Even If Mental Health Is Contributing Factor to Alleged Offense, Judge Rules He’d Still Reject Diversion

By Audrey Sawyer

MODESTO, CA – A hearing regarding a motion for mental health diversion was held in Stanislaus County Superior Court this week for a man facing alleged original felony charges of carjacking.

While Judge Robert B. Westbrook acknowledged the accused has severe mental health issues, Westbrook refused to provide mental health diversion. 

Deputy Public Defender Jed Harrington noted the previous preliminary hearing found there is a strong nexus for mental health issues. Harrington added the defense has provided sufficient medical documentation to prove the diversion is acceptable. 

Judge Westbrook acknowledged the mental health issues of the accused, stating, “I do not doubt that there are severe mental health issues in this case. I am hesitant as to whether there is evidence presented that they are a substantial contributing factor to the offense.”

The judge added that even if they were a contributing factor to the offense, he would not grant diversion. 

“The charge is contemplated by the statute, but the charge seems severe enough to me that it would not be in the interest of justice to grant diversion,” said Westbrook.

When inquiring if there would be a potential plea, PD Harrington said there would not be a plea to carjacking in a case like this, and that it may as well go to trial. A case management conference is set for April 10. 

About The Author

Audrey is a senior at UC San Diego majoring in Political Science (Comparative Politics emphasis). After graduation, Audrey plans on attending graduate school and is considering becoming a public defender.

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