By Henry Stiepleman
SACRAMENTO – A Sacramento man’s public defender was relieved by a Sacramento judge and replaced with an unprepared attorney appointed by the court at the last second last Thursday.
The defendant, Roy Sewell, was in Sacramento County Superior Court Thursday morning for an alleged violation of his probation when Judge Scott Tedmon relieved the appointed public defender from the case because of a conflict of interest.
Sewell had received probation from a 2017 case in which he was charged with possession of brass knuckles, tools intended for burglary, and a controlled substance. Sewell’s case was continued into the afternoon to allow time for a private attorney to be appointed as a “conflict panel attorney.”
The attorney appointed to the case was Jeanne Muñoz. The prosecutor was Deputy District Attorney Anissa Galata.
Apparently, if Sewell admitted the probation violation, he would be looking at 90 days in county jail. He had 10 days of credits for actual time served and 10 days of good-time credits.
Defense attorney Muñoz briefly spoke with her freshly-appointed client before addressing Judge Tedmon, arguing for Sewell’s release.
She stated that he had full-time employment and was therefore requesting to sign up for the sheriff’s work project instead of serving time in custody. She made no mention of the current COVID-19 pandemic and recent disclosures about its impact on the jail system.
In response to a question from Judge Tedmon, Muñoz added that she had received no discovery for this case and said, “I have very little idea of what is going on today.”
She again spoke with the defendant briefly and learned that he had been working full-time for eight months at a solar company as of Thursday and had lived in Sacramento County his whole life. Both pieces of information are relevant facts for an argument against the possibility that he was a flight risk.
DDA Galata then reviewed aloud to the court the defendant’s extensive criminal record dating back to 1996, noting that, since 1996, he had committed juvenile offenses, misdemeanors and felonies, and had been in and out of the prison system. All told, he had 26 additional cases on his criminal record.
In Galata’s words, defendant Sewell “had been in and out of custody since 1996.” Additionally, Sewell was on two grants of probation at the time of the hearing. All of this appeared to be new information to Muñoz.
Based on this information, Judge Tedmon concluded that Sewell must serve the full 90 days in custody.
He then asked Sewell if he would admit to the violation of his probation or would like for the matter to be continued to a later date when defense counsel Muñoz had more time to prepare. Sewell responded, “I’ll take the 90 days.”
In addition to the 90 days in custody, of which Sewell will serve 70 days, Judge Tedmon also ordered Sewell to be served with a no-contact order for a related case.
Because the judge and his clerk were not in the courtroom, but were instead conducting the hearing from a different location over Zoom, it took a few minutes for the no-contact order to be scanned over to and printed by the bailiff in the courtroom.
During that time, Sewell said, “Thank you DA… Sorry.” Ms. Galata looked up at the camera to acknowledge, but did not respond verbally.
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