By Julian Verdon
WOODLAND – The judge and deputy district attorney were puzzled here in Yolo County Superior Court Friday, and did not know why the defendant was not transported for his preliminary hearing from Placer County Jail, where a big COVID-19 outbreak is reported.
Judge Peter Williams said he did not know the reason for Eric Huff’s absence from court. Deputy District Attorney Robin Johnson also said she did not know, and did not receive an explanation as to why he could not be transported from Placer County Jail.
“I think there was an order that I or some judge signed to produce [Huff] and have Placer County Jail bring him here. But there doesn’t seem to be any information as to why that didn’t happen,” said Judge Williams, who asked DDA Johnson to follow up on the matter.
According to DDA Johnson, “I know at one point during one of these instances where we were trying to get him and were unable to from Placer was because there was a COVID-19 outbreak and they were unable to transport him.”
DDA Johnson then told the court her office would look into the matter, but they do not have any information as to why Placer County Jail could not bring Huff on August 28.
The judge also confirmed that he received a letter from Huff earlier on July 13, stating he could not arrive from Placer. “He had been waiting to get picked up, but it seems because of COVID-19 that they are not transporting him, so Huff is letting me know why he is not here.” However, this was prior to the current situation and did not explain why he could not show up in August.
Huff’s issue comes amid reports of severe outbreaks of COVID-19 among California jails. According to news reports from FOX40, over a dozen cases of the virus infected both inmates and one of the correctional officers in June.
According to Rowena Shaddox at FOX40, one of the inmates at Placer she spoke with told her that the jail staff just started wearing masks, then they went into lockdown, and then the staff began wearing hazmat suits. The inmate also said they did not initially know why they were going into lockdown.
Judge Williams decided to drop the case from the calendar, and the court will deal with the issue at a later time.
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