By Sofia Hosseinzadeh
WOODLAND, CA – A Yolo County Superior Court heard a case Monday of a man with an open charge set to enter the county Restorative Justice Partnership (RJP) to resolve the case, but this plan was disrupted by a new, unrelated misdemeanor charge, which threatens to make him ineligible for the program.
The RJP program, formed by the Yolo County district attorney’s office, is designed to allow individuals to discuss their conduct with members of their community instead of in a courtroom. In this program the participants learn to recognize the consequences of their actions on the community and learn ways to resolve the harm caused.
The accused’s plan to enter an RJP was interrupted by a new criminal charge, but Deputy Public Defender Scott McCormick asked Judge Daniel Wolk Monday for more time to work with the accused to settle restitution for his new charge of an animal at large, meaning the animal was found outside the owner’s property and running free.
Deputy District Attorney Frits Van Der Hoek, speaking on behalf of DDA Aloysius Patchen, argued RJP is no longer an option for the accused because of the new charge.
“It’s not that it’s being held up and will some time come undone. He’s not eligible for RJP anymore. RJP isn’t happening,” DDA Van Der Hoek concluded.
DPD McCormick interjected, arguing the new misdemeanor for an animal at large should not interfere with RJP since the accused has complied with the requirements for RJP.
“So here’s the thing. He did everything he was supposed to for the RJP. He attended the conference, the conference said, ‘We want you to write a letter or an essay about gun violence.’ He did all that,” DPD McCormick said.
The proposed conclusion for this issue to allow the accused to continue with RJP, according to DPD McCormick, is for the accused to pay restitution for the new misdemeanor case which would dismiss the case.
DPD McCormick argues this expectation places a burden on the accused because of financial restraints.
“They said if he pays restitution, which is a couple thousand dollars, he’ll get the dismissal (but he) doesn’t have a lot of financial means so that restitution is perhaps a hurdle I was hoping they would confer to a civil judgment like they’ve done with some other clients, said DPD McCormick.
DDA Van Der Hoek ultimately dropped the argument over whether the accused was still qualified for RJP in favor of allowing DPD McCormick to continue discussing case details with the accused.
“There are multiple issues that are going into an analysis of RJP eligibility” DDA Van Der Hoek said, adding, “As far as what Mr. McCormick is saying, let’s let them go over the case and we’ll come back.”