By Stephanie Boulos
WOODLAND, CA – Surprisingly, Yolo County Superior Court Dept. 8 Judge Peter Williams denied defendant Christina Melendez’s motion to dismiss her case this week—the misdemeanor for playing country music on a summer day last year.
What was supposed to be a pretrial turned into being a motion to dismiss when Deputy Public Defender Katy Rogers requested the case be tossed in the public interest.
Judge Williams asked the PD, “I have to be honest with you Ms. Rogers, what, other than it’s a small matter, what are the grounds for just dismissing it?”
The public defender responded by citing Penal Code section 1385, the furtherance of justice: “I think the fact that she has already spent time in jail for an infraction that the maximum fine is $250 dollars, that she would be entitled to credit towards that time.”
Rogers continued on by saying that at this point having a court trial for this infraction would just be excessive and cited another penal code that requires the balancing of the rights of the defendant and the interest of the people.
When the public defender began to cite the pointless cost of the court trial, the judge immediately cut her off and questioned how the cost of the court trial for this case would be different than how every other infraction is treated in court.
The public defender continued on to explain the facts of the case, and how the defendant has undergone severe detriment as a result of this case, specifically in her mental health.
“It’s property management and this client going back and forth with each other with loud music…my client is not playing music with the intent to disturb or annoy, she’s playing it to avoid getting harassed by property management,” said public defender Rogers.
Continuing, Rogers said, “At one point in the People’s motion, he talks about how she took her speakers and put them in front of her neighbor’s door, but actually that’s what happened to my client. Nowhere in the police report does it say that happened, it’s something that I explained to (the DDA).”
PD Rogers then explained how the defendant called the police department first, and complained about the harassment way before this incident happened.
“The fact is she didn’t actually violate anything, it is the middle of the day, she is playing music in her apartment,” said the PD, adding the police officer that arrived said the defendant would be cited if she turned her music back on again.
However, Rogers explained the defendant is allowed to have music on in her apartment because she is not breaking the law, which is why she turned it back on after the officer left.
The defendant even went so far as calling police dispatch to explain her conduct to the officer, and explain the previous harassment with her neighbors and how they are currently on her doorstep and she is uncomfortable.
“I just don’t see what benefit there is to the People to continue to prosecute this case when it is only a detriment to my client,” said Rogers.
The judge cut in to ask why the defendant denied pursuing this matter in Neighborhood Court, to which Rogers responded by explaining her client didn’t do anything wrong, and “she shouldn’t have to just do something just to get a case dismissed when she didn’t do anything wrong.”
Rogers explained again that her client was “playing country music on a summer afternoon in her own apartment, which I can understand can be controversial to some people… the issue is there is an ongoing conflict between her and other tenants.”
Rogers even went so far as to comment on the part of the People’s motion that cited the defendant’s reluctance to pursue this matter in Neighborhood Court, or admit her guilt, as a sign of her intent to re-offend, which Rogers finds to be “extremely offensive, frankly, she’s not admitting guilt because she didn’t do anything wrong.”
Rogers concluded by saying, “You shouldn’t be forcing people to go into diversion when they didn’t do anything wrong…I think it’s in everyone’s best interest to dismiss this.”
The district attorney explained that the People are pursuing this because the defendant isn’t “taking any responsibility by taking a diversion program…. So I am asking this be transferred to Dept. 2.”
Judge Williams ended the back and forth by denying this motion to dismiss, regardless of the district attorney saying “it’s not worth the community’s time to continue with this” and the public defender’s objection on the record that this case is transferred to a different department under assigned-for-all-purposes laws.
The commissioner in Dept. 2 will see to this case on Sept. 23 at 1:30 p.m. for a trial date, with public defender Rogers remaining as Melendez’s attorney, under special request by the public defender.