Man with Health Issues Fights to Maintain Right to Be Present in Court

By Taylor Smith and Jack Sandmeyer

WOODLAND, CA – The accused phoned into Yolo County Superior Court Wednesday afternoon to attend a hearing for a resentencing for his 2011 burglary conviction.

While he did not let his debilitating health conditions stop him from being present in the court, the sheriff’s deputy responsible for transporting him to the jail and then to the court did note the health issues.

Sara Johnson of the Public Defender’s Office requested on the accused’s behalf the court order his presence, because the accused would like the court to see his physical state before they continue with his decade-old case.

Judge Dave Rosenberg began the hearing seemingly hesitant to comply with this request, but sympathetic, nonetheless. He said, “I have read about his condition, and it is pretty grim.”

He then spoke directly to the accused over the phone after Johnson explained the reason for his physical absence from the court; she said the sheriff responsible for transporting him to the jail was unable to keep the accused there due to lack of proper nursing staff to tend to his health conditions.

The accused explained he understood that it is difficult to house him for an extended period of time as he needs to be lying down in a medical bed and have someone rotate him every two hours if he is not in his wheelchair.

He told Judge Rosenberg he wants to be present in court nonetheless and feels confident he will be able to sit in court without care providers for the few hours his trial will take.

“As long as I am sitting down, I don’t need to be turned or anything. I just need to be pushed and the officer can push me from point A to point B,” he explained after being told the staff does not have the ability to transport him. “If they come and get me at 11 o’clock I can be there at 1:30 with no problem.”

Given that a jury previously found him guilty and sentenced him to 25 years in prison based on his five prior prison terms and 10 prior felony convictions, the accused begged to not have to waive his right to be present in court so that the judge could see his immobilizing physical conditions.

After much back and forth, Judge Rosenberg finally agreed and ordered the accused’s presence in court, but once again informed the accused “if the sheriff tells me that he cannot do it, then we’re going to have to have a hearing on it.”

The accused reminded the court that he was able to be transported by van just two days before this hearing, meaning there should be no reason that the sheriff should be unable to do it.

In the final dialogue between the two, Judge Rosenberg informed the defendant “the Sheriff is the one who is going to have to arrange the transportation for you from your facility to the court.”

In response to this, the accused inquired as to whether or not he could be driven straight to the courthouse from his facility instead of to the jail, to which Judge Rosenberg replied, “I can’t answer that question.”

The accused will be present in court so long as he remains physically able on Nov. 17 for his re-sentencing hearing.

About The Author

Taylor is a second year student at UC Davis pursuring a degree in Communication with a minor in Philosophy. She plans to graduate in 2023 and hopes to attend law school post-graduation to explore her many passions.

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