Judge Gives Defendant the Benefit of the Doubt: Matters for Serna Motion Continued

By Zoey Hou

FRESNO, CA – Judge William Terrence in the Fresno County Superior Court Dept. 1 Wednesday gave the benefit of doubt to a man on his two pending charges, allowing him to leave court not in custody and with no bail necessary.

Jorge Luis Reyes has been held in custody for Driving Under Influence (DUI) and for his Failure to Appear (FTA) in court back on Sept. 27, 2019.

Public defender David Toll explained, “I did speak with Reyes about the reason for the FTA and he indicated that he thought the cases were in Kings County so he went to that courthouse and was told there was nothing on the calendar for those site dates.”

Additionally, the PD said “[Reyes’] prior DUI was from 2011 and the alleged alcohol content was .09. [He] has no bad driving other than a California rolling stop for a street light that was acting as a stop sign.”

Toll attempted to not only clear up misunderstandings for his defendant’s convictions, but also to share Reyes’ desire for a better life.

He claimed that Reyes “is employed, has been working at his current job for six years, has a four-week-old baby, and has stable housing.” Thus, Toll asked Judge Terrence if he could grant his client to be released by own recognizance.

Before Terrence granted the motion, he took a pause to review the documents for this case.

He asked the PD: “Mr. Toll, are you aware that your client failed to appear in Department 97B on Sept. 27, 2019, after signing a citation to appear at that date?”

Toll admitted that he was aware of this FTA and the reason he did not make an arraignment today was due to specific instruction by his office that argued “anytime there is more than a year delay, we need full determination that there is a basis for Serna.”

A Serna motion, also known as a speedy trial motion, is a motion to dismiss a misdemeanor or felony charge if a defendant is denied the right to a speedy trial. The PD said that he believed there was a potential argument for a Serna motion but admitted that it may be a weak case.

Judge Terrence and Toll came to an agreement that the Court would grant the OR release and that Reyes would be granted the release on his own recognizance, with no bail required, on the condition that he will not operate a vehicle with any alcohol consumption.

The judge reminded Reyes that if he could comply with court orders, he will be released on each of these two counts, and matters for the Serna motion will resume on Sept. 29.

About The Author

Zoey Hou is a bay area native pursuing English and International Relations at UC Davis. She strongly advocates for criminal justice transparency and institutional change.

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