Defendant Gave Her Child Birthday Card – Judge Ignores, Sets Case for Court Diversion


By Derrick Pal

WOODLAND — A defendant in technical violation of a protection order—she gave her child a birthday card—raised some controversy in a hearing here in Yolo County Superior Court this week, but it eventually led the judge to conclude that court diversion is the best solution.

Defendant Alison Mathews is charged with a violation of a protection order for allegedly giving a birthday card to her child, whom she was not supposed to contact.

Deputy Public Defender Daniel Hutchinson started the hearing, stating, “Well, your Honor, when we last conferenced, this was a case where the defense was seeking a dismissal. The People were not willing to do that, at least at the last court date. The court commented that this may be a court diversion case, and so that’s where we stand right now, so I’m not sure what the People’s position is.”

“The court is still open to the court diversion possibility, so we should continue this,” stated Judge David Rosenberg.

Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor replied, “I’m fine with continuing it as long as Mr. Hutchinson is. I would indicate that it would be considered a domestic violence case so I don’t know that the court can use the court diversion, I think that’s one of the few exceptions where the court cannot do it.”

“It is, it is an exception if it falls in that area,” responded Judge Rosenberg.

DPD Hutchinson jumped in, stating that “it is not a domestic violence charge…This is a violation where she is alleged to have contacted her son to give him a birthday present within the 100 yards stay away order. She now has joint custody with her other son, her son was with her this week.

“So this is a divorce case which, and I can give the court more information, where opposition is, this is kind of being used as leverage in a divorce case where there are a lot of issues at stake,” explained DPD Hutchinson.

“We’re prepared to accept diversion now, your Honor. I’m not sure if the People, I know the complaining witness probably doesn’t want a dismissal because this is a divorce case, the next hearing is not until August…” argued DPD Hutchinson.

“I do not feel that this case is barred for court diversion, and it kind of cries out for court diversion,” said Judge Rosenberg.

“I’m prepared to do it if you want to submit the terms. Ms. Mathews is going to have to agree to it. If the two of you want to submit proposed terms, I’ll consider them.”

DPD Hutchinson explained that “there is no restitution, like I said, this is simply contacting her son in violation of an order that no longer exists.”

Judge Rosenberg stated, “So any prohibition to contact at this point is irrelevant. I’m prepared to put Ms. Mathews, if she’s willing to accept it, on one-year court diversion. At the end of the year, the case will be dismissed. What do we want Ms. Mathews to accomplish in that one year?”

“I would say comply with any family laws that are in existence,” stated DDA Zambor, adding, “Typically, when we look at diversion courses, when we’re asking for diversion, we ask for some sort of program. I don’t know if the court is open to having her do something through Advent or CFI or something like that.”

“Yeah, I’m not really (for that) because the alleged conduct here was providing a birthday card to her child when she wasn’t supposed to do that,” replied Judge Rosenberg.

“I don’t know what course would help in that situation. So, I’m prepared, if she’s willing, to accept it, and willing to waive time, one-year court diversion. Obey all laws and comply with family court orders. Are you willing to do that Ms. Mathews?”

“Absolutely, your Honor,” responded defendant Mathews.

DPD Hutchinson clarified, “So yes, Ms. Mathews, we’re not going to set a trial, we’re going to continue this case out one year. You just comply with the family law orders and obey all laws, then the case will be dismissed at the end of the year.”

“Ok, absolutely. Yes, I agree,” defendant Mathews stated.

A further hearing is set in a year, April 11, 2022, at 9 a.m. in Dept. 14.

Derrick Pal is a fourth-year student at Sacramento State majoring in Criminal Justice and pursuing a minor in Sociology. He is from Elk Grove, California.

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