Nov 8, 2018
Sexually violent predator Joshua Cooley's family member glares at me in court ; there is a chance he could be placed in Sacramento
After the last court hearing, it seemed fait accompli that sexually violent predator would be out of custody in Humboldt, with Judge John Feeney ordering the transient release option. With each recent hearing, there is a sliver of hope.
The first good sign was there was no mention of the gag order by Conflict Counsel Supervising Attorney Meagan O' Connell. Second, thank God for Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Schaffer who once again, vigorously advocated for public safety citing the law and appropriate facts.
Deputy DA Stacey Eads was also at the court hearing and spoke with Liberty Healthcare representatives but Ms. Schaffer was the one who presented arguments.
Judge Feeney outlined some conditions of transient release: a private security firm would be assigned to monitor Cooley 24 hours, he would have to wear a GPS monitor, he would have to move every 4 days from one local motel to another, a private security firm or local law enforcement would have to take Cooley to appointments and he would have to register every 30 days.
Ms. Schaffer told Judge Feeney that transient release was the least favorable reccomendation and that a permanent residence was preferred by Liberty Healthcare. There was also a possibility of placing Cooley in a permanent residence in Sacramento.
Rafael Loya of Liberty Healthcare agreed with what Ms. Schaffer said and added some concerns they had about the transient release and Cooley being placed in Humboldt and on transient release.
Ms. O'Connell interrupted Loya and said that this hearing should only focus on when Cooley would be placed and where as an outpatient. Judge Feeney overruled that objection.
Ms. O'Connell repeated her arguments about it has been two years, he has family here, people could have filed.
Ms. Schaffer told Judge Feeney that
while "the defendant was awaiting placement there was violation"she referred to a storage device and asked Judge Feeney to allow investigation to be completed. Once that investigation is complete, the People can file a revocation of Cooley's status for outpatient treatment, according to PC 1068.
Mr. Loya said that transient release is hard to supervise, especially in Humboldt. This has been mentioned befire, GPS does not work everywhere in Humboldt. The motels would have other clients that Liberty Healthcare said were not "desirable" to have around Cooley. Mr. Loya said "our program is successful", they want Cooley to succeed but have concerns given that Cooley has been uncooperative at Coalinga State Hospital. Mr. Loya said that Sacramento offered other services that would be beneficial to Cooley, not available here.
Mr. Loya said that if Judge Feeney ruled there were extraordinary circumstances, Liberty Healthcare can look for properties in other counties. Judge Feeney asked how soon they could find a placement in Sacramento, Mr. Loya said 30 -60 days.
"I am interested in the Sacramento placement" said Judge Feeney, "but not ruling out the transient release.
Five family members were there in court today, including an older woman who I assume is Cooley's grandmother or mother. She glared at me outside court, inside court and constantly talked with another woman in court before his case was called and while his case was being discussed.
Judge Feeney seemed exasperated that another hearing date had to be set and was apologetic to the family. He is the one who ruled that a sexually violent predator , who is uncooperative while he has been at the Coalinga State Hospital could be released back into the community. The public, thankfully was made aware of this case. By law, now there maybe limitations. The previous ruling cannot be undone. Judge Feeney likes to make people happy; that is not his role as a Judge. He has discretion within current law and what Cooley or his family's feelings are is irrelevant to public safety.
Cooley's family has some nerve. Their family member brutalized this community and he has not shown that he will cooperate with treatment or that he will not endanger this community, again .
Ms. Schaffer summed it up well in her last statement to Judge Feeney, "At the end, it comes down to public safety."
She also said a permanent residence for Cooley in another county would be beneficial for succesfully completing a program than him having to move every four days.
Next court hearing is on December 12 at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom 3.