By Anais Cortes
FRESNO – There was uncertainty as to how to proceed in Fresno Superior Court this week with an arraignment for Lawranne Booker—a woman deemed a “danger to society” and facing four misdemeanor charges and one felony charge regarding a driving-under-the-influence arrest.
Booker appeared to schedule a preliminary hearing for her pending charges. With Judge Adolfo Corona presiding over the case and Amy Cobb representing the People, Booker was seemingly there without an attorney.
Assistant Public Defender Wade Freitas told Judge Corona that he had offered to represent Booker, but she declined, stating that she had the means to hire her own private attorney after she posted $10,000 same-day bail.
Prosecutor Cobb then interjected, stating that she takes issue with Booker’s custody status and has “grave concern for this case.” She went on to discuss previously unknown details of the defendant’s criminal history—three previous out-of-county DUIs in a 10-year statutory period.
Her current charges include driving through a residential neighborhood with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .28, colliding with a parked car with enough momentum that it almost hit a child, having a seven-month-old in the car with her, and lying about her alcohol consumption and the incident when later asked to take responsibility for her actions.
After having her license revoked she continued to drive, leading to several tickets and convictions for driving with an invalid license and insurance.
“She is a danger to the community,” Cobb said, adding, “I am asking that the court at least set the scheduled bail [$39,400], but I am very concerned about this individual being out at all, and especially without any kind of monitoring for driving or the use of alcohol.”
Judge Corona suggested Booker be appointed an attorney for the time being, until the defendant was able to hire her own defense.
But DA Freitas reluctantly stated, “I guess my concern is accepting appointment on an individual who very clearly told me they have the means to hire private counsel.”
Freitas continued, hoping to provide advice for Judge Corona on how to proceed. He suggested that she be referred to pretrial services as an assurance that she remains abstinent from alcohol, citing that “that seems to be the issue with her remaining law abiding.”
Cobb suggested that she be put on SCRAMx—a 24/7 ankle bracelet that samples perspiration to measure alcohol consumption—and attend three NA or AA meetings a week, and provide evidence of these events before her next court appearance.
Judge Corona concurred, restating that she had the means to post same day bail. He referred her to pretrial services, raised her bail to $39,400 for the return date, and ordered SCRAMx be installed immediately.
Her pre-trial hearing will take place August 19.
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