Yolo Court Whips through Cases in Thursday Zoom Hearings

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By Armando Alonzo

WOODLAND, CA – It was largely a lot of shuffling paperwork here Thursday in Yolo County Superior Court—seen on live-stream, with a number of cases moved down the road in a series of short hearings.

For instance, in a trial-setting conference, Joshua Friedman’s presence was waived. Michael Vroman was present, representing the District Attorney’s Office, and Karen Soell from the Public Defender’s Office stood on behalf of Friedman.

Judge Timothy Fall noted that there was also a motion for a mental health diversion filed. There was no opposition brief on the motion yet, because Soell had apparently indicated to Vroman that she was working on a supplemental component to the motion. Vroman was now waiting for the supplemental before submitting a response.

Soell asked the court for two weeks to complete and file the supplement. Vroman said he would need at least about four weeks to respond after receiving the updated brief. Judge Fall agreed and requested that each filing be done by June 5 and July 2, respectively. Soell was agreeable to the delays, hoping that witnesses could be brought in person by the time of the next hearing.

Judge Fall then ordered that the hearing will be on July 16 at 10:00 a.m., with witnesses at 1:30 pm in Department 11.

And, in a trial-setting conference, defendant Hector Guzman was not present, but Deputy Public Defender Karen Soell was present on his behalf. Stephanie Novelli from the District Attorney’s Office was present via Zoom.

Judge Fall asked whether Guzman was also looking to hire a private attorney. Soell clarified that that was not happening at the moment; however, another public defender (no first name made available), Willson, will be defending Guzman at the trial instead of Soell. Willson and Soell also discussed possibly setting a further conference toward the end of July. Guzman is currently out of custody. July 30 worked as a date for the defense as well as for Novelli. The next hearing date for this case was set for July 30, at 9:00 a.m. in Department 11.

A third case Thursday dealt with a violation of probation hearing for Bobby Joe Johnson. Johnson’s public defender said that he had spoken with Johnson and asked the court to put the case over for a pre-admission report coming back on July 15.

Defense counsel said he believes there is information that the probation office should have which would be deemed significant. Johnson has had quite a few health issues, but has been able to keep in contact with his public defender.

Jennifer Elasces, who was present from the Probation Office, told the court their last records indicated that the defendant was staying in a hotel room. She confirmed that she could get a probation officer to make contact with Johnson so that the client can be interviewed on July 1 at 1:30.

Judge Fall ordered that the case be continued to July 15, 10:00 a.m. for Johnson’s pre-admission report to be returned.

In yet another hearing, defendant Dylan McLean was in custody for the matter, and his public defender, John Sage, requested a transcript from a prior hearing in the case from Jan. 16.

There had been a dilemma in which Stephanie Novelli, representing the District Attorney’s Office, disagreed with the type of offer that had been given to the defendant. Mr. Sage said his notes of the hearing indicated that the offer given at the time was a “242.” However, Novelli insisted that she had only said that she considered it, but had ultimately given a Penal Code section 243(e)(1) offer, for domestic battery.

Judge Fall approved the request for a transcript to settle the matter, but warned that the next hearing may be in another two months. Both parties agreed and a new trial-setting conference was placed, unless a plea is changed, for July 30 at 9:00 a.m. in Department 11.

In a lengthier preliminary hearing, Rocky Lujan was represented by James Bradford from the Public Defender’s Office. Bradford indicated that he spoke with DDA Novelli, who was present, representing the District Attorney’s Office.

Bradford indicated that Lujan was out of custody from his previously waived time. However, Lujan was sick and could not make it to the hearing and Bradford asked to move the hearing to a later date. Novelli found the move agreeable.

With both parties approving, Judge Fall set the preliminary hearing for Aug. 13 at 10 a.m. in Department 11, with witnesses at 1:30 p.m.

Finally, in a pre-trial conference, the defendant Andrew Decker’s presence was waived. He was instead represented by John Sage. Stephanie Novelli was present, representing the District Attorney’s Office.

The minute order suggested that there was a parole hold. Sage explained that there was a parole hold, but it would have been set at zero bail. He had contacted the jail, and was told that Decker was released on his own recognizance (OR).

He left a voice message for Decker using what he believed to be a valid contact number, but he has not been able to contact him personally. Sage asked the court to continue the matter so he could have time to contact the defendant.

Judge Fall allowed it and set the next hearing for July 30 for a new pre-trial conference.

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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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