By Stacie Guevara
SACRAMENTO, CA –Joseph Baird here Thursday in Sacramento County Superior Court was sentenced to 16 months in prison, after negotiating the terms of a car chase order and counts in different counties with Judge Patrick Marlette and Assistant Public Defender Guy Danilowitz.
Baird was also eligible for probation, but Marlette decided not to grant probation because of Baird’s criminal record. Baird was ordered to pay a $300 restitution fine, a $30 court facility fee and a $40 court instruction fee.
On July 13, law enforcement saw that Baird’s car had a warrant out of Monterey for evading police. He was also found with firearms. On that day, police spotted Baird and pursued him, starting a car chase. He fled and started driving into oncoming traffic. Police eventually caught him by using a spike strip to stop his vehicle.
When Baird walked into court, he first wanted to discuss his prior warrants, and as PD Danilowitz started explaining things to him, the defendant repeatedly interrupted him, making their words unintelligible.
Danilowitz started speaking to Judge Marlette before Baird interrupted him.
“I want to set a Marsden motion in court right now,” Baird said. A Marsden motion is when a defendant can fire a court-appointed attorney and communicate directly with a judge.
Judge Marlette, processing the information, said, “So, you want some information about your case.”
As he said this, Baird looked rather annoyed, prompting a reaction from Judge Marlette.
“Watch it. Can you give Mr. Danilowitz 10 minutes, so we can answer your questions? The guy knows his stuff. Can you give him a minute to show you that he knows his stuff?” Judge Marlette said.
Baird responded, “Yeah, well, he is just so persistent, saying we’re either going to set the date or take a trial. I have a couple of questions…”
Judge Marlette interrupted, “Listen to me. I know your stress behind this. I know you got a lot going on here. You need to have someone who’s going to be looking out for you. I can tell you right now, if you want to Marsden motion, I’ll have one.”
Judge Marlette continued, “If you tell me that you want him relieved because of what you just told me, I would not relieve him. His job is to represent you competently, according to the Constitution.
“So, what you need to do is take a breath and let him explain to you what you got going in this county and in the other county. Now if you can do that, I think that’s going to be to your benefit. But if you want to Marsden motion, I will…”
Baird interrupted again, to which Judge Marlette said, “If I end up relieving Mr. Danilowitz, you’re still going to be stressed, you’re still going to be going off and your other lawyer’s not going to be any help to you either. So, I’m just telling you, you just need to take a breath.”
Baird then said he wanted to “take the deal” of the 16-month sentence that he and Danilowitz had spoken about prior to that day, but wanted more insight about his warrants in Monterey County.
Baird said, “If I take this deal, am I going to be sentenced? Am I going to have to deal with those…”
Judge Marlette interrupted him again. The three of them went back and forth, discussing different options, and Baird made it clear that he wanted to accept the deal right then and there, being sentenced on that day.
As the discussion continued, Baird asked, “Is it true that I can only receive a third of the midterm on the other aggravating charges that I have out of Monterey County?”
Judge Marlette replied, confirming that was true, and said if he gave him a low term, then Baird could be given a high term in Monterey County.
Baird replied, “I don’t think that Monterey’s going to give me enough leeway as you guys [the Sacramento courts] are.”
They discussed it a bit more and it was up to Baird, who said, “I guess I’ll take the deal (and get this done today).”
Judge Marlette responded by saying he didn’t have to take the deal—he could go to trial on it.
Baird responded, “But do I have a good chance at trial? I haven’t…”
Judge Marlette interrupted him, frustrated, “Hey, you know better than that. What’s the matter? You know, I have no idea. The guy who has any ideas (Danilowitz), is standing right in front of you.”
He then got interrupted by Danilowitz, explaining to Baird that the two of them had talked about this earlier, but Baird “walked out of our conversation.”
As the discussion continued to get heated, Danilowitz and Baird discussed what continuance dates would look like. When Danilowitz said the next date would be Sept. 30, Baird let out a soft, yet audible, “Oh, my god,” and simply accepted the deal of serving 16 months.