COURT WATCH: After Discussion with Judge, Homeless Man in Veterans Treatment Court Asks for Minute Orders to Keep in Backpack; Judge Agrees

By Kaveh Nasseri

MODESTO, CA – This week in Stanislaus County Superior Court a man in Veterans Treatment Court told the court that he was homeless, claiming he had nowhere but his backpack to store the minute orders he’d been issued by the judge.

The accused, who was enrolled in a domestic violence program, was told he would remain in the “red zone” until December, when he would qualify for promotion to the “white zone.”

The accused, who appeared in court on crutches, had recently broken his leg in a motorcycle accident, and noted at the beginning of his review hearing, “It was scary. It was awakening, for sure.” The accused informed the court that he had been in the hospital for a week.

Judge Carrie Stephens, who presided over the review hearing for the accused, then noted he had been moved to a different domestic violence program, and told him that his classes would transfer over to this program.

“I’m gonna keep you in the red zone and probably move you to the white zone next month, which is Dec. 11,” said Judge Stephens.

The accused responded by saying that he had already been moved to the white zone “four times ago, or three times ago, but Judge Stephens replied she was “not so sure” she had moved him before. “If I did it, I could only have done it in September, and I don’t recall doing it,” Judge Stephens said.

The accused emphasized the judge had told him he was doing a good job in previous months, but again, the judge said, after looking through the file, “I don’t know that it’s reflected in this.”

The judge added the court had “kind of a rough session last time,” and reaffirmed that he would remain in the “red zone” until his next appearance, stating that he would be moved to white if “everything is going well.”

A probation officer who was present at the hearing then said that they had planned to put the accused in the “white zone” in September, but that he was noncompliant with DV.

“I was in the hospital in September,” countered the accused, but Judge Stephens said, “You were here. I know you were here cause we talked, Sept. 18.”

Then, the accused recalled that he went into the hospital on Sept 20, shortly after his appearance in court.

“Again, just get back to where you need to be,” said Judge Stephens. The accused then asked how he could review the minute orders for his case. “You get a minute order every time you’re here in court. I don’t know where you keep them,” said Judge Stephens.

“I’m homeless right now, so they’re kept in my backpack,” the accused said in response, emphasizing that he did not have a safe place to keep the orders.

Judge Stephens said that she would print out a copy of the latest minute order and told the accused to go over it with his lawyer.

“I’m gonna print the last minute order. That would’ve been the earliest possibility to move you from red to white…that would have been the last court session. I didn’t do it because there were some issues,” Judge Stephens said.

The accused was told to return in December.

About The Author

Kaveh Nasseri Mashhadi is a recent graduate of UCLA with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. He is passionate about journalism, immigration law, and international politics. He hopes to attend law school and pursue a legal career.

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