- PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
- KEEP YOUR EARS CLEAN : If Dan DeVaul turns down the probation sentence sought by the prosecution, he could face up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines. Deputy District Attorney Craig Van Rooyen (pictured) has asked the court to make DeVaul clean the code violations on his San Luis Obispo ranch as part of probation.
DeVaul, the owner of Sunny Acres sober living facility convicted of two criminal code violations, is due back in court on Nov. 23 for sentencing. He asked for a new trial based largely on the declaration of one juror, Mary Rose Partin, who argued she felt bullied into her vote by other jurors and Judge John Trice.
The motion for a new trial was shipped to Duffy. Though the core of DeVaul’s motion depended on Partin’s declaration, the legal arguments focused on how involved Trice was in the jury’s deliberations. Partin was pulled out of deliberations and brought before Trice on two occasions because other jurors said she was refusing to deliberate as the court had instructed.
At his latest day in court, DeVaul got out of his seat—as he has often done during the case—even after Duffy told him he didn’t have to stand. It wasn’t until Duffy denied the motion and moved the case back to Trice for sentencing that DeVaul sat back down. As he left the room, DeVaul’s characteristic limp appeared more exaggerated than usual. Even his customarily outspoken demeanor was a bit retracted as he hobbled to his next court appearance.
“Just from what I saw in the courtroom, I think that juror was hammered … end of story,” DeVaul told New Times.
The arguments made on the motion weren’t as cut and dry. DeVaul’s attorneys, Jeff Stulberg and Neil Tardiff, and Deputy District Attorney Craig Van Rooyen argued in cryptic legalese, citing various precedent-setting decisions about how and when judges can intervene with a juror. Ultimately, Duffy decided Trice hadn’t overstepped his bounds as a judge.
“I think the judge had an obligation to investigate at that point,” Duffy said of his decision.
Immediately after the motion was denied, DeVaul was sent back to Trice’s courtroom. Stulberg asked Trice for a new trial, too, but that request was quickly shot down. Though DeVaul won’t be sentenced until Nov. 23, it’s already clear what type of punishment he’ll be facing.
DeVaul was convicted on two charges, found innocent on two others, and the jury was hung on the remaining five charges. Van Rooyen said the district attorney’s office would dismiss the unresolved charges and only seek probation on the two charges for which DeVaul was convicted. If sentenced, DeVaul’s probation will probably require him to clean up the code violations on his ranch located just outside the city of SLO. But if he turns down the probation option, he could face up to a year in county jail and $1,000 in fines, Trice warned. Additionally, because the violations are considered ongoing, if DeVaul doesn’t clean up his ranch, the district attorney’s office could file a new case with what would essentially be the same charges.
DeVaul has consistently pleaded that he was unfairly picked on by county code enforcers and shouldn’t be prosecuted because of the services he provides for the area’s homeless and substance abusers
If DeVaul decides to turn down probation, Van Rooyen cautioned, “Then the court has to do what the court has to do.”
Trice was equally foreboding: “I would hope we would not get ourselves in that situation, gentlemen,” he said.