By Sophia Barberini
SACRAMENTO, CA – In a couple of cases here Friday, it seemed the crimes were of desperation—stealing food to eat. Using a shower. And taking some bedding.
And Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Goodman figured it out.
He released defendants Bruce Adams and Edwin Hernandez on their own recognizance, sternly warning each of them they are “unlikely to be released” if they break the law again.
Defendant Adams is facing robbery charges after he, allegedly, left a Safeway with items he did not pay for, and was confronted by a customer that pepper sprayed him. After the police arrived, Adams threatened them with a knife, which was never recovered, and he was then arrested.
The defendant also has another open felony case and six open misdemeanor cases, and his bail was initially set at $50,000.
But Assistant Public Defender Brooks Parfitt filed a “Humphrey motion”—which requires release without bail or with bail that the accused can afford. And Parfitt argued, “He is not able to afford any bail at this time.”
Prior to Judge Goodman’s bail decision, PD Parfitt, acknowledging the defendant’s prior juvenile strike, outlined what happened during the defendant’s arrest, conceding that Adams was “a little noncompliant with the police.”
Despite this noncompliance, the defendant was “taken into custody on minimal incident,” stated Parfitt.
Understanding that this was a minor robbery, Judge Goodman inquired, “Can you speak to the fact that he has so many cases pending and a lot of failures to appear, that he continues to be released and commit more crimes?”
PD Parfitt argued that the defendant’s actions have largely been influenced by alcohol consumption, asserting that sobriety will stop the defendant from committing more crime.
“I think the big thing for Mr. Adams is alcohol… He has had the chance now being in custody for a couple months to dry out, to become sober… Perhaps regular check-ins with probation would adequately help Mr. Adams to remain sober and, thus, crime free,” suggested Parfitt.
PD Parfitt also highlighted the defendant’s inability to afford bail, stating, “He doesn’t have a dollar to his name.”
DDA Saron Tesfai, very much opposed to Adams being released on OR, highlighted that the defendant, during his arrest “made numerous threats to the officer,” telling the officer “numerous times that he was going to stab him.”
Tesfai also argued that, despite his not being tested for it, it is likely that the defendant was under the influence at the time, as “store employees described him as walking in, twitching… Everyone thought he was under the influence of drugs.”
Further, “He does have an open case where he was in possession of methamphetamines, so I think it is more than just alcohol,” added DDA Tesfai, as he highlighted the defendant’s other cases.
Judge Goodman, clearly unsure of his decision, expressed “I acknowledge that if you isolate each of the cases independently, it doesn’t suggest that necessarily he is a great safety risk, but when you look at them all together, this defendant seems to have no regard for the law.”
PD Parfitt, attempting to clarify Goodman’s decision, argued, “You’ll notice that all the crimes occurred over a six-month period… That speaks to Mr. Adam’s out-of-control alcohol consumption and occasional methamphetamine consumption.”
Judge Goodman skeptically declared, “It’s only because of the relatively low nature of the offenses, I mean they are serious, but it doesn’t sound like he has hurt anybody, I am going to release him on his own recognizance.”
Goodman warned the defendant, “You are on a very short leash. I was right on the cusp of allowing the release or detaining you, given your essential crime spree… So I can just tell you, if you don’t show up again, I can’t imagine, once you’re picked up, you’d be released.”
After this decision, Judge Goodman heard another “Humphrey” motion for defendant Hernandez.
Hernandez was arrested on burglary charges after he, allegedly, broke into a brewery and an inn where “he drinks beer and eats food… takes bedding, uses their showers, and takes some statues and an iPad.”
DDA Jordan Avery argued, “It is the People’s position that bail should remain as set, it is currently set, it is not at no bail, based on the fact that the People believe the defendant is a flight risk.”
Further, Avery argued, “He has six failures to appear… He is currently on five counts of probation… and it’s clear that being on probation and following conditions of probation has done nothing to prevent him from committing new crimes or showing up to court.”
While she admitted that “there was no violence in these charges,” DDA Avery argued that the defendant should not be released on his own recognizance because “there are no conditions that [she] think[s] would be able to convince him to come back to court, given his history.”
PD Parfitt, who also represented this defendant, refuted Avery’s argument, stating, “But, Mr. Hernandez disputes the charges against him, so to say his performance on probation is unsatisfactory because he has committed all these new offenses is kind of putting the cart before the horse.”
Judge Goodman quickly repudiated Parfitt’s argument, claiming “the fact that he has that many grants on probation indicates he has violated the law a lot of times.”
Despite this, “Given the nature of the cases,” declared Goodman, “I am going to grant pretrial release.”
Judge Goodman also warned Hernandez, stating that if he fails to comply with the conditions of his release, it is “unlikely that [he] would be released again until [he] resolves [his] cases.”
Sophia Barberini, from San Mateo, CA, is a fourth-year student at UC Berkeley. She is double majoring in Political Science and Legal Studies and hopes to pursue a career in law.
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