By Alexander Jimenez
OAKLAND – Judge Yolanda Northridge here in Alameda County Superior Court this week was brutally honest, noting little confidence in defendant Grady Letherman’s desire to adhere to the requirements of an alcohol recovery program.
The judge pointed out that Letherman had a negative progress report, indicating his continued drinking.
Letherman was instructed to wear an alcohol-monitoring bracelet, but he failed to upload his alcohol detection results during an 11-day period. Additionally, the monitor revealed alcohol detection each day from March 4 to March 10.
Judge Northridge also listed a confirmed alcohol detection on March 11 and March 14, both of which were days in which Letherman was warned that any violations would result in termination from the program.
Despite her expressed praise of the program, this pattern of violations led Judge Northridge to cast doubt that Letherman would follow through with the program.
“Unfortunately, because I also indicated on that day that I have great respect for options and what they do, it appears as though Mr. Letherman is not going to adhere to the requirements at all and there’s no reason to keep him in,” said the judge.
Following the judge’s displeasure with Letherman, Defense Attorney Karl S. Lindemann recounted a conversation he had with Letterman’s mother and program manager in which some of the shortcomings of the treatment he has been offered through the program were revealed.
It appeared that Letherman was only receiving one individual therapy session and one group meeting a month.
After this conversation, the director-counselor gave some suggestions which Lindemann brought up during the hearing: “She suggested, based on these alcohol detections, that he increases to four group meetings per week either through options or through a more generalized AA setting.”
The defense attorney added the ankle monitor may have misread the information and suggested using a breathalyzer to verify his alcohol content. He noted this because of a conversation he had with Letterman’s mother in which she explained that the defendant had indeed been making progress.
Lindemann explained, “She actually told me something that I found interesting and that is for the first time in many, many years she had been able to have regular conversations with Mr. Letherman, that is to say, that he has not been so intoxicated on a regular basis that she has been able to actually cultivate some sort of relationship with him over the last couple of weeks.”
He also added that the defendant’s mother does not allow alcohol in the house.
But, Judge Northridge repeated her previous statement, claiming that Letherman has made little to no progress. She made it clear that she thought Letherman did not care about his progress, citing that he had failed to upload his ankle monitoring bracelet results and continued to drink.
Judge Northridge also ultimately expressed her displeasure with the program.
“So, from my perspective, this has been a total disaster because your client does not really want to move forward with it and that is not something I take lightly because I know how difficult it is to move forward when you’re an alcoholic,” said the judge.
Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Ross recommended that the defendant be taken into custody and, upon posting bail, be conditioned to be on the LCA monitoring program, with an alcohol monitor. The conditions of this plan also would include an increased level of therapy and an agreement to submit to chemical testing upon request.
The DA recommended $125,000 bail, and the defendant’s ability to post bail was taken into consideration.
Defense attorney Lindemann argued that his client’s long-term plan to recover from alcoholism would be stunted if he were placed in custody; instead, he argued that the defendant should receive treatment.
Judge Northridge repeated that the defendant lacks the desire to make a change. She ultimately ordered for him to be remanded and set bail at $25,000. If he posts bail, Letherman must attend AA meetings every day and submit proof that he has attended the program.
Alex Jimenez is a court watch reporter for The Vanguard at Berkeley. He is a senior Political Science major at UC Berkeley. He is from Pleasanton, CA.
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