By Angelina Sang
SANTA BARBARA, CA – Santa Barbara Court Superior Court Judge Pauline Maxwell this week presided two cases in which the Zoom rooms of the incarcerated were muted, and cameras turned off in the hearings.
In the first case, “Johnny Doe” accused the court of illegally raising doubts of his mental competency and was quickly muted.
Johnny Doe previously underwent psychological evaluations by a doctor Public Defender Giulia Moore and District Attorney Diane Dills agreed to use. From the results of the evaluation, Judge Maxwell decided the court would find Doe incompetent to stand trial.
After Judge Maxwell declared Doe incompetent to stand trial, Doe said, “I’m sorry, I’m going to have to go ahead and interject right here.” PD Moore gently told him to hold on, and the court continued scheduling future dates.
After Judge Maxwell concluded the case and wished him luck, Doe explained how neither the public defender or the district attorney wished to declare him mentally incompetent on his first court appearance, but the judge raised a doubt.
“The judge said ‘well someone at the arrest said that he wants him declared incompetent so I’m going to raise a doubt.’ I did not speak, I did not move in that court hearing,” Doe stated.
Arguing the legality of his declared mental incompetence, Doe said, “Officers of the court who do illegal things are subject to a minimum of two years in prison. This is all illegal. You need to do your job and say that this was illegal. That the raising of a doubt, that arresting me so that you could…” He was muted by Judge Maxwell.
Judge Maxwell apologized to PD Moore, and the court moved on.
In one of Moore’s following cases, Moore struggled to appropriately communicate with defendant “Bill” after he was pulled out of his Zoom room during his readiness and settlement conference.
“I do not have 977 authority your Honor, given that they pulled him out and doesn’t sound like they’re going to bring him back into the Zoom room,” said Moore after Judge Maxwell called the case. “While I was trying to speak with Bill and he was frustrated, officers came and were trying to get him out of the room.
“I find it concerning that they turned off the video and sound so I could not see how they were attempting to address removing (her client) from the room. I don’t necessarily think that that is appropriate to take away any witnesses from how that situation is being handled,” Moore stated on the record.
Judge Maxwell suggested that Moore express her concern to the sheriff. Moore agreed, though telling Judge Maxwell that she just wanted her concerns on the court record as well.
(NOTE: The Vanguard did not use the true names of the incarcerated in this story because it is unknown if the charges are felonies – we do not normally publish the names of those accused if the charges are not felonies).