The Vanguard Week in Review: Court Watch (June 21 to June 25, 2021)

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The Vanguard is an online news group that provides coverage of criminal justice reform, and courts throughout California and across the nation. The Davis Vanguard began with Davis and Yolo County news about local government and policy issues affecting the city, schools, and county in 2006. Since then, the Davis Vanguard has become “THE VANGUARD” and expanded its coverage to many other counties throughout California. The Vanguard continues to grow, with the recent addition of many new interns seeing many collaborative shifts, stories, and other coverage for this week’s court appearances.

Compiled by Christopher Datu

Monday June 21, 2021

Sacramento County Superior Court

Reporters Mia Machado, Allison Hodge, and Alex Jimenez: Several online hearings were attended in both Sacramento County Superior Court Dept. 61 and Fresno County Superior Court Dept. 10. Some hearings, though not considered lengthy, were conspicuous. In Sacramento Dept. 61 Judge Geoffrey Goodman accepted a no contest plea to a felony violation second degree burglary. It was alleged that defendant Kenneth Gist unlawfully entered a building with intent to commit larceny where surveillance shows Gist kicking through building doors and attempting to break through multiple locked doors. As a part of the judges plea acceptance Gist will serve 90 days in jail but may get up to three years if probation is violated. Additionally the judge ordered restitution payments to each of the victims and was ordered to stay away from the location.

Reporters Ankita Khubchandani and Karisa Cortez: Multiple arrangements were heard in Sacramento County Superior Court Dept. 61. In one case, from 2019, the defendant was charged for driving under the influence, running a red light, and injuring someone else by crashing into them. The victim was rushed to the hospital with multiple broken bones, a fractured sternum, and fractured ribs. The defense attorney put in a plea, along with the district attorney. Judge Michael Sweet took a moment before accepting on behalf of the victim, pointing to the victim impact statement that covered a great deal of bodily harm. The DA and victim were undecided on an appropriate sentence and wanted to avoid trial. After hearing this the judge accepted the plea and they agreed to come back on July 23 for judgement and sentencing.

Reporters Stephanie Boulos, Stacie Guevara, Serene Chang, and John Arceno: June 21 in Court Watch, the group was assigned to Sacramento Dept. 9, in which they saw several requests for continuances. After that, in a case for defendant Sean Thompson, his newly assigned attorney, Curtis Howard, lied about having 977 authority. Judge Gweon reprimanded the attorney and cautioned against doing that again. Then a case regarding defendant Fionn Roberston was heard, in which he entered a plea agreement for being caught with a DUI in which alcohol, methamphetamine, and methadone were all found in his system. After switching to Sacramento Dept. 63, several more interesting cases were heard, one in which the judge sympathized with the defendant and took actions on her behalf to get the DA to help resolve the case and issue a stay-away order.

Yolo County Superior Court:

Reporters Luke Kyaw and Nina: Arraignment hearings were heard in Yolo Superior Court Dept. 1. In People v. Rosanna Marquis, Judge Tom Dyer gave defendant Rosanna Marquis “another shot” at showing up to court, supervised on her own recognizance after numerous past failures to appear. The defendant had committed a felony vehicle theft in November 2020 and she failed to appear for that arraignment. While the public defender asked for the defendant to be supervised on her own recognizance with a GPS monitor, the prosecution diverged, pointing to issues verifying the defendant’s living status. Judge Dyer acknowledged the prior failures to appear, however, due to the defendant not having a prior felony conviction as well as providing a specific address, Judge Dyer chose to allow the defendant another chance to appear in court under supervised own recognizance.

Reporter Christopher Datu: June 21, two preliminary hearings were attended in the Yolo County Superior Court between Dept. 8 and 14. In Dept. 8, a preliminary hearing was held but not finished for defendant John Tomasello who was charged with two felonies with enhancements accompanied by six misdemeanors. Tomasello had reportedly stalked and harassed the victim, who was the sole witness for the partial preliminary hearing, between the months of January 2021 to April 2021. Tomasello sent a stream of daily letters the victim claims to have noticed mid-January and continued through April. Beyond the letters, the victim recalled Tomasello had stood outside her door frequently, opened a window and yelled at her mother, and pushed a chair up to their window to play loud music and dance outside. The court then took a recess and never returned to finish the preliminary hearing.

Reporters Koda Slingluff, Aakanksha Patel, and Benjamin Porter: We observed the afternoon session of Yolo Superior Court’s Dept. 11 where they heard part of a preliminary hearing regarding a series of break-ins in Davis, CA. With Judge Timothy Fall presiding, the court heard several witnesses testify regarding the defendant, Joseph Arthur Lopez, and his three potential felony charges relating to burglary and property damage.

Tuesday June 22, 2021

Sacramento County Superior Court:

Reporter Ganga Nair: Continuances were heard within Dept. 9 of the Sacramento Superior Court as well as Dept. 13 of the Yolo County Superior Court, because of the overflow of cases given to defense attorneys. There were a couple of arraignments that took place in Sacramento, one of which dealt with a defendant, Michele Miller, who was charged with a misdemeanor of assault with a deadly weapon for hitting the victim with a hand sanitizer stand, and then threatening to punch them by making a fist. Judge Helena R. Gweon concluded that due to the defendant’s previous charges, and her history of mental illness, Miller would be ordered to go to 12 anger management classes. In addition, the defendant entered a plea in which they would have to be compliant with any medication or treatment received.

Reporter Sam Zou: Online hearings were attended in both Sacramento County Superior Court Dept. 63 and Fresno County Superior Court Dept. 13. In Sacramento Dept. 63, Judge Patrick Marlette accepted pleas for defendants charged with DUIs. Eric Alston was charged with DUI and entered a plea that netted him probation and the opportunity to work for a program for jail time credit. When pulled over on Aug. 4, Alston refused a roadside test and later was found with a suspended license and driving with his blood alcohol exceeding .15 percent. Hearing Marlette discuss possible custody, Alston became panicked and desperate, interrupting and asking if he was “going to jail.” Unable to get an answer from Marlette, the defendant engaged in a seemingly intense and heated discussion with public defender Anguiano. Marlette eventually explained to Alston that he would not be held in custody but would receive an ankle monitor.

Reporters Koda Slingluff, Michelle Luu, Peter Eibert, and Anya Chen: Multiple cases were observed in Sacramento’s Dept. 63. Judge Patrick Marlette kept a lively banter going with the attorneys in the room. When one attorney accidentally called him “Marlette” instead of “your honor,” Marlette teased that Marlette was his illegitimate son’s name, and that the attorney should refer to him as “Joe… Joe Honor” instead. The judge also commented on Defense Attorney Chet Templeton’s orange shirt, saying that it was an unusual color for court, but the courts should have more color. The most prominent case of the day regarded Abel Ruelas, whose attorney argued that seeing a marijuana grinder was not sufficient for a police officer to search Ruelas’ car. However, his attorney’s motion to dismiss this information was denied. Ruelas will return to court on July 13.

Reporters Annette Wong-Toi, Natalia Claburn, Priana Aquino, and Tatiana Gasca: On Tuesday, June 22 from 8:30 a.m., to 11:30 a.m., we visited Sacramento and Fresno Superior County Courts and viewed a variety of hearings In Sacramento Dept. 84 and Fresno Dept. 12, there were six different defendants charged with DUI’s. There were four people charged with reckless driving – some of those overlapping with the DUI charges. Finally, there were at least two counts of driving with a suspended or revoked license. One case that stood out to our group was a hearing with charges of domestic abuse from Ricky Kirkpatrick towards his female partner and their daughter. Kirkpatrick pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 3 years of formal probation, given a restraining order which prevented him from contacting or being within 100 feet of either victim, and 52 weeks of a mandatory domestic violence treatment program.

Reporter Sydney Kaplan: In Sacramento Superior Court Dept. 28 Tuesday, June 22. The Defendant, Jacey Pasquetti, was accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. The defendant was found on the side of the road with a popped tire. There was also an open container of alcohol found in Pasquetti’s car. Deputy District Attorney Michael Brady focused his arguments on the basis of Pasquetti’s field sobriety tests, objective signs and symptoms of alcohol consumption, and blood alcohol content that was found to be .13 percent. Defense Attorney Larenda Delaini argued that Pasquetti was sober while she was driving, however, once her tire popped her anxiety prompted her to drink from the open container of alcohol. Both parties agree Pasquetti was drunk by the time she reached the station at 3:18 am on November 22, 2020 and blew a .13 percent.

Yolo County Superior Court:

Reporter Jacqueline Rodriguez: Tuesday, June 22, I signed into Sac Dept. 61 alone at 9:16 a.m. After switching to Yolo Dept. 14, around 11 a.m., defendant Nicolas Lopez was called up to the stand, represented by Yolo County public defender Hutchinson; the DDA assigned to the case was Shaub. Judge David Rosenberg mentioned that he had read, and reviewed the recommendation from the probation officer. Shaub said he believed that the recommendations were appropriate. The defense requested 90 days, with the option of an alternative program. The defense also requested Rosenberg to strike the $2,000 fine on account of Lopez’s expected child. The probation dept. said they stand by the 180 days and Shaub mentioned that although he didn’t want to go the “probation route”, he was open to it, preferring for him to be a “responsible member of society.” Rosenberg struck down the $2,000 fine, and also agreed to strike the 180 days lowering it to a 90 day jail-time order with eligibility for an alternative program.

Fresno County Superior Court:

Reporter Alexander Pleitez: Tuesday, June 22nd, saw Judge Terrence take on an avalanche of arraignments and criminal cases in which a multitude of defendants did not show up and in court Bench Warrants were issued in Fresno Superior Court Dept. 1. The only somewhat interesting case centered around Rudy Ramos who’s charged with assault of a confidential victim. Apparently, the victim was getting decorations from the defendant in the form of rocks. The defendant had stated that the victim could only take 15 rocks maximum. When the victim had taken more than 15, the defendant got angry and front kicked her in the lower abdomen and left her at a canal in which they were meeting.

Reporter Beth Miller: An arraignment hearing was attended in Fresno Superior Court’s Dept. 12. Primarily, the Dept. focused on the case the People v Randy Garcia. In this case, Garcia was charged with a misdemeanor charge of driving while under the influence of drugs, specifically methamphetamines, after hitting a tree near his home. Garcia’s defense counsel, Jake Leitner-Zieff, issued a motion for dismissal for a speedy trial violation, which was denied. At that time, Leitner-Zieff noted his belief that there was prejudice in the court as to Garcia’s inability to remember details of the event. After the motion was denied, Garcia changed his plea to no-contest. Garcia has two prior drug-related offenses.

Wednesday June 23, 2021

Sacramento County Superior Court:

Reporters Monica Han and Sam Zou: On Wednesday, June 23, arraignments and preliminary hearings were heard in Dept. 35 of the Sacramento Superior Court. There was a preliminary hearing against defendant Angel Salas regarding a stolen 1996 Honda Civic Sedan, silver. On January 15, 2021, Salas was pulled over by officers for not wearing a seatbelt. Salas did not have a valid driver license or any other forms of identity validation; later investigation confirmed that the vehicle had been stolen. The victim of this case, however, was not the registered owner of the car, which created much conflict regarding vehicle damage, worth, and factual evidence further provided by the officers. DA Le made multiple objections against the provided factual evidence, and emphasized the significance in getting a statement to pass through hearsay. Judge George Acero ultimately took the case under submission, and waivered the preliminary hearing, as Le had requested.

Reporters Ankita Khubchandani and Angela Patel: Numerous cases were heard in Sacramento Dept.’s 61 and 62. Most of the cases were continuances, assigning public defenders, and setting or revising bail. In Sacramento 61, Judge Geoffrey A. Goodman presided over the court. In one case, co-defendants Ezekiel Moore and Mondalayo Lane were in conflict over the deal offered by DDA Mai Trieu. Since this was a co-defendant case, the plea deal offered was only applicable if both defendants accepted. Defendant Lane, who was present in court, voiced that he would like to accept the plea deal, but was not able to due to his co-defendant. Both Judge Goodman and Defense Attorney Jessica Graves noted their frustration at the lack of resolution, as this case has been pending trial for two years. The hearing ended with Judge Goodman scheduling a pre-trial conference.

Reporters Stephanie Boulos, Neha Malhi, and Angie Madrid: Multiple preliminary hearings and continuances were heard across Sacramento Superior Court. In Sacramento Dept. 61, frustration arose in the courtroom when defendant, Mark Madsen, asked to speak since he was confused about his case. He tried to speak up when he was interrupted by Judge Geoffrey Goodman. Madsen demonstrated his irritation, adding, “I can’t talk!” Both Public Defender, Karri Iyama, and Judge Goodman began to feel frustrated which pushed the case to be heard at another date.

Yolo County Superior Court:

Reporters Alexander Jimenez, Natasha Pawar, and Natalia Claburn: Dept. 8 of the Yolo County Superior Court was attended from around 9 a.m. to 12 pm. Judge Stephan Mock worked through multiple cases, pertaining to issues of vehicle code violations, probation violations of previously convicted felons, and some pre-trial conferences as well. One of the most noteworthy cases the group saw – which is set to have a pre-trial conference in Aug. of 2021 – charged the defendant with two misdemeanors and a felony. The defendant was charged with the abuse and endangerment of a child, violation of probation, two stalking charges alongside harassment over the phone, unauthorized entry of a building, and violating a protective order requested by the stalking victim. The group also observed a case where the audio was cut off for several minutes leaving the defendant confused. It turns out that Judge Mock had talked to the counsel privately and the matter will be put over for six weeks.

Reporters Anya Chen, Fiona Davis, and Koda Slingluff: The trial for Michael Isaiah Hernandez continued, with the victim and several other witnesses coming to testify. Among numerous other charges, the defendant was being tried for kidnapping, sexual battery, assault, and attempted rape. The victim spoke to the courtroom today, explaining to Judge Timothy Fall what her experience had been at the cemetery that day.

Reporter Peter Eibert: Multiple arraignment and preliminary hearings were attended in Yolo County Superior Court. In Yolo Dept. 1, an arraignment was heard for Alan Pugliese, who was accused of domestic violence against his girlfriend. He pleaded not guilty. The defense and prosecution had conflicting claims about the recency of the defendant’s prior convictions. The defendant also scored high on the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA), indicating a high likelihood of future domestic violence; however, Pugliese’s attorney contended that this score was “incongruous” with the defendant’s lack of prior domestic violence. Judge David W. Reed ultimately released the defendant on his own recognizance, but forbade contact between the defendant and the victim. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 8.

Reporter Aakanksha Patel and Alexander Ramirez: Around 1:30 p.m. on June 23, the shift began in Yolo Dept. 14. The stream started shortly after their shift began and it opened with a vandalism case. The next case that Aakanksha and Alexander saw was the case that they chose to write an article on. The case was about a war veteran who is stricken with PTSD from his time in Iraq. He is arguing that while in jail, the staff took him off of his medication and neglected him, leading to him saying they subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment. Medical staff present let the court know that some of the medicine prescribed to the defendant is only for emergencies because of their extreme side effects that may increase his anxiety to higher levels. Although there were some instances of medical staff reacting towards the defendant’s calls for help for hours on end, the judge still found that the medical staff’s treatment of the defendant was sufficient and not “cruel and unusual punishment.” He is to continue to serve his time until his release in October of this year.

Reporter Sydney Kaplan: Yolo 11 was attended the morning. There was a jury trial in which the defendant, Michael Hernandez, was being tried on 10 violent counts including battery and attempted rape (of a minor). Opening statements and one witness were heard. Hernandez and the victim had known one another for around four years and had dated off and on. After Hernandez went to a mental hospital, the two broke up. On November 27, 2015, the victim attempted to help Hernandez find a job at the library. The two ended up in a cemetery where the victim was beaten and assaulted. Deputy District Attorney, Martha Wais, was attempting to prove Hernandez guilty on all charges. Defense Attorney Jesse Ortiz was attempting to prove Hernandez was guilty of battery but innocent on all sexual misconduct charges.

Fresno County Superior Court:

Reporter John Arceno: I went into the Fresno Court, Dept. 1, after the stream for Sac 40 ended. In Dept. 1 of Fresno Court, a defendant appeared in front of Judge Terrence alongside his lawyer, Joseph Parker, where they made a plea of no contest. The charges were not made clear. However, Parker vaguely claimed that his client has to complete a “driving class” to which Terrence responded that the specification of the aforementioned “driving class” has legal significance and thus Parker needs to be aware of what exactly his client needs to fulfill the consequences of his charge. It was later established that the defendant needs to complete a Driving Violation Class through the DA Diversion Program. The defendant is set to reappear on Dec. 13 where the court will allow to withdraw the no contest plea which will let him appeal not guilty plea.

Reporter Karisa Cortez: I listened to multiple arraignments in Fresno Superior Court Dept. 10. The first case was one where the defense attorney was trying to get Judge Zepeda to allow the defendant to be released so they could say goodbye to a family member who is on life support. The Judge asked Attorney Melissa Baloian to come back tomorrow with a note from a doctor for proof of the situation. In another case, the victim in the case made a victim impact statement to the court. This was a domestic violence case where the pregnant victim stated the defendant has not made her feel fearful and has attended alcohol anonymous as well as anger management classes at her request. Judge Zepeda issued a no contest order on behalf of the victim and informed the defense attorney that they would no longer continue to put off the matter after this hearing as the case has been pending sentencing since October 2019.

San Francisco County Superior Court:

Reporters Alex Tuchman and Ned Meiners: We went to Dept. 27 for the 995 motions to dismiss. In the first case, the judge denied the motion in an alleged car theft. He reasoned that regardless of whether or not the defendant was working with others, he was seen on surveillance and in the stolen vehicle; this was enough to proceed with trial. The judge denied the motion in the second case involving two co-defendants because there are two reasonable inferences from the evidence, one supporting the state’s theory and the other supporting the defense’s.

Thursday June 24, 2021

Sacramento County Superior Court:

Reporter Annette Wong-Toi: On Thursday, June 24, a preliminary hearing was heard in Dept. 28 of Sacramento Superior Court. The defendant, Tywain Smith, pleaded not guilty on three felony counts where he threatened the victim with a firearm in their home. Two officers, Deputy Sheriff Jaycob Garrison and Deputy Adam Taylor were called as witnesses over Zoom. The victim claimed that they had been in an argument, during which she denied sexual advances from Smith and accused him of cheating on her. In their bedroom, Smith allegedly withdrew the firearm from a safe, pointed it at her face, saying “I’m going to kill you.” Upon hearing the arrival of the police at their door, he placed it in the safe to answer the door. A 9mm firearm, two receipts for its purchase with Smith’s name on it, and a pack of Top Ramen instant noodles were found inside the safe. Judge Raoul Thornburne found sufficient evidence, and set trial for Aug. 9, 2021.

Reporter Sydney Kaplan: In Sacramento Dept. 14, Public Defender Chet Templeton raised an issue with Judge David Rosenberg that his client, Joseph Gonzalez, was being denied the right to meet with counsel. According to Templeton, the prison’s no-contact requirements consist of thick glass between the counsel and defendant, broken phones, and glass too dirty to show documents through it. Templeton asks the judge to order the prison to allow contact visits with his client. Judge Rosenberg says he needs to hear all sides but if Templeton writes an order to show cause, Rosenberg will sign it.

Reporter Jacqueline Rodriguez: I signed into Sacramento Dept. 23 where I heard two cases being called by Judge Laurie Earl. The first case I heard was a failure to appear where Earl was going to issue a bench warrant for the defendant with a $100,000 bond. The defense requested he get a bit more time to get in touch with his client, and given that there was no prior FTA, Earl granted the request. The second case I heard involved Eric B. Murphy, who was before the court for a preliminary hearing, charged with one felony and one misdemeanor charge. The defense filed a motion to suppress, however given the testimony of the arresting police officer that was present under oath, Earl didn’t grant the MOT/SUP. Murphy entered a not-guilty plea, and the defense requested a few weeks before setting a trial date. Earl agreed, as long as Murphy waived time for his trial which he had no problem doing. By July 8, Murphy is to set a trial date within 60 days.

Reporters Alexander Pleitez and Anna Zheng: We saw many arraignments and, more interestingly, how many public defenders are being met with case overload. In one instance, the defendant, Morton, was not represented by his defense counsel in court today. In fact, he had already gone through multiple attorneys who were unable to represent him due to the overload in their casework. His current attorney, Larry Smith, faced the same problem as he was unable to attend today’s hearing. Morton said that “I’ve been trying to call him for the last couple weeks, but I’ve gotten no return calls or anything.” In addition, we witnessed how many individuals in the system feel misrepresented by their public defender. This was exemplified when defendant Herman Tillman was raising money for a private attorney because he did not feel comfortable with public defender Alan Donato. In fact, he described himself as an outsider “on the other side of the fence” exemplifying how he feels disconnected from the court system, and from that he was “unable to defend [himself]”

Yolo County Superior Court:

Reporter Ganga Nair: There were multiple continuances, arraignments, as well as a trial were heard in Yolo county Superior Court Depts. 11 and 7, along with Alameda Dept. 2. One of the cases heard in Yolo County Superior court Dept. 7, in which defendant Matthew Bryant’s mental health records were subpoenaed by the prosecution. When discussing the reasons for this subpoena, the defendant interrupted his defense attorney, claiming that the witness “is a liar.” Bryant was quickly warned by Judge David W. Reed not to interrupt his defense attorney. The matter was rescheduled to a later date.

Reporters Natasha Pawar, Stacie Guevara, and Christopher Datu: Several arraignments, requests for continuances, case dismissals, and short DUI hearings were attended between Yolo Superior Court Dept. 1 and Sacramento Superior Court Dept. 84. In Dept. 1 of the Yolo Superior Court, the People moved to dismiss their case against Ray Lynn Klock. Of the five misdemeanors she was charged with, 2 were dropped in the interest of Justice and the other three were received harm reduction that only warranted Klock to attend an outside program. Judge Tom M. Dyer also called in any warrants Klock may have had against her.

Reporters Dario McCarty and Michelle Luu: We were present for Derek Calvin’s preliminary hearing. In Yolo 14, on top of what was written in the article, DA Wilson was attempting to find out the victim and the defendant’s financial situation as well as where and when the defendant was diagnosed with schizophrenia. These attempts were shut down by the defense attorney, but only the last one was stopped by Judge David Rosenberg for being too personal or unrelated to the hearing. In addition, there is also the point of concern that the witness, the defendant’s wife, was not comfortable with the justice system. This was mentioned in the article, along with a statement that the defendant has mental health issues. Despite the family’s hesitancy regarding the justice system, the judge assured that the system could give Calvin mental health services.

Fresno County Superior Court:

Reporters Savannah Dewberry, Hetva Joshi, and Jeramie Gutierrez: We caught the tail end of a hearing where the defendant’s sentencing was reduced from felony arson to “reckless starting of a fire,” also a felony. They finished their shift hearing a witness testimony of an altercation due to the use of racial slurs. Said racial slurs, coming from someone whom the witness thought unfit to say such slurs, dialed tensions higher as all members involved took the conversation outside to fight.

Alameda County Superior Court:

Reporter Lois Yoo: On June 24, 2021, Judge Jacob Blea heard John Michael Denova’s case in Dept. 702 of Alameda. Denova was charged with possession of a firearm, which he claimed to use in self-defense. Based on difficulties to retrieve the firearm, his attorney claimed that Denova was admitting to having and using a gun that there is no evidence for. The prosecutor objected because Denova admitted to firing the gun seven times. Denova should not have had access to a firearm because he was a convicted felon and had two domestic violence charges. In the end, Judge Blea denied Denova a release on his own recognizance and set his bail at $20,000. Denova pled not guilty and his case is continued until the next hearing.

Reporter Allison Hodge: Judge Jacob Blea began an initial hearing of Toral Maurice George in Dept. 702 of Alameda County Superior Court. George allegedly made “strange” verbal threats to the driver of an AC transit bus that constituted a charge of robbery. While the defense argued that George’s actions should not lead to any holding time, Judge Blea rejected the consideration of release. Judge Blea cited over eleven failures to appear before court for pretrial, as well as the nature of the offense, as reasons to deny George’s release, and set bail at $50,000. George is entering a plea of not guilty, and his case will continue on July 22.

Friday June 25, 2021

Sacramento County Superior Court:

Reporter Monica Han: Monica heard arraignments and preliminary hearings in Dept. 10 of the Sacramento Superior Court. There was a prosecutorial discretion during the preliminary hearing against defendant Andrea Peraza-Dominguez over a DUI offense. The defendant had driven into a parking garage and crashed into a pillar after having a drink at a local bar. Rowland, her defense attorney, asked for a misdemeanor diversion because the statute does (implicitly) allow for a DUI inversion. Also, the consequence of a DUI conviction could potentially have the defendant deported and prevent her from gaining citizenship. DDA Pitcher, however, argued that the legislature did not intend to make DUI diversions eligible, and that exclusion already exists in the vehicle section 23640. Judge Sattel addressed that the defendant had ultimately driven with three times the legal limit of alcohol content, and almost crashed into a bypassers. Given these facts, the Judge Sattel was not moved to pass the discretion over the DDA’s objection.

Yolo County Superior Court:

Reporters Luke Kyaw: Friday, June 25th, I heard multiple arraignment hearings in Yolo Superior Court Dept. 1. Defendant Michelle Dalby was charged with possessing five firearms (three of which are loaded) as well as plenty of ammunition and had an arraignment hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. She had posted a $10,000 bail bond and called the court earlier saying she was stuck in traffic. However, as she still wasn’t in court at 3:30 p.m., the DDA asked to increase the bail bond and issue a bench warrant. As the judge was about to decide on the case, the defendant luckily arrived at court and the arraignment hearing proceeded.

Reporters Julietta Bisharyan and Allison Hodge: We heard a preliminary hearing in Yolo County Superior Court. In Dept. 12, Judge Stephen L. Mock presided over defendant Brandon Joseph Aguilera’s felony and misdemeanor case. The defendant was charged for possession of a firearm, threatening crime with intent to terrorize, and drawing/exhibiting a firearm in a threatening manner. Several officers gave their testimony, including Officer Ryan Eads, Officer Shayne Souza, and Officer Richard Wright. According to the testimony, on June 7, 2021, at around 5:46 p.m., the defendant entered a 7/11 store with a firearm tucked in his waistband and allegedly threatened to shoot the store clerk. Defense Attorney Rob Gorman argued that the store clerk lied in his testimony and gave two separate accounts to two officers regarding the events that transpired. Judge Mock scheduled an arraignment for information on July 19.

Fresno County Superior Court:

Reporters Dario McCarty and Benjamin Porter: We observed an arraignment hearing for one Olen Maxwell Jr. who stood accused of one count of felony criminal threats, one count of misdemeanor battery, and one count of misdemeanor malicious damage to a victim. Maxwell was appointed Public Defender Earl Horner, who petitioned for the court to offer the defendant pre-trial release and / or to set bail at zero dollars because of Maxwell’s financial situation. However, the District Attorney argued against this, citing Maxwell’s “violent history” and emphasizing that he had three prior strikes on his record. Upon considering this, Judge Arlan L. Harrel denied him release, instead opting to set Maxwell to be evaluated by pretrial services and did not give him a bail. Maxwell’s preliminary hearing has been set to Aug. 6.

Christopher Datu is a 4th year Politcial Science major at UC Davis. He is originally from Corona, California.


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