Defendants with History of Drug Use Obtain Different Outcomes – 1 to Jail, Other to Treatment


By Darling Gonzalez

SANTA BARBARA, CA – In Santa Barbara County Superior Court Dept. 6 last week, Judge Pauline Maxwell ruled very differently on two separate hearings for people with drug use violations during probation.

Barbaro Valente-Mendoza was on probation for previous drug use charges and had recently violated his probation because he tested positive for methamphetamine and admitted to drinking.

The violation was reported by the Pre-Trial Compliance Officer (PTCO) who recommended that Mendoza be kept under supervision by the PTCO.

However, Deputy District Attorney Diane Dills opposed the recommendation as she stated, “Pretty much every time we come back on this case, we have some type of violation report and the court has warned the defendant that he’s going to end up in custody again if he keeps violating, so I would be asking the court to remand the defendant today and not follow that recommendation to keep him in PTCO.”

Judge Maxwell then asked Public Defender Giulia Moore for her input on the matter.

PD Moore replied, “He tested positive, yes, but this is prior to him actually being connected to any kind of treatment. He had absolutely no opportunity to address the treatment. He has been actively working on getting connected.”

PD Moore insisted that testimony would explain their efforts in getting Valente-Mendoza involved with substantial effort to participate in treatment.

PD Moore added Valente-Mendoza had now obtained a phone that could connect him to treatment that he previously did not have access to and he was showing efforts of being connected with programs.

Nonetheless, Judge Maxwell explained the court had warned Valente-Mendoza for weeks and weeks, so it would be best for him to be sent to jail.

“I can’t keep telling him the same thing over and over, so I am going to remand him today…at least to keep him clean,” Judge Maxwell expressed.

Judge Maxwell stated that a brief remand was called for with the high amount of violations by Valente-Mendoza and clarified that Valente-Mendoza would not be kept remanded for long and he would be released in a week.

In a case later that morning, Judge Maxwell ruled differently to a similar possession of controlled substance case.

Jose Gutierrez Valtierra had been previously charged with a misdemeanor charge for possession of a controlled substance and was back in court due to a violation of his probation.

Valtierra had tested positive for methamphetamine use which violated the terms of his probation.

Public Defender Addison Steele began the hearing by requesting that Valtierra’s name be fixed on a specific case number where his name was incorrect.

Valtierra then interjected and explained, “When I got out of the jail, when I was locked up, you left me more days than I was supposed to be there because I was locked up under a different name.”

PD Steele then described that he was there to find how the issue could be fixed and Valtierra could receive credit for his time in jail.

PD Steele continued, “He’s doing everything he’s supposed to do, except for he continues to test positive for methamphetamine. So the court could remand him or the court can do what probation wants, which is send him into detox…I believe probation is right.”

Deputy District Attorney Michelle Mossembekker requested that Valtierra be remanded, sent to jail, because of his continual drug use.

PD Steele insisted that Valtierra was reporting like he was supposed to and doing everything that is asked of him, but is continually suffering from substance abuse disorder, so remanding him is not what would make sense.

Judge Maxwell decided to order Valtierra to a detox program called CADA (Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse) and warned him that if he did not do what was asked of him for the detox program he would then be jailed.

Valtierra promised, “I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it.”


About The Author

Darling is an incoming junior at UCLA, majoring in English and Political Science with an interest in law. She is originally from Bell Gardens, California.

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