In 2019, our client was accused of misdemeanor domestic violence (Penal Code § 273.5(a)) and assault with a deadly weapon as a misdemeanor (Penal Code § 245(a)(4)). In fact, she had scratched him and, to separate herself from him, called the police. She introduced herself to the police as a medical doctor, which she was and explained her husband was beating her.
Our client was arrested and ultimately accepted a plea bargain to a violation of Penal Code § 273.5(a). He then had to attend the 52-week batterers program, which he disliked immensely because he was patronized in each class and told that he was a violent person. He argued with the instructors frequently and was removed from the class.
At about the same time, his wife filed for a civil protective order against him and, in the request, stated she was never injured by our client. She signed the protective order request under perjury.
Our client brought this representation to the attention of his attorney, who refused to make a motion to withdraw his plea and would not discuss the matter with him. This greatly infuriated our client.
Our client, who had graduated from law school but did not pass the Bar Exam, then decided to take matters into his own hands and ask the judge handling his plea. She also refused to speak to him. He called her many times. Our client then called the District Attorney involved, who said such a decision would be up to his boss, so our client called Lisa Smittcamp, the head Fresno County District Attorney. She also refused to speak to him. He then mailed her letters at her home address.
The letters lectured Ms. Smittcamp on her ethical duties to correct a miscarriage of justice, as he saw it.
The letters were oddly silent about our client’s own plea, which was legally an admission of the truth of the allegations, but his implication was that the plea was coerced or obtained by fraud, yet this was never addressed.
Our client’s frustration level escalated, made worse perhaps by mild autism, mild Asperger’s and Tourette’s syndrome, which caused him to often see things in very “black and white” rigid ways, which allowed him certainty in his belief that “the system” of the Fresno County Superior Courts were conspiring to ignore him.
Our client also reached out to the judge who took his plea in the underlying 273.5(a) case and he also refused to speak ex parte with our client, so our client mailed him letters at his home address as well. He also reached out to a second judge who handled the civil protective order issued against him, but she also refused to take his calls, so he also wrote her at her home address. He demanded each judge issue a public apology for being part of his conviction (or the civil restraining order) or else he / she would be exposed for being incompetent and unethical.
One day, however, he was able to speak with a District Attorney office investigator when he again called to speak to Ms. Smittcamp. The investigator recorded the call, in which our client vowed to “kill that whore” in reference to Smittcamp. He also said to the investigator, “Now, you see I’m serious, don’t you?”
Police then came to check on our client and he barricaded himself inside his apartment. Police used a bullhorn to warn him to come out peacefully or else they would enter his apartment by force. Our client responded by calling a local radio station, who broadcast his call live during which time he described his frustrations with the Fresno County judicial system and Lisa Smittcamp in particular.
Police finally were able to enter the home and used a stun gun to neutralize our client, who held up a hammer in self-defense as they entered his house. He was then taken to the police station, booked and held on $1.2 million bail.
He then faced two felony complaints. One complaint alleged criminal threats (Penal Code § 422) against Lisa Smittcamp, as well as threatening a public official (Penal Code § 76) in regard to Smittcamp, as well as two counts of exhibiting a weapon (the hammer), a violation of Penal Code § 417.8.
The second felony complaint alleged threatening a public official (P.C. § 76) and threatening a public employee (P.C. § 71).
Both judges also sought civil restraining orders against our client in separate civil proceedings and hired civil counsel to represent them.
Our client also faced a probation violation on his misdemeanor domestic violence case.
The family of the client reached out to Greg Hill and described the situation. Greg then drove up to Fresno on a Sunday morning and met with the client for several hours in the Fresno County jail.
Greg explained to the family that mental health diversion under Penal Code § 1001.36 would be the goal for our client, but it would be politically difficult for the judge, given who the victims were.
However, after more than nine months of hearings, the judge handling the consolidated cases did grant mental health diversion for a period of two years after the client’s family retained a psychiatrist to diagnose our client. It was an extremely long process, during which the eligibility and suitability issues were vigorously argued against by the district attorney’s office (who interestingly did not recuse itself). However, much to the client’s satisfaction, he will now be able to get the mental health counseling he needs and the cases will be dismissed.
For more information about mental health diversion, please click on the following articles: