Homeless Defendant Represents Self, Judge Postpones Payments for Few Months Only


By Kalani E. Gaines

WOODLAND – Christina Ramirez took the first deal here in Yolo County Superior Court Thursday—but it was only after the objections of her county public defender, who objected to not being provided a police report before the case was adjudicated.

So Ramirez, facing a shoplifting charge, represented herself and took the deal.

During the hearing, Ramirez indicated that she was homeless and penniless. In the end, Judge Renard Shepard, overseeing the hearing, was willing to postpone her payments for restitution in lieu of her conditions.

Ramirez was arrested for attempting to steal more than $200 worth of merchandise from the West Sacramento Walmart on October 8. She was stopped by a loss prevention officer as she tried to conceal her items in a bag and walk past points of sale.

Judge Shepard, overseeing the hearing, reviewed her other misdemeanors, including a violation of probation for a past DUI and a failure to appear last year in 2019.

Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Palumbo offered Ramirez a deal: plead to the petty theft charge, accept two years of probation, pay a restitution fine of $286, admit violation of probation for her DUI, and stay away from the West Sacramento Walmart until her probation is over. And serve jail time of 30 days.

Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira informed Ramirez “you don’t have to take that offer if you don’t want to.” But Ramirez stated that she did want to take the deal.

Sequeira quickly asked the judge to pause and stated, “Judge, I’m going to ask not to be appointed because I’m not in the business of pleading people without looking at a police report at an arraignment.”

The judge then allowed Ramirez to represent herself, acting in pro per, without an attorney.

Ramirez said, “This is something I made a big mistake by doing and I’m willing to admit my mistake and I just don’t want to take more of you guys’ time.”

Ramirez then pleaded no contest to the shoplifting charge, for which she was then sentenced to the plea deal she had accepted from Palumbo.

Judge Shepard advised Ramirez that her restitution payments could begin as early as December if she’d like and that they were to be $25 at minimum each month.

“As of now I’m homeless which is the only reason why I was stealing,” Ramirez explained to Judge Shepard. “I don’t know how I’m going to make any type of payment.”

Ramirez listed her potential plans for acquiring money in order to make the payments, stating that she has veteran benefits from her father’s recent death and that she has a mental disability, noting, “I have no address. I have nothing going on for myself, so for me to promise to make a payment, I wouldn’t be stealing if I had money like that.”

Palumbo took this into consideration and suggested “maybe the court can stay fines and fees for six months to get her on her feet.”

“All right, I’ll just stay for six months,” said Judge Shepard. “We’ll just put it off for six months.” Judge Shepard said that she was to have until April 2021.

Ramirez is still in custody, serving her 30 days in jail before being released on probation.

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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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