On Zoom, Sleeping Defendant Gets Issued a Bench Warrant and Significant Increase in Bond Amount


By Lovepreet Dhinsa 

SACRAMENTO, CA – A defendant here apparently fell asleep in front of his Zoom livestream, and when his attorney and the court couldn’t wake him, he had a $150,000 bench warrant issued for his arrest.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Steven Gevercer issued the bench warrant for Tobias Menefree, who was seen asleep on his Zoom camera in the courtroom. He  had been moved from the virtual waiting room into the virtual courtroom, and he appeared to be sound asleep on the couch.

But, technically, the defendant was present, albeit asleep, and his Zoom camera was on.

Judge Gevercer suggested that defense counsel contact Menefree, but after multiple phone calls, they couldn’t raise the defendant.

Still, the judge waited approximately three minutes before he decided that he would consider this a non-appearance, even though the defendant had been present. In some capacity.

The defendant had two cases against him, and the judge continued to call the second matter in the same manner.

Judge Gevercer issued a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest, issuing a $50,000 bond amount for the first case and a $75,000 amount for the second, totaling $125,000.

Prosecution attorney Mark Ott claimed that his own “gang detector” had continuously monitored the defendant, who had allegedly posted gang videos on social media, up until five days ago.

Based on his prior criminal conduct, prosecution Ott claimed that “net banging is a very serious thing, it gets people shot.”

Because of this and the defendant’s social media pressure, the prosecution perceived this as a significant threat that would be more than the $125,000 that was already set, and asked for another $100,000 to be added.

Defense argued that the court wait until the next hearing until it came to a decision, as the defendant was not “present.” Although everyone could see him sleeping on Zoom.

Judge Gevercer concluded that the $75,000 amount be changed to $100,000, and he would consider adding the rest of the $100,000 in the next hearing.

The accumulated bond amount was now increased to $150,000—all while the defendant was sleeping on his couch.

Lovepreet Dhinsa is a junior undergraduate student at the University of San Francisco, pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Politics with a minor in Legal Studies. She has a passion for criminal defense law, and strives to go to law school to fight for indigent clients. As such, she is also involved in her university’s mock trial program and student government.

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