Sacramento DDA Insists on Jail Time Now for Defendant Despite Potential for Early COVID Release

By Kelly Moran

SACRAMENTO–– There’s “hard time,” and then there is what many inmates here are getting during the pandemic: “COVID time.”

Deputy District Attorney Mai Trieu was adamant about sticking to her plea deal Tuesday morning in Sacramento County Superior Court, even though the court suggested the two months more in jail she wanted now for a defendant could turn out to be zero because the jail’s COVID-19 posture is to release people with less than 90 days left to serve.

Trieu stood in for DDA Kendra Havlick at defendant Curtis Ferreira’s scheduled preliminary hearing. The deal offered Ferreira 364 days in county jail with two years of formal searchable probation, along with a stay away order and restitution to be paid.

The deal presented also allows Fereirra’s second charge to be dismissed with a Harvey waiver, meaning the charge can be considered in sentencing and thus it will only count toward the amount of restitution to be paid.

Ferreira’s defense attorney, Assistant Public Defender Joshua Kurtz, asked if his client could be released and then go back to serve his time in a few months.

“Mr. Ferreira has been in [custody] for about four months, so he has two more months to do on the deal that’s being offered by the DA,” said Kurtz. “My hope was because of the COVID situation, that the court would allow him to be released.”

Kurtz mentioned that Ferreira would be living with his parents while he waited to serve his time in the summer.

Despite Kurtz’s appeal to stave off his client’s jail time for the time being, Judge Geoffrey Goodmen explained that because the prosecution’s offer has already been submitted, he has no power to change the offer unless the defendant pleads no contest to both counts of residential burglary instead of pleading to one felony count that the deal requires of Ferreira.

Judge Goodmen did indicate that the deal may not go the way Trieu wants it to, though, as the jail might release Ferreira anyway because of the ongoing pandemic.

“My understanding, and I’m not sure, is the jail is releasing people that have less than 90 days to serve, and they’re giving them full credit for that time served,” Goodmen said, “so the DA may actually be in a better position allowing him to be released today and apply for work project so he actually does something for that additional time.

“But it’s not my job to get in the middle of plea bargains,” Goodmen confessed.

“Miss Trieu help me out here,” he continued, “I mean it seems to me you might actually be getting a more punitive sentence if I allow him to be released and apply to do some sort of home detention or work project, than if I just impose the full time because they may take him out the back door and give him credit for time he never does.”

Trieu admitted that she doesn’t know what the jail is doing in terms of releasing those with shorter sentences, but that the “intention was to dismiss [the second felony charge] with a Harvey waiver in that the defendant would serve all of the time in custody.”

“In light of the fact that you don’t even know that he’s going to be doing the time,” said Goodmen, “you’re willing to take the risk that you’re insisting on time that he never serves, and rather than making sure that he owes some time and he can do it on a work project… it just seems like you’re getting a more potentially punitive sentence if you agree to that.

“Have you guys factored into your offers what the jail is doing?” continued Goodmen, “that’s what just is amazing to me, that we’re just operating on this set of assumptions, even though that’s not reality anymore. So that’s why I don’t understand why you’re insisting on that.

“I would still require [jail time],” Goodmen added, “but I would, just given the COVID situation and the defense request, allow him to be released and turn himself in some time during the summer to complete the balance and the time.”

Ultimately, DDA Tieu did not budge on her stance for the defendant’s plea deal, and, although Kurtz called the argument over the deal “absurd,” his client will accept the deal to go immediately to jail for now.

If Herreira does not end up being released from the jail, Kurtz plans to follow up with DDA Havlick to discuss things further about his client being let out and then returning to finish his time in July.

Kelly Moran is currently a senior at Santa Clara University, originally from Connecticut. She is majoring in English, with a focus on British Literature and Professional Writing, and is also minoring in Journalism.


 

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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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