COVID-19 Pandemic Cited as Reason for Failure to Complete Court Classes

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By Armando Alonzo

SACRAMENTO – In a series of hearings in Sacramento County Superior Court here Wednesday, the talk was mostly about finishing classes, not murder and mayhem.

In the end, all of the cases, even those where the court did not have proof of completion  of classes—in large part because of COVID-19 office closures—were continued into June and July.

In the first case, in-custody defendant Vicente Fuentes was not present for the hearing, but was represented by Assistant Public Defender Anna Semerdjian. Semerdjian indicated that Fuentes had attended a mandatory class session May 4, but he was not able to retrieve proof of attendance from the program because when he had gone to ask for it, the office was closed. Fuentes had pictures as proof of that.

Judge Scott Tedmon noted that Fuentes has already completed four of the 12 anger management classes and five of the 12 of the parenting classes, and continued the matter to July 15, 8:30 a.m. in Department 60, so that proof of completion of the anger management and the parenting classes can be presented.

In a separate case, out-of-custody defendant Mario Miranda previously told his public defender that he had indicated that he was not able to continue his required classes due to the pandemic. Senerdjian requested a continuance until July 15 for proof of completion. Miranda had re-enrolled for classes on March 4, around the time the pandemic became a major issue.

Renishta Lal, representing the District Attorney’s office, had no objection to the continuance.
Judge Tedmon ordered that the matter be continued to July 15 at 8:30 a.m.in Department 60.

Another case had out-of-custody defendant Hugo Perez not present for the Zoom live-stream. Semerdjian indicated that Perez has completed 15 of 30 Alcoholics Anonymous sessions and four of 12 anger-management classes. She requested to continue the case to June 24 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 60.

However, there was no proof of this completion—Perez had only confirmed with another public defender, Andrew Crouse, verbally. Judge Tedmon noted that the last known proof of any kind of completion was from Perez’s last court case session for only two of his required A.A. classes and one of his 12 anger-management classes.

Defense counsel Semerdjian said that proof was not yet available because of the pandemic, but was confident that Perez would have documentation of his process by the next hearing.

Judge Tedmon agreed and approved the request for June 24, 8:30 a.m. in Department 60.

Finally, in the last case, in-custody defendant Bradley Lobdell was present in Sacramento’s Department 60, with public defender Semerdjian, who indicated that the defendant had received a preliminary OK to be in Sacramento Health Court from the District Attorney’s office.

Semerdjian requested a three-week continuance to June 10, at 8:30 a.m. for a status hearing, and Judge Tedmon agreed, adding a no-contact order would also stay in place.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch puts 8 to 12 interns into the Yolo County House to monitor and report on what happens. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org

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