No-Shows in Sacramento Court Create Delays in Justice System

By Julietta Bisharyan

SACRAMENTO – Despite the newly instated live-stream hearings, some defendants are still unable to make court appearances due to medical reasons amid the pandemic.

“Hopefully, his medications are kicking in,” said Judge Steven Gevercer during Friday afternoon’s live hearing after a defendant failed to show up.

Immediately after, the bailiff notified that another defendant was unable to make an appearance due to “multiple reasons,” one being that she was not allowed to be transported.

Defense Attorney Paul Gomez declared doubt about the defendant, and Judge Gevercer asked that they appoint Dr. Torres to evaluate the defendant.

Earlier in the session, the judge charged one defendant on a count of manslaughter, enhanced with the use of a firearm—a 9 mm handgun.

Back on Oct. 13, 2019, the defendant unlawfully and without malice killed the victim, Victor Barrios, during a sudden argument in the heat of passion.

The judge told him his maximum sentencing terms: 11 years in state prison and a fine anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000. The enhancing allegation would be ten years to a consecutive term. He may also be ordered to pay a restitution fee.

Defense attorney JP Brennan stipulated that there was a basis for a no-contest deal and a six-year prison commitment.

Judge Gevercer set the sentencing date for August 7 at 9 am before dismissing the defendant.

“Due to the pandemic, it’s hard to get the case date earlier,” said Judge Gevercer, regarding the court schedule.

Most of the hearings ended with the appointing of Defense Attorney Gomez, who was streaming live from his home to the defendants’ cases.

One arraignment was held for defendant Darius Ray for a violation of probation based on a conviction for second-degree robbery. According to Judge Gevercer, Ray failed to obey all laws and was recently arrested again in San Mateo.

Gomez was promptly appointed as his public defender.

Before the hearing wrapped up, Ray asked to address the court.

“I strongly suggest you not,” warned Gomez with a concerned glare.

“Sounds like good advice, Mr. Ray,” said Judge Gevercer.

With defense attorneys virtually separated from their clients, communication poses a new challenge that cannot always be fixed with a mute button. Gomez’s video even cut out multiple times during the session.

Although many defendants were granted release on recognizance earlier this week, that was not the case today as most defendants arrived with multiple counts of violent crimes.

One defendant, in particular, was charged for unlawfully taking a vehicle, evading a peace officer and maliciously harming a police dog.

According to District Attorney Spencer Rajabzadeh, the defendant crashed a stolen vehicle and proceeded to run across a golf course. He then drove off in a golf cart, which he also ended up crashing.

When confronted by a peace officer, he punched the accompanying police dog multiple times and stuck his fingers in the dog’s nose.

Rajabzadeh noted the defendant’s lengthy criminal history and his previous failures to show up for court appearances, which was estimated to be about 30 times.

“Stay out of trouble, or it’s very likely you’ll go to prison,” were the judge’s parting words.

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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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