By Simran Chahal
WOODLAND, CA – A judge in Yolo County Superior Court late last week agreed to release a man on supervised own recognizance (SOR) or bail reduction after an unfortunate situation caused by the jailed man’s previous attorney’s disbarment.
In December of last year, Keith Edwards was charged with possession of narcotics with intent to sell and possession of a weapon.
“The defendant was picked up after a failure to appear on a previous court date. The defendant was under the impression that a 977 [Penal Code § 977 waiver of court presence for a misdemeanor] would have been filed at that court date by his prior attorney,” Marion Titus, the defense attorney, explained.
Titus continued, “Unfortunately, [his prior attorney] has been making mistakes across various of his cases…and currently has been disbarred from the state of California. So, my client represents to me that he signed a 977 form and expected not to have to be present on that date, then later finds out he has been picked up due to a failure to appear at a court.
“He is naturally shocked and wants to let the court know that he is willing to do whatever it takes in order to appear at this next court date,” Titus said.
“He cannot afford the bail again…it is already exonerated. Pursuant to Humphrey’s [a decision regarding bail reduction], there are less restrictive means that would be able to assure the defendant’s presence, including drug testing, checking in with probation, and GPS. All of those conditions would naturally assure the client’s presence and he has no other failure to appear…the prior attorney was disbarred and the failure to appear was through no fault of the client,” Titus concluded.
Judge David Rosenberg stated the bail was currently set at $100,000 and asked for the thoughts of the deputy district attorney, Michelle Serafin.
“He had posted bail and appeared for arraignment on Jan. 14. He needed time to get an attorney on that date. Then, the next court date was Jan. 27, and that is the court date he failed to appear,” Serafin explained.
Serafin continued, “[A] bench warrant was issued, then he was arrested on Feb. 4 for that warrant and he also had 27 grams of methamphetamine in his possession…He got a new case on that day and those two cases now have been consolidated.
“I believe that Mr. Edwards is not a good risk for the court to release on any sort of supervised OR (own recognizance) or OR which I believed Ms. Titus is asking for. I think his only recourse at this point is to post a new bond or get a reassumption,” Serafin stated.
Serafin dove into the facts of his case as she expressed, “The facts of his case are very serious. He had a loaded gun when he was arrested on Dec. 12 (2020). He had 200 grams of methamphetamine in his possession. He had 7.1 grams of heroin and 2.5 grams of cocaine. That’s a significant sales case.
“He also explained to the police when he was arrested on Dec. 12 that he had borrowed the car that he was found driving, from a friend who had ties to the cartel. With that much contraband, a loaded gun, and a car that is apparently tied to the cartel, I think any type of supervised OR or even a bail reduction is not appropriate,” Serafin stated.
Serafin added, “I don’t know when he believes he had filed a 977. Mr. Edwards had to sign that document and he was only present on Zoom on court date before he failed to appear. So, I’m not buying his explanation that he thought he had a 977 waiver.”
“So, I’m opposed,” concluded Serafin.
“May I respond to that?” asked Titus.
“I don’t think it’s necessary. I am inclined to grant supervised OR. I accept counsel’s representation that he was represented by an attorney who has since been disbarred…and may have been given misinformation,” stated Judge Rosenberg.
However, the judge did note that he did not want the SOR to take away from the seriousness of the charges, noting, “I’m going to order his release on supervised OR with conditions. I do believe supervised OR provides, frankly, more protection for the public and more likelihood that Mr. Edwards will be back in court than merely posting a bail bond.”
Judge Rosenberg asked, “Ms. Serafin, are there any particular conditions above the normal supervised OR that you would recommend?”
Serafin responded, “Well, I think he needs to be on GPS.” Judge Rosenberg agreed with that condition for SOR.
The next hearing date is Dec. 29 for arraignment.