By Tiffany Devlin
WOODLAND – The victim of a sexual assault case offered a powerful and emotional statement to Judge David Rosenberg here in Yolo County Superior Court Wednesday after the judge ruled he had no jurisdiction to make changes to the case.
Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke, defense counsel for defendant Arturo Gomez-Marines, indicated that Gomez-Marines is currently in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. In the motion, Gocke asked Judge Rosenberg to reduce Gomez-Marines’ conviction.
“I would indicate that Mr. Gomez-Marines has been significantly impacted by the terrible decision that he made on June 10, 2016, that has profoundly impacted his life and (the victim)’s life,” Gocke claimed, and “he is very apologetic and regretful of the actions that he took on a night fueled by inebriation due to excessive consumption of alcohol and marijuana; a night that was completely out of character for him.”
Gomez-Marines was charged with sexual battery and sexual penetration of an unconscious person in 2016. Gocke noted the defendant has been in complete compliance with his terms and conditions of probation, is attending counseling, and maintaining steady employment since his conviction.
The conviction, however, is preventing him from being able to stay in the United States.
Judge Rosenberg said he was very sympathetic to Gomez-Marines’ situation after reading the motion and opposition. Subsequently, Judge Rosenberg believed that the Superior Court of Yolo County did not have jurisdiction to make changes to the case.
“My reading of the law indicates that once a case is transferred, the transferring court loses jurisdiction,” Judge Rosenberg explained. “All jurisdiction on the matter is in the new court.”
Gocke responded to this in reference to Penal Code § 1016.2 (h), noting that it states “it is the intent of the Legislature to codify Padilla v. Kentucky and related California case law and to encourage the growth of such case law in furtherance of justice and the findings and declarations of this section.”
“That section essentially encourages and empowers courts to take actions that will have the effect of modifying the individual’s ability to stay in this country lawfully,” Gocke explained.
“My point is that I believe that the court has the authority to do this,” said Gocke, adding, “Granting this relief simply gives him a chance to stay in the only country that he’s called home, and it doesn’t diminish the conduct that he pled to. No other individual that I am aware of gets re-incarcerated for six months when they’ve been in full compliance with the terms and conditions of their probation like Mr. Gomez-Marines.”
Gomez-Marines was brought to the United States when he was 15 years old. Gocke asserted the courts should be able to give liberal interpretation in dealing with matters that collaterally affect an individual, including deportation orders.
Judge Rosenberg responded, claiming that when the court has no jurisdiction, the Constitution prohibits the court from acting.
“Had the case not been transferred to Ventura, this court would have jurisdiction,” Judge Rosenberg began to explain, “but your motion is being brought into the wrong court. Whatever the merits of the motion, it should be brought before the court in Ventura. The statute is as clear as a bell; I have no jurisdiction, and accordingly I must deny your motion without prejudice.”
Deputy District Attorney Rachel Raymond spoke, claiming that she understood the court’s ruling. She stated that the victim was present, and wanted to give her the opportunity to speak.
“This is my third time that I stand here, advocating for my justice,” the victim began, “and each time I stand here and speak, I speak knowing that my platform has power. It has power to tell stories that go often untold.”
The victim grew emotional while directing her statements toward Judge Rosenberg.
“I’m going to go back to your ruling, back in 2018. You made your guilty sentence against the accused with evidence through my statement, through my DNA rape kit, and charged Arturo guilty for his sexual assault against me in the Yolo County Court because the incident occurred in the city of Davis, California. So, I implore you, your honor, to stay with your sentencing, to not make any changes, to not make any transfers.”
“We compromised, allowing him to face his probation in Ventura to accommodate his family, so that wouldn’t be a hardship for him and his family. What’s a bigger hardship? I was violated in bed, asleep, and assaulted by Arturo Gomez,” the victim exclaimed, still in tears.
“Your honor, I understand your laws and your policies. But allowing Arturo to be transferred to Ventura means that I have to undergo defending my story, defending my narrative, defending what happened to me. AGAIN. So yes, it’s difficult, it’s so hard. But just imagine what it would have been like if it happened to your daughter, your grand-daughter, your niece.
“My closing thoughts, your honor, is that changing the results, transferring my case symbolizes that we can change narratives for victims… Arturo is found rightfully guilty and should continue facing his consequences of his actions in this Yolo courthouse. Lastly, I will continue to advocate for my story, for my rights as a sexual assault survivor,” she said.
“Let me conclude this by saying the following. First of all, what happened to you was a terrible thing. The perpetrator was found guilty and was held responsible for his actions. I hope you find some healing, and that you can move on with that healing,” said Judge Rosenberg.
He then gave the victim clarification, stating that the case had already been transferred to Ventura County Superior Court in 2018 by Yolo County Judge Paul Richardson.
“What I have ruled today is that I have no jurisdiction to make any changes to the sentence, and so the motion to make changes has been denied,” Judge Rosenberg concluded.
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