By Danae Snell
COVID-19 closed the doors to nearly everything from salons, to stores, to restaurants and so much more—this caused millions of individuals to change and adapt to a new normal.
But while the pandemic has placed a giant pause button on millions of lives, the court system has managed to press on because of the latest technology and the ability to process cases without ever leaving the house.
Some court officials have participated in cases from the comfort of their own home and the public is able to watch these cases without having to stand in line or wait in traffic.
The process was not easy, but the court system and The Vanguard began to adapt to this new environment, monitoring cases throughout Yolo County and Sacramento County, among other locales, between the months of May and June.
The month of May began with an article written by The Vanguard founder, editor, and executive director, David Greenwald. The story was quite unusual, involving a man who “was arrested for allegedly stealing a COVID-19 test sample from a Davis hospital.”
The defendant, Shaun Moore, was “charged with two felony counts and one misdemeanor, which are attempted possession of a restricted biological agent, second-degree burglary and petty theft by false pretenses.”
Although “Judge David Rosenberg suspected there were mental health issues at play,” he put the defendant on the street with supervision instead of giving him needed resources.
Another unusual case that occurred in May was written by Vanguard Court Watch Intern Julietta Bisharyan. On May 18, 2020, “a man was sentenced to four years after admitting to his therapist and parole officer that he downloaded over 600 explicit photos and videos of minors.”
The defendant, “Franklin James Roberts, was found guilty of felony possession of obscene materials of individuals under 18 years old.”
According to multiple mental health professionals, defendant Roberts suffered from “severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, for which he takes medication. In addition, Roberts reportedly has a low level of sophistication, putting him in the bottom 35 percentile of intelligence.”
Judge Rosenberg did not grant the defendant any leniency for this nor did he take into consideration that he technically voluntarily confessed to his crimes. Judge Rosenberg sentenced him to four years.
The month of May registered yet another most unusual case. An article written by Vanguard Court Watch Intern Lea Barrios on May 25, 2020, also describes a case which does not follow the norm.
The case involved a man who allegedly stalked “a woman he met at a yard sale by showing up at her house several times, occasionally with a burrito and flowers and once with an erection—but the woman was most concerned when he threatened to burn down the street where she lived, and was yelling her name outside her home.”
The witness informed the court that in September of 2019, Defendant Larry Tillman “came to her home wearing gym shorts that showed he had an erection. He said from her yard, when she was in her doorway, ‘Don’t you see how excited you make me?’ He left a burrito near her front door with a paper he wrote his phone number on.”
The case concluded after “Judge Paul Richardson ruled that there was enough evidence to support the charges of stalking and trespassing, but not for the charge of threats to commit a crime resulting in death or great bodily injury.”
The uniqueness of these cases did not stop once May concluded. June also holds some interesting stories.
An article written by Vanguard Court Watch Intern Barrios on June 2, 2020 involved defendant Brian Warner being “charged with possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of a firearm, possession of narcotic paraphernalia and driving under the influence, among his 10 charges, after he fell asleep in an In-N-Out drive-through.”
It became apparent that the defendant had violated multiple laws after the responding officers realized his “license was suspended, the registration of the car had expired, and he had previously been convicted of a felony, making it illegal for him to possess a firearm.”
Some cases throughout the year have the ability to crack some humor; however, some serve as a reminder of how scary the world is sometimes.
An article written by Vanguard Court Watch Intern Bisharyan on June 20, 2020 serves as a prime example of that.
The case involved a man being “charged with human trafficking a minor, among other women in his prostitution ring.”
“The defendant, Jasyn Iez Bigasan Carter, was held to answer on 18 counts, including the pimping and pandering of a minor and adult, corporal injury, assault by force, dissuading a witness and inflicting great bodily injury during human trafficking.”
These horrific crimes led to the defendant’s bail being set at $1.075 million.
Thousands of cases are processed every day online and these are only a few of the dozens monitored daily by The Vanguard.
Danae Snell is a senior at Sacramento State majoring in Criminal Justice and is from Salinas, California.
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