Defense Suggests Improper Appointment – Judge Disagrees, Insists Lawyer Remain on Case with Upcoming Trial

By Hannah Adams

MODESTO, CA — Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves and Defense Attorney Aaron Villalobos debated which legal course of action to take following new information introduced in the case last Friday.

The accused faced three separate felony charges. One of his cases was set for trial July 11, but a week prior to his appearance in court, the accused speculated that he was under “some kind of psychosis,” according to PD Villalobos.

Consequently, Villalobos was hesitant to take the accused’s case to trial given the new information about his health because it presented a complication in the defense strategy.

Furthermore, Villalobos addressed a potential complication with his participation in the case. Originally, he took this case as a conflict case, and agreed to take all of the accused’s cases but suggested he may have been improperly appointed as the accused’s attorney.

It was suggested the original trial could be vacated, but Judge Reeves strongly protested, noting that Villalobos is already the attorney of record, and that the accused would be left without an attorney 10 days before his original trial date. 

“When I look at it from a practical standpoint, I have a gentleman who’s in custody who’s waiting for trial. And he has a lawyer that he has a good relationship with that’s ready for trial… far more ready than a brand new lawyer would be. It just doesn’t seem right to listen to a voice in an office somewhere else, when the reality is, nothing has changed,” Judge Reeves said.

Villalobos agreed, clarifying that he was only trying to follow the provisions provided by the governing statute.

“I agree with the court that logically, (reappointing a new attorney) doesn’t make much sense. I disagree with the court in that this is what the statute says. I think that, unfortunately, this is the process that I was told is the correct process,” Villalobos said.

Villalobos addressed two other concerns: the active psychosis defense in light of the accused’s confession, and funding concerns in regard to acquiring a doctor and other previously unforeseen aspects of the trial.

Judge Reeves ultimately concluded that Villalobos should continue as the accused’s attorney for the case, noting he is also the attorney for the accused’s two other cases. The judge maintained all of the original dates for the accused’s legal proceedings—for the case in question, the accused is expected to return to court July 11 for trial. 

About The Author

Hannah is a first-year undergraduate student at University of California, Santa Barbara. She is majoring in English and currently is involved with two campus newspapers. She is anticipating on graduating early and attending law school. She hopes to continue her passion for writing in a law-related career.

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