SLO County judges send Tianna Arata controversy to the appellate court

April 10, 2021

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

By KAREN VELIE

A panel of three San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judges on Friday ordered another appeal of Judge Matt Guerrero’s ruling to recuse the entire district attorney’s office in a cases regarding Black Lives Matter protesters transferred to the appellate court in Ventura, another win for prosecutors.

The SLO County three member panel includes retired Judge Barry La Barbera, Judge Linda Hurst and Judge Gayle Peron. The panel decided on Friday to transfer the appeal regarding Tianna Arata, Marcus Montgomery, Amman Asfaw and Joshua Powell.

In their order, the judges said they approved the transfer “to secure uniformity of decision.”

During a July 21 BLM march, Arata allegedly led approximately 300 protesters onto Highway 101, blocking all lanes in both directions for nearly an hour. While on the highway, protesters ran after vehicles attempting to drive off the freeway and yelled profanities at some of the drivers, according to videos of the protest.

Prosecutors charged Arata with one count of unlawful assembly, one count of disturbing the peace, six counts of obstruction of a thoroughfare, and five counts of false imprisonment — all misdemeanors.

The district attorney also filed two misdemeanor charges against Jerad Hill, three misdemeanor charges against Sam Grocott, a felony charge of vandalism and a misdemeanor charge against Robert Lastra, four misdemeanor charges against Marcus Montgomery and one misdemeanor charge each against Joshua Powell and Amman Asfaw.

During a Dec. 10 hearing, defense attorneys argued that District Attorney Dan Dow’s personal political opinions jeopardized the seven defendants’ rights to a fair trial, and that local prosecutors should be replaced by the California Office of the Attorney General.

In opposition to the defense, local and state prosecutors argued against the disqualification, noting the defense is required to show an actual conflict of interest and not a perceived conflict.

Judge Matt Guerrero then ruled that Dow had a clear conflict of interest based on the wording of an email he and and his wife sent to supporters seeking donations. The email asked supporters to help Dow lead the fight against the “wacky defund the police movement and anarchist groups that are trying to undermine the rule of law and public safety in our community.”

In early January, the California Attorney General’s Office filed two appeals regarding Guerrero’s finding, one in the felony case against Lastra — the protester who allegedly smashed a car window onto a 4-year-old boy — and one in the misdemeanor filings against the remaining six defendants. Generally, the 2nd District Court of Appeal hears felony appeals, while a panel of three SLO County Superior Court judges rule on misdemeanor appeals.

Lastra’s attorney Brian Ford filed a motion in March arguing his client’s appeal should be moved to the SLO County Court where Judge Guerrero’s coworkers would hear the case, suggesting that the case would be charged as a misdemeanor. Even though Lastra’s case remained a felony, the Second Appellate District Court determined the SLO County Superior Court had jurisdiction over the appeal.

Deputy Attorney General Charles Lee then petitioned the court to change their order, as Lastra was charged with a felony, and to transfer the misdemeanor cases to the appellate court. The appellate court approved the transfer of three of the cases on May 7, while recommending the SLO County Superior Court panel transfer the remaining four cases, which they did on Friday.

After legal briefs are filed by both the prosecutors and defense attorneys, oral arguments will be scheduled and held before the appellate court makes their decision.


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codysan

Why are they so scared to get charged for what their crimes deserved according to our laws? If they truly think they are fighting for equality for black people, then wouldn’t they be fine with being unjustly persecuted, to raise public awareness for their cause and change the hearts of its citizens? If America is so systemically racist, then what exactly were they expecting from a trial? Its ironic, because if they didn’t have such contempt for America and the people who came before them, then they would be better at “protesting” their cause. But if they respected America and the great people who have made it a great country, then they wouldn’t be “protesting.”


commonsenseguy

So the defense attorney didn’t get their way. Good. The SLO County D.A.’s office appealed the liberal Judge Guerrero’s incorrect ruling towards them. Good. So the saga continues. The defendants should be glad they’re only charged with misdemeanors. But they’re not. They want do no want to have any charges against them for their violent attacks, threats, and blackmail of innocent individual’s and businesses during Tiana’s and Mayor Harmon’s insurrection led movement in SLO. These uncivil individuals willing broke multiple laws that are clearly identified by their own actions, words of hate, and multiple videos showing their violent intentions and actions.


The felony charge against Lystra is warranted. He attacked and innocent family in their vehicle while threatening the life of a four year old child. They all need to be tried for their violent and illegal actions by the jury of the people and see where it goes. To claim innocence and blame others for you actions points directly to their lack of accountability, responsibility, and respect for the lives of others. May they get the maximum sentences for all that they did. May the appeals court and SLO Country D.A. office stand in, and hold up the rule of law.


Rambunctious

There are two sides…the courts need to treat each side equally….January 6 capitol protesters are still in jail and being hunted down by the FBI…I don’t see these people facing that kind of prosecution and the people can see how unfair we are being treated by our government…equal justice is the law courts….obey it….


slo_full_of_slow_learners

Rolling on the floor… Boomer logic is strong with this one…


Sure, breaking and entering the capitol, where VP Pence was INSIDE, Armed to the teeth, assaulting cops, vandalizing. Is the same as a handful of kids briefly impeding traffic on rinky dink highway 101! Not even an interstate! Tiny pathetic insignificant highway 101.


Sure boomer, let’s send those traitors to the chair!! You’re such a strong patriot. Keep up the good work Digital Soldier


Military tribunals imminent!!! Indictments coming!!! Grab your popcorn!!! Enjoy the show!!!


Get fuct


rockhound1965

It just shows the disconnect with reality white folks in San Luis Obispo have. They KNOW racism exists, they just don’t give a s**t.


commonsenseguy

Unfortunately, racism and bigotry isn’t limited to just whites. Just look at the bigoted and racist words and actions of Tiana, blm and any that support them. The failure to see both sides guilty of these, shows a definite disconnect with reality and the truth of facts. I’ll say it again. Blinded by your own ideology.


Buchon

Dang, YOU really are a hateful RACIST. Just look at your words…


I can’t tell if you’re being deliberately offensive and provocative, or if you’re honestly that naive? Maybe you’re one who actually feels they have a right to be racists towards “white folks”?


No matter how you slice it, you’re clearly a racist. That’s on you.


Rambunctious

Pretty sure that post is racist….maybe the most racist post I’ve seen on this board….


Cmonnow

These last two replys show just how ignorant some people can be as to reality and the law. But that’s ok… By the way rock hound, your statement about “white folks” is one of the most racist things I’ve read on CCN. Actually they both are. Do you even know if the post your spewing at was written by a white folk? I am one tho and have 4 African American adult kids. Raised them as best we could to know as much about their heritage as possible and encouraged them to continue to do so as they went out on their own…even for one to travel to Kenya to meet family. When we adopted, we didn’t ask or specify color. So your flippant response seasoned with youthful anger does nothing to help.


commonsenseguy

All are guilty of violating the law. Both were illegal and unjustified with threats to the lives of innocent people. All need to be held accountable to the rule of law. To defend the actions of the insurgents in SLO shows that you support the threats to the lives of children, a woman in labor, and trauma nurses not being able to the center to treat and care for those in need.


The last time I checked, Tiana Arata, Jalen Hamler, Heidi Harmon, and the majority of those pathetic uncivil hate-filled cowardly insurgents were, and still are adults. I understand the thought process and their actions were that of a child, but still criminal and worthy of prosecution.


commonsenseguy

The next time Interstate 5 is closed, and you have to travel to southern California, lets see how tiny and pathetic Highway 101 is. Shallow thinking and shooting from the hip is never fruitful.


slo_full_of_slow_learners

Next time I-5 closes, let’s see how YOU react :-D I’m not the one blowing a head gasket over freeway blockage ;-p I can see it now…


Traffic Slowing…

Blood pressure rising

The transformation is taking place!


BEHOLD… THE SUPER CIVILIAN! YE FORSAKE THEE WHO IMPEDES OUR RIGHT TO TRAVEL!! I DEMAND JUSTICE!!!


Cmonnow

The point of this whole circus is not about freeways. Misdirection is a great page out of a politicians playbook. Its alllllll about the legal finagling, lying, and do anything (right or wrong) to avoid accepting responsibility for the perps’ actions. Its so obvious even a caveman (whoops) cave person can see it. I think maybe you and rock hound are one in the same and are having fun at our expense. Its gotta be true…


commonsenseguy

You might want to look at your own post when referring to someone blowing a head gasket. They’re hate-filled, inaccurate, not to mention rascist. You’re being what you claim to be against. Blissful ign……..


Buchon

Your attempts to justify illegal behavior are laughable… It’s all in vain. Justice is ever so slowly prevailing, and yours are going down. Count on it! ;)


Rambunctious

LOL…..and your point is?…do you even have a point or are you allowing emotion to run your thought process?….thinking through an issue and regarding everyone involved and their concerns along with standing laws and the allotted rights given to us in the constitution is what stands out to me…I want to see justice handed out evenly and fairly in America….and I have little patience for listening to some emotional tantrum by an unthinking “digital solider” like yourself….


J-Man

“Armed to the teeth” what a load of crap!!!