Quarantine: Another COVID Court Delay Prevents Finalization of Case

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By Daniella Espinoza

OAKLAND, CA – As if COVID-19 has not presented enough challenges within the past two years, recent happenings inside the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse illustrate the pandemic continues to pose delays to the courts.

Robert Crosby is in custody for unlawful vehicle operation as well as charges relating to weapons possession, and it was noted by his attorney Heather Chang that his time in custody was being prolonged due to an ongoing quarantined status.

His attorney said the deal was offered in early April but COVID has delayed the finalization, noting she has a plea agreement was signed by her client but needed her client in court to do the change of plea on the record. The action could not be taken because Crosby was unable to physically be in the courtroom because he is in a quarantined unit.

Addressing the court, Chang then asked, “If [Crosby] tests negative while being in a quarantine unit, is there a reason why he cannot be physically brought to court?”

During a time where all levels of the government seem to lack cohesion regarding COVID policies, the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse does not seem to be an exception in this.

“That’s a really interesting question for which I have absolutely no idea what the answer is,” replied Judge Gregory Syren.

In an attempt to placate the issue on behalf of her client, Chang asked the court to order deputies to administer a test for Crosby before the next scheduled court date and, if the result is negative, bring Crosby to the session so that the case can be resolved.

On top of the quarantine delays in the case, Chang highlighted how the plea deal itself was presented as early as April 12. Because of further delays following this, Crosby continues to be in custody and is “very distraught.”

“I don’t know why we keep our clients who are testing negative in quarantine units and just blanket policy, don’t bring them to court whether or not they are actually testing positive for COVID. I think it’s ridiculous.” Chang argued.

“I think you made your point,” Syren responded, moving along the session.

The court then set a new date for Crosby to accept his plea, with Judge Syren refusing to “specifically order the sheriff’s department to test [Crosby].”

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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