Series of Successful Probationary Hearings Makes for Rare Uplifting Day in Santa Barbara County Superior Court

By Hannah Adams

SANTA BARBARA, CA – Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Jean Dandona this week oversaw several domestic violence related reviews, and many of them imparted encouraging news.

With a series of testimonials and positive reports from numerous probationers and their supervisors, Judge Dandona scheduled succeeding hearings for the respective individuals with high hopes.

Justin Hill, a defendant charged with a domestic violence felony, has thus far completed 11 rehabilitation sessions at the Zona Seca center as well as the statutory 20 hours of community service. Hill has allegedly benefited from these sessions, taking time to “actively share in groups.”

Hill has additionally spent time at Project Recovery since Aug. 16, and has received good reviews from his supervisors there as well.

In response to his progress of fulfilling his court obligations, Judge Dandona asked Hill if his outlook had changed and to what he attributed this change. Hill credited the environment of his support group for his success.

“I feel like the community and the support—it’s more than just therapy, it’s changing who you interact with … it’s a new beginning,” Hill said.

Judge Dandona then went on to commend Hill for offering feedback about the program, commenting that “it’s always good to see someone evolving and changing and participating.”

Hill is set to reappear before the court on Dec. 8.

Amanda Huddleston, a defendant charged with a domestic violence misdemeanor, has finished the majority of her court obligations, and has started to take measures to expunge her record.

Including keeping her sobriety and getting treatment for eight months thus far and keeping in contact with her family, Huddleston is working to “get (her) life and career back.”

Toward the end of the hearing, Judge Dandona reflected on Huddleston’s journey and thanked her for “letting us [the court] experience the journey with you, what you shared with us.”

In her eight months of sobriety, Huddleston has taken it upon herself to speak in support groups at her support center. Judge Dandona then commended her for taking an active role in her community, noting, “Isn’t it a privilege to be able to give back?”

Huddleston is set to reappear before the court on Oct. 20; on Nov. 2, Ms. Huddleston’s probation is set to be successfully terminated.

Claudia Guereca-Viduare, a defendant charged with a domestic violence misdemeanor, has thus far completed her community service hours as well as a few of her sessions at Zona Seca.

Although she experienced scheduling complications due to a divorce, Guereca-Viduare is set to be back on track by Oct. 20.

During the hearing, it was mentioned that Guereca-Viduare had violated a protective order, and that she must refrain from doing so again.

Guereca-Viduare is set to return to court Dec. 8

Andrew Armen, charged with a domestic violence misdemeanor, has completed one-third of his required sessions with perfect attendance. Based on reports, Armen appears to be benefiting from the collaborative environment, and he admitted that he has learned important information in terms of drug abuse.

“Even if it’s prescription drugs, doesn’t mean you should be on them,” said Armen, who is set to come back to court Dec. 8.

Derek Green, a defendant charged with a domestic violence misdemeanor, has made great progress in fulfilling his court obligations, the court was told. However, he disagreed with the penal requirement of taking certain classes, noting he believed they were “unnecessary” for him.

Judge Dadona allowed Green to voice his concerns about the requirement, and in response she expressed her disappointment over Green feeling victimized by the requirement.

Green is set to appear in court once again Dec. 1.

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