Court Confusion Over 2 Positive COVID Tests and 2 Missed Appearances for Same Man

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By Katherine Coviello

MERCED, CA – After failing to appear in court due after an abnormal COVID-19 test result Jan. 3 and being subsequently taken into custody and jailed, a man pleaded with a judge to be released from jail here in Merced County Superior Court last week.

(Note: The Vanguard is not identifying the man because the charge is a low level misdemeanor).

“Why didn’t you come to court on Jan. 3?” inquired Judge Paul Lo.

The man described emailing positive test results to his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Lauri Partin, adding, “I had emailed everything to her the day before the court date, or something like that. I even called and everything. Nobody answered me.

He added, “They said they only answered between the hours of certain hours of the day, the Public Defender’s Office. I even came to check in. I came to the court house myself. The lady that was in the office, she told me that she had, in all reality she had to call the officers on me …”

The man went on to tell how he shared his situation with her and she instead told him to call the Public Defender’s Office. He did this and was told to email them his test results which he claimed he did.

The court then said it was confused when it was noticed the man had tested positive for COVID-19 in fall of 2021 which resulted in his failing to appear in court. The man clarified that he had COVID-19 twice.

“I’m looking at your history here and there is just too much history of you not appearing. The court giving you an opportunity to postpone again and you brought a reassumption letter. And then you failed to appear again. There’s just too (much) history of you doing that,” Judge Lo noted.

Judge Lo then began to schedule another court date for later in the week to move forward, but the accused persisted that he did the right thing.

“I did my part. I don’t see why I should stay here a couple more days if I did my part,” the man argued. “I’m trying to get out to my kids. I am the provider for my house.”

Judge Lo offered an earlier court date and pointed out his leniency considering repeated failures to appear. Deputy Public Defender Michael Coughlin then stated that he believed he had heard about the situation from the man’s PD Jan. 3.

“The issue, I’m not saying whether you had it [COVID] or didn’t have it. The issue is that the court did not have notice of it and the court issued a warrant,” Judge Lo stated.

After further discussion regarding the details of Jan. 3, Judge Lo agreed to release the man from custody until a later court date.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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