Jackson to appeal court ruling
EL CENTRO — El Centro Councilman Jason Jackson will continue to remain out of custody pending an appeal of a county Superior Court judge’s ruling Tuesday denying Jackson’s request to challenge the validity of his previous guilty plea to one felony count of animal cruelty. The pending appeal seeks to have the Fourth District Court of Appeals grant a writ of mandate forcing the county Superior Court to issue a certificate of probable cause that a local judge denied on Tuesday, said defense attorney Raj Singh.
“Mr. Jackson wants to withdraw his plea, he wants fight the case on the merits and he wants to prove that he’s not guilty of what he’s been accused of,” Singh said following Tuesday’s hearing.
Singh had recently filed the request for a certificate of probable cause in response to county Superior Court Judge Christopher J. Plourd’s ruling on Jan. 29 denying Jackson’s motion to withdraw his prior guilty plea.
A certificate of probable cause requires court approval whenever a defendant wishes to challenge the validity of a guilty plea based on reasonable constitutional, jurisdictional or other grounds.
In his ruling Tuesday, Plourd had indicated that previous testimony and evidence had persuaded him that Jackson’s request for a certificate of probable cause was not warranted.
The pending appeal is but the latest in a string of legal actions that Jackson has taken following his sentencing on Aug. 17 in connection to the animal cruelty charge, which was ultimately reduced to a misdemeanor.
Following his sentencing, which included a 10day jail sentence, Jackson had filed a notice of appeal with the appellate court challenging his conviction. That appeal was eventually withdrawn Jan. 24 in order for Jackson to attempt to withdraw his guilty plea.
The decision to attempt to withdraw his prior guilty plea was the result of Jackson reportedly having been misadvised by his former counsel about the potential ramifications of his conviction, Singh said.
“Because of that he ended up taking a plea that he wouldn’t have taken if he knew all the consequences that would’ve flown from it,” Singh said.
In his ruling Tuesday, much like his previous ruling denying Jackson’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea, Plourd had indicated that Jackson’s arguments for seeking a certificate of probable cause failed to reach the legal threshold necessary to grant it.
Specifically, Plourd indicated that Jackson’s prior testimony ran counter to testimony provided by his former counsel as well as previous court proceedings where the consequences of his conviction were discussed openly.
“The court found that Jackson’s testimony was not persuasive and in many instances clearly incorrect,” Plourd stated in his six-page written decision.
Jackson is due back in court in El Centro on Feb. 28 for a status update regarding his appeal.
“If you want a further stay you’ll have to get it from the court of appeals,” Plourd said.
El Centro Councilman Jason Jackson (left) listens to defense attorney Raj Singh answer questions on Tuesday outside of the Superior Court in El Centro following a motion hearing. JULIO MORALES PHOTO