Thursday Sep 02 2010
Auburn attorney to be retried
By: Jon Brines Journal Correspondent
2008 conviction thrown out, new trial begins next week
The case against Auburn estate and probate attorney Robert Vaughan is moving forward to a second trial after a judge threw out his 2008 conviction. Now a new trial is slated for next week. The charges stem from an August 2007 incident at his Auburn home after four Placer County Sheriff’s deputies were conducting an investigation into possible criminal child neglect. However, Vaughan was never charged with that. Instead, Vaughan was sentenced to a year in jail on a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge, which was overturned in 2009. Vaughan’s attorney, Jon-Paul Valcarenghi, alleges his client was unlawfully detained by the deputies and subsequently arrested without a warrant or sufficient probable cause. The incident It all started when Vaughan’s 3-year-old son was found wandering alone next to a busy street off Atwood Road in Auburn. A passerby got the boy to a nearby daycare. The boy was picked up by his older brothers before deputies arrived on the scene. That’s when Deputy Sally Lobb responded to the Vaughan residence to see if the child was properly supervised since he was last in the custody of a juvenile, according to court documents. The man who answered the door, later identified as attorney Robert Vaughan, told the deputy she had no right to be there, was not allowed in his home and she should leave. Without incident she returned to her vehicle and requested back-up. A short time later, three more deputies arrived and all four approached the house once again. A deputy explained they wanted to check the welfare of the child and make sure he was safe. Vaughan spoke to the deputies from the porch and told them they needed a warrant and to leave, according to testimony. Vaughan then turned to go back inside but was forcibly grabbed, taken to the ground, handcuffed and ultimately arrested. After he was arrested, Mrs. Vaughan led officers into the house and they saw the child sitting on the couch apparently fine. Why deputies arrested Vaughan Due to the location of the child, uncertainty about his condition, and the fact that he was under the care of another juvenile, Lobb said she felt that her duties required her to check on the child. Her concern was strengthened because she said she could not think of a reason a person would hide and not cooperate if the child is, in fact, safe and fine. Prosecutor Daniel Wesp contends it was reasonable to assume that any officer would momentarily detain Vaughan at the door while checking on the child. Lobb testified that deputies had the right to force entry even though they chose not to do that during the incident. Conviction overturned The original July 2008 resisting arrest conviction was overturned because the jury was not instructed properly, according to Appellate Judge Mark Curry, who presides in the Placer County court system. When Vaughan refused to give his name to deputies and not let them into his house, it was not a violation of resisting arrest but that resisting detention was a violation. The jury was not instructed properly on that point. The defense attorney in the case wants to go further and said the officers should not have assumed that Vaughan had done anything that led to the child ending up in the street earlier that day because they had no facts to back that up. Prosecutors said while he had a right not to identify himself, officers had a right to detain him and if he resisted, that would be considered a violation of the law. According to testimony, Mrs. Vaughan was in custody of the four children at home when she left with her daughter to get an X-ray. The older boys were taking care of the child when he slipped out of the garage and wandered down the street. Mr. Vaughan was at work when he got the call from the daycare. A new trial Ever since Vaughan was convicted and sentenced to the maximum penalty of one year in jail in 2008 he has filed a series of motions to get the case thrown out of court including a request for a new trial. Vaughan represented himself in the first trial but now he is represented by Valcarenghi. Vaughan did not return calls for comment. Wesp contends questioning the evidence in the case is for a jury to decide not a judge since disputed facts in the case need to be weighed by a jury to ultimately decide if the police action had legal cause. The new criminal trial on charges of resisting arrest is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. today in Dept. 33 at the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville.