Guest Commentary: Does Gloria Partida’s Conviction for a Felony in 2000 Disallow Her from Holding an Elected Public Office in California?

Mayor Gloria Partida presided over her first meeting as mayor

And did Gloria Partida sign a false statement and wrongfully fail to disclose the conviction as required by law in her Statement of Candidacy in 2022?

by Alan Pryor

The Alleged Felony Crimes, the Conviction, and the Sentencing

Based on official court records, Gloria Partida, current at-large Davis City Councilmember who is running for reelection in the newly created District 4 (East Davis and Wildhorse), was apparently charged in 1999 with four felony counts of “Forgery, Statute 470(A)” and one felony count of “Fraud to Obtain Aid, Statute 10980(C)(2)” for offenses committed in 1995 and 1996.

The following screenshot of the initial charges filed in Yolo County Superior Court was obtained from the Court’s document retrieval system (see https://portal-cayolo.tylertech.cloud/Portal/Home/WorkspaceMode?p=0, using “Partida, Gloria Jean” to search). Note that as of the evening of 10/10/2022, the records appear to have been scrubbed from the Court’s website although they were available earlier in the day:

The initial complaint against Ms. Partida was filed on 3/12/1999 and she was arraigned on all of the charges on 3/30/1999.

At the Preliminary Hearing on 2/2/2000, Ms. Partida entered a conditional plea of “guilty/Nolo” to the Fraud to Obtain Aid felony charge with the stipulation that no time in a State Prison would be imposed upon sentencing on the assigned date of 3/20/2000.

Following the submittal of the Probation Department Report, a sentencing order was issued by the Court on 3/20/2000 ordering restitution in the amount of $6,673.42, payment of Public Defender costs, and a 5-year probation in lieu of surrendering to serve 120 days in jail, which was apparently suspended with the entry “Stayed Reason Unknown”.

There was seemingly no sentencing for the four felony Forgery counts for which the Disposition Record shows “Conversion Disposition”. The basis for such disposition is unknown but is possibly due to a plea bargain when Ms. Partida pled guilty/Nolo to the Fraud to Obtain Aid charge.

The Expungement

Section 1203.4 of the California Penal Code allows for a person who has a felony conviction for which they successfully completed probation to have their conviction “expunged” from their record. This has the effect of changing a “guilty” plea or verdict to “not guilty” and the conviction is expunged from the person’s record. However, as discussed below, this expungement does not seal, destroy, or otherwise remove all records about the case; it does not remove certain penalties of the conviction; nor does it remove the responsibility to disclose this information under certain circumstances

According to the Penal Code’s language [emphasis added]:

“§1203.4. (a) (1) In any case in which a defendant has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation, or has been discharged prior to the termination of the period of probation, or in any other case in which a court, in its discretion and the interests of justice, determines that a defendant should be granted the relief available under this section, the defendant shall, at any time after the termination of the period of probation, if they are not then serving a sentence for any offense, on probation for any offense, or charged with the commission of any offense, be permitted by the court to withdraw their plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty; or, if they have been convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court shall set aside the verdict of guilty; and, in either case, the court shall thereupon dismiss the accusations or information against the defendant and except as noted below, the defendant shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which they have been convicted, except as provided in Section 13555 of the Vehicle Code…The order shall state, and the probationer shall be informed, that the order does not relieve them of the obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct question contained in any questionnaire or application for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency, or for contracting with the California State Lottery Commission.”

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=1203.4.

According to Yolo County Superior Court records, Ms. Partida’s probation was terminated on 9/1/2005, after which she petitioned the Court on 9/22/2005 for expungement. On 11/4/2005, the matter was heard in the Court and the motion was granted.

Presumably, that would have ended the matter were it not for the fact that Ms. Partida decided to run for Davis City Council in 2018, an election that she won. She has served as a Davis City Councilmember from 2018 until the present, serving as Mayor from June 2020 until June 2022.

 California Law Does Not Allow Certain Convicted Felons to Serve as an Elected Public Official

California Election Code, Chapter 1, Section 20 specifically prohibits persons convicted of certain types of felonies from serving in an elected office in the state [emphasis added].

Section 20 – Effect of felony conviction

(a) A person shall not be considered a candidate for, and is not eligible to be elected to, any state or local elective office if the person has been convicted of a felony involving accepting or giving, or offering to give, any bribe, the embezzlement of public money, extortion or theft of public money, perjury, or conspiracy to commit any of those crimes.(Emphasis added)

(b) For purposes of this section, “conviction of a felony” includes a conviction of a felony in this state and a conviction under the laws of any other state, the United States, or any foreign government or country of a crime that, if committed in this state, would be a felony, and for which the person has not received a pardon from the Governor of this state, the governor or other officer authorized to grant pardons in another state, the President of the United States, or the officer of the foreign government or country authorized to grant pardons in that foreign jurisdiction”

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=ELEC&sectionNum=20.

 These offenses are categorized as “violations of public trust.” Ms. Partida’s felony conviction for “Fraud to Obtain Aid” seemingly falls into the broad category of “theft of public money”; if this is correct, then it appears that Ms. Partida should not have been considered a candidate for office in 2018 nor have been eligible to be elected.

The only action that could remove this penalty would be a pardon. Expungement after serving probation is not included. This is further clarified by provisions in Section 1203.4 (a) (3) of the Penal Code that states the following regarding expungement:

Dismissal of an accusation or information underlying a conviction pursuant to this section does not permit a person prohibited from holding public office as a result of that conviction to hold public office.

https://casetext.com/statute/california-codes/california-penal-code/part-2-of-criminal-procedure/title-8-of-judgment-and-execution/chapter-1-the-judgment/section-12034-fulfillment-of-conditions-of-probation-change-dismissal-of-accusations-or-information

A reasonable interpretation of the above language seems to indicate that the prior type of felony conviction that Ms. Partida had precludes her from holding an elected office in the State of California whether or not the record of such conviction was expunged or not.

Public Misleading Statements and a False Filed Statement of Candidacy

 Ms. Partida’s Campaign Manager, Tracy Tomasky, wrote the following letter and posted it on NextDoor on October 9, 2022 in response to postings showing Ms. Partida’s was charged with the five felony offenses referred to above:

The screenshot that you are showing in your post does not correctly reflect the current status of Gloria’s case. Those charges were formally dismissed by the Yolo County Superior Court more than 17 years ago. Unfortunately, due to a paperwork error, the public facing website continues to show incorrect information. Gloria is working with her legal counsel and with the court to correct this error. As soon as it is corrected the record will correctly show that any remaining charge was dismissed. If you would like more information, please contact me privately, Tracy Tomasky, Campaign Manager

It appears Ms. Tomasky is claiming that because Ms. Partida’s charges were “dismissed” by Yolo County Superior Court as a result of the expungement of her record, that she essentially has no criminal record that would affect her ability to serve as an elected official and there is thus no need to disclose this information. This ignores the provisions in the California Election Code and Penal Code requiring Ms. Partida to affirm that she has no felony convictions in her Statement of Candidacy.

California law states in Section 1203 (a) (1) of the Penal Code that such disclosures of prior convictions are mandatory regardless of if such expungements occur at a later date.

The order shall state, and the probationer shall be informed, that the order does not relieve them of the obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct question contained in any questionnaire or application for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency, or for contracting with the California State Lottery Commission.

The Office of the Public Defender for San Diego County explains:

“The first thing that someone who wants to apply for an expungement needs to understand is that if your petition is granted under Penal Code 1203.4, your case is not sealed. A criminal record is not actually “expunged” under this statute. That term implies complete erasure, as if the case had never occurred. A more proper term is “dismissal”. The conviction remains on your record for many purposes, including sex offender registration and immigration consequences. What the statute provides is, except as elsewhere stated, the defendant is ‘released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense’. There are numerous limitations to this relief.”https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/public_defender/expungement.html

The State of California Courts have stated:

If you have successfully gotten a 1203.4 dismissal (“expungement”), it does NOT mean that the conviction is wiped away, sealed, purged or destroyed! The arrest is still there, charges are still there, but technically the conviction is “set aside and dismissed”.

IMPORTANT! There are a few places you still have to say yes, you have been convicted, even if it’s all been expunged. Those places are: 1) the INS; 2) any state or local licensing agency (like when you’re applying for a guard card or nursing license); 3) contracts with the state lottery; and 4) in an application for public office.” (emphasis added).

(https://www.courts.ca.gov/partners/documents/general_info_on_expungement.doc)

Ms. Partida signed a City of Davis Statement of Candidacy for the 2022 ballot and affirmed that she did not have any felony convictions in that filing in response to a specific question under the “Qualifications” section [red arrow inserted]:

It should be noted that in addition to apparently violating the CA Penal Code §1203.4 (a)(1) provision regarding the “obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct question contained in any questionnaire or application for public office,” filing a false document is in itself a felony offense in California as stated in California Penal Code §115. (a):

“Every person who knowingly procures or offers any false or forged instrument to be filed, registered, or recorded in any public office within this state, which instrument, if genuine, might be filed, registered, or recorded under any law of this state or of the United States, is guilty of a felony.”

(https://law.justia.com/codes/california/2011/pen/part-1/112-117/115)

Additionally, Ms. Partida failed to disclose the prior felony conviction in a public forum for District 4 candidates hosted by Indivisible Yolo, Yolo Democratic Socialists of America, and Yolo People Power on September 26, 2022, in Davis Community Chambers and recorded by Davis Media Access.

The following exchange occurred when the Moderator asked Ms. Partida about her prior experiences with the criminal justice system:

“Moderator General Opening Question – Please tell us about your personal experience with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime? Please tell us about that experience.

Moderator Following Question to Ms. Partida – Could you tell us Gloria about your experiences with the criminal justice system?

Ms. Partida Sure. So when I lived in LA I was handed down a 69 Impala which was actually a police magnet and I was pulled over on multiple occasions and that continued until I bought a minivan. But yes, I have been arrested and so have had that experience with the police. I still respect the police greatly.”

https://drive.google.com/file/d/13kIdxjpaGsT3s6G6_t7JV1EfNc4Ccuwt/view

Ms. Partida did not disclose her prior felony conviction and seemed to imply that her only prior interactions with law enforcement stemmed from her owning the Impala because it was a “police magnet”.

 

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10 Comments

  1. Ron Glick

    Pryor’s attack is so sleazy. I get he is still running against Measure H but hopefully the rest of the electorate  wants to look forward instead of back. The question this raises for me is if Adam Morrill is going to repudiate this kind of campaigning by his supporters?

    Just like with Colin Walsh digging into Carson’s emails it seems that these No on H supporters are willing to go so low that they should be ashamed of themselves and apologize or at least the candidates they are supporting should if they won’t.

  2. Alan Pryor

    To be clear, I do not question Ms. Partida’s character or values. I know she deeply cares about the poor, the disabled, the LGBT community and the disenfranchised and has worked tirelessly for many years on their behalf. My article had nothing to do with any of that and the issue of her character and values was not raised nor disparaged anywhere in any way in the article.

    My article was simply a factual representation of the law as it currently exists on the books and as it pertains to her ability to continue to serve on the City Council in light of that current law.

    The facts speak for themselves.

    1. Robert Canning

      I am repeating the comment I made to the DG commentary about this revelation:

      Alan Pryor says: “To be clear, I do not question Ms. Partida’s character or values. I know she deeply cares about the poor, the disabled, the LGBT community and the disenfranchised and has worked tirelessly for many years on their behalf. My article had nothing to do with any of that and the issue of her character and values was not raised nor disparaged anywhere in any way in the article. My article was simply a factual representation of the law as it currently exists on the books and as it pertains to her ability to continue to serve on the City Council in light of that current law. The facts speak for themselves.”

      It seems to me that Alan wants to have it both ways – i.e. to both deny that the article is about someone’s values and character, AND then state that the person was not honest with the public and that he “seemed to imply that her only prior interactions with law enforcement …” were infractions.
      It seems to me that honesty, forthrightness, and transparency in public statements go directly to someone’s values and character.  And given the context of the article (e.g., the timing of his recitation of facts vis a vis the election, recent Council votes on developments, etc.) it would seem that Alan is (IMHO) definitely questioning Ms. Partida’s character. One way to think about this revelation is to wonder what the discussion would be like if Alan had published this a year ago, six months ago, or even six months from now.
      Facts, in this context, are never JUST the facts. And if you don’t believe that, I have a bridge (or maybe a research park in East Davis) to sell you

    2. Ron Glick

      No Alan, its a set up and hit piece timed to perfectly coincide with the arrival of mail in ballots. Someone just happened to ask about this at a public forum. You are simply disclosing what you found just as ballots come out. So many coincidences so little time. Attacking her character is exactly what you are doing.
      As one of my students once said “I’m as innocent as O.J.”
      Apparently the Yolo DA sent this to the Sac DA who determined there is nothing there. If you bothered to read David’s critique you would stand down instead of doubling down but that is not the point. The point is to try to damage Partida and impugn her character before the voters.
      As I said above, sleazy. I doubled down too.
      Full disclosure, I sent $150 to Gloria’s campaign.

  3. Ann Block

    Yes, Alan, the facts DO speak for themselves.  Your own screenshot indicates the conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor in 2005 – how did you “forget” to notice that?  A motion was granted BOTH to reduce the 20 year old conviction to a misdemeanor pursuant to Calif. P.C. 17(b)(3), as noted above, AND to allow withdrawal of the prior plea and dismissal. So clearly Gloria answered the question correctly and is and was always eligible to serve on the City Council. The vitriol and false allegations of the “No on H” campaign has gotten completely out of control.

    As to the 20 year old prior conviction itself, this county (Yolo) under the current D.A. and his mentor and predecessor, has long charged as felonies what neighboring Solano and Sacramento normally charge as misdemeanors.  In addition, “welfare fraud” cases, are often unfortunately brought against obviously low-income people unable to hire a fancy, unlimited time, expensive defense attorney — for misunderstandings and miscommunications often caused by their benefits caseworker. And public defenders usually believe there is “no defense” in these cases – benefits were overpaid, so they think its cut and dried. (I advise public defenders on pleading every day as part of my job, and hear this all the time). But that is far from the reality, and I am presently in the process of collaborating on a practice advisory targeted to public defenders, with a Legal Aid attorney who is expert in these matters, to help public defenders understand there are often quite strong defenses in these cases where there was no intent to commit fraud.

    I myself have recently had a client so charged with the exact same “felony” – who I had actually pushed to apply for benefits due to her lupus diagnosis, inability to work and having the need to support two young children.  She was charged due to an asset she didn’t realize she needed to disclose, that she could not sell, and that she was not asked about. The conservative D.A. (in another northern Calif. county) charged her, nevertheless, when the county reported what they thought was an overpayment, despite the fact that she immediately began making restitution.  It took FOUR attorneys that I recruited — including myself, a private pro bono criminal defense attorney and two Legal Aid attorneys (one of which is the expert in mischarged “welfare fraud” cases), plus another asset expert, to overcome these charges, including appealing the denial of ongoing benefits.  She ultimately won on all counts, the benefits were restored, her restitution reimbursed, the D.A. dropped the charges, but nothing compensated for the shame and embarrassment she experienced in the process. Most are not so lucky, and just plead out and pay back the benefits, in order to avoid the worst consequences of a jail sentence, to protect family members or similar reasons. Obviously this old matter was very painful for Gloria, involved family issues, and had she been able to afford counsel that had the time to investigate what happened and vigorously defend her, she may well not have ended up with any conviction at all, not even a misdemeanor.

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      I myself have recently had a client so charged with the exact same “felony” – who I had actually pushed to apply for benefits due to her lupus diagnosis, inability to work and having the need to support two young children.  She was charged due to an asset she didn’t realize she needed to disclose, that she could not sell, and that she was not asked about.

      Just to clarify – you’re an attorney specializing in this area, advising a client to ultimately do something with resulted in a felony charge?

      Also, is the law so “sloppy” that she was not asked about this – as you claim? But that it “came out” afterward?

      She ultimately won on all counts, the benefits were restored, her restitution reimbursed, the D.A. dropped the charges

      If so, then the law is definitely unclear.

    2. Ron Oertel

      But, why weren’t Gloria’s charges completely dismissed (and benefits restored), as with your client’s situation? Since you claim that they are “exact same felony”?

      Did she hire the wrong attorney, for example? Should have hired you (and the four attorneys you “recruited”), instead?

      And is there anything you can do to help her, now? Other than to submit comments here?

  4. Richard_McCann

    Ron O

    Didn’t you see that the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor that removes any such restrictions and that this was in the post that you were responding to?

    1. Ron Oertel

      Richard M:  Did you see that this isn’t what I responded to regarding Ann’s comment (which wasn’t even addressed to me in the first place)?

      I was responding to her own account that she advised someone to apply for benefits which resulted in a felony charge that required her and three other attorneys to overturn. Seemed like a strange story.

    2. Ron Oertel

      But as to your question, I didn’t actually see the charges reduced to a misdemeanor in the screenshot, when skimming through it.

      If that’s what occurred, this would (presumably) benefit Gloria more than just completely dismissing the charges.  Per the law that Alan P cited, a complete dismissal would preclude Gloria from serving on the council.  Whereas I assume that reducing the charges to a misdemeanor would not preclude her. (A strange technicality.)

      I think it would be better if cities conducted background checks for council candidates, and made their own determination before a council member is even seated.  But I don’t actually know what the process is (if any), other than relying upon what a candidate states on a form.

      I actually don’t want to see Gloria (or anyone else) removed this way, regardless. That is, finding out something “after-the-fact”. (Which in my opinion, is not sufficiently serious or recent-enough to justify removal in Gloria’s case, based upon what I understand of the situation at least.)

      But what if a council member had committed something more serious – would that also depend upon “citizen sleuths” to investigate after a council member is seated?

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