By Stefanie Young
WOODLAND, CA – On April 24, 2020, the defendant, Daniel Lopez, represented himself pro-se via Zoom at the Yolo County Superior Court. Due to the lack of communication between Mr. Lopez and his investigators, the technical difficulties, and several other issues, Judge Timothy Fall set the case for a status conference to determine whether an evidentiary hearing shall be set or not.
The hearing, held via Zoom and live-streamed via YouTube, involved Judge Timothy Fall, Deputy District Attorney Karen Warren, and Lopez, appearing pro-se and separately from jail. Lopez is charged with absconding, along with an extradition issue.
Prosecutor Warren stated on the record, on three separate occasions, that if Mr. Lopez admits the violation of absconding—going outside the 50-mile radius as previously ordered—and accepts the offer of credit for time served, he would be immediately released. Mr. Lopez refused to accept the offer and is choosing to move forward with opposing the alleged violation.
Judge Fall received an email from Lopez’s investigator’s office which stated that they have regular telephone conferences with Lopez at around 3 PM each time. However, Lopez counters that the phone calls have not been regularly scheduled, the conversations have only been about the technical difficulties that the investigators have been experiencing (hearing echoes and unable to hear), and that the phone calls are not private and confidential.
Judge Fall stated that the minute orders would reflect Lopez’s phone calls, with the investigators to be treated as if they were attorney-client phone calls and afforded the same protections as if Lopez were speaking with his own attorney.
The court further stated that the court clerk has spoken directly with the investigation office and that their office is aware of the court paying closer attention to the privacy and confidentiality issues. Judge Fall stated that he would ask the clerk to call the investigators again today to make themselves available for a phone call with Lopez.
One of Lopez’s concerns is that the subpoenas would not reach the witnesses and run afoul of the 10 days required to serve a subpoena.
Lopez raised additional issues. The first issue relates to Lopez being allegedly arrested while out of state due to an extradition form he allegedly signed. Lopez repeatedly stated that he filed a motion to dismiss on April 1 because he never submitted an extradition form that he was arrested on.
The second issue relates to Lopez allegedly driving without a license. He argues that this is a double jeopardy issue because California does not have jurisdiction over the matter and is therefore also asking for the court to dismiss the charges.
Judge Fall addressed Lopez’s concerns and stated that because the motions to dismiss were filed recently, the court must provide the state an opportunity to respond and file their own briefs before the court can further proceed. With regard to the issue of double jeopardy, the court explained that this is a narrow area and if there is in fact double jeopardy, then the charge will be dismissed but the court must also wait for the People to first file an opposition.
Judge Fall raised a separate issue regarding a runner for Lopez. Lopez stated that it was his understanding that jail staff would submit papers on his behalf. However, he was also told that the runner would be one of the investigators working with him, but the investigator has not met with Lopez. He requested assistance in the process of submitting forms in addition to understanding the forms and documents that he was filling out, due to the inconsistencies he was receiving.
At this point, Parole Officer Jennifer Martinez spoke on the record and said that the biggest issue that Lopez pointed out was that he did not sign a waiver of extradition; however, Agent Martinez said the waiver was part of Lopez’s parole condition when he first signed the documents and was released from prison. There was no requirement for him to sign a separate waiver of extradition because he had already signed one.
Parole recommended that Lopez serve 135 days in prison and, as of today, he has served 164 days.
To this issue, the court still considered Lopez to be on parole even though the terms of his parole were suspended with this pending charge. The court offered Lopez the option of speaking with a parole officer and asked if he wanted to do so.
Before responding to the court’s inquiry, Lopez stated that he was requesting for co-counsel or an attorney to be appointed because he was unable to get the investigation to produce the desired results and that things were not going the way he anticipated.
Because Lopez was representing himself, Judge Fall reminded him that Attorney Acquara, who was present at the courtroom and has previously provided Lopez with very limited assistance, is ready for the court to instruct her to speak with Lopez again and act as advisory counsel. Lopez decided that he would speak with Acquara before deciding whether to speak with a parole officer. The court instructed Acquara to notify the parole office of Lopez’s decision.
Lopez then stated that if he decides to move forward with opposing the alleged violation, he would need co-counsel in the event that he had to testify and risk making incriminatory statements.
Judge Fall stated that the court does not appoint co-counsel for people representing themselves; Lopez’s only two options were to have limited advisory counsel or have an attorney represent him.
Before a date was set for status conferencing, Agent Martinez offered documents showing Lopez’s arrest in Oregon and the extradition paperwork he allegedly signed. However, the court pointed out that unless Lopez takes the deal, he is still entitled to contest the allegations against him.
Lopez’s status conference is set for Thursday, April 30, 2020, at 9:00 AM in Department 1.
To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9