COURT WATCH: Motion to Dismiss 4-Year-Old Case Refused after Parties Haggle Over How to Proceed

By Citlalli Florez

WOODLAND, CA – A motion to dismiss a nearly four-year-old case was denied here in Yolo County Superior Court late last week after an assessment showed the accused no longer needed treatment and had not violated any laws since their initial charge in 2019.

The accused case began in November of 2019 with initial charges being possession of a controlled substance and possession of narcotic paraphernalia. The accused pleaded not guilty in July 2020.

There was a motion to dismiss the charges brought by Deputy Public Defender Stephen Betz, appearing for DPD Martha Sequeira.

However, Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian argued, “I understand it’s a misdemeanor meth possession case. I understand that this is a low-level crime; however, the purpose of the opposition is to ensure that she actually gets better.”

Kian added he does not see any successful completion of any of the programs, but there have been no new law violations since the initial charge was filed.

The prosecutor noted, “It does not address whether her drug addiction has been remedied. That’s what I’m looking for, is she getting better? Ultimately what’s going to happen is this case gets dismissed, but she is still going to have a problem, and the goal is to get her better.”

DDA Kian said, “I’m not looking to incarcerate her for her addiction, but this is a means to monitor her because this is a case where she has failed to appear in the past, and there were compliance issues and frankly with completion.”

Judge Samuel T. McAdam asked what would be offered in return, such as diversion. He wanted the DDA to consider that there were “good faith efforts” to come into court with at least three times that were unsuccessful.

It was also noted by the judge when the accused was assessed, the court was told that the accused no longer had a problem. DDA Kian asked for a new assessment to be made and for the accused to come forward and participate.

The judge stated, “It’s not the judge’s job to decide the merits of the law and so forth; the fact is that a criminal complaint was filed, and she caused all the delays here. There were three failures to appear, and warrants were issued. This extended period of time is because of her, and then she made three good faith efforts to enter programming, and she didn’t complete them… I would be able to entertain a motion to dismiss if I knew that she didn’t have a problem.”

DDA Kian suggested a diversion program. DPD Betz said the district attorney was doing a Harm Reduction appointment to take the first steps toward getting treatment at the beginning of the case and the accused “went beyond what was asked of her.”

The DPD said, “When she started PC 1000 back in 2019, I think there was a different perspective from the government and how they prosecuted these sort of cases and I think there has been a shift towards more of a diversion aspect.

“Even though she has had these attempts that weren’t necessarily successful… the amount of time she has put into each one of these programs, even if it’s short, is still many more hours and much more treatment than she would get than in most diversion programs.”

DPD Betz argued, “The goal of the PC 1000 program is to address low-level offenders and make sure they are not back in the system. There are no additional offenses since this incident which is a substantial period of time… the goal has been met which is harm has been reduced.”

Judge McAdam denied the request to dismiss “without prejudice,” noting, the “reason for the denial is that she caused all this delay, we really don’t know what she’s done… one of the programs which she was in was three to four days, so I don’t (agree) factually with the conclusion that she has done more than she would have done in two or three programs she was in.”

The judge concluded, “If she were performing right now without any previous warrants, I would continue to divert her and have her assessed and figure out what the exact program is that she needed to do. Not focusing on the point that it took four years to get to this point, and if she hadn’t failed to appear over and over in a four-year period, then the outcome would have been different.”

The judge wants the accused to be assessed by an expert.

However, the DPD suggested something different, putting the case on for a bench trial in March in regard to the matter of dismissal. The judge said he would consider the motion to dismiss if the assessment showed that the accused had recovered.

The attorneys discussed the assessment and how it would occur. Some main points that came up was that if the assessor has determined that the accused needed treatment, they would likely be placed on a waitlist for a program for months on end.

There are also only two residential treatment facilities that accept Medi-Cal insurance. Some people are also more likely to be placed further up on the list depending on urgency.

The case was continued until March, 2024.

About The Author

Citlalli Florez is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently majoring in Legal Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Art Practice. She intends to attend law school in the future with the purpose of gaining skills to further serve her community.

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