By Anika Khubchandani
WOODLAND, CA – A man here in Yolo County Superior Court who has been in custody in jail and state hospital facilities for more than 20 months was released pretrial Tuesday after his public defender orchestrated his care, and also hammered the county probation department for failing to do its job.
Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke convinced Judge David Rosenberg to release his client, James Patrick Vorhees, immediately on his own recognizance (OR). Vorhees has been in custody in jail and state hospital facilities for over 20 months.
The matter of release was discussed previously but “put over a couple weeks ago for receipt of a supervised OR (own recognizance) report from probation,” explained Gocke. “I gave them that much time because I had a bunch of information for them to confirm.”
However, the probation office apparently failed to confirm any of this information despite the immense efforts taken by Gocke and the defendant’s family, said PD Gocke.
Two weeks ago “probation was given the phone numbers of the family members to give a call, not to come back to court to regurgitate a stale police report,” asserted Gocke.
Judge Rosenberg interrupted Gocke to say that “regurgitate is a strong word,” but Gocke responded that it is “an accurate word this time around.”
A lot of effort and consideration was “put into this residence by his family and by our office and for nobody from probation to follow up is unacceptable,” stresses Gocke.
Sam Perri from the probation office was “unaware of what information was made available” to his department and apologized to Gocke.
Gocke also confirmed with Vorhees’ mother and grandmother that he “has a residence here in Woodland to be released to and to reside in.” Since Vorhees has prescribed medication he must take, Gocke “arranged for him to seamlessly go from the jail into his house for medication.
“I think the equitable thing to do at this stage would be to release [the defendant] on supervised OR, make it clear that he must take his medications and follow through with therapeutic and psychiatric appointments, and engage in any other mental health services,” suggested Gocke.
Gocke also noted Vorhees is “uniquely situated” because of his family support and his family’s ability to provide a local residence for the defendant to live in. In any other case, the court would be “talking about waiting for months to find” a defendant board and care.
The public defender then shared surveillance footage of the alleged assault and the infliction of great bodily injury incident that occurred Nov. 25, 2019, with Judge Rosenberg and Deputy District Attorney Preston Schaub.
Gocke maintains that there is a “colorable claim” that the defendant acted out of “pure self-defense if not mutual combat in terms of the action that took the other person to the ground,” giving another reason for Vorhees to be released until trial.
Judge Rosenberg shared that “it’s the court’s inclination” to order the release of Vorhees on supervised OR.
“Based on the video that we just observed and Mr. Gocke’s representation of Mr. Vorhees’ living environment, as long as he is medication compliant and he is following all directives,” Schaub said he agrees that releasing the defendant “would be appropriate at this point.”
Vorhees graciously thanked the court and declared “I want to get better, your Honor.”