By Alana Bleimann
FRESNO – Last week the Vanguard reported an unidentified attorney came to court without a mask – a violation of Sacramento County Superior Court rules – and not one official, from the courtroom deputy to the judge, said anything, despite the spike in nationwide cases, including California.
And, Monday, in Fresno County Superior Court, defendant Joseph Gian Cucchiara admitted to testing positive for COVID-19 in the past but still experiencing symptoms while sitting across from his attorney discussing his case.
Coronavirus has not been getting any better for Californians, with the current increasing confirmed case count at nearly one million, according to covid.19.ca.gov.
For Fresno Superior Court, official statement about COVID-19 precautions in late May 2020, noted: “To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Court has taken a number precautions, such as increased cleaning and sanitation in all buildings, screening employees by asking a series of questions at the beginning and end of each shift, requiring facial coverings for employees entering the buildings, and requiring social distancing in all work and meeting areas.”
Judge Francine Zepeda of Fresno Dept. 10, heard more than 40 cases this morning, including defendant “COVID” Cucchiara’s, which was to set a preliminary hearing date, now scheduled for January of next
Arrested and booked on July 1 of this year, Cucchiara was charged with inflicting corporal injury on spouse/cohabitant, kidnapping, and deterring an officer by threat/violence.
Although the details of these charges were not discussed in-depth, the Deputy District Attorney, Autumn Goodrich, claimed a plea offer had been sent to the defendant’s attorney, Mark Broughton.
“I’m assuming your client has seen the offer,” Goodrich stated firmly.
This offer was quickly declined by Cucchiara despite the fact that neither he or his attorney claimed to have seen it.
In order to reduce the spread of the virus, Cucchiara was present out of custody with his attorney, in his personal office. Both men were wearing masks and were separated on both ends of the office table.
While discussing the matter further, Goodrich claimed that the defendant was supposed to be wearing a GPS monitor, which was ordered well before the hearing date.
Cucchiara admitted to never physically going to get the GPS monitor due to his positive COVID-19 test results.
The date of when Cucchiara was tested is unknown, but the defendant said, “I contacted my probation officer….my test came back positive.”
Most notably, he stated, “I still have wavering symptoms,” in an emotional outburst.
This sudden statement that Broughton’s client openly admitted to still feeling COVID-19 symptoms while sitting six feet from him didn’t seem to the attorney or the court.
Judge Zepeda and Goodrich seemed unfazed as well and continued on with the matter.
All morning, Zepeda has been lenient with prosecuting different cases, putting the interest of the defendant to the forefront regardless of the crime committed.
By the end of the conversation, she found Cucchiara’s reasoning for not getting the GPS monitor valid and ended up not enforcing the monitor for the future.
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