Judge Allows Client-Attorney Zoom Collaborators to Resolve Big Questions

By Taylor Smith

WOODLAND, CA – Everyone present in court, in-person and virtually, jumped in for the hearing of the accused on Friday morning here in Yolo County Superior Court to use technology to their convenient advantage.

The accused’s attorney, James Granucci, told Judge Peter Williams that they were trying to get his client assessed and into the Sacramento County mental health court program—his hold for his charges was out of Sacramento.

Granucci then addressed his client to inform him that he and his law partner have contacted Sacramento County’s mental health coordinator and are working closely to get him evaluated and into the program. If that is successful, he will come back to Yolo County to enter a plea to one or both of his cases.

He explained that “as long as you complete their mental health court, does that sound like something you want to do?”

With two felony cases against him, the accused had a good deal in front of him to get his charges—including purchasing or receiving a stolen vehicle, using personal identification information of another to obtain goods, and using a forged/invalid access card—cleared from conviction.

However, the accused told the court, “I’d rather just take my time on probation.”

Defense Attorney Granucci and Judge Williams seemed shocked by this statement, with the judge asking the accused, “You don’t want to do the mental health court where you can get out of this without a conviction?”

The accused insisted that he wanted to take his probation.

However, the judge then noted there had not yet been a preliminary hearing for either of his cases, thus there was no probation yet to be served. He realized that there was a miscommunication that needed to be settled between the accused and his attorney.

“I think maybe there is a communication gap, no fault of your own, but we have Mr. Granucci on Zoom and I think he really needs to be here in person to talk with you and explain what the plan is,” said a concerned Judge Williams to the accused.

At this point, the attorney that was holding the camera on the defendant for the court’s livestream tried to interject. After being stopped multiple times because he was not involved in this case, James Bradford clarified that he was not trying to speak on the subject matter of the case.

“I don’t think you can talk, Mr. Bradford… Your boss is here and you’re going to get fired, Mr. Bradford,” the judge said. But Bradford persisted.

“Mr. Granucci needs a breakout room to speak with his client,” insisted Bradford.

Suddenly all tension surrounding his interjection subsided. Everyone agreed that this was a great idea. “Can we do a breakout room for in-custodies?” said Judge Williams, “I see people nodding their heads. That’s great!”

Bradford allowed the accused to use his computer to do so, and then the accused and Granucci went off to have their private conversation.

The two did not return to the Zoom call by the end of the livestream, and it’s possible another hearing before the court will resolve the questions at hand—but it appeared to be a realization for everyone in the courtroom that technology can create such extensive benefits in everyday convenience.

About The Author

Taylor is a second year student at UC Davis pursuring a degree in Communication with a minor in Philosophy. She plans to graduate in 2023 and hopes to attend law school post-graduation to explore her many passions.

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