COURT WATCH: Inaccessible Evidence, Unavailable Interpreter Suspend Progress on Motion to Reduce Felony Convictions

By Estelle Masse

NEWPORT BEACH, CA – A motion to reduce felony convictions to misdemeanors heard here Tuesday at Orange County Superior Court was hindered by inaccessible evidence marked as “confidential,” and unavailable interpreters for the accused.

The accused had pleaded guilty to two felony convictions: lewd action upon a child aged 14-15 and assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury on April 11, 2022.

Criminal defense attorney Zachary Skidelsky motioned the court with a 17(b) motion to reduce the felony convictions to misdemeanors and a 1203.4 motion to dismiss and expunge the accused’s case.

However, Deputy District Attorney Juliet Oliver argued that “there is a progress review… deemed confidential” regarding the accused’s probation progress, and neither DDA Oliver nor defense attorney Skidelsky were able to review it prior to the motion.

DDA Oliver asked Judge Derek Johnson if they would be able to review the document now before making their decision instead of postponing the motion, claiming that it would “be very brief,” only taking five minutes.

Judge Johnson approved the request initially, but recognized that the accused’s file also noted the accused “requires the assistance of an interpreter,” to which defense attorney Skidelsky agreed and clarified the accused needed a Gujarati interpreter.

When defender Skidelsky and DDA Oliver agreed the interpreter would not be able to arrive at court in time, they asked Judge Johnson to continue the motion to Sept. 25, so they would be able to review the accused’s probation progress and provide a Gujarati interpreter.

After several other cases had been heard, Skidelsky informed the judge there had been a misunderstanding and the accused would be in India starting Sept. 1, with no return date, hindering his ability to appear in court on the previously agreed upon date.

During this time DDA Oliver told Judge Johnson her team approved the motion to withdraw count one of the charges, but regarding count two, “the people depose the request” to the new date.

Judge Johnson did not address either point and moved on to the next case while DDA Oliver turned and shrugged to defense counsel Skidelsky, saying she assumed that meant they would have to wait.

The judge then noted the hearing for the motion to dismiss the conviction was moved to Aug. 23.

About The Author

Estelle is an upcoming junior at the University of California, Davis, pursuing a double major in Economics and Political Science. She is passionate about international cultures, economic policy, and the justice system. By participating in the Vanguard Court Watch Program, Estelle aims to enhance public awareness of court procedures and injustices while preparing for a law career.

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