Commentary: Davis Enterprise Gets It Right And Calls the Yolo County Courts On Their Conduct

It is one thing to see the Davis Vanguard complain about the conduct of public officials something that is in many ways our raison d’être. It is another thing when the Davis Enterprise does it.

Yesterday’s Vanguard blog entry elicited complaints by among others Matt Rexroad and Val Dolcini, two people that the Vanguard respects tremendously despite their sometimes divergent views. One person went as far as to question whether it was a slow news day–which seemed a bit strange given that it had been a major story in both the Sacramento Bee and the Davis Enterprise.

Nothing compares however to the shock encountered reading the Davis Enterprise’s Op-Ed entitled “Disturbing Pattern in Yolo Courts.”

The Enterprise goes on to write:

“The issue: Wednesday’s lockout of the press and suspect’s family is just the latest in a string of abuses

Can Marco Antonio Topete get a fair trial in Yolo County? If there are any more shenanigans like those pulled Wednesday by sheriff’s deputies and a court commissioner in Yolo Superior Court, we’re not so sure.”

More often than not from our view, the Enterprise has been part and parcel to this problem, however, we welcome them to the ballgame on this issue.

In defending the actions of the court here, Supervisor Matt Rexroad inadvertently made a key point when he said:

“They made a mistake under some difficult emotional circumstances.”

If that is true, and it may be – we are not necessarily suggesting this was maliciousthen perhaps the Davis Enterprise is right, that the defendant cannot get a fair trial in this county.

The Davis Enterprise went on to write:

“During the proceeding, a gag order was imposed on the case, preventing participants from discussing the matter with the media. While transcripts of the hearing were later made available, the action in the court is a violation of the First Amendment.

Charity Kenyon, a media attorney representing The Davis Enterprise, The Sacramento Bee, News 10 and KCRA3 on the matter, wrote a letter Thursday to Judge David Rosenberg, who has been assigned to the Topete case. She cited the sense from the news outlets involved ‘that more than a few court personnel operate on the principle that ‘no news is good news.’ “

They continue:

“THE YOLO COURT has a tendency to slap a gag order on every high-profile case that comes along, making it difficult for the public to get even basic information about a case from attorneys or law enforcement. Meanwhile, Kenyon said, ‘The California and U.S. supreme courts have recognized that public access to court records and proceedings enhances and is an essential component of a fair trial.’

Educating the officers of the court and law enforcement personnel is the best way to prevent a repeat of this pattern. They need to learn that shielding victims from paparazzi is not the same thing as blatantly blocking the public’s right to know.

Veteran Davis criminal defense attorney Rod Beede said deputies should have known the rules about open court proceedings. Just last week, the defendant in the Stevens slaying was sentenced to death after more than 21⁄2 years of hearings.

‘Whenever you have a particularly high-profile case, especially when the victim is a member of the Sheriff’s Department, a very, very close watch needs to be conducted on the whole thing,’ Beede said. ‘Anything that segregates the case as a different case is troubling.'”

On this issue, the Davis Enterprise is absolutely correct.

No one wants to disparage the memory of the slain Sheriff’s deputy. However, the defendant is just as entitled to a fair trial in this case as anyone else. Mistakes happen, particularly when emotions are running high. For those reasons, it seems to be a wise move to shift this trial to another county to ensure the fair treatment of the defendant and the public in this matter.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Court Watch

56 comments

  1. I’m glad to see that the Davis Enterprise can get it right on occasion. The Enterprise is all about protecting the status quo and never calling them on any of their wrong doings.

    Do you think that a downsize in readership = actually reporting some news when realizing that people want news and not just fluff?

    Maybe?

  2. I’m glad to see that the Davis Enterprise can get it right on occasion. The Enterprise is all about protecting the status quo and never calling them on any of their wrong doings.

    Do you think that a downsize in readership = actually reporting some news when realizing that people want news and not just fluff?

    Maybe?

  3. I’m glad to see that the Davis Enterprise can get it right on occasion. The Enterprise is all about protecting the status quo and never calling them on any of their wrong doings.

    Do you think that a downsize in readership = actually reporting some news when realizing that people want news and not just fluff?

    Maybe?

  4. I’m glad to see that the Davis Enterprise can get it right on occasion. The Enterprise is all about protecting the status quo and never calling them on any of their wrong doings.

    Do you think that a downsize in readership = actually reporting some news when realizing that people want news and not just fluff?

    Maybe?

  5. “Posts whose primary purpose is to correct spelling and/ or grammar are also subject to deletion.”
    –DPD

    Uh-oh, look out, your comment might elicit a deletion!
    Even though that “illicited” did slow me up while reading too.
    Note to DPD:
    little grammar/spelling tics like that tend to yank the reader out of your narrative flow. Running a quick spell-check would’ve caught that strange construction though.

  6. “Posts whose primary purpose is to correct spelling and/ or grammar are also subject to deletion.”
    –DPD

    Uh-oh, look out, your comment might elicit a deletion!
    Even though that “illicited” did slow me up while reading too.
    Note to DPD:
    little grammar/spelling tics like that tend to yank the reader out of your narrative flow. Running a quick spell-check would’ve caught that strange construction though.

  7. “Posts whose primary purpose is to correct spelling and/ or grammar are also subject to deletion.”
    –DPD

    Uh-oh, look out, your comment might elicit a deletion!
    Even though that “illicited” did slow me up while reading too.
    Note to DPD:
    little grammar/spelling tics like that tend to yank the reader out of your narrative flow. Running a quick spell-check would’ve caught that strange construction though.

  8. “Posts whose primary purpose is to correct spelling and/ or grammar are also subject to deletion.”
    –DPD

    Uh-oh, look out, your comment might elicit a deletion!
    Even though that “illicited” did slow me up while reading too.
    Note to DPD:
    little grammar/spelling tics like that tend to yank the reader out of your narrative flow. Running a quick spell-check would’ve caught that strange construction though.

  9. “Yesterday’s Vanguard blog entry illicited complaints…”

    “Maybe you meant elicited?”

    Freudian slip!

    As I said, law enforcement were trying to do a favor for the victim’s family – and instead handed the defense just the reason they need for a change in venue/charge that the perp did not receive a fair trial. Foolish move, and hardly conceivable as an honest mistake. If you don’t know your job as part of the justice system, then maybe you should find another one! Public access to trials is a bedrock constitional mandate – not some minor issue. Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to have a field day with this one…

  10. “Yesterday’s Vanguard blog entry illicited complaints…”

    “Maybe you meant elicited?”

    Freudian slip!

    As I said, law enforcement were trying to do a favor for the victim’s family – and instead handed the defense just the reason they need for a change in venue/charge that the perp did not receive a fair trial. Foolish move, and hardly conceivable as an honest mistake. If you don’t know your job as part of the justice system, then maybe you should find another one! Public access to trials is a bedrock constitional mandate – not some minor issue. Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to have a field day with this one…

  11. “Yesterday’s Vanguard blog entry illicited complaints…”

    “Maybe you meant elicited?”

    Freudian slip!

    As I said, law enforcement were trying to do a favor for the victim’s family – and instead handed the defense just the reason they need for a change in venue/charge that the perp did not receive a fair trial. Foolish move, and hardly conceivable as an honest mistake. If you don’t know your job as part of the justice system, then maybe you should find another one! Public access to trials is a bedrock constitional mandate – not some minor issue. Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to have a field day with this one…

  12. “Yesterday’s Vanguard blog entry illicited complaints…”

    “Maybe you meant elicited?”

    Freudian slip!

    As I said, law enforcement were trying to do a favor for the victim’s family – and instead handed the defense just the reason they need for a change in venue/charge that the perp did not receive a fair trial. Foolish move, and hardly conceivable as an honest mistake. If you don’t know your job as part of the justice system, then maybe you should find another one! Public access to trials is a bedrock constitional mandate – not some minor issue. Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to have a field day with this one…

  13. Member of the legal profession said…
    “Yesterday’s Vanguard blog entry illicited complaints…”

    “Maybe you meant elicited?”

    Freudian slip on the part of DPD!

    As I said, law enforcement were trying to do a favor for the victim’s family – and instead handed the defense just the reason they needed for a change in venue/charge that the perpetrator did not receive a fair trial. Foolish move, and hardly conceivable as an honest mistake. If you don’t know your job as part of the justice system/law enforcement, then maybe you should find another profession! Public access to trials is a bedrock constitutional mandate – not some minor issue. Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to have a field day with this one…

  14. Member of the legal profession said…
    “Yesterday’s Vanguard blog entry illicited complaints…”

    “Maybe you meant elicited?”

    Freudian slip on the part of DPD!

    As I said, law enforcement were trying to do a favor for the victim’s family – and instead handed the defense just the reason they needed for a change in venue/charge that the perpetrator did not receive a fair trial. Foolish move, and hardly conceivable as an honest mistake. If you don’t know your job as part of the justice system/law enforcement, then maybe you should find another profession! Public access to trials is a bedrock constitutional mandate – not some minor issue. Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to have a field day with this one…

  15. Member of the legal profession said…
    “Yesterday’s Vanguard blog entry illicited complaints…”

    “Maybe you meant elicited?”

    Freudian slip on the part of DPD!

    As I said, law enforcement were trying to do a favor for the victim’s family – and instead handed the defense just the reason they needed for a change in venue/charge that the perpetrator did not receive a fair trial. Foolish move, and hardly conceivable as an honest mistake. If you don’t know your job as part of the justice system/law enforcement, then maybe you should find another profession! Public access to trials is a bedrock constitutional mandate – not some minor issue. Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to have a field day with this one…

  16. Member of the legal profession said…
    “Yesterday’s Vanguard blog entry illicited complaints…”

    “Maybe you meant elicited?”

    Freudian slip on the part of DPD!

    As I said, law enforcement were trying to do a favor for the victim’s family – and instead handed the defense just the reason they needed for a change in venue/charge that the perpetrator did not receive a fair trial. Foolish move, and hardly conceivable as an honest mistake. If you don’t know your job as part of the justice system/law enforcement, then maybe you should find another profession! Public access to trials is a bedrock constitutional mandate – not some minor issue. Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to have a field day with this one…

  17. DPD, You might have some spell check corrections from time to time, but I ask any of your readers to try to write an article at the hour you do day in and day out. Keep up the good work.

    Good commentary today.

  18. DPD, You might have some spell check corrections from time to time, but I ask any of your readers to try to write an article at the hour you do day in and day out. Keep up the good work.

    Good commentary today.

  19. DPD, You might have some spell check corrections from time to time, but I ask any of your readers to try to write an article at the hour you do day in and day out. Keep up the good work.

    Good commentary today.

  20. DPD, You might have some spell check corrections from time to time, but I ask any of your readers to try to write an article at the hour you do day in and day out. Keep up the good work.

    Good commentary today.

  21. “Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to have a field day with this one…”

    From the “Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins” by Robert Hendrickson:

    Beginning in the mid-18th century the British Army held field days featuring military exercises and display. The term was soon applied to outdoor gatherings such as picnics, and then to field days at schools devoted to outdoor sports and athletic contests in which winning was not as important as having a good time. From these last field days came the expression “to have a field day” meaning to indulge oneself freely and successfully, to got all out, as in “the papers will have a field day with this story.”

  22. “Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to have a field day with this one…”

    From the “Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins” by Robert Hendrickson:

    Beginning in the mid-18th century the British Army held field days featuring military exercises and display. The term was soon applied to outdoor gatherings such as picnics, and then to field days at schools devoted to outdoor sports and athletic contests in which winning was not as important as having a good time. From these last field days came the expression “to have a field day” meaning to indulge oneself freely and successfully, to got all out, as in “the papers will have a field day with this story.”

  23. “Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to have a field day with this one…”

    From the “Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins” by Robert Hendrickson:

    Beginning in the mid-18th century the British Army held field days featuring military exercises and display. The term was soon applied to outdoor gatherings such as picnics, and then to field days at schools devoted to outdoor sports and athletic contests in which winning was not as important as having a good time. From these last field days came the expression “to have a field day” meaning to indulge oneself freely and successfully, to got all out, as in “the papers will have a field day with this story.”

  24. “Any defense attorney worth his salt is going to have a field day with this one…”

    From the “Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins” by Robert Hendrickson:

    Beginning in the mid-18th century the British Army held field days featuring military exercises and display. The term was soon applied to outdoor gatherings such as picnics, and then to field days at schools devoted to outdoor sports and athletic contests in which winning was not as important as having a good time. From these last field days came the expression “to have a field day” meaning to indulge oneself freely and successfully, to got all out, as in “the papers will have a field day with this story.”

  25. I think “Correction by Member of Legal Proffession” used the term correctly. I just wondered where it came from, so I looked that up and posted it.

  26. I think “Correction by Member of Legal Proffession” used the term correctly. I just wondered where it came from, so I looked that up and posted it.

  27. I think “Correction by Member of Legal Proffession” used the term correctly. I just wondered where it came from, so I looked that up and posted it.

  28. I think “Correction by Member of Legal Proffession” used the term correctly. I just wondered where it came from, so I looked that up and posted it.

  29. I agree. The defendant should get a fair trial anywhere he chooses. As soon as that is over he should be summarily executed. He is just another mexican gang banger piece of pig crap.

  30. I agree. The defendant should get a fair trial anywhere he chooses. As soon as that is over he should be summarily executed. He is just another mexican gang banger piece of pig crap.

  31. I agree. The defendant should get a fair trial anywhere he chooses. As soon as that is over he should be summarily executed. He is just another mexican gang banger piece of pig crap.

  32. I agree. The defendant should get a fair trial anywhere he chooses. As soon as that is over he should be summarily executed. He is just another mexican gang banger piece of pig crap.

  33. I am unmoved by The Davis Enterprise. It ” got it right” because the paper was directly impacted. This, in no way, makes up for its incompetence; biased reporting; and love fest with County Officials, specifically the Yolo County DA’s Office.
    There is no conceivable way that the defendant can have a fair trial in Yolo county. However, this has never stopped the Yolo county system before.
    And for any cynics, my sympathy is with the slain officer’s family. However, protecting the rights of the accused and wanting justice for the murder of an officer does not have to be mutualluy exclusive.