By Alexander Jimenez
ALAMEDA, CA – Alameda County Superior Court, Dept. 13, Wednesday appeared to have found a resolution to place an accused woman into a residential drug treatment program while her case is being resolved, rather than jail.
Hoping that the motion to release the defendant does not backfire and considering public safety, Judge Morris Jacobson pressed defense counsel for reassurance that Monica Fernandez will go through with the program.
Fernandez is facing a multitude of charges that were not specified in this hearing but substance abuse appears to be a major part of the issue. With Fernandez’s condition in mind, the courts was set to release Fernandez to the San Jose House of Grace to provide Fernandez with a structured program and setting.
Judge Jacobson’s main concern, however, was with ensuring compliance with the program because, when residents leave these sorts of programs the courts are not usually notified, according to the judge.
Additionally the judge said he has no experience with this specific program, which also made him feel uneasy to simply release Fernandez.
“This is not an OR (release) into the Community, this is an OR into a structured residential program,” said Judge Jacobson, as he emphasized the need to balance community safety and providing help for Fernandez.
Assistant Public Defender Alexander J. Thayer suggested frequent progress reports through an ROI (release on information).
Although the judge appeared to be content with this aspect, Judge Jacobson brought up the matter of custody upon successful completion of the program if the case has not been resolved.
The expectation is that once Fernandez completes the program and if the case has not been resolved, the defendant would serve time in custody.
“Not that we will cross that bridge when we get there, because that sounds like we shouldn’t go forward with this, and I am in favor of this program. This sounds like a really good situation for her,” said the judge.
After some back and forth between the judge and Thayer, it was determined that Fernandez would “plead to the sheet” with a promise that, upon completion of the program, she would be able to come back to court and withdraw her plea, and have any other sentence nullified.
Regarding compliance, the defense opted to contact a representative of the program and informed the courts that if Fernandez were to leave the program, they would notify the probation officer who in turn would notify the courts.
Progress reports are set for September and January, and the indication is that Fernandez will serve time in custody if the cases have not been resolved.