COURT WATCH: Judge Sets Trial Date Despite Defense Concern about Readiness because of Accused’s Medical Condition

By Cynthia Hoang-Duong

WOODLAND, CA – Judge Tom M. Dyer was pressed to devise a compromise between the prosecution and defense here in Yolo County Superior Court this week, setting a jury trial date as requested by the prosecution despite the likelihood the defense will not be prepared to move forward.

Representing the accused, Deputy Public Defender Katie De Anda discussed her client’s consecutive hospitalizations and missed previous court dates. On May 16, the court agreed to hold a bench warrant until May 30 after the prosecution demanded proof of her hospitalization.

However, the day before the court date, the accused was admitted to the hospital again and was unable to provide proof. As a result, the judge issued bench warrants and the accused’s bail bond was forfeited.

In response, DPD De Anda requested on June 6 the court recall her client’s warrants because she had been in the intensive care unit (ICU) for several days. The judge declined but admitted he did not have sufficient knowledge of the case.

This Monday morning, defense counsel informed the court the accused was discharged from the hospital late Saturday night and was on bed rest for the next 6-8 weeks. The defense had provided two letters of proof to the DDA assigned to the case.

Because of her client’s hospitalization, she asked the court to recall her warrants and suggested that Judge Dyer release the accused on “own recognizance” (OR).

Regarding her client’s theft-related charges—grand theft using false pretenses and theft from elders—the DPD stressed they are nonviolent offenses and the accused only had one prior misdemeanor conviction from almost a decade ago.

Although acknowledging the complaining witness’ frustrations with the case, the DPD insisted, “I am at a point where I can’t do anything. I can’t work with my client because she is in and out of the hospital and she’s currently on bed rest. I can’t set a jury trial date knowing that she’s going to be here for certain.”

Deputy District Attorney Preston S. Schaub, on behalf of the DDA assigned to the case, Deanna Hays, shared Hays’ concerns about the proof they received regarding the accused’s medical care. One of the documents was flagged as potentially illegitimate because of an error in the accused’s date of birth.

DDA Schaub noted the prosecution will attempt to contact the doctor directly to verify the information on the document, adding their intentions to subpoena the accused’s medical records to confirm that she has been in hospital and that her medical condition was preventing her from appearing in court.

The DDA also said the prosecution opposed OR and requested the judge set the jury trial at the end of August.

Regarding the bail bond forfeiture, the DDA argued the defense had time and notice to obtain a reassumption and requested that the accused’s status remain the same with the warrant outstanding.

Adamantly opposing this, DPD De Anda, retorted, “I would inquire of the People on how they expect her to get a reassumption when she’s been in the hospital pretty much consecutively since the last court date.”

Displeased with the prosecution’s allegations the documents were forged, the DPD declared that, as an officer of the court, she had verified that her client was in the hospital. She reported that the letters came from Dignity Health in a sealed envelope with the information, including the doctor’s name and number.

“This is not a situation where somebody appears to be fraudulently supplying things to the court when she’s being taken to the hospital and in the ICU for multiple days,” said De Anda.

Based on the accused’s medical condition, she complained that setting the trial date in August is not effective because she cannot meet with her client for the next 6-8 weeks because of the accused’s mandated bed rest.

The defense proposed the court return for a trial setting hearing at the end of August for updates. She claimed it was “inappropriate” for the court to keep the warrant until the court date.

She stressed, “If she gets picked up on a warrant, if the officers go to her home, she’s going to be pulled into the jail. And there’s a potential that could kill her given her current medical condition and the amount of times she’s been in and out of the ICU at the hospital.”

Submitting to the court, she reiterated her request for her client to be released on OR.

Considering the arguments from both parties, Judge Dyer ultimately decided to set a trial readiness conference on Aug. 23 but agreed to an Aug. 28 jury trial date.

Moreover, he agreed to a conditional OR, instructing that the accused is searchable for stolen property and instruments of embezzlement, such as documents in others’ names.

He also agreed to hold the bench warrants until the trial readiness conference.

Disagreeing with the jury trial date, the DPD stated her intentions to file a 1050 motion (PC § 1050 motion for a continuance) to continue the hearing because she anticipated that she does not have time to meet with her client and will not be prepared for trial.

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