By Daniella Dueñas
WOODLAND, CA – In Yolo County Superior Court Thursday morning, Judge Tom Dyer stood corrected—being informed of a 2022 law change—after initially ruling the accused, Paul Jamal Barnes, was nowhere to be found and there should have a warrant put out for the man’s arrest.
“Is he here today?” inquired Judge Dyer about the accused, who was supposed to be present for his preliminary hearing conference pertaining to two felonies, including burglary in the second degree and grand theft.
“He is not,” responded his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Andrea Pelochino, who said that at 9:30 a.m. Barnes called the office claiming his car broke down on the side of the road and as a result would not be able to appear in court.
Upon hearing Barnes was on bond, Judge Dyer declared he would forfeit the bail bond and issue a bench warrant.
“Your Honor,” PD Pelochino argued, “I’m asking that you not do that. I spoke with him this morning, I do have the authority to appear 977 in his stead.” She also requested the preliminary hearing continue in four weeks, which she discussed with the District Attorney, who agreed with these requests.
There was further deliberation on the issue, as Judge Dyer brought up that he did not see a PC section 977, regarding waiver of court appearance. “Normally on a felony, it’s written,” he explained. He expressed feeling an urgency to forfeit the bail bond, as he could lose jurisdiction on the case.
Barnes’ attorney began to read the section in front of her laptop, as Judge Dyer then realized he had the 2020 Penal Code and not the 2022 Penal Code in front of him. The penal code was amended to align with the changes that COVID-19 set upon courts.
Both attorneys present on the case gave no objection to the penal code being shown to Judge Dyer. Deputy District Attorney Alex O. Kian recalled that this penal code is in accordance with the law.
Deputy Public Defender Pelochino replied, explaining she advised the accused, “He had the right to be personally present but that if he wanted me to appear on his behalf I would do so this morning. And I would ask the court’s permission.”
Based on the findings of the court, the PD said, “I’m asking to not confirm the hearing this afternoon,” providing clarity to what should be decided upon this morning regarding the case.
Judge Dyer accepted the representation, confirming, for the record, she may appear 977. It was concluded the accused needs to come back in four weeks, on Oct. 4, and that he needs to be present for that pre preliminary hearing conference.