Motion for Early Termination of Misdemeanor Probation in the Fullerton Case Continued Due to an Unavailable Judge

Paul Fullerton poses with some of his fire gear in his shop

By Danielle Silva

The motion to terminate Fullerton’s formal misdemeanor probation early was continued due to the sentencing judge being unavailable.

The hearing originally had been scheduled with Judge David Reed. However, as Judge Reed was currently handling another case, the Fullerton hearing was transferred to another courtroom.

Judge Sonia Cortés, who presided over the hearing, stated that this motion pertained to a sentence from Judge Reed so he should hear the motion instead.

His attorney, Ashley Bargenquast of the Tully & Weiss law firm, shared they were ready to move forward with the motion, but could continue if the court preferred.

The motion for early termination of formal probation was continued to October 21, 2019.

Last December, Paul Fullerton signed a plea agreement for a 90-day jail sentence (with alternative custody time) and three years of formal probation service after the police raided his home and business for marijuana.

Fullerton, who had been growing medical marijuana, had given “two small amounts of cannabis on two occasions to an undercover officer without first checking his card,” Fullerton’s other attorney, Joseph Tully, explained. The undercover Yolo County Narcotic Enforcement Team, or YONET, member “had been in (his business) and given him a sob story about his wife having cancer.” The second time Fullerton gave the marijuana, he accepted a small amount of money “because the man was insistent.”

Tully stated that the police had been “overly aggressive” in investigating Fullerton’s case. According to Fullerton, the case had 23 officers for a $300 sale. Fullerton also had no prior criminal record before the raid.

Fullerton was charged with misdemeanor counts of marijuana possession for sale and felony counts of child endangerment and a weapon charge. His wife, Maricel, also received these charges. Since Fullerton signed the plea agreement, the charges against Mrs. Fullerton were dismissed.

Despite the charge being related to possession and sale of marijuana, the plea agreement noted that Mr. Fullerton could still use marijuana. He uses marijuana for various medical ailments, including a spinal injury which led to his retirement from the UC Davis Fire Department, with numerous back surgeries and screws in the back of his neck.

In an interview with the Vanguard, Fullerton shared that formal probation should be given to those who need to be checked in with. He personally knows many UC Davis officers and half the personnel of the UC Davis fire department.

“People say I’m anti-law enforcement. I’m not,” Fullerton stated.

In previous litigation over which type of probation Fullerton should be sentenced to, the court received six witnesses and a long list of letter writers which Tully argued reflected “good character testimony” gathered “over the course of decades.” The list included several former fire captains and a woman who claimed Mr. Fullerton saved her daughter’s life by having a fundraiser to raise money to treat her brain cancer. The defense argued for informal probation.

While Deputy DA Kyle Hasapes shared that the People “don’t dispute the good service record of Mr. Fullerton,” he continued to argue for misdemeanor formal probation as the “law is binding regarding status.” Hasapes argued since 22 pounds of marijuana had been raided from Fullerton’s home and seven pounds at his business, probation should check on Mr. Fullerton to make sure he is in compliance.

Fullerton also shared the influence the probation has done on his career as a firefighter instructor. Outside the courtroom, he stated he wanted to start teaching firefighting classes again. Even after his spinal injury, firefighter programs in Davis and Woodland requested Fullerton to teach auto-extrication, a skill that teaches how to safely remove individuals from cars. Fullerton shares he’s an expert in that field but has not been contacted once since the raid of his home. He believes the misdemeanor formal probation is a factor.

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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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