Mendocino County Today: January 19, 2012

by Bruce Anderson, January 18, 2012

JUDGE HENDERSON is about to revisit a four-year state prison sentence he meted out to Cody Fisher, 30, on December 19th. Henderson is bringing Fisher back into his courtroom on February 10th to give him less, if any, state prison time. The defendant, you will recall, is the guy who drove off an outback dirt road on the McNab Ranch with his boyhood chum as passenger. The coroner thought that Matt Pare was indeed killed on impact, but Fisher had summoned a pot of coffee from a girl friend so he could sober up for four hours before he called for help. DA David Eyster wrote to the Ukiah Daily Journal's comment line, “It needs to be mentioned that Fisher is a repeat offender — he had already suffered a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol prior to Pare's death. When he was found guilty the first time, Fisher was advised in court that 'it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and if you kill someone while you are DUI, prosecutors may charge you with murder.' Despite being armed with this insight, Fisher nevertheless continued to drink and drive, a bad decision for which someone other than Fisher paid the ultimate penalty. Further reducing Fisher's already lenient sentence sends an entirely wrong message.”

SAN DIEGO attorney Thomas Warwick is representing Cody Fisher’s re-sentencing hearing before Henderson. Warwick is a member of the powerful state Judicial Council committee that oversees new courthouse construction statewide. The Judicial Council intends to build a new Courthouse in Ukiah to replace the perfectly serviceable existing Courthouse. This question seems obvious: Is Judge Henderson accommodation of Warwick and Fisher part of a clandestine deal to ensure the new Courthouse? Mendocino County judges desperately want a new Courthouse. None of them are likely eager to alienate the big shot lawyer who has a large role in site selection for new courthouses, and it’s been years since any defendant got him or herself a re-sentencing hearing. Are we talking pure coincidence here?

3RD DISTRICT Supervisor Johnny Pinches told us Tuesday that he expected work on the long-awaited Willits by-pass to begin soon. Pinches said only one more wetlands protection sign-off by the Corps of Engineers is needed for the massive project — comparable in scope to the Cloverdale by-pass only with more environmental hurdle to clear — and the project is a go. Pinches said funding, despite the state of the economy, is secure.

TO EMPHASIZE that the feds are serious about cracking down on what the feds see as Mendocino County’s outlaw pot regs, a U.S. attorney drove up from San Francisco to personally warn the Supervisors that Mendo authorities would be held personally accountable if Mendocino County didn’t stop selling what the feds view as licenses to grow.

ALISA COLBERG, 18, a gang-affiliated Fort Bragg woman, will be in court again next week. Miss Colberg, who describes herself as Fort Bragg’s “dominant female” — move over Kendall Smith — was seriously injured last January in a hatchet attack by 22-year-old MariCruz Alvarez-Carrillo during a gang fight . (This week’s AVA describes the event in detail in a story by Bruce McEwen.) Only last week, the Fort Bragg Police had great difficulty arresting a 17-year-old gang-banger at 215 Minnesota Avenue, Fort Bragg, for several years now the site of much gang-related violence. One of the arresting officers suffered a fractured wrist in the struggle to take the youth into custody.

FEEDBACK from Mr. Patrick Pekin: “Dear Mr. McEwen: My wife and I enjoyed your recent article regarding our trial with Mr. Stoen, P. v. Alvarez-Carillo. The finger-snapping was particularly humorous and made me wonder who the title might be directed at. One thing though, our last name is spelled “Pekin.” Please be so kind as to make a note of it. Maybe I'll see you around court tomorrow while I wait for the verdict. Yours, Patrick Pekin”

THE GOVERNOR’S BUDGET speech Wednesday morning bodes ill for state schools. Mendocino County schools could see their funding cut by 10 percent or more.

6-10 INCHES of rain is expected to fall on the County over the next few days.

SMALL SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Point Arena beat Laytonville by 3 Tuesday night. PA, Laytonville and Mendocino each have one league loss. Mendocino beat Anderson Valley Tuesday night. Mendo's coach, Jim Young, says, “No surprise there, this year, but hats off to Boonville coach Eddie Slotte. He drove 4 hours from Davis after seeing his kid to make game time. He has his guys playing real hard, just not big enough for my 6'6, 6'4 pair. My big Nicolas Knoebber had 18 pts, 16 rebs. AV Girls beat Mendo girls by 20. That puts them in a race for 3-4 with the Layton girls. Best AV girls team I've seen in 10 years. PA and Covelo are a step above and will only lose to each other.”

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