They’re Here, There & Everywhere
by Bruce McEwen, November 3, 2011
Alex Hurtado, a juvenile, will be tried as an adult on charges of attempted murder. Details are sketchy because Assistant DA Paul Sequiera says he’s “waiting for more information.”
The detectives working the case are expected to present the court with a number of Hurtado's co-defendants. There's been an outbreak of gang violence in recent months, but the overall problem has been festering for years. South State Street in Ukiah is pretty much a rural gangland, and Noyo Beach in Fort Bragg is often the scene of gang initiation parties involving as many as 30 youths at a time.
Another gang-related case just came in involving Mario Sanchez, Alejandro Grijalbra, and Gabriel Monday. They're charged with “battery resulting in serious bodily injury” — SBI in Courthouse shorthand, “as used to promote a gang, child abuse and endangerment, and the attempt to dissuade a witness from testifying for the benefit of a prison gang,” all of it resulting in “great bodily injury” or GBI. Who got the GBI has not yet been revealed.
But the local violence may be tangentially related to a recent hunger strike at Pelican Bay, the state prison near Crescent City where, they tell us, “the worst of the worst” are held. Prisoners were protesting being kept in solitary confinement for unreasonably long periods of time. They say it is inhumane, so inhumane it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, which is supposed to be unconstitutional. Prison authorities say the gang guys, unless they're completely isolated, manage to murder people inside and outside prison. Whether or not Sanchez, Grijalbra and Monday are gang people is not yet known. Public defenders were appointed to represent them and bail was set at $25,000 each, except for Mr. Grijalbra who had also been charged with theft and receiving stolen property. His bail was set at $45,000.
It seemed obvious to Deputy DA Douglas Parker that the three accused would quickly make bail and go after their accusers. Parker told Judge Clayton Brennan that he wanted the bail increased.
“These were three separate and extremely vicious incidents, your honor.”
“Alright,” Judge Brennan conceded. “The court may have set the bail too low. I’m increasing it to $105,000 in both cases, and $150,000 for Mr. Grijalbra.”
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In recent years marijuana harvest time has been a busy time for the courts, but that’s all changed this year with the election of David Eyster. The courtrooms are mostly free of dope cases because Eyster makes the bustees offers deals they can't refuse, deals that are very good for the taxpayers of Mendocino County. The DA simply puts it to them: “You want to spend a lot of money on lawyers and a lot of time in courtrooms, with a good chance of serious jail time, or do you want to give the County of Mendocino the cash and other illegal stuff we found when you were arrested, pay an eradication fee and related costs, and you go away with some county time and a misdemeanor?” Where Lintott prosecuted all the dope people with an occasional conviction here and there and a lot of losses, clogging up the courts and running up the costs to the County as she went because the bustees invariably wound up with public defenders, Eyster's policy not only really, really hurts the bustees, it saves a lot of public money and even makes a little money.
Defendants Clark, Henderson and Jones were out of custody and scurrying around the courthouse trying to get their money back — the nearly $50,000 they’d brought from Arizona to buy Mendo bud, but cash-strapped Mendocino County isn’t likely to relinquish more than bus fare back to the desert for these guys. And it’s unlikely they’ll even get their vehicle back.
In a couple of Boonville matters, accused gun thief Francis Xavier didn’t bother to show up for court last week when his lawyer, Andrew Higgins of the Public Defender’s office, tried to sue the DA for additional discovery.
DA Eyster smiled lavishly at the young lawyer and said, “Where’s your client?”
“He didn’t feel like he had to come in for just a routine motion,” Higgins said.
“Oh, is that so?” Eyster replied. Then, turning to the judge, “Your honor, this is a criminal matter and the defendant is supposed to be present for all proceedings.”
Judge Henderson asked Higgins if he’d filed a 977, which is a motion granting the absence of the defendant for certain parts of a criminal proceeding. Higgins admitted he had not.
The motion for the additional discovery was reset for a day convenient to Mr. Francis.
Deborah Mefferd was back in court because she'd violated her probation by driving without a license. Ms. Mefferd is the Yorkville woman convicted after a jury trial a couple of months ago for driving under the influence of alcohol on her way home from a wine tasting. At the time of her sentencing, a routine provision had been overlooked by Judge Ann Moorman, the 1202.4 fine for the victim’s restitution fund. Generally, this fine is anywhere from $100 to $1000 and is added on to every sentencing. It becomes especially crucial in the event of a violation of probation, which automatically doubles the fine. The threat of the fine doubling is usually double incentive to obey the conditions of your probation. Ms. Mefferd in a couple of weeks.
Which reminds us of some highly amusing reports from the Occupy Fort Bragg protests, including this anonymous one: “A woman in the latest fashions from La Tre Boutique was holding a sign that reads 'Join Us, the 99%!' A passerby remarked, “But you own a huge house overlooking the beach! You are not one of the 99%!” Neither was the Russian millionaire who funded Lenin's many years in exile. Lots of wealthy people are 99 Percenters. Besides which, John Fremont, who was there, said Monday, “It never happened. No one was told to go home. Everyone is welcome. Unfortunately, Dan Hamburg and Heidi Dickerson, who have circulated other rumors, failed to show. An apology would be welcome.”
Another woman had to push through her friends — all of whom were brandishing placards admonishing her to boycott Bank of America — to make a deposit. She said she agrees wholeheartedly with every liberal view, but BofA holds the mortgage on her house and if the deposit wasn't made some Fort Bragg 99 Percenters wouldn't get paid.
In Mendocino County, few young people are involved in these protests. Last week’s Occupy Ukiah wingding was basically a parade of old hippies from the Courthouse down to the BofA and back again.
“It made us all feel so good,” said one participant.