Fighting for Justice ~ the Wait Continues
Sometimes all that matters is that you're still trying.
First COVID delayed the initial hearing date then time and time again all you see on the list of action items are "Counsel Conference" which were held via Microsoft Teams and I was unable to be a part of it so I had to rely on hearing about what happened after the fact from the Assistant District Attorney.
September 29, 2020 email from the ADA - "I spoke to the criminal defense attorney for Ms. A. Before she can make a decision on the plea recommendation I made, she will have to consult an immigration attorney which she has not been able to do yet. Therefore, the case is going to be reset to November 17, 9 am. I am not sure whether the courthouse will be open by that time and we will be able to resume meeting in person or not. I will let you know when I hear more, about the status of the hearing or her response to the plea recommendation."
I reached out to the ADA in late October with questions about the process just so I had it clear in my mind.
"If she does accept the plea at this next hearing what is the next step after that? Is there still a sentencing phase before the judge? Is there still a point where I would be able to make a victim's statement to her either in person or virtually?
If she does not accept the plea how do things proceed from there?"
He has been very good at responding fairly quickly to my emails and this was his response.
"Yes ma’am I am happy to. If her attorney tells me next time she is accepting then we would do the paperwork and send to her attorney to sign. Then, there would be two things before the Judge virtually that you could log in to either or both.
The first is the plea itself – where she would be read a list of formal admonishments and asked how she pleads and say ‘Guilty.’ It is shorter and less often family members attend / log in to that portion but it would be possible for you to.
Then, the case is reset for pre-sentence investigation where the probation department comes up with a list of recommended conditions based on the defendant’s background and the facts of the offense that would include community service, classes, drug screenings and treatment if applicable, etc.
We would then be back for a second virtual hearing that is the sentencing where the Judge would pronounce sentence, explain conditions of probation and then you would have the opportunity to make a Victim Impact Statement at the conclusion of the sentencing. This is what families more often attend but again, it would be up to your preference."
In November the conference was cancelled and rescheduled for December at which time it was once again reset. She still had not spoken with an immigration attorney and her criminal defense attorney was set in multiple counties at the same time so they only connected briefly. This continued on again in February 2021, March, April and June. The wheels of justice turn slowly but surely I've heard but this is getting frustrating!!
Now we move ahead to August 17, 2021 and the latest Counsel Conference. I emailed the ADA in the afternoon asking for an update. I'm sure by now he realizes that I keep tabs on what is going on through the online judicial records portal. The response I received from him was...
"The good news is the next step in the process is we are coming back in person. It seems like Ms. A (and many of the defendants who are not in jail) have not had much contact with their attorneys. We will be returning to court for the next setting, barring a sudden change by the Office of Court Administration, and she will be required to be present and discuss the plea recommendation we have made with her attorney. Hopefully at that point we will get some idea of whether it is headed to trial, or a plea."
The next date is scheduled for October 20th and I plan to be there unless something changes and the courthouse is not open. I need to start working on my impact statement so it is ready to go and I am at a point that I feel I can deliver it in the courtroom without totally breaking down. I'm ready for this to be over but I'm nervous and angry and scared. I'm scared at how I'm going to react when I see her and I'm angry that she's been out walking around free this whole time and has had not had to suffer any consequences for her actions so far. I'm nervous about giving my statement when it comes to that point that I'm going to screw it up but that may make it all the more real to the judge, who knows. Hopefully things will start to progress quicker and we can get through this process!
To be continued...