Nevada County, CA — Nevada County Superior Court, the Appellate Court and the California Supreme Court have all spoken. Wayne Brown Correctional Facility must allow contact visits between prisoners and their criminal defense attorneys. And now, so must all other county jails, thanks to the relentless efforts of Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal and the hired guns of County Counsel to try overturning this apparent right.
Nevada County, appearing to have difficulty comprehending the meaning of recent court decisions, continues to throw taxpayer dollars at relief. Spurred by the California State Sheriff’s Association, the County of Nevada has filed yet another in what appears to be endless pleadings asking the California Supreme Court to undo what they have already stated they will not undo.
Citing safety and security concerns, in 2013 the commander of the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility in Nevada County announced criminal defense attorneys would no longer be allowed to meet face to face with incarcerated clients. Noting that the federal government was now paying the County of Nevada to house federal prisoners, Captain Pettit of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department referenced challenges with increased population and decreased staffing within the facility, which led to the decision to exclude “contact visits.”
Local defense attorneys, on behalf of jail inmates, challenged the policy and ended up in the Nevada County Superior Court. Judge Thomas Anderson sided with the attorneys’ contention that in-custody suspects deserved the same ability to confer with their attorneys as those with the financial wherewithal to post bail.
Not satisfied with the outcome, Nevada County expended additional taxpayer dollars by contracting the services of Jones & Mayer, Attorneys at Law, based in Fullerton, California, to petition the Third District Court of Appeals. On April 23, 2015 the Court of Appeals issued a decision in the above-referenced matter by way of an unpublished opinion agreeing with the findings of the Honorable Judge Anderson. ” Barrier-free meetings between inmates and their lawyers shall be available.” a three-justice appellate panel declared.
To the horror of the California State Sheriff’s Association, on May 14, 2015 the Court of Appeal ordered that the opinion be published, meaning that it now sets precedent for all County jails in the State of California.
Nevada County shook the County taxpayer piggy bank to again hire Fullerton attorneysâ€”this time to appeal to the California Supreme Courtâ€”who took a brief look at the request and said they would not hear an appeal on this issue.
In what some might refer to as “poor handling of the issue in question” the County of Nevada and Sheriff Keith Royal continue to bleed taxpayer dollars on an already decided issue by hiring Jones and Mayer to again petition the State Supreme Court in an embarrassing effort to request for depublication of the now published ruling.
For those keeping score, we are now at three courts that appear to be in agreement that the accused do have a right to confer without barriers with their counsel. The findings are currently:
- Court decisions allowing contact visits: 3
- Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal: 0
- County Counsel and County Risk Assessment Team: 0
- Nevada County Taxpayers: -1