it would have been nice for the DA to have checked w CASA (is it required?); and to have double-checked the DOJ rap sheet (is it required?). But that does not change my opinion one iota – the ultimate outcome is supposed to be what is just…”

    I don’t know what good double-checking the RAP sheet would’ve done if the information contained on it was erroneous. However, there were most likely other documents indicating the nature and outcome of Ms. Medlock’s prior criminal history, which I’m sure was available to the prosecution. Seems like the prosecutor did not speak with or read anything from the sac county authorities.

    What’s interesting is that the DA’s Office claimed to have cleared the original plea deal with CASA, which they said CASA agreed to and were comfortable with. YET, the CASA organization was emphatic in their denial of this, arguing that CASA leadership was never consulted about a plea and stating that they would have never agreed to such a plea (as it limits her punishment greatly). Does the law require that the prosecutor consults and gets the nod from the victim(s), not that I’m aware of. I do believe that it’s pretty common, though (or to have victim advocates do this work)…seeing as they were the ones who were most affected by the criminal behavior of the defendant(s).

  31. Superfluous Man

    ERM,

    I still don’t believe that the prior being a felony and not a misdemeanor explains the prosecutions decision initially. Once again, Medlock plead to embezzling money from a non-profit, was placed on probation (as to avoid incarceration, I’m sure), then began to embezzle tens nearly 50K from a non-profit who advocated for abused children a few months after being found guilty/placed on probation and the DA’s Office goes with the plea that would most likely result in no jail time? I don’t get that and it seems out of character for this office.

    Medlock’s behavior got worse and the timeline of her criminal behavior, as well as the amount embezzled, seems like enough for this tough as nails DA to push for a deal that would all but guarantee incarceration for this woman REGARDLESS OF THE DOJ ERROR…yet they chose not to and did so without even consulting with the victims in this case who, unlike the chief law enforcement agency in Yolo County, apparently were aware of her prior being a felony and not a misdemeanor.

    Another interesting thing was that the prosecutor used this information (ie timeline of her crimes), which was not changed by the DOJ error, as compelling reasons to have the plea revoked.

    Doesn’t it seem ridiculous to you that they would essentially seek a similar punishment as before despite knowing what they did…DOJ error or not. Those things I mentioned weren’t influenced by the data error, right? Wouldn’t most in law enforcement see that, even as a misdemeanor and go hmmmm…maybe we should seek a tougher punishment this time around…because she CLEARLY HASN’T LEARNED A DAMN THING!

  32. Mind_hunter53

    She is a systematic and chronic plunderer of charities, with a specialty of taking on Yolo County childrens’ causes. She should get all she deserves.

  33. David M. Greenwald

    Just wanted to let people know that we had an inadvertent but significant error in here, at one point conflating Mila Spengler’s name with Ms. Medlock’s name. That error has been corrected and it is Ms. Medlock who was on felony probation. I offer my most sincere apologies for the error and any negative associations it may have created.

  34. E Roberts Musser

    SM: “Doesn’t it seem ridiculous to you that they would essentially seek a similar punishment as before despite knowing what they did…DOJ error or not. Those things I mentioned weren’t influenced by the data error, right? Wouldn’t most in law enforcement see that, even as a misdemeanor and go hmmmm…maybe we should seek a tougher punishment this time around…because she CLEARLY HASN’T LEARNED A DAMN THING!”

    Possibly – not sure we know enough about time line and who knew what when. What I do know is that this particular defendant should not be allowed merely probation for the types of crimes she committed, period. Especially not just bc the DOJ made a mistake.

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