By Stewart Lucas
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SF County Superior Court Judge Gail Dekreon stormed out of her own courtroom Friday afternoon after a heated debate with Deputy Public Defender Latisha McCray—tension between the judge and McCray bubbled beneath the surface of proceedings the entire afternoon.
Judge Dekreon presides over Dept. 17 and hears misdemeanor cases, calling nearly 20 cases during the afternoon session.
The first case that caused tension involved a man that Judge Dekreon issued a bench warrant for, meaning he would be found in contempt of court if he did not appear before his next court appearance.
This ruling, argued PD McCray, was unfair because the accused did not willingly fail to appear—he’s in custody in San Mateo County Jail. PD McCray asserted that it was unfair to penalize him for failing to appear when it would be impossible for him to do so.
In another case, the disagreement was over the same problem—a man was in custody in Alameda County and, therefore, could not appear in the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St.
The final time the two clashed, Judge Dekreon stormed out of the courtroom.
In that case, PD McCray argued the court should not push her client’s trial date further back since he completed his mental health treatment. PD McCray brought evidence that he completed his treatment program on time.
Despite the evidence supporting the accused’s compliance, Judge Dekreon ordered a bench warrant and changed the trial date to the next month.
When PD McCray attempted to make a record of her objection based on her client’s due process rights, the judge cut her off and told PD McCray to be quiet. The judge next asked the court reporter to stop transcribing the proceedings while PD McCray was still voicing her objection.
Judge Dekreon left the courtroom for 10 minutes and returned without mentioning the incident. At the end of the proceedings, PD McCray attempted to voice her objection in the last case again, and the judge repeated she denied PD McCray’s attempt to finish her objection to the ruling.
PD McCray’s last words in the proceeding were: “The Court is denying me from making a record after the judge decided to leave the courtroom.” Judge Dekreon had no further comment.