COURT WATCH: Judge Rejects ‘Vindictive’ Prosecution Motion, Disregards Officer and District Attorney Mistakes 

By Darlin Navarrete and Jocelyn Lopez

WOODLAND, CA –  Yolo County Superior Court Judge Daniel M. Wolk Monday sided with the prosecution here, despite evidence suggesting a pattern of error from the District Attorney’s office involving a new police officer at the time incorrectly charging individuals.

The accused is facing three misdemeanor charges: driving under the influence, drunk driving and suspended license, with two enhancements: speeding while DUI/additional penalty, and one allegation: violation of probation.

Deputy District Attorney Robin Johnson began by addressing the motion of vindictive charges stated by Deputy Public Defender Roberto Villa.

DDA Johnson explained to the court that upon reviewing this case with DDA Frits Van Der Hoek they realized that this case was around the time when Officer Gustavo Figueroa was new to charging people.

DDA Johnson expressed to the court that as soon as she and DDA Van Der Hoek realized this she filed the motion of complaint. This case along with others, one which DDA Johnson mentions reviewing that same morning, was incorrectly charged since the officer missed a note of prior charges.

“I have seen numerous cases where Mr. Figueroa has missed priors,” said DDA Johnson, who added vindictive prosecution was not applicable in this situation as it was an “error on the charging deputy as opposed to anything done to charge him.”

DPD Villa responded, “Why should (the accused) be punished for an error in the DA’s office?”

DPD Villa noted the only thing stated by the prosecution was that there was a “slip up on Mr. Figueroa’s part” and that was simply not enough.

Judge Wolk ruled that unless there was any new information that added evidence to the case this reasoning was not enough.

Judge Wolk granted the motion of complaint by the DDA, affirming he understood the vindictive prosecution argument but was proceeding after DDA Robin’s explanation.

Following this, DPD Villa noted a desire to file a Pitchess motion from when the error was realized and information that the DA’s office had regarding a disclosure list from prosecuting agencies mentioning the Officer Figueroa.

According to USLegal, a Pitchess motion “is a request made by a defendant in a criminal action for access to information in the personnel file of an arresting police officer.”

Judge Wolk then swore in two California Highway Patrol officers and consulted them in the back room. Both CHP officers were present in court. After consulting with them in the back room Judge Wolk then stated, “There are no records to be released.”

DPD Villa then said he was ready to move forward with the trial for this case.

The accused, however, then admitted to the allegations and was sentenced to jail for five days, to begin June 11. This sentence was to be served consecutively with another case, and probation reinstated, expiring Sept. 12, 2026.

About The Author

Darlin Navarrete is a first-generation DACA student with a bachelor's in Political Science with a concentration in Race, Ethnicity, and Politics from UCLA. Being an honors student, Navarrete enjoys an academic challenge and aspires to attend law school and become an immigration attorney. Her passion for minority rights and representation began at a very young age where she identified injustices her family encountered and used them as outlets to expand her knowledge on immigrant rights and educate her family. Outside of academia, Navarrete loves spending time with her family, working on cars, and doing community service.

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