By Eric Rodriguez
SANTA BARBARA, CA – Assistant Public Defender Susan Sindelar had two cases here Monday in Santa Barbara County Court—one turned out well, another not so much.
“Lisa”* (not her real name) appeared in Judge Raimundo Montes de Oca’s court for a warrant hearing turned release and was shortly followed by a case concerning an elderly individual that was remanded and sentenced to 60 days in jail.
Lisa’s record indicates that she was charged in 2013 with two felony charges regarding the possession of a controlled substance and narcotics controlled substances, along with a misdemeanor charge for the unlawful possession of an opium pipe.
The case was removed from the court’s control, said the PD, on Lisa’s forceful move to Texas when she was “quite young.”
She was picked up recently as she was traveling to Santa Barbara for the holidays to spend Thanksgiving with her mother.
Lisa allegedly was confronted by the warrant against her in Texas before she traveled to Santa Barbara, but did not know how to deal with it.
Lisa’s PD said Lisa was allegedly told that the matter at hand could only be handled in person, meaning she would have to travel to the Santa Barbara court to handle the situation, but due to COVID restrictions such issues could only be handled remotely.
Lisa was picked up by the warrant before she could place herself on the calendar to appear in court.
Deputy District Attorney Michelle Mossembekker stated, “I do understand that the case is old and were drug charges, but based on the little information that I know…I don’t feel comfortable submitting on a request to release (Lisa).”
Judge Montes de Oca felt differently and granted the request for release with the condition that Lisa personally appear in court Nov. 10, adding “you made a mistake, maybe two…please don’t make a third mistake by failing to appear and ignoring this.”
Shortly after, “Rebecca”* (not her real name), who is being charged with multiple misdemeanors involving DUIs and vandalism, appeared in court. Her records show that this is her second DUI incident within two years.
PD Sindelar said her client has had issues understanding what is being requested of her by the court and has ongoing health problems along with family obligations.
Sindelar’s statement was interrupted multiple times by Rebecca as she stated that she was unable to hear the court over Zoom.
After the judge stopped the hearing to have an officer enter Rebecca’s Zoom room to diagnose the issue, the proceeding continued even though Rebecca stated that she could hardly hear the judge and her counsel.
Judge Montes de Oca continued with the hearing and stated that, because Rebecca failed to file for any jail alternatives during the past year and failed to appear in court with no cause, he had her remanded and sent to county jail for 60 days, with orders for a mental health evaluation.
Montes de Oca allowed Rebecca to file for an alternative sentence hearing request, which if granted, will give her a hearing date.
*NOTE: The name used here is not the accused’s real name, per The Vanguard’s new policy of not identifying the real names in lower level misdemeanor cases. https://www.davisvanguard.org/2021/11/vanguard-to-remove-reference-to-names-of-those-accused-in-court-watch-coverage/