COURT WATCH: Court Denies Judicial Diversion; Unhoused Accused Unable to Afford Court-Ordered Classes  

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 Sarah Chayet

VAN NUYS, CA – Deputy Public Defender Nikki D. Herst-Cook’s request that an unhoused accused person be able to attend counseling instead of domestic violence classes was denied by Commissioner Dennis Mulcahy this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court here, despite the accused’s inability to pay for the classes.

“(The accused) is homeless and working odd jobs here and there,” said DPD Herst-Cook, adding they had been able to find counseling services that would come at no cost to the accused, while most DV class programs are around $25 per class. 

“$25 per class is a significant amount of money,” said DPD Herst-Cook, noting these classes would span several weeks, requiring a payment of around this amount each week. 

Commissioner Mulcahy asked the defense if the accused was receiving any assistance from government services. The defense said the only form of government assistance the accused was receiving was food stamps. 

“Further relief denied,” said DPD Herst-Cook, referring to relief that would have helped the accused pay for the court-ordered DV classes. 

“I think there’s things that are available to him,” said Commissioner Mulcahy. “It seems to me he would qualify for these services. It’s a matter of finding housing and financial services,” said Commissioner Mulcahy.

The commissioner inquired of the defense whether or not there were programs for people who were “totally indigent,” like the accused, or if there was a social worker that could assist him. DPD Herst-Cook identified herself as being the person who takes on the role of a social worker in this situation.

 “(The court) is not willing to grant judicial diversion because nothing is going to be accomplished,” said Mulcahy. The accused had a probation violation that was outstanding. 

“I can help him try to get services,” said DPD Herst-Cook. “I know of one (DV class program) that’s free, but it’s in Boyle Heights.”

Commissioner Mulcahy continued to state more helpful resources could be sought out by the defense, adding. “I understand the issues, but I hope you can help him find government assistance.”

This case has been continued and will next be heard March 20.

About The Author

I'm a recent California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo grad. I majored in English and received a minor in Studio Art. In the fall, I plans to go back to school for a master's degree in English Literature. Currently, I am a transcript editor for CalMatters, and I hope to enter the field of technical writing someday. In my freetime, I love to draw, go on roadtrips, and camp

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