Judge changes mind: Felony arraignments will move back to Oakland

After a vocal campaign by the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office, felony arraignments of in-custody inmates that had been moved to a new Dublin courthouse will be headed back to Oakland, the public defender announced this week.

“I am very pleased to announce that the Presiding Judge has decided that North County felony arraignments will be moving back to the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland,” Brendon Woods said in a statement. “The move of felony cases back to Oakland will ensure that more families have access to their loved ones’ court appearances and ensure that our clients have the ability to have counsel appear with them at their arraignments and advocate on their behalf.”

Woods had argued that most of the defendants in these cases are from Oakland and it was a financial hardship for many relatives who had to drive, bus or BART to Dublin to attend the arraignments.
The change back should start on Sept. 25. Woods said that how to handle misdemeanor cases is still being discussed.

Arraignments for defendants from Oakland, Piedmont and Emeryville traditionally held at Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland were moved in July to the newly opened East County Hall of Justice in Dublin on the order of presiding Judge Morris Jacobson.

Woods told the San Francisco Chronicle that he felt that the judge realized the situation wasn’t working.

“There are certain aspects of the new courthouse that make it less than ideal for handling the new arrangements,” Alameda County Court Executive Officer Chad Finke told the Chronicle. “As a way of reaching compromise, Judge Jacobson agreed we’ll send them back to Oakland.”
 

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