Supporters of Nan-Hui Jo Speak Out on Sentencing, Discuss Next Steps

Various Community Groups spoke to media and supporters following the sentencing of Nan-Hui Jo
Various community groups spoke to media and supporters following the sentencing of Nan-Hui Jo

by Lauren King

Nan-Hui Jo’s sentencing hearing took place on the afternoon of April 28, 2015, at the Yolo County Superior Courthouse, to much public fanfare.  Supporters of Ms. Jo, as well as members of the media, filled the courtroom to capacity as they waited to hear what the defendant’s future would hold.  To the dissatisfaction of both counsel, Judge David Rosenberg denied defense counsel Dennis Riordan’s motion for a new trial and reduced the felony charge against Ms. Jo to a misdemeanor.

Ms. Jo was sentenced to three years’ summary probation and 175 days in jail, which is time served.  The defendant was released from jail and into the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

It is yet to be decided whether she will released on bail during the immigration proceedings.  After the hearing was adjourned, media and supporters of Ms. Jo congregated on the courthouse steps to listen to the statements of Mr. Riordan and those of the political advocates in attendance.

Mr. Riordan was first to give a statement to the crowd, and communicated his belief that Judge Rosenberg was wrong to deny the motion, that he gave an incorrect instruction to the jury during Ms. Jo’s trial, and that the guilty verdict would certainly be overturned should it be heard at the appellate level.

According to Mr. Riordan, “He [Judge Rosenberg] is dead wrong on the law in this case.  Interestingly enough, in sentencing, he made absolutely explicit that he had committed error under controlling Supreme Court law.  Hold me to it: this conviction will never stand, this conviction will be reversed, and an appellate court will express incredulity that a judge in Yolo County could commit the very same error that the Supreme Court found had been committed in another Yolo County case nine years ago.

“This conviction is illegal and will be reversed.  That won’t save Ms. Jo from serving her sentence because she has already done that, but she will be freed of the label of felon and obviously that will be a very good thing for daughter, father, and mother.”

Dennis Riordan surrounded by the press gives a statement
Dennis Riordan surrounded by the press gives a statement

After Mr. Riordan concluded his post-hearing statement, a brief community press conference was held by political advocates affiliated with the Asian Law Caucus.  The organizer of the “Stand with Nan-Hui” support committee from Oakland, California, was the first to speak.  The “Stand with Nan-Hui” campaign is a now-national organization that has roots in Oakland, the Sacramento area, Los Angeles and New York.

“We will still continue to fight for justice because she [Nan-Hui Jo] is still at risk of being detained and deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  Our ultimate goal is our freedom for Nan-Hui Jo and the reunification of her and her daughter.  Like so many other survivors of domestic violence, Nan-Hui Jo has not only been abused by her partner, but has been relentlessly pursued by the criminal justice system as a criminalized survivor…This trial has been a mess of victim-blaming, anti-immigrant, and sexist rhetoric from start to finish,” stated the campaign organizer.

The next speaker was Ms. Angela Chan, the Policy Director and Senior Staff Attorney for Criminal Justice Reform at the Asian Law Caucus.  “Our criminal justice system creates a two-tier system that treats immigrants differently than other community members.  As many of you know, Nan-Hui is not only being criminalized by the criminal legal system, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has placed an immigration hold on Nan-Hui requesting her transfer into immigration custody.

“As federal courts found last year, these holds are unconstitutional because they are not based on probable cause and are not signed by the judge.  Despite these facts, ICE continues to issue unlawful immigration holds, waste local resources, and undermine community policing.  For too long ICE has been in the business of separating families, such as Nan-Hui’s family. Since the beginning of the Obama administration, ICE has deported over two million people.  We must continue to push back and protect immigrants, including Nan-Hui, from an unjust immigration system and an unjust criminal system.  We want to stand up here today and say, ‘Not one more.’”

Supports of Nan-Hui Jo stand holding signs in front of the courthouse on Tuesday
Supporters of Nan-Hui Jo stand holding signs in front of the courthouse on Tuesday

The third speaker was Beverly Upton, the Executive Director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium.  “I think our country is struggling with immigration, veteran’s affairs, parental rights, and marriage and relationships of all types.  I think our country is in crisis and confused, but this courthouse, in this case, on this small mother and child’s shoulders, is criminal.  We should not be trying to work out our nation’s policy stakes on this family, on this mother, and on this child.

“Everything that has been woven throughout this case should be decided on a much larger stage, not the stage of Yolo County and certainly not the shoulders of Nan-Hui and her child.  I only hope that this case gains momentum and that people, not only in this country, but around the world, rally to protect these thousands of families that are affected by these terrible policies.  We had a fairly good outcome today, but she is not out of danger yet and neither is her daughter.  Let’s stand behind her, thank you.”

The community organizer at ASPIRE, associated with the Asian Law Caucus, was last to speak during the afternoon press conference.  “We are calling for justice for Nan-Hui, her daughter, all the survivors of domestic violence, the survivors of the anti-immigrant status-quo…As the first undocumented API youth like group in the country, representing the undocumented API communities, representing our mothers, our sisters, our friends (anyone of them that could be Nan-Hui)— we stand in solidarity…We stand against the system that separates families and destroys communities.  We stand with Nan-Hui…and we won’t stop until there is justice and until Nan-Hui is reunited with her daughter permanently.”

The press conference agenda was concluded and the floor was opened up for audience questions.  The passion and numbers present for Nan-Hui Jo’s hearing this afternoon was impressive and may have had an effect on Judge Rosenberg’s final decision regarding sentencing.  More information, if available, will be reported by the Vanguard at the earliest convenience.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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  1. Biddlin

    No reason she has to see it. I’d keep her as far away from it as legally possible. I suppose by the logic of her supporters, the father could just say “Mommy’s dead,” but he seems to be both honest and honourable.


    1. Tia Will

      he seems to be both honest and honourable.”

      And capable of violence….but of course those who support him seem completely willing to over look this.

      1. Biddlin

        And capable of change, good doctor, as he has sought help and actively worked to improve himself and his daughter’s life. By the way, what kind of mother shoves a baby into the face of an allegedly violent father? I think perhaps you are blinded here by your gender bias.


        1. Tia Will

          I think perhaps you are blinded here by your gender bias.”

          Well you are certainly welcome to join Frankly in his pseudo psychologic stance that he knows my heart and mind better than I do. However, it will only portray your ignorance of the same as it does his.

  2. SODA

    was this the first time Judge Rosenberg could rule on the sentence in terms of felony VS misdeamor?  Or did he change his mind? I am confused by that…and the reasoning.

    1. Davis Progressive

      he might have had a chance during the preliminary hearing.  i don’t know that he changed his mind, he seemed to tell the defendant that he would take a plea prior to the trial for a misdemeanor.

  3. Davis Progressive

    i really think this was rosenberg’s political deal.  he would piss off the defense by denying the new trial and piss off the prosecution by reducing to a misdemeanor.  he gave himself political coverage even though he may well end up being overturned by a higher court.

      1. hpierce

        Suspect your point will be made/reinforced, however the Supreme Court decides on the “same sex marriage” issue.  Seems apparent that it will be a 5/4 vote, one way or the other.  Oink, oink…

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