By Susana Jurado
SACRAMENTO – A defendant here in Sacramento County Superior Court faces a felony robbery trial, but his hearing morphed into a judge’s ire Friday at how the Sacramento County Jail can’t help the man with a new prescription for his glasses, despite the judge ordering it.
Seeing how this case was brought to the attention of Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael A. Savage, he proposed a new hearing to see who is responsible in the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department and the medical staff of the Sacramento County Jail for not taking care of the medical issue for the inmate.
The defendant, Mark Fischmann, reported that he did not receive adequate medical attention despite his constant complaints about “massive” headaches to the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, which runs the two county jails .
Assistant Public Defender Addie Young, Fischmann’s attorney, asked the court to examine claims about
Fischmann’s medical conditions in the jail, noting, “I don’t believe he’s been seen by an optometrist to address his eyeglass headaches issue so I am asking for that [problem], that the court [see] that we meet on the afternoon of Sept. 11.”
Judge Savage recalled getting this specific case presented to him in court last week, and said he was shocked to see it once again with no known improvements, adding, “I ordered the Sheriff’s Department to at least check and see what the condition of his eye wear is and are you telling me no one has contacted him at all?”
“I Zoomed with him two days ago and no one had seen him,” said Public Defender Young, “so if Mr. Fischmann can give us the update on the last two days, that would be helpful.”
“No, no one has seen me at all,” Fischmann replied.
This prompted the judge to call the bailiff, Naveen Singh, over to the front of the court.
The judge took the time to talk about the events that occurred the previous week, detailing the order he gave the Sheriff’s Department to see Fischmann about his eye problem.
“I at least wanted somebody to come and talk to him about it. Apparently he’s having pretty severe problems with headaches or collateral issues because he needs a new pair of glasses,” said Judge Savage. “I ordered the Sheriff’s Department to do that. Now they’re telling me no one has done that.”
Judge Savage decided that a hearing should be held to find out the reasons behind this untended issue and asked Bailiff Singh to call the sergeant of the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department to get her “attention.”
“Get her on the phone up to whatever floor he’s on, and get somebody to come see him, or somebody is going to be very unhappy standing in front of me explaining why they haven’t taken care of this,” Judge Savage told the bailiff.
At that moment, Fischmann spoke up to the court and clarified that the source of the neglect is coming from the medical staffing themselves, specifically noting a “Dr. Moore,” who works for the Sacramento County Jail.
Fischmann told the court, “The deputies are doing everything they can. It’s the medical staff here. This has been going on for a couple years. These same glasses are almost six years old. The prescription I mean, not the glasses themselves. I just got massive headaches, I can’t put up with it here, I’m sorry.”
In disbelief, Judge Savage questioned again if the medical staff had been refusing to see the defendant, Fischmann.
Fischmann told the court that for the past six months, since the pandemic started, he and many inmates have not been allowed in and out of medical centers because of their emphasis on caring for coronavirus patients.
But the judge already made up his mind and continued to speak on confronting those responsible for this problem, charging, “Well, somebody with an MD behind their name or somebody with credentials is going to have to explain that to me because a lot of people are getting medical attention and you know, and that shouldn’t be an issue.”
The judge told the defense that he would be happy to set a hearing.
The public defender jumped in and said she would ask for correctional health to be brought to this new hearing to respond to what was going on. She offered, after the court hearing, to conduct research on who to specifically contact and look further into the issue.
The judge wanted to get this issue resolved immediately and proposed to take care of it that day. He confirmed the bailiff was going to call the jail sergeant and asked if the defense wanted to do further proceedings on the matter this Monday, just to get an update on his medical status.
“Would that OK, Naveen?” asked Judge Savage.
The bailiff answered, “Yes, I’ll give a call to the floor deputies and see if I can speak to their supervisor.”
After all that, Fischmann pleaded not guilty before the court to his charges.
The public defender told her client that she understood his frustration to move things along, but reiterated to the court that the 60-day time waiver may be not enough time to resolve the issues of the case that she needs to handle, noting, “I just want to be perfectly clear his case comprises of several dangerous boxes. I am the fourth attorney on it but there are issues that I will not be able to handle in 60 days. It would be my intention probably on those dates to move for good cause so just to make that record clear.”
The judge acknowledged that Fischmann entered a not guilty plea and set his jury trial for Oct. 22, at 8:30 in the morning in Dept. 9.
And, regarding jail medical and the defendant’s glasses, he set a new hearing for Sept. 1 at 1:30 p.m. in Dept. 62.
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