Emergency Order Postpones Yolo County Trials after Big COVID Surge

By Sofia Leguria and Gabriel Eskandari

WOODLAND, CA – An emergency order was signed Wednesday by Chief Justice of California, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, to postpone all trials in Yolo County for at least 30 days because of the risk from the ongoing COVID pandemic.

And, in Yolo County Superior Court, Judge Timothy L. Fall dealt with rescheduling trial dates—one man immediately hit by the order was Richard Werly, who was present with notes at his trial readiness conference, appearing via Zoom from the Monroe Detention Center.

Werly is being charged with first-degree robbery, torture, and assault by force on April 4, 2020.

Werly is represented by Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira, who moved to have this case go to trial as soon as possible, stating:

“I know that there’s an order in effect, but I also know there is a way that we can request permission to go to trial. And that’s what Mr. Werly and I are doing. At the last court date, which was the mandatory settlement conference, Mr. Werly did not want to waive time anymore, and so I just want the record to show that he did not want to waive time.”

Werly also addressed the court directly, noting the DA had been the one submitting the time waivers, that a previous judge had reduced his charges to one charge, and asked for the charges to be dropped if the DA asked for any more time, stating, “It’s been too long.”

Judge Fall responded to these requests by stating:

“The problem with starting trial on Monday is the COVID surge, and it’s leading to increased hospitalization, overcrowded emergency rooms (and) court staff, sheriff staff, as well as the attorneys’ staff coming up with exposures and positive tests…trying to bring a jury in is an undue public health risk.

“That’s why we have an emergency order now from the Chief Justice of California that means the trials will not be happening unless there is an overwhelming need, and this case does not have that,” said Fall.

At the end, Werly inquired about possible bail because of the rescheduling of his trial, and asked about his charges being reduced to one charge.

Judge Fall denied bail, stating that there have been no significant changes in his custody status.

Regarding reduction of charges, Judge Fall stated he would hear a motion regarding the reduction of charges if his attorney brought him one.

Werly’s trial was rescheduled for Feb. 28 at 8:30 a.m., and a preceding date was also set for the matter on Feb. 23 at 9 a.m.

About The Author

Gabriel is a recent graduate of UC Davis. He majored in Political Science.

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