Eye on the Courts: Supervisor Rexroad Steps into the War of Words

Supervisor Matt Rexroad

We have been covering the back and forth between Yolo County DA Jeff Reisig and Judges Kathleen White and Dave Rosenberg. Most recently we recounted the story on Saturday.

Supervisor Matt Rexroad becomes the latest to weigh in with less than a full accounting of what occurred. He argues that “a phone call could have fixed this.” Maybe it could have, maybe not.

Supervisor Rexroad writes: “The DA warned the board that Prop. 47 offenders were essentially not getting jail time or treatment, but rather, he said, “the standard disposition of the court if someone is arrested on drug charges is they’re not given jail time at all. They’re simply referred out to probation.””

However, Mr. Rexroad fails to mention that the DA fired the first shot here, essentially blaming the judges for this situation. Mr. Reisig told the board, “The challenge, frankly, is the courts and getting judges to adopt that type of approach.”

He then mentioned the current disposition.

The judges wrote that Mr. Reisig’s statements were “not accurate.”

Mr. Rexroad continues, noting “that under new sentencing guidelines developed by Yolo judges in response to Prop 47, eligible offenders are given a choice of, ‘jail, or mandatory probation-supervised treatment.’ According to the judges, the majority of offenders choose probation rather than jail time.”

However, he continues, “But what White and Rosenberg did not mention in their letter were the DA’s statements that defendants were not receiving probation services because funding for treatment was not immediately provided under the law. Chief probation Officer Brent Cardall, in a department brief to the Board of Supervisors this past week, confirmed that the DA was ‘100 percent correct,’ reporting that ‘there is definitely a gap in our resources’ and ‘… cases have not been referred to treatment’ at the time Reisig reported to supervisors on March 10.”

He adds, “The DA’s warning and concern to the supervisors that Prop 47 drug offenders were not actually getting jail time or treatment was true and accurate. It is also true that the judges are primarily responsible for sentencing these offenders, setting terms of probation and holding them accountable. The probation department is merely an agent of the court. If Prop 47 offenders are not being treated or held accountable, it is the failure of the judges not to know what is going on under their watch. The District Attorney rightly exposed, at the time of his report, the court’s sentencing and system failure.”

Mr. Rexroad continues, saying that “when Chief Cardall reported to the Board of Supervisors that the DA was ‘100 percent correct’ in exposing the gap in treatment services, and this fact was subsequently reported in The Enterprise, we hear nothing from White and Rosenberg.”

Matt Rexroad, of course, tells only half of the story in his response. Mr. Cardall, in fact, said that both sides “are 100 percent correct.”

The judges, in fact, Mr. Cardall stated, are “100 percent correct, too, because when we first set this up, I gave them a commitment that we would treat all offenders. That did not exactly happen.”

Mr. Cardall indicated that drug offenders who were being referred out to probation were not receiving drug treatment. On the other hand, he said that he had ensured to the judges that those offenders would receive treatment “and that did not happen.”

So Mr. Rexroad made two errors of omission. First, he failed to note that Mr. Reisig blamed the situation on the judges when, in fact, Brent Cardall gave them every assurance that their concerns would be addressed.

Second, he only noted that Mr. Reisig was 100 percent in his claims that offenders under Prop. 47 were not receiving services.

Would it have been better for the judges to have communicated with Mr. Cardall to verify that what they thought was their arrangement was in fact the case? Absolutely. However, it would have also been better had Mr. Reisig not immediately blamed the judges for failing “to adopt that type of approach.”

However, the biggest concern from the Vanguard’s perspective is that Mr. Rexroad apparently has little interest in actually solving the problem.

He is quick to nail the blame, arguing, “Yolo County needs judges who are thorough and thoughtful, and who keep their eye on the very system they control. If they are going to pick and choose when they want to get involved in public policy, then they have to be prepared to be called out when wrong.”

And yet he offers little in the way of solutions. The Vanguard has put forward the idea of expanding the neighborhood court program, as well as continuing to utilize the Yolo County Day Reporting Center to provide the necessary services.

Mr. Rexroad has shown no interest in engaging in that conversation, or putting forward any alternatives until state funding for more services kicks in in nine months.

In the end, it is a bit disappointing that Matt Rexroad, rather than trying to fix the problem, is trying to fix the blame.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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  1. zaqzaq

    When White and Rosenberg wrote their editorial in the Enterprise were they aware that the prop 47 defendants were not actually receiving any drug treatment?  If they did not know then their  piece was rather uninformed.  If they knew then they deliberately mislead the public.  Pretty much a lose lose situation for the judges.

    More importantly where is this treatment money coming from and when will it be available?  Are these state, federal or county funds?

    1. David Greenwald

      They were clearly led to believe that was happening. I don’t think judges generally follow up on cases in that way. However, I would argue that Riesig if he was concerned about the issue should have had his deputies bring back several cases to the judges to demonstrate that they were not getting treatment services. Instead he pushed this into the political arena – despite the fact that the supervisors have little control at this point because there is little money.

  2. zaqzaq

    I posted the below in response to David’s comment in his 3/28 article that he refers to in this article.  I think it is relevant to the discussion since David is once again proposing the expansion of neighborhood court.  Maybe David could also explain what the day reporting center is and how drug treatment is  available there.  I am also assuming that the neighborhood court program is an adult program or is that a distinction without a difference.
    I am trying to keep an open mind on this but in doing some of the mental gymnastics I am getting confused as to how restorative justice actually works.  Pro restorative justice critics of the Neighborhood Court program are upset because it stops short of actually getting victims and offenders in the same room.  From that statement it appears that no victims have been included in the program.  Is that true?  It appears that they believe that victim participation is a required element of this program and that you cannot have restorative justice without the victim.  Is this a correct summary of these individuals?  Yet in your article the CCP restorative justice process includes crimes where there are no distinct victims.  Drug possession is one example that you used.  Many crimes do not have a distinct victim.  How are they using restorative justice with no victim?  In the VORP and CCP programs is participation by the victim and criminal mandated by a judge?  What if either the victim or criminal do not want to participate in a restorative justice process?  If these same room meetings with the victim and criminal are voluntary it would seem that you would have greatly inconsistent results depending on the decisions made by these individuals.  What if the victim in one case wants a prosecution that results in a conviction and jail time and a victim in another case, all other things being equal, agrees to participate in a restorative justice meeting.  Is that fair?  I think there is something in the constitution about equal protection.  How does a restorative justice program avoid a violation of equal protection unless a judge is ordering both sides to participate?  How is this done in neighborhood court?  I can imagine that many victims are not interested in participating in restorative justice or going to Woodland to testify in court.  It might be interesting if one of the proponents of restorative justice were to write a guest piece that addresses these questions.  Is there some DA in California that is using restorative justice better or more effectively?  Is there somewhere between Davis and Milwaukee with a more effective program?  Are there any statistics that using restorative justice reduces recidivism?  Is there a comparison between like cases with contrasting outcomes and recidivism rates?  The VORP program appears to only include juvenile criminals.  Sounds like the CCP involves adults.  Are our current criminal systems for juveniles and adults different?  It appears that the neighborhood court program has critics that it is soft on crime and others who would say it does not go far enough.

    1. David Greenwald

      A previous article has a more extensive explanation of the DRC. I responded on the previous article to your point to the best of my ability.

  3. Tia Will


    I think that you are asking good questions for which I do not have answers. One statement you made led me to yet another question.

    Many crimes do not have a distinct victim.  How are they using restorative justice with no victim?”

    What victimless crimes do we have that would end in the perpetrator having a jail sentence ? If there is no victim, why would this ever be the case ?

    1. zaqzaq


      The term “distinct victim” was used in David’s article.  In looking at the DA’s list of crimes and the CCP example David used drug possession and drunk in public would have no “distinct victim” but could still result in a jail sentence.  Understand that I am operating under the assumption that all of the listed crimes on the DA list could lead to a jail sentence. I have not idea what type of crime “Possession of Keg w/o ID tag” is or who the “distinct victim” would be.  The post prop 47 jail time was an issue in this article.  Theft is on the DA list so if someone stole your bike I would assume that you would be the “distinct victim”.  If a homeless man is passed out drunk on a bike path who would be the “distinct victim”?  Same if you were arrested for possession of methamphetamine.  Who is the “distinct victim”?   I am sure someone will correct me if I have it wrong.  It appears that David is advocating expansion of neighborhood court but he does not really know how it works.  Why not explain how the program works and then why the DA should expand it.  My concern is that he is advocating to expand programs that when he does not understand how they operate.  I mean what is a day reporting center?

      1. Frankly

        I think the victim can be a community or society as a whole.  The panel that participates and makes a ruling would represent the “victim”… the community.  Part of the process is to articulate the “harm” when it is once or twice removed from definitive and distinctive harm.  I can take some imagination.

        1. Miwok

          I would also suggest, if the People cannot find the owner of a bike, or if the criminal is a drug or alcohol addict, the the victim is the family?

          That is who they need to make restitution for. But then the so called crime never takes into any equation how much grief and anxiety the criminal creates.

      2. David Greenwald

        “My concern is that he is advocating to expand programs that when he does not understand how they operate.”

        I understand how they operate, but I’m not an expert on the topic and will try to get someone who is to respond to your questions in a future article.

      3. hpierce

        Random thought…

        In the instance of,

         “If a homeless man is passed out drunk on a bike path who would be the “distinct victim”? ”

        Can we be our own victim?  There are provisions in law to detain someone who “is a danger to self and/or others”.

        Should we [society] intervene when it is “self-destruction” if another is not involved?

        I do not know the answer, but am tending towards “yes”.

  4. Tia Will


    I think the victim can be a community or society as a whole.  The panel that participates and makes a ruling would represent the “victim”… the community.  Part of the process is to articulate the “harm” when it is once or twice removed from definitive and distinctive harm.  I can take some imagination.”

    Well, if there is jail time involved, I would strongly take exception to this approach. If someone is representing me as a member of the community, they had better not be “using some imagination” to decide what is a protective approach. I would only favor incarceration if there were to be clear and obvious danger to someone other than the perpetrator at stake. I would never support depriving someone of their liberty because of an “ick” factor such as public urination, or exposing oneself to an adult without being threatening in any way. There are many behaviors that some of the less tolerant of us do not like enough to have someone else deprived of their liberty regardless of whether or not they are a threat to any one. This I see as the much greater risk to our society than someone doing something that someone else simply finds offensive.

    Stated another way…..what if the members of the panel are simply “hypersensitive” ?

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