COURT WATCH: Judge Denies Offense Reduction 28 Years Later, Calling It ‘Slap’ in Face of Victim 

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 Xinhui Lin

LOS ANGELES, CA – A case dating back 28 years has resurfaced in the Los Angeles County Superior Court in a petition for offense reduction hearing. 

The accused currently lives a prosperous life, according to private Defense Attorney Craig Allen Renetzky, who motioned to reduce the accused’s sexual assault felony conviction to a misdemeanor. 

But, despite Renetzky’s effort to emphasize the accused’s remorse from committing the crime, his clean criminal record, and voluntary plea, Judge Kathryn Solórzano ultimately rejected the motion to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor. 

Attorney Renetzky addressed Judge Solórzano, stating his client still carries remorse for his actions to this day, and emphasized, “My client complies with probation requirements…considering his current employment status, education level, and active role in the local support system, he is no longer a threat to the victim.”

As Judge Solórzano delved deeper into the trial transcript, she also noted the accused’s statement about carrying the weight of his actions for life. 

The victim’s family expressed agreement that the accused shows remorse but also insisted on appropriate punishment for his actions. They did not consider him a sexual predator, according to the transcript.

Looking at the transcript, Judge Solórzano brought the court back to 1996. The accused and the victim got out of a party, and the accused “plans to take her somewhere.” The victim, under the influence of alcohol, consented. They ended up in a park where the accused offered more alcohol to the victim.

“It was a horrible crime,” Judge Solórzano remarked while reviewing the transcript. “You not only abandoned her after stealing her ring, but you also verbally abused and sexually assaulted her.” The accused was present virtually during this session.

Judge Solórzano highlighted the severe impact on the victim, stating, “The victim is very vulnerable…I believe she requires extensive counseling to recover from this.” 

Deputy District Attorney Juliet Evelyn Schmidt concurred, saying, “We cannot ignore the crime.”

Defense Attorney Renetzky added, “Nevertheless, Your Honor, I must point out that my client voluntarily pleaded before probation.” He also highlighted the accused’s positive progress in life.

In response, Judge Solórzano noted “he did what he did after what was over, but he didn’t do what he was supposed to do on probation,” noting, “There’s no clear explanation in the file about why disposition was allowed…the court never resolved what happened.”

DDA Schmidt explained the previous DA did not support probation, as indicated by not checking the probation box. Judge Solórzano countered, “But she didn’t actively oppose it…there’s no clear statement against probation in this excerpt of transcript.”

Although Attorney Renetzky still argued for reducing the offense to a misdemeanor, citing the accused’s stay in a sober living house for about 16 months, Judge Solórzano remained firm, maintaining that “however, he still did not do well in probation. Yes, he went to some program in some state, but I am not willing to discredit what happened based on the description of the crime. ”

Judge Solórzano referred to the victim’s words, and added, “I don’t have enough information to indicate that what she said happened didn’t happen. There are many scenarios that discount a crime in terms of the effect on the victim. Victims often don’t want to testify if it makes them look foolish or it is embarrassing to them. In this instance, being under the influence, leaving the party, and going with you to the park consuming more alcohol.

“If all of that was bad judgment, and it would be more humiliating for her to go through the trial. The fact that this case wasn’t tried doesn’t convince me that there is something about the event itself that was valuably discounted in terms of credibility of the witness.”

Based on the offense itself and violation in probation, Judge Solórzano rejected the motion to reduce the felony into a misdemeanor, ruling, “I commend you for your prospects in life, but the facts are what they are… that (the victim) left the park with you in a condition where she only had one shoe indicates to me that something happened there that was extremely upsetting to her. No, I am not going to do it.”

Attorney Renetzky sought clarification on future considerations for reduction, to which Judge Solórzano promptly responded, “No, I just said, it would be a real slap in the face for the victim to characterize this crime as a misdemeanor.”

About The Author

Xinhui Lin is a first-year student at the University of California, Los Angeles, pursuing a double major in Public Affairs and Sociology on a Pre-law track. Her unwavering commitment to addressing social injustices is deeply rooted in her cultural background and her personal experiences while growing up in Shanghai, China. Xinhui keenly observed the pervasive gender and racial inequalities, the subtle yet significant discrimination against minority groups, and the everyday micro-aggressions that disenfranchised individuals face. After exploring the philosophical question regarding the intricate relationship between power, morality, and justice, Xinhui kindled her interest in the intricacies of the criminal justice system – a cornerstone of society meant to epitomize principles of justice and fairness. Her commitment to understanding and improving this system is evident in her aspirations to potentially pursue a career as an attorney, with a strong desire to advocate for disadvantaged individuals.

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