COURT WATCH: Man’s Charges Dismissed after 2 Juries Acquit Him for Defending Himself Trying to Use Shop Bathroom  

San Francisco Hall of Justice – Photo by David M. Greenwald

By The Vanguard Staff

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A man who was jailed more than two years and forced to endure two jury trials for simply trying to access a shop’s bathroom was twice found not guilty, with all charges finally dismissed by prosecutors late last week here in San Francisco County Superior Court.

According to his public defenders, Donovan Catron “defended himself against a shopkeeper who physically ejected Catron in response to his attempt to access the shop’s bathroom” in June 2021. 

Catron spent over two years in county jail and was tried twice at “great taxpayer expense. In January, a jury acquitted Catron of elder abuse, and in September, a second jury acquitted him of assault and rejected the district attorney’s theory that a knife was used,” added the SF Public Defenders Office.

The office said both juries hung on the charge of mayhem, because of an eye injury the shopkeeper suffered during the encounter. Catron remained jailed two months past his last trial before prosecutors dismissed the final charge last week.

In both trials, Deputy Public Defenders Patrick Geddes (January) and Anthony Miziko (September) respectively argued “surveillance footage showed Catron was not the aggressor and had acted in lawful self-defense after the shopkeeper tried to physically throw him out of the shop.”

“We thank both juries for carefully reviewing the evidence and recognizing that, although Mr. Catron was unwanted in the shop, he was acting in self-defense after being punched, pushed, and having several clumps of his hair pulled out by the shopkeeper,” said Miziko.

Miziko added, “By waiting two months after his last trial to dismiss the remaining charge, the prosecution further delayed justice for Mr. Catron, whose speedy trial rights had already been violated by the court.”

The lawyers noted, “Despite Catron asserting his Constitutional right to a speedy trial, SF Superior Court delayed his first trial for 18 months past the deadline. Catron then had to wait another nine months after prosecutors asked for a retrial on the charges that hung in the first trial. 

“After the second trial, prosecutors announced their intention to pursue a third trial on the mayhem charge, so Catron remained jailed two more months before the charge was dismissed. In total, Mr. Catron was forced to spend nearly two and a half years in jail in near-lockdown conditions with no sunlight.”

“This case not only underscores the importance of holding speedy trials, but also highlights how unjust and wasteful such aggressive prosecutions can be,” said San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju, whose office has been advocating for SF Superior Court to end its pandemic-era practice of continuing trials past their Constitutionally-mandated deadline without good cause.

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