COURT WATCH: Misidentified Accused Loses Job after System Failure Drags Him to Court

LOS ANGELES- CA, MARCH 2: Los Angeles Superior Court Stanley Mosk Courthouse March 2, 2004 in Los Angeles Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

By Vy Tran and Sebastian Ramirez

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles County Superior Court apparently misidentified an innocent African-American man as the accused in a hearing here Friday because he shared the same name with the real accused.

The court learned the system failed to check if the two people had the same date of birth or descriptions.

And, the accused was described as a 5′ 8” man with a weight of 120 lbs., while the innocent man present in the court was 6′ 5” with a burly build

“I’m 6′ 4” on a good day,” the deputy public defender remarked, when asked to provide a point of reference of height for the innocent man.

The DPD’s reply corroborated the courtroom clerk’s guess the “Clark” in court was not the same “Clark” they were indicting in the hearing. Further comments from the deputy district attorney and the clerk agreed in the middle of what they believed was a “baffling” situation.

The 26-year-old man in court was barred from getting a job after finding out from the hiring management that he had a criminal record because of the misidentification.

“He (the wrong ‘Clark’) used to play basketball for Vanderbilt,” the DPD explained to the clerk. “His profile doesn’t match with what we have on the record at all.”

Judge Manuel A. Aluada was the most perplexed individual once court was in session. What was supposed to be an arraignment and plea hearing turned into a conversation about systemic failure.

“It must have been an error in the system,” the DPD answered tentatively, uncertain about how to proceed.

“How did no one manage to check whether their birthdays even match?” Judge Aluada asked as he flipped through the documents. “We will reschedule and summon (the actual accused) at a later date.”

After giving his right thumbprint to the courtroom clerk for identity verification, the misidentified man was free to leave and, no doubt, to re-apply for the job once again.

The actual accused of this hearing has been rescheduled to appear Dec. 20.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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