Judge Rejects Defendant’s Intent to Plead Guilty – Rules He Should be ‘Evaluated’

By Mia Machado

SACRAMENTO- A defendant accused Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette of running his court “like a circus” when the accused’s request to plead guilty was disallowed Friday here.

Court definitely took an unexpected turn on the morning of October 1 when defendant Neftali Baca requested to speak with Assistant Public Defender Guy Danilowitz at the beginning of Baca’s hearing.

Defendant Baca, who is facing a total of eight felony charges, including robbery, false imprisonment and assault, informed attorney Danilowitz of his plans to plead guilty, without prior private consultation.

Following an extensive disagreement between the defendant and Judge Marlette, Baca’s request to plead guilty was denied and criminal proceedings were halted for a psychological evaluation.

The revelation of Baca’s plans prompted a stern warning from attorney Danilowitz, who explained the inappropriate nature of not consulting with him in private, before the hearing. When it became clear that Danilowitz would not abide by his wishes for a guilty plea, Baca abandoned the conversation.

Addressing Judge Marlette, Baca said, “Your honor, we got a problem here, he’s doing the same thing as my last attorney, and all I wanted to do was plead guilty today, that’s it.”

Judge Marlette assured Baca that it is in all parties’ interest to keep the case moving forward, but that this cannot occur until attorney Danilowitz is confident Baca is capable of making independent decisions, which requires a private conversation.

Baca objected to Judge Marlette’s logic, explaining that he had already discussed his plans with his former attorney, and that “there’s nothing that’s gonna change if I sit down and talk to him or not.”

Judge Marlette’s repeated he could not allow a guilty plea without Danilowitz’s consent, and was countered by a question of the defense attorney’s qualifications, as “he’s not a psych, he’s just a lawyer.”

Judge Marlette emphasized that unless Baca conceded to a private conversation, the only available alternative would be to set a trial to determine whether he is competent or not.

“You won’t be able to take another step on this case for another, like four months” Judge Marlette warned.

“Let’s just have a trial on that then, let’s do the four months,” Baca responded without hesitation.

Before moving forward with a competency trial, Judge Marlette asked if defense attorney Danilowitz had any last remarks.

Danilowitz reasoned that if Baca’s case came to a competency trial, all three Baca cases—which had yet to be addressed in court—should be considered together.

Danilowitz informed Judge Marlette of his intent to “express doubt,” or to have the defendant psychologically evaluated, for his felony charges of assault on a custodial officer and possession of a weapon by a prisoner.

Judge Marlette agreed to Danilowitz’s plan, and suspended criminal proceedings for Baca’s other cases, ruling that there is a need for a psychological evaluation.

The court will reconvene on November 19 to evaluate the findings of the psychological evaluation.

To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9

Support our work – to become a sustaining at $5 – $10- $25 per month hit the link:

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.

Related posts

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for