Joan Rainville was in court Thursday for an expungement hearing, having completed her five years of probation imposed for a 2014 conviction of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, a car, her mother’s car, which Ms. Rainville drove through a fence in Ukiah and into the neighbor’s backyard, disrupting a Labor Day barbecue and crashing into a house where a baby was sleeping. One member of the party at the barbecue had to jump out of the way, resulting in count one; and the sleeping baby, which wasn’t even awakened, resulted in count two. Then there was count three, driving under the influence.
Locals will remember Rainville as the popular Mendocino Books staffer who was always helpful and courteous to customers and visitors.
Ms. Rainville’s lawyer back then, Andrew Higgins, has since moved away, replaced by another lawyer from the Office of the Public Defender, Daniel Moss. Mr. Moss was seeking relief (“expungement”) under penal code section 1203.4, which was granted by Judge Ann Moorman. Mr. Moss was also seeking to have the two felony convictions, the two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, reduced to misdemeanors under the provisions of Penal Code Section 17b., but the Special Prosecutor, Paul Sequiera, currently of Solano County, said the law, an obscure law, as Ms. Rainville’s lawyer described it, forbade it, and Judge Moorman agreed, saying she was familiar with the law.
Rainville said Mr. Moss told her most judges have never heard of it, but apparently he was mistaken. Rainville will have to live with the felonies as a consequence.
Rainville gave the AVA a few comments on how it has affected her life – “no one before or since has ever had a DUI charged as assault with a deadly weapon,” Rainville said. She felt Mr. Sequiera was gloating in his distinction of being the only prosecutor to ever make such a charge stick, or words to that effect.
Rainville added that even with the relief via PC 1203.4 she still can’t qualify for disabled housing or many other benefits she ordinarily would be entitled to.
Mr. Moss asked the court to set aside some of the fines and fees attending the case, and the judge did drop a $90 collection fee and two special fees of $22.31 (one for each assault count), leaving Rainville with close to $5,000 in supervision fees, and $500 for the Public Defender’s services – of which, as Rainville pointed out, Mr. Higgins only spoke with her once during the entire process and neglected to do a lot of things on her behalf before and during the trial, giving her the impression that Higgins was working for the prosecution, rather than the defense.
The restitution to the victims, the damaged fence and wall repairs, has long since been paid. Rainville is prohibited from driving for life.
Judge Moorman granted the two 1203.4 motions for the two counts, and graciously waived the fees of $150 each for filing the motions. Moorman also set aside any more drug and alcohol testing fees, as Rainville has been paying for very expensive rehab services over the past five years, including a costly course for assault felons run by the for-profit people who contract prison services. (I forget the name she mentioned).
“Thank you, your honor, Rainville said.
“You earned it,” the judge replied.
Joe Corral Wants To Withdraw His Plea
Joseph Corral, Jr. had previously entered a plea of guilty to shooting at two sheriff’s deputies with a .50 caliber handgun, a Desert Eagle, the most powerful semi-auto pistol on the market, last summer in Redwood Valley. The plea arrangement would have meant that Corrall would get 29 years in prison, rather than 54 years, for two counts of attempted murder on Deputies Thong and Vasquez. But at the last moment Mr. Corral decided to fire his lawyer, Daniel Moss of the Public Defender’s Office, and withdraw his plea.
The presentencing report had just come in from the Probation Office and in it Mr. Corral gave a sketch of his biography, how his mother went to prison when he was two years old, how he grew up in southern California and joined the Lopez Maravilla street gang and adopted the moniker “Bad Man.” Corral said that his mother finally got out of prison last year and that he drove up to San Francisco to see her and, as he got closer, he tried to call her but she wouldn’t answer his call, so he started drinking, found some meth, bought more booze and kept on driving past San Francisco, and ended up parked alongside the road in Redwood Valley, passed out in his car.
The Probation officer asked Corral what he was thinking when he decided to open fire on the deputies; specifically asking him if he was contemplating committing “suicide-by-cop” (as it is colloquially called when someone pulls a gun on a police officer)? To which Corral replied he didn’t know, but that he always became suicidal when he used meth. The last thing he remembered was driving on by San Francisco, and waking up in a hospital bed with a gunshot wound. The deputies had returned fire after Corral fired first, a shot that blew off the rearview mirror on the passenger door of the soccer van he was driving. The .50 caliber is a big bullet, half an inch in diameter, with tremendous muzzle velocity, and it is necessarily a heavy weapon to wield, so it is understandable that Corral in his inebriated state perhaps didn’t have a chance to get the muzzle up and align the sights before pulling the trigger. Also, it would be easy to pull that trigger again, spontaneously, even unintentionally, after such a powerful recoil, as the big gun bucked in his hand; and investigators believe Corral did fire a second shot, intentionally or not, at the deputies.
The deputies in question, Miguel Vasquez and Alexander Thong were present for the sentencing, which was scheduled for last Wednesday, but at the last moment Corral asked to withdraw his plea and be given a new lawyer, a “Marsden motion,” the legal beagles call it, which required Judge Keith Faulder to clear the courtroom to hear Corral’s complaint about his lawyer. We later learned that the Marsden motion was denied, but another lawyer, one from the Alternate Defender’s Office, had to be appointed to see if there was legal standing for Corral to withdraw his plea – effectively postponing the inevitable, there being a widely disseminated video of the incident on the internet, which shows beyond any doubt that he fired on the deputies.
“Gunshot experts will be called in,” District Attorney David Eyster said, “if this goes to trial, because we believe there was a second shot fired.” If it can be shown that two shots were fired, a second count of attempted murder will be added to the charges, increasing the maximum exposure to 54 years in prison, as opposed to the 29 years offered in the stipulated plea deal that Corral backed out of last week.