Accused Man Resists Bailiff during Arraignment, Judge Flees Court


By Noe Herrera

SANTA MARIA, CA – Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Gustavo Lavayen had to flee his own courtroom in the Santa Maria Courthouse here Monday after Jacob Arthur Cardenas allegedly resisted arrest, before being held in custody.

Cardenas, also known as “Snowball,” was in court for the continuation of his arraignment. Cardenas was accused of multiple felonies in 2019 including allegations that he was carrying a “short-barreled rifle or shotgun” among multiple firearms and that he was in “possession of controlled substance[s] for sale.”

Defense attorney Burke Nelson, asked Judge Lavayen for another week to continue the arraignment of information.

Deputy District Attorney Madison Whitmore argued Cardenas had not appeared in court for an extended period of time and that warrants have been issued including a $90,000 and a no-bail warrant. Whitmore said, “I am fine to continue but I think he [Cardenas] should go into custody.”

Nelson argued that Cardenas had a bond reassumption, which is the removal of a warrant with a new bond.

Judge Lavayen quickly answered “that is not the ticket out Mr. Nelson. I’m going to remand him into custody on the warrants. At this time set bail amount on the warrants. Mr. Cardenas, I am going to remand you into custody.”

Moments after, the courtroom bailiff attempted to handcuff and take Cardenas into custody and a physical altercation ensued before the bailiff pinned Cardenas to the ground.

The bailiff repeatedly ordered, “Put your hands behind your back.” Cardenas shouted back, “I can’t!”

Then another bailiff yelled, “Out, out, out, get out now!” to the members of the courtroom who promptly fled, including Judge Lavayen. Multiple officers of the court were seen rushing into the scene to help restrain Cardenas. There were no injuries on the scene.

After everyone had left and Cardenas was restrained, one of the bailiffs said, “At this point you are in custody, you just need to follow instructions, OK?”

Fifteen minutes later, people gradually began filling the courtroom again. Judge Lavayen reappeared.

Judge Lavayen went back on the record for Cardenas’ case and said, “Mr. Nelson, you saw what occurred. Mr. Cardenas engaged in a physical struggle with the bailiffs while he was being remanded and the court had to be cleared so I am going to find good cause to continue without him. Any objections?”

Nelson responded, “No, your Honor, that was very scary.”

The next hearing will be through Zoom, an online teleconferencing platform.

When asked if video conferencing was fine with defense counsel Nelson, he responded, “In light of what happened, perhaps that will be the best way to go.”


About The Author

Noe is a senior-standing undergraduate at UCSB majoring in the History of Public Policy and Law. He aspires to attend law school and focus on education policy.

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