Judge Offers Last Chance for Health-Challenged Man to Enroll in Community Service Program

By Annette Wong-Toi

SACRAMENTO, CA — Shadeven Harper swears he’s had a series of health conditions—from COVID-19 threat to a bike accident—that’s kept him from signing up for, let alone completing, court-ordered community service.

The judge gave him one last chance Thursday here in Sacramento County Superior Court.

Defense attorney Carmen Butler notified the judge that the defendant had been unable to sign up for a program due to health concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus, as well as a shoulder injury that had been bothering him since May of this year.

Butler noted her client suffers from congestive heart failure and high blood pressure—two conditions that are more susceptible to COVID—and while he was riding his bike, Harper was cut off by a car and suffered from a shoulder separation.

After going to the emergency room, he was told by medical professionals to wear a brace, and was advised that there weren’t many treatment options besides just waiting for it to heal.

Following their instruction, he wore the brace provided to him, but his injury was still causing him pain. Despite visiting urgent care, he was told the same thing: “Just wear a brace.” The defense attorney said her client is now going to a chiropractor in hopes of improving his condition.

Knowing the details of his circumstances, Judge Philip Stranger asked whether Harper had been able to enroll in a community service program, which had been the agreed upon sentence at his last court appearance.

In light of his challenges, Butler asked if her client would be able to get more time to enroll. She explained that although he had called a program numerous times, he had not received a call back in the months he had been trying.

The judge stated that he believed there had been a sufficient amount of time to have been successful in enrolling, but was willing to “put it over for a brief time period to see what he’s done to get things started.”

He noted that he “wants to see [the defendant] taking initiative to get things set up” in the next few weeks, after which another court appearance has been scheduled to check on his progress.

Additionally, he informed the defendant of the sheriff’s program, which would be able to get him connected with a community service opportunity. If he chooses to enroll in a program through them, then there would be no need for a return date in court.

For now, Harper is scheduled to reappear in court Aug. 20 at 8:30 a.m. for a final progress check.

“One way or another, he needs to move on this thing: and I mean move effectively,” said the judge.

About The Author

Annette Wong-Toi is a third-year student at UC Davis studying Psychology and Communication. If she isn't learning how to play a new instrument or taking a nap, she's probably feeding the stray cats outside her apartment. She hopes to develop her listening and communication skills to be a better student, writer, and friend.

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