Releases without Bail Make Court Like Holidays – And Then ‘Dad’ Signs onto Zoom

By Alexander Ramirez

WOODLAND, CA – Maybe it was a little bit like the holidays in July this week when Yolo County Superior Court Judge Samuel McAdam generously released a series of defendants on supervised own recognizance with no bail required.

A notable case involved petty theft and a littering offense with multiple failures to appear, but the part that surprised McAdam was the criminal protective order for a skateboard shop in Woodland.

“Oh goodness. Well, that’s great. I didn’t know Woodland had their own shop. That’s awesome. That’ll be a term of supervised OR here, given the charges,” he said.

A codefendant of the previous case was facing a count of vandalism and possession of methamphetamine. After the court assigned a public defender to the defendant, the court was made aware of the SOR report.

It was made clear that SOR is not recommended because of the defendant’s transient status, probation’s lack of ability to contact the defendant, and the defendant’s lack of truthfulness regarding alcohol and drug usage. The defendant also has two failures to appear warrants in 2019 and 2021 and a couple of instances of dropping out of diversion programs like Steps to Success.

After a long period of thinking in silence for McAdam and asking the opinion of the probation officer present in the court, McAdam agreed with both sides of the argument for whether or not the defendant should be released on supervised own recognizance.

Nevertheless, McAdam approved an SOR release on the grounds of a daily check-in, ankle monitor, a housing referral, and no alcohol or drugs among search and seizure.

When asked if the ankle monitor is at the court’s discretion, “No. That’s ordered. I want to see the best effort to do that for an indigent and see how it goes and you know, the courts learn from that. One of the arguments we hear sometimes is that they don’t get charged or they get taken off, but if we don’t try it, we don’t know. We don’t have those experiences,” he said.

These examples are not to say that McAdam did nothing but release defendants on SOR.

A defendant was facing seven different counts that involved a felony and other misdemeanors but she denied the charges emphatically. The defendant also has a minor daughter she needs to take care of and a partner with neuropathy, but because of the lack of a program with a mental health assessment and why they failed the Steps to Success program, as well as the degree by which the victim was hurt, the court didn’t find SOR suitable.

However, bail was decreased to $10,000.

On a lighter note, by the end of the court calendar, an unknown participant was present on the court Zoom meeting. For clarification, the public views court matters on a public YouTube stream, whereas the Zoom stream is usually reserved for members of the court or court participants.

When McAdam questioned the name and whether or not they had matters in court today, after the unknown Zoom participant had trouble unmuting themselves, they said they were in court to support their son.

“I’m just watching my son in court earlier,” the man said.

“Oh okay. It’s great to have you, Dad. So what you can do is you can also, you don’t need to come into Zoom. You can just go to YouTube, so when you click on our website, you can go to live stream proceedings, and that way you’re not on the Zoom. We don’t look at your head or anything like that,” said the judge.

“Okay, your Honor. Thanks for the tip,” said “Dad.”

“Okay. Hopefully, your son is doing well and he’ll make it to the next court appearance and I’m glad he has Dad’s support, okay?” the judge noted.

“Perfect. Thank you, sir,” answered “Dad.”

The court finished in this unorthodox manner.

For the record, Judge McAdam is originally assigned to Department 10 of Yolo County where he covers civil, probate, and LPA cases.

About The Author

Alexander Ramirez is a third-year Political Science major at the University of California, Davis. He hopes to hone his writing skills in preparation for the inevitable time of graduation.

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