By Alex Jimenez and Mansour Taleb-Ahmed
OAKLAND, CA – A man – claiming his was beaten by police at a traffic stop – was initially refused a public defender here in Alameda County Superior Court last week and forced to try to represent himself.
However, after Judge Sharon Djemal quizzed him about his finances, the man was appointed a public defender, even though the PD had initially refused to represent him.
The man is accused of reckless driving, resisting arrest, and battery upon a deputy, all misdemeanors.
The accused had reached out to the public defender office but was not eligible for an attorney because he owned two houses, according to what he told the court. But he could not afford to hire his own attorney.
During the proceeding, the suspect described to the judge several times his chaotic experience with the police, claiming that he felt threatened, yanked from his car, tased and beaten by police multiple times.
“In order for you to represent yourself, if that’s what you’d like to do, those papers are what you need to fill out,” said the judge, adding, “I’m going to need to make sure that you are able to represent yourself.”
But, when the judge raised the possibility that he could get counsel, he replied: “Obviously I’m not an attorney so any help I could get I’ll need it.”
The judge discovered, during a conversation with the suspect, that his money got “stolen,” and that “everything was taken away from him.” The man said his ex-wife “tried to forge signatures” to take custody of his children.
During this exchange, the man again raised the issue that the police had “tased” him, and he was “beaten up” by the police “five times.”
As far as his employment status, the man said he doesn’t “have a job right now.” When asked what he was doing with this money, he responded to the judge that it was utilized primarily for “ food” and “healthcare.”
Finally, the accused revealed he owns two homes, which is likely why the public defender’s office rejected his request, the court surmised.
“The public defender thought that presumably because (you are) a homeowner you’re not eligible for (a free attorney),” said the judge, who then appointed him one, noting “I am going to go and appoint them to represent you”.