Court Debates How to Handle Defendant with 7 Cases

By Nora Dahl

MODESTO, CA – James Monroe Wright had his case—actually cases, many of them—called in Stanislaus County Superior Court Tuesday. Virtually all of them involved allegedly stealing shopping carts.

But, still, the court was unsure of how to proceed with Wright’s cases because it was not a simple situation: Wright came into court with those seven cases before the bench.

Wright had counts for stealing shopping carts from Hobby Lobby on 2801 McHenry Avenue in Modesto, CA, on five different occasions. The man also had a probation violation charge, for failing to report to probation repeatedly and not announcing his change of address. Finally, Wright had an undisclosed felony conviction.

Wright anxiously sat behind his defense attorney, twiddling his thumbs and bouncing his left leg, as the court debated how and in what order to address Wright’s charges.

Judge Reeves, Deputy City Attorney John Fukasawa, and Wright’s Defense Attorney Michael Jimenez discussed for 16 minutes the logistics of sentencing Wright.

Reeves urged the arraignment of all of Wright’s misdemeanors. The judge hoped that the court could immediately settle the misdemeanors, deal with the probation violation, and then put over the felony provision violations. Reeves told the court that she did not want to come back to seven cases in 30 days.

Jimenez spoke up, asserting that he wanted to dismiss most of the misdemeanors and just pick one and the felony violation ratio to come back to. He wanted to give his client the opportunity to check in with probation.

Jimenez said that Wright, a former drug addict, should get the chance to prove that he has been living sober for 60 days as required by his probation terms. Jimenez asked the court if they could simply resolve the violation of probation without indicating the amount of time for sentencing, and then decide what the appropriate disposition is without all the misdemeanors on the calendar.

Fukasawa posed a question, asking if Wright was currently residing in a housing program.

Reeves answered, stating that as of now Wright is working through Salvation Army. The man claims to have been there for quite some time and has attained some level of sobriety based on that program.

Fukasawa said he would then be fine with dismissing Wright’s possession of shopping carts misdemeanors.

Jiminez said that he would like to put over sentencing so that he could provide some type of proof as to where Wright has been and his alleged participation in Salvation Army.

Jiminez said Wright could do an admission today. The man’s probation is indicated as 60 days; the court could continue sentencing and if Wright brings in documentation that he is residing at Salvation Army the 60 days would be suspended, and if he is unable to do that then he would go into custody.

Jiminez declared that the only issue the court would be coming back on is whether or not the 60 days are imposed, and suggested that Wright immediately report to probation following court.

Judge Reeves spoke up, stating that Jiminez’s idea was “a very good resolution.”

The judge looked at Wright, asking if he understood these terms. He said he did.

Reeves announced that sentencing would be put over for approximately 30 days. The People and the city attorney are both willing to dismiss the misdemeanor shopping cart cases if when Wright comes back he proves that his participation in Salvation Army has been true. Then the 60 days will either be suspended or imposed.

Wright is to report back to the court on March 14.

About The Author

Nora Dahl is a second year History of Public Policy and Law major, and English minor, at UC Santa Barbara. She enjoys writing, advocating for social justice, and pyschology. Nora speaks fluent Norwegian and English. She plans to graduate Spring 2024, and hopes to attend law school.

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