COURT WATCH: Woman Pursuing Position of Drug & Alcohol Counselor Faces Multiple Rescinded Job Offers – Judge Grants Petition to Toss Guilty Pleas 

By Helen Shamamyan 

MODESTO, CA – In Stanislaus County Superior Court this week, Judge Shawn Bessey presided over a hearing regarding a motion to withdraw a guilty plea entered by a formerly convicted woman released from custody and attempting to gain employment as a drug and alcohol counselor.

The accused woman appeared before Judge Bessey with Deputy Public Defender Kendra Hall and asked the court to throw out her guilty pleas in prior convictions because her criminal record has restricted her ability to be hired for a position in which she hoped her experiences would help her community.

In the end, the judge granted the motion.

DPD Hall explained to Judge Bessey the accused’s latest conviction was in 2016, a little over eight years ago, and since her release from custody, the accused had been making visible efforts to “reintegrate into society” and “rehabilitate herself.”

One of the most notable changes, said the defense attorney, was the accused’s commitment to obtaining her drug and alcohol addiction counselor’s certification, with which she hopes to help others who have gone through similar things as herself.

Judge Bessey inquired as to whether these past charges were hindering her ability to achieve this type of employment.

DPD Hall said the accused has received multiple job offers in her desired field, but they have been rescinded once a background check was completed.

These barriers were faced by the accused while she was residing in Texas, and she feared they would remain the same in her current city of residence.

DPD Hall described the accused’s aspirations to continue working in the field of addiction recovery and move “up the ladder.”

Based on the inconsistencies of opposition from Deputy District Attorney Joseph Biko, Judge Bessey agreed to grant the accused’s petition, despite noting the accused had “quite a bit of criminal history.”

Regardless, Judge Bessey maintained that it’s “never too late” to change the course of one’s life, cautioning the accused of strike rules and consequences if there was any further misconduct in the future.

The accused woman tearfully thanked Judge Bessey for his agreement to grant her motions before exiting the courtroom.

About The Author

I am a student from Southern California that's graduating this year from UC Berkeley. Prior to coming here, I worked as a court watch/ law clerk for a PEO in worker's comp cases of California warehouses. I reported the hearing summaries and outcomes to the employer and maintained correspondence with the attornies prior to and after each hearing on behalf of my boss. I have nearly completed by Bachelors in English, and I am planning on taking a break year before delving into law school to study civil rights defense.

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