The 11th Judicial Court met on Monday, Aug. 29. Judge Jim Shirley presided. Steve Cochran and DDA Todd Banks faced each other on each side of the bench. 

Debbie Okuma , from the Division of Parole and Probation participated in both hearings by telephone. 

She and the judge briefly chatted about the smoke from the Caldor fire which continues to threaten South Lake Tahoe, causing thousands of of people to evacuate. 

The Pershing County Sheriff’s  Office brought two defendants to court from the jail, located kitty-corner to the courthouse.

A status hearing

In Apr. 2021, the PCSO booked Debony  Maffett II, 26, for resisting a public officer with the use of a firearm. He pleaded guilty at his arraignment.

At sentencing, the judge made completion of veteran’s court a condition of the defendant’s three-year probation.

Steve Cochran has been trying to get Maffett into the Gwinnet County VA Clinic in Lawrencevile, Georgia, his home state. The Clark County VA Clinic is another possibility. He’s still in jail waiting to be accepted by either program.

Cochran described the current situation as “a standoff” and requested a court order documenting the judge’s directives.

Todd Banks has also reached out to the family in the interest of expediting the matter.

“My position remains steadfast since our last hearing,” he said. “It’s not in Mr. Maffett’s best interest or the interest of public safety for him to be without services and a stable living situation. We need to figure something out because warehousing him in jail isn’t the answer.”

The judge issued a court order.

For the time being, the defendant returned to jail. He has applied to two VA Clinics, one in Georgia and one in Las Vegas.

Change of plea

Serafina Gomez, 43, came to court from jail to change her plea. She admitted to child abuse, neglect or endangerment, a gross misdemeanor. The incident occurred in Lovelock in May 2021. “I put my daughter in a headlock and punched her,” she said when asked by the judge to provide a factual basis for her guilty plea. 

The offense is punishable by up to a year in jail, fines up to $2,000 or a combination of the two.

Cochran and Banks jointly recommended a suspended sentence with the Division of Parole and Probation supervising the defendant for two years. 

As a special condition, she’d get an evaluation for dual diagnoses and follow the recommendations. She’d also abstain from alcohol subject to random testing.

The judge will weigh the recommendation but retains the ability to sentence the defendant as he sees fit, within the confines of the law. 

The judge asked about the necessity of a PSI, a document sometimes prepared by the Division of Parole and Probation before sentencing.

“In a presentencing investigation report the Division of Parole and Probation interviews you and produces a history I read before I sentence you,” the judge explained to Gomez. “If you want, I’ll order one for you. If not, we’ll proceed.” After consultation with her attorney, Gomez chose to skip the process.

Cochran requested his client’s release on her own recognizance. “I’d like her to get started in terms of her evaluation and treatment,” he said. The DDA noted that the client’s children are currently out of the area and asked for a sentencing hearing on Sept. 20. 

The judge agreed to both requests.