By Monica Velez
Judge Paul K. Richardson has been thought to be incapable of acting as an impartial judge regarding Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira’s case from 2014, involving Darnell Dorsey. Dorsey is being accused of assaulting his girlfriend’s two-year-old son, who died soon after at UC Davis Medical Center.
Judge Richardson has been on the case from the beginning, but three incidents were noted to prove his bias against the public defender’s office.
Sequeira was the deputy public defender on Eric Lovett’s case, also with Judge Richardson presiding over that case. The deputy district attorney added a gang charge to Lovett’s case and two law enforcement officers were in the courtroom who claimed they saw Lovett making threatening gestures toward a victim. Sequiera subponaed Judge Richardson.
After obtaining a private attorney, Judge Richardson was granted immunity from testifying on the grounds that he was a judge. In his counsel letter he said that because he was a public official he should be granted special consideration.
A Yolo County former judge granted Judge Richardson’s motion, and Lovett’s case was dismissed, just in time to be re-opened with the gang enhancement charge. Sequeira subpoenaed Judge Richardson again.
The prosecution added, along with the gang enhancement, a charge of dissuading the witness, which, if proven, would result in a potential life sentence. Sequeira then subpoenaed Judge Richardson because the alleged crime, she argued, would have been witnessed by the judge and would therefore impeach the officers’ testimony.
Judge Richardson sent another request similar to the first, this time adding in threats to file motions for protective orders and monetary sanctions against the public defender’s office.
The judge believed the office to be guilty of unethical conduct and Sequeira found herself in front of Judge Richardson for Dorsey’s trial readiness conference.
In December of 2015 the public defender’s office requested a continuance because one of their witnesses was not able to testify, and the deputy district attorney, Michelle Serafin, did not object to the request. Judge Richardson still denied the continuance.
Sequiera is arguing that Judge Richardson has a bias against her and the public defender’s office, based on these occurrences. A defense motion was presented in Judge Janene Beronio’s courtroom and she gave the defense five days to find another judge willing to take on the case, as well as giving Judge Richardson another ten days to respond to the motion.
Another hearing was set for March 15, 2016, at 8:30 in Judge Beronio’s courtroom, Department 9.