‘Ill’ Defendant Turns Out to Be Healthy, Awaiting Arraignment

By Henry Stiepleman

SACRAMENTO – A healthy Sacramento man did not receive arraignment for nine days because the county jail noted him as “ill” in their records.

Justin Collins, the defendant, was in court for arraignment. He had been charged with first-degree burglary, theft of a vehicle, fleeing the scene of an accident, and driving without a proper driver’s license according to the Sacramento Superior Court Public Case Access System.

Collins was appointed Assistant Defender Damien Jovel by the court. Spencer Rajabzadeh was the prosecutor. Judge Patrick Marlette presided.

According to the court’s records, Collins had been scheduled for arraignment on June 9, but his hearing was continued because he was “ill.”

Collins, upon hearing this, said, “How was I ill?” He was noticeably frustrated.

To make sense of this confusion, Judge Marlette suggested a possible explanation: the jail was worried about infection, in reference to the recent major upticks in COVID-19 cases in California’s prison systems.
San Quentin Prison is now above 450 total cases. The transferring of prisoners continues throughout California.

And there has been a spate of cases in recent weeks at Sacramento’s county jails. And those with symptoms or suspected of have COVID-19 are quarantined for a week or more.

But public defender Jovel made it clear to the court that in the case of “ill” incarcerated persons, the court should continue the hearings for one or two days at most, not nine days.

“[The continued hearing] should be the next court day, because if somebody isn’t ill or if all of a sudden they get a miraculous recovery, they’re not sitting around for nine days,” said Jovel.

Jovel also noted that it has become increasingly difficult for attorneys to contact their clients via video conferencing as of late, a sentiment shared by other attorneys during Thursday’s hearings.

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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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