Accused Unable to Assert Right to Speedy Trial, Defense Claims – Judge Disagrees

By Julie McCaffrey

WOODLAND, CA – This week in a Yolo County Superior Court, the defense argued the accused was unable to assert his right to a speedy trial, due to court incompetence, and requested the case be dismissed.

The accused is charged with petty theft. In 2019, he allegedly stole approximately $18 of sushi when he was homeless.

Deputy Public Defender Courtney Leavitt argued that because the accused was ruled incompetent to stand trial in San Joaquin County, he was unable to waive his right to speedy trial in Yolo County, as it requires an understanding of what it means.

She asserts that “when someone is found incompetent to stand trial, generally they don’t understand the proceedings against them.”

The accused spent two years in the state hospital. Yolo County was notified of his whereabouts and status in San Joaquin County, and chose not to pick him up to bring him to trial, said the defense.

Leavitt also added she believed there was presumed prejudice regarding the delay in time, as memories have faded since 2019. She concludes that “the fault for the delay lies with the county, and not [the accused].”

She further argued to dismiss the case in the interest of justice, as he has already completed treatment in San Joaquin County at the state hospital and is making good progress.

The prosecution countered the accused was aware he must appear in court in Yolo County in 2019, but deliberately did not appear and did not assert his right to a speedy trial. She also argued that “the people are not required to do everything humanly possible [to get him to court].”

The prosecution opined she does not think it is appropriate to argue that because he was found incompetent in San Joaquin County they should dismiss the case in Yolo County.

Defense Counsel Leavitt noted if the accused was found incompetent in San Joaquin County, he would have most likely been found incompetent in Yolo County if he had been brought to Yolo County first.

She added “he’s done the treatment that would’ve been required of him had he been brought here earlier” by spending two years in a state hospital.

Judge Daniel Wolk ultimately denied the motion for dismissal, citing the accused failed to appear in court on several occasions, and believed “a dismissal in the interest of justice was not warranted.”

About The Author

Julie is a third year at UC Davis majoring in Communications and Psychology with a minor in Philosophy. She hopes to advocate for women's reproductive rights and make the justice system fairer for sexual assault survivors.

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1 Comment

  1. Walter Shwe

    This case is a total joke. It should have never been brought to Yolo County Court. It is a complete waste of taxpayer funds and everyone’s time. The District Attorney’s office should be ashamed of itself for pursuing this case.

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