By Anna Okada
SACRAMENTO – A judge here in Sacramento County Superior Court reversed herself and released a defendant, reinstating probation after the woman mentioned she would lose her place in a sober transitional living home if she had to finish 30 days in jail.
On February 19, Catherine Westberg had her probation reinstated, instead of serving her sentence of 30 days in custody. Westberg, however, had concerns about COVID-19 exposure and did not report to probation. Additionally, she allegedly broke her heel, and could not appear in court on her assigned date of March 2.
Westberg has since been ordered back to custody to complete the original sentence of 30 days.
But, Assistant Public Defender Teresa Huang argued for probation to be reinstated again for Westberg, and emphasized that Westberg has demonstrated her commitment to report to probation.
District Attorney Cody Winchester, however, asked for Westberg to stay in custody. Winchester cited Westberg’s failure to appear in court on March 2 as his reasoning.
Westberg stressed that her past failure to appear in court was because she broke her heel. She asserted that, at a later time, she could provide a doctor’s note proving her injury, saying, “I don’t have it with me, because I don’t have anything with me.” Westberg noted the name of her doctor and the doctor’s medical group.
Judge Laurie Earl, however, highlighted Westberg’s failure to appear in court and denied Huang’s request to release Westberg. Earl maintained that Westberg must finish her 30 days in custody.
After hearing the decision, defendant Westberg uttered, “I’ll lose my bed at the sober living house,” elaborating that she had a place to live at a sober transitional living center from July 1. If Westberg stayed in custody, she would be unable to report to the center and would subsequently lose her spot, she maintained.
Earl had second thoughts, reversing her earlier decision, and allowed Westberg’s release. Probation was reinstated. Westberg is ordered to return to court on July 8 with proof that she has contacted probation and that she is involved in the sober transitional living center.
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