Judge Set to Visit Jail to See for Himself Whether Safety Provisions Still Protect Attorney-Client Conversations

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By Leslie Ortiz

WOODLAND, CA – Judge Dave Rosenberg at Yolo County Superior Court this week took a matter under submission after defense lawyers’ concerns about confidentiality conditions with their clients at the jail clashed with claimed security concerns by the jail.

Judge Rosenberg delayed a final decision until he could personally visit the jail.

Judge Dave Rosenberg began the hearing by stating that he read Deputy Public Defender Andrea Pelachino’s brief, and understood her position, but wanted to know if the county counsel had any additional thoughts.

Assistant County Counsel Ron Martinez asked Judge Rosenberg if he received their opposition, which they submitted the previous day since they “got notice of the motion in the afternoon on Friday.”

Judge Rosenberg quickly looked over the opposition, and mainly focused on the brief’s provisions “about what (Mr. Martinez intends) to do to address Ms. Pelachino’s concerns.”

Judge Rosenberg stated a “Defense Attorney has got to be able to have private conversations with their client.”

Judge Rosenberg asked PD Pelachino if she had been able to see the points made in the county counsel’s brief, which looked to alleviate her concerns.

Pelachino appreciated the effort, but asked the court to grant her motion, arguing there “are legitimate safety concerns” but believed “there are alternatives that we could do to maintain and we would abide by all of those conditions” through “temperature checks and symptom checks before going into the… jail.”

Pelachino argued that “at this point now there’s been a chilling effect and… my client has very understandable concerns about confidentiality.”

Pelachino stated that the defendant, Ernesto Gonzalez, had continuously requested for her to be able to be in the room with him. Gonzalez’ charges include murder, attempted murder, assault with semiautomatic firearm, discharge firearm at dwelling/vehicle and possession of firearm by a person previously convicted of felony.

“My concern is at this point (is) I can’t be effective even with these … provisions in place and I’d ask that the court…to grant my motion and I will comply with all safety (concerns),” Pelachino said.

Judge Rosenberg asked Deputy District Attorney Matt De Moura if he had any additional thoughts, to which De Moura stated, “I just want whatever is…best to protect…constitutional rights and the safety of everyone involved.”

Judge Rosenberg asked County Counsel Martinez if he had any final words.

Martinez stated he believes “that this is something that the inmate and the attorney want” as the confidentiality issues “while very serious, are a little blown out of proportion here.

“I went to the jail to see the room myself to see what could be done. This is a closed room with a shut door,” Martinez said. “There is nobody standing outside of this door, trying to have access to the communication. It is just a… general hallway where somebody from time to time may walk by,” Martinez added.

Martinez argued that there is “a legitimate penal interest in protecting the safety and well-being of that jail in regard to the Covid pandemic. We should give these methods a try…the jail has the right to attempt to follow these issues before being ordered to do something in violation of their safety protocol.”

Judge Dave Rosenberg decided to go to the jail and take a personal look.

“I’m going to go to the jail, and I want… to check out the room and these new procedures,” Judge Rosenberg said. “I understand the competing interests here,” Judge Rosenberg said “and… I… can only give you a… ruling if I see it and experience it myself.”

Judge Rosenberg decided to go visit the jail and took the matter under submission.

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About The Author

Leslie Ortiz is a junior at UC Davis majoring in Political Science and English. She is passionate about being a voice for those who are underrepresented and aspires to become a lawyer.

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