COURT WATCH: Prosecutor Opposes Military Diversion, Charges Accused Already Lacks Motivation in Treatment – Judge OKs Alternatives

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 – Judge David Hizami late last week in Los Angeles Superior Court approved military diversion despite the prosecutor’s argument the accused was not suitable.

Deputy District Attorney Bora Lee claimed the accused posed a threat to public safety because he was diagnosed with substance abuse disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome/PTSD in 2018.

The accused did not begin treatment until 2023, and DDA Lee said this showed a lack of motivation toward rehabilitation.

Judge Hizami said that, previously, “the court did not deny (military diversion), but was not inclined to grant (military diversion)” for the accused.

This hesitation was because the court had not yet been provided documents to indicate that the accused was taking action to address substance abuse and mental health circumstances.

“What I have today are two things: a letter from the DA representing that (the accused) has been to the VA care center…and a Department of Veteran Affairs document,” said Judge Hizami.

According to Judge Hizami, “(the accused) was charged with the possession of narcotics,” and was later diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder.

Judge Hizami also acknowledged the accused’s military past, and revealed one of the documents he was provided with indicated that substance abuse relating to “alcohol and cannabis” has been linked to individuals who suffer from PTSD.

“(This case) has missing pieces in order to grant diversion,” said DDA Lee, citing the five-year gap between the charges the accused has faced. Lee said the accused was first charged and diagnosed in 2018 and the court had no proof that he attended any rehabilitation programs before his next charge in 2023.

“I would like to emphasize that, yes, (the accused) was diagnosed, but did not treat himself,” said Judge Hizami.

“All letters are dated after the incident date,” said DDA Lee, referring to the letters that Judge Hizami mentioned earlier in the hearing. “(The accused) does not really care about his diagnosis…he was driving, he is not suitable.”

DDA Lee added that because the accused was driving under the influence and in possession of narcotics, that he was a “danger to society.”

“I agree with (DDA Lee),” said Judge Hizami. “I don’t know that I think this is the end of the road with him, but I think this is a wake-up call.”

While Judge Hizami told DDA Lee that her argument was “strong,” he ultimately made the decision to grant the military diversion to the accused.

“The totality of (the accused’s) behavior looks like he’s really—for lack of better words—taken the bull by the horns…to address the issue since October,” said Judge Hizami.

According to Deputy Public Defender Andrew Clegg, the accused was almost done with one program related to his diagnoses by the time of this hearing.

Judge Hizami went on to describe the conditions of the accused’s diversion, which included the Hospital and Morgue (HAM) Program, the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) program, community labor, and more.

“I just want to emphasize that the (prosecution thinks) this is a dangerous case,” said DDA Lee. “I hope (the accused) continues to care.”

The court set another hearing for this case in two years..

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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