Lawyer Warns Defendant ‘Not Really Helping’ after Minor Outburst in Court

By Sophia Barberini

ALAMEDA, CA – Judge Gail Bereola of Alameda County Superior Court refused to release a defendant on her own recognizance after her lawyer warned her she was “not really helping” when she agitatedly spoke up in Alameda County Superior Court. 

Paulena Lenzy appeared in front of Judge Bereola for arraignment Tuesday after she allegedly hit an elderly woman, who resides in the same homeless encampment as the defendant, in the shoulder with a bat. 

Deputy Public Defender Richard Foxall argued the defendant should be released on her own recognizance, noting that she does not have a long history of criminal activity. Moreover, he claimed, most of the criminal activity the defendant did engage in involved theft. 

Because most of her criminal history did not include violence, said PD Foxall, “I don’t see this as really in character.” 

Arguing that this offense is uncharacteristic of the defendant and highlighting that she does not have a history of failures to appear, PD Foxall asked the court to release Lenzy on her own recognizance. 

Deputy District Attorney Ashley Carvolth vehemently opposed this option, highlighting that the victim in this case was an 84-year-old woman and that the defendant and the victim live in the same homeless encampment. 

DDA Carvolth, instead, asked that the court set bail at $80,000. She also asked the court to issue a criminal protective order for the victim and a stay away order from the homeless encampment. 

Concurring with DDA Carvolth, Judge Bereola issued both the protective order and the stay away order, resulting in the defendant becoming agitated and abruptly speaking up. 

“How are you going to tell me to stay away from where I work at?” said Levy. “I am one of the security guards at the Greyhound Station. You can look that up in all my records… I work for the security company across the street.” 

Attempting to prevent the defendant from harming her case, PD Foxall inserted, “Ms. Lenzy, you’re not really helping your case for getting out if you are already telling the court you are not going to obey the orders.”

As the defendant continued to talk, PD Foxall pleaded, “I am trying to help you here.”

Seemingly irritated by the defendant’s outburst, Judge Bereola directly addressed the defendant, “Right now, I just hear you saying that. So, if that is your place of employment and that is true, then you should be able to provide some type of evidence.” 

Then, unwilling to hear anything more from the defendant, Judge Bereola instituted the protective orders and set bail at $80,000. 

PD Foxall asserted that Levy would be pleading not guilty, but that they would be willing to have discussions with DDA Carvolth to reach a solution.

Lenzy’s preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 31. 

About The Author

Sophia Barberini, from San Mateo, CA, is a fourth-year student at UC Berkeley. She is double majoring in Political Science and Legal Studies and hopes to pursue a career in law.

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