Sacramento Superior Court Proceedings Moved Outside in Part, because of COVID-19 Complications.

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By Greg Walton

SACRAMENTO – If you were one of the brave people who took a trip to the Sacramento County Superior Courthouse in downtown Sacramento this week—whether you were a defendant or spectator—you quickly realized it was no ordinary day inside, or outside, a courthouse.

Thanks to COVID-19 complications.

On arrival at the courthouse, you could sense it was going to be an interesting day because the main entrance was closed. A small yellow sign with minimal directions was hanging on the main entrance door, notifying everyone to use another street entrance located on the opposite side.

This was not a small inconvenience for those who were unfamiliar with the court’s location—there were people outside of the courthouse seemingly unaware, lost or not knowing what to do next.

Once people reached the 8th Street entrance, just outside of the courthouse, a tent with bailiffs and Sacramento County Public Defenders was set up for individuals to check in at the courthouse.

It didn’t take very long to observe the confusion and frustration among attorneys, defendants and court personnel, who were trying by every means necessary to swiftly resolve most of their issues without even entering a courtroom.

This was a rare sight. This reporter witnessed attorneys and their clients discussing court strategy, plea offers and future court dates, all accomplished outside under that tent in the midst of a Sacramento heat wave.

Reportedly, it was the first time the court had used an outdoor process to move the court docket.

Notably, during the 1918 pandemic that killed tens of millions of people worldwide, some U.S. court proceedings, including trials, were also held outside with participants wearing masks.

After getting past the check-in process, which consisted of showing my VANGUARD press pass, a quick temperature check by a bailiff, and placing a face mask on before entering the courtroom, it was time to see if the COVID-19 complications were negatively affecting the Sacramento Superior Court proceedings.

Inside Department 2, it was business as usual—except rather than being jam packed, there was only one defendant present for a proceeding.

Defendant Keenan Wishom was charged in April 2020 with his second DUI in two years, with a prior DUI conviction in April of 2018.

Wishom was represented by Assistant Public Defender Raymond Thomas. Initially, Wishom told Sacramento Superior Court judge Sharon Lueras that he was inclined to represent himself, but in fear of being convicted for his second DUI, Wishom gladly accepted the free public defender.

Defendant Wishom seemed confident about his next court appearance, which is August 25, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. in Department 84 of the Sacramento County Superior Court.

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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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