COVID-19 Aiding Incarcerated? Delays Not One, but Two Sentencing Dates

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By Carlin Ross

SACRAMENTO – Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James McFetridge last Friday was prepared to sentence both Alexander Smith and Jabari Shabazz in their co-defendant case.

But COVID-19 had other plans.

Before sentencing could begin, Smith asked his attorney, David Grow, about “pushing off [his] sentencing date,” noting, “My mom has COVID.”

Grow admitted he had been out of the office the past few months for surgery, stating “I feel badly I haven’t been able to see” the defendant. Initially, when Grow asked his client how much time he would need before sentencing, Smith responded, “How much can I get?”

However, once the judge suggested a date in February, Smith quickly proclaimed his mother wouldn’t be home until the end of that month.

Deputy District Attorney Silvia La Rosa objected to the sentencing delay, seeing no reason to add to their already extensive calendar of court dates.

But because Smith had already pleaded, and had outstanding family issues to deal with, the judge allowed the felony evasion and probation violation case to continue to March 5 at 8:30 a.m. in Dept. 62.

Shabazz, Smith’s co-defendant, was next to be sentenced for a probation violation. Both have extensive criminal records, including robbery, receiving stolen property, evading a peace officer and resisting arrest.

After his attorney, David Garland, detailed Shabazz’ offer for an eight-year sentence with the judge, Shabazz chimed in.

“I heard my co-defendant got his sentence pushed back to March 5, ” Shabazz began.

The judge stated Smith’s continuance was both COVID- and attorney-related; “I don’t have any basis to continue your case,” he said to Shabazz.

“I have family shit to deal with too,” Shabazz responded. “You were trying not to keep our cases separate before, but now you aren’t.”

This time, the DDA agreed with Shabazz, and the judge allowed his sentence to be continued on March 5, alongside Smith’s.

Carlin Ross is a senior at Santa Clara University who double majors in English and Philosophy. She’s originally from Bozeman, Montana.


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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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