Judge Disagrees with Appeals Court Decision, but Concedes; DA to Decide to Retry Case – Or Not.

By Ivan Villegas

WOODLAND, CA – “Personally, I think the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s decision is wrong at many levels, but it is the decision. I am bound by that decision, and I must grant the motion, against my better judgment,” said Judge David Rosenberg this week in Yolo County Superior Court about a felony case still pending from 2007.

The accused was charged with obstructing an executive officer, a felony, more than 15 years ago on April 12, 2007. The accused was also charged with two counts of battery against an officer and one count of battery against a person.

On May 13, 2008, the accused was found not guilty by reason of insanity for all four charges. The prosecutors assigned to this case appealed to a higher court, leading the defendant to request a withdrawal of the initial not guilty by reason of insanity plea.

During the review hearing for this case, Judge Rosenberg joked with Deputy Public Defender Joseph Gocke, “Are we in the middle of terra incognita?”

Judge Rosenberg then asked, “Am I bound by the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal?”

PD Gocke responded in the affirmative, saying “my review of the case law throughout is this is the only case that is published, that has been affirmed for publication, and as such the court is duty bound to follow as it is a higher court in the California court hierarchy.”

Judge Rosenberg then clarified that if there were any district court of appeal’s decision that contradicts or goes against the decision in the Fourth District Court of Appeal, “then I have conflicting decisions and I can make up my own mind.”

After confessing that he disagreed with the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal but that he must abide by it, Judge Rosenberg granted the motion to allow the accused to withdraw their initial plea.

“I suppose we need to bring the case back, so the (prosecution) can decide” if it wished to retry the case, said the judge.

The hearing for the withdrawal of the plea was scheduled for Oct. 25.

About The Author

Ivan Villegas (he/him) is a criminal justice graduate from CSU Sacramento. He wishes to continue his studies in law school starting in fall 2023. He is interested in immigration and international law, and hopes to use his degree for a career as an immigration attorney.

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