Defense Wants Case Tossed – Claims Wrong Accused Appeared in Court; Judge Punts

By S. Priana Aquino

ALAMEDA, CA — Billy Davis, Jr., appeared virtually in Alameda County Superior Court last Friday for a plea hearing—he’s facing about two dozen felony charges, including carjacking, burglary and firearms violations.

But his lawyer, Alanna Coopersmith, informed the court that this case has been pushed back for many months and introduced a motion to dismiss it.

The main reason Coopersmith introduced the motion to dismiss the case was, she said, because of a mix up in his appearance in court. She explained that while Davis was set to appear earlier this week over Zoom, someone else had sat in on his hearing and confused what time their own hearing was.

To Coopersmith’s understanding, Davis was put in a quarantine unit in the jail he is currently in to await being put on Zoom. However, he was never brought before the virtual court that day.

“Two days ago, somebody other than him was brought,” said Coopersmith. “We feel that this is a plain letter violation of 825. It seems to be not justified by the text. There’s no excuse.”

In response, Judge Stuart Hing said he was not aware of this mix up. Additionally, Deputy District Attorney Scott Ford said he had no idea this issue existed before the hearing.

Coopersmith added that the reason why Penal Code section 825 (regarding timely arraignment) exists “is to protect people’s interest and their own freedom and their own liberty.”

As a remedy, Coopersmith asked the court to consider dismissing the case. Alternatively, she suggested the District Attorney’s office refile the case, but with the context that the current one would be dismissed.

Ford argued that the case should be set to a later date instead of dismissing it entirely.

Coopersmith maintained that Davis had been held unjustly, and that he should be released on his own recognizance.

Though Judge Hing denied the request, he acknowledged the abnormality of the situation. He said about the case, “I’m not sure. The record is a little unclear to me but I’m taking your word as true.”

Hing continued that his research may be dated on the remedy for 825, and that “again, this is without prejudice, as the facts may play out later.”

After deliberation between the two lawyers, Coopersmith requested to waive arraignment. Ford also stated that this case had been moved throughout multiple days of March.

In response, the court staff confirmed that Davis had been present in the Zoom room “seat” on April 5. Coopersmith corrected them, stating that on April 5, Davis was not in the seat. “It was a white gentleman, who looked like he was in his 40s or 50s,” she stated.

“When I met Mr. Davis yesterday in the jail, I immediately realized… and at the time I questioned it because I thought my client was African American and wasn’t sure,” the defense attorney said.

Coopersmith stated that she doubted this was the right client. “So I said, Mr. Davis, I look forward to meeting you in the jail on Thursday, and he just sat there.”

Ford said that there were two videos and Coopersmith may have been looking at an accused on another video and that is why she believes a wrong person showed up instead of her client.

However, when she responded by asking Davis if he was on video on Tuesday, he said no, “I wasn’t on video…and I’ve been waiting since March 5 to be shown on video.”

Davis explained though he was in quarantine, he had expressed to the court that he would still be available for his arraignment over Zoom.

After the deliberation of this matter, Judge Hing announced that he would rule later on the case.

About The Author

S. Priana Aquino is a rising Senior at the University of San Francisco, majoring in Business with minors in Legal Studies and Public Service & Community Engagement. Upon graduation, she hopes to attend law school and continue her work in uplifting and advocating for communities of color.

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