San Luis Obispo BLM protesters want to sack judge, refuse diversion

March 4, 2021

Patrick Fisher and Tianna Arata walking to the courthouse, photo by Richard Bastian

By KAREN VELIE

Attorneys for several Black Lives Matter protesters expressed interest on March 3 in disqualifying San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Rita Federman from the case, while at the same time displaying no interest in a diversion program that could lead to the charges being dropped against some defendants.

Curtis Briggs, one of Tianna Arata’s attorneys, said he wanted first to clarify Judge Federman intended to remain on the case, and then planned to file a peremptory challenge against her. Federman replaced Judge Matt Guerrero after he was reassigned to family court more than a month ago.

Attorneys can file an “affidavit of prejudice” to disqualify one judge without any showing of cause.

While Briggs did not mention his specific concerns with Judge Federman, it appears he wants to make sure she remains the judge on the case before he files his one permitted challenge. Federman is currently serving a temporary stint in the appellate court.

Deputy District Attorney Delaney Henretty then made a short statement before offering misdemeanor diversion to five of the seven defendants involved in the hearing, which means they could have their charges dismissed if they agree to attend classes or do community service.

“We are a nation of laws, not men,” Henretty said. “The right of free speech ends when you trample on the rights of others.”

Henretty then offered Sam Grocott, Amman Asfaw, Marcus Montgomery, Josh Powell, and Jerad Hill the opportunity to join the misdemeanor diversion program, noting they likely did not know they were breaking the law.

The offer did not apply to Arata, who is charged with 13 misdemeanors, or Robert Lastra, who is facing a felony charge of vandalism and a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment.

Briggs responded by asking the defendants to reject the offer. It is unclear if any of the defendants plan to accept Henretty’s offer.

The defendants are scheduled to return to the courthouse on April 9 for a hearing on a motion to compel discovery, and to hold prosecutors in contempt for allegedly withholding records they were court-ordered to provide.


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Niles Q

They should take the deal. I think these young people are being led down a rabbit hole by their lawyers, after all, it won’t the lawyers who sit in Jail for 6 months, or spend a couple of weeks working on community service, or pay fines and court costs. The lawyers have nothing to lose.


Everybody_Lies

Why hasn’t at least one of the defendants attempted to implicate SLO’s neurotic and narcissistic mayor in all this? Harmon was right there taking selfies with the “protestors” (terrorists), like she was at an amusement park without a care in the world. While it would bring me great joy to see all of the members of this pathetic motley crew rot in jail for a few years, we can’t deny or ignore the actions of SLO’s highest-ranking city official. I say Tiana should claim that she thought that SLO’s mayor had given her blessing for the protest and freeway incursion, and because of that she was unaware that she broke any laws.


mazin

Costs more than $75,000 per year to lock someone up, some solution.


Everybody_Lies

If $75k a year resulted in these domestic terrorists doing hard time in a Federal Penitentiary, go ahead and double my annual Federal income tax as my contribution, it’s worth the investment. Every time I see Gavin Newsome’s smug face of entitlement dining at a restaurant without a mask it costs taxpayers at least $15,000 in wine alone. What are your thoughts on that Mazin? You suddenly seem so concerned about wasting taxpayer money. Where are the parents of that 4 y.o. child that was assaulted? I say the DA needs to call them as witnesses.


Buchon

“…F**K YOUR COMFORT!!! …F**K YOUR COMFORT!!!” <— Remember that, Arata? We can replay one of the videos it you like? Given the riotous, illegal setting, you should have also been arrested for criminal menacing as well.