By Lauren Smith
SACRAMENTO – Despite being mandated to remain in jail for a mandatory 14-day quarantine, defendant Charles Wallace appeared in person in Sacramento County Superior Court this week, to the surprise of both Assistant Public Defender Kimberly Miller and Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Maroun.
“I was under the impression that Mr. Wallace would be in medical isolation and not be transported to court,” said DDA Maroun. “That information was confirmed with the sheriff’s department. In light of that I called off my witnesses from the police department because I was told that the case was continued.”
That didn’t set at all well with Judge Steve White, who reprimanded counsel before agreeing to continue the case.
“Do you understand that you are not to release your witnesses without the authority of the court if the matter is set for proceeding? You don’t just unilaterally decide to cut witnesses loose as long as the matter is still on schedule,” Judge White said.
DDA Maroun quickly apologized and stated that she believed it “was going to be a waste of everybody’s time to just have the officers being paid overtime to just sit in their Police Department and wait for the matter to be called.”
She also emphasized that both she and APD Miller “were repeatedly assured by the sheriff’s department that the defendant would not be transported in light of the fact that he was in medical isolation.”
While Judge White said he understood “the rationale,” he requested that counsel “contact the court.
“I don’t want you to do that independently because you are getting bad information. It is very very expensive to the court to set matters and then just kick them down the road, particularly during the course of this pandemic. We could have been hearing another preliminary hearing during this time that’s stacked up behind yours,” he continued.
APD Miller quickly jumped in and claimed that she “confirmed with two sergeants at the jail about Mr. Wallace’s quarantine. I was told by both of them that it was a hard 14 days, no exception, because he was arrested on a new case…both of them told me there is no way he will be off of his 14-day quarantine early. He cannot be released.”
She said she “relayed that information to master calendar” and DDA Maroun.
“I am very surprised that Mr. Wallace is here considering he has only been in custody for nine days now” Miller maintained. “I understand the court’s frustration but at the same time I spoke to two sergeants at the jail…I am not sure how I could have gotten better information because I spoke to the sergeants.”
“I just suggested the solution,” Judge White replied. “Come to the court and the court will find out. There’s a lot of misinformation out there and it would help if, when a matter is set before a particular department, that the parties contact the department and get direction from the department about whether the matter is going or not going.
“Not, the judge continued, “to just assume unilaterally or ex parte that the matter is not going and cut witnesses loose. I don’t think that’s asking too much. I don’t think that’s a burden.”
Eventually, Judge White agreed to reschedule the preliminary hearing for the defendant to Tuesday Jan. 21 at 8:30 a.m. in Dept. 9.
Lauren Smith is a fourth year student at UC Davis, double majoring in Political Science and Psychology. She is from San Diego, California.
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: