EL CENTRO — El Centro Mayor Pro Tem Jason Jackson took the witness stand to defend himself against an alleged violation of probation in an evidentiary hearing at the Superior Court Brawley West on Feb. 11.
accused of violating his probation on a 2017 animal cruelty conviction by
failing to inform the court of receiving two traffic tickets. It is alleged
that he violated the requirement he obey all laws.
Christopher Plourd presided and several witnesses were called by Jackson
attorney Robert Espinosa of El Centro. Jackson was first called before Plourd
on the matter Jan. 8 and the judge continued the hearing until this week.
conclusion of the Feb. 11 hearing, Plourd said he would review all arguments
and ordered Jackson to return to the Brawley court on Feb. 27 at 8:30 a.m.
point Plourd asked Espinosa if it was his position that a minor traffic
violation does not count regarding the probation violation, to which Espinosa
nodded in agreement.
testify was Jessica Leon, an Imperial County Probation Department officer who
supervised Jackson from Sept. 13 until recently. Jackson was on probation stemming
from animal cruelty involving his emaciated horse.
asked Leon about Jackson’s compliance with the terms of probation and she
replied he had fulfilled his obligation.
Trapnell, Imperial County senior deputy district attorney, asked Leon if
Jackson ever mentioned the speeding tickets he received in the spring of 2019
and Leon answered, “No.”
then asked if Leon knew Jackson committed perjury by making false statements
when he requested early termination of his probation by stating he complied
with requirements by obeying all federal, state and municipal laws. Leon again
questioned Leon if she knew if “for it to be perjury it must be willfully
and deliberately trying to mislead.”
replied, “No, not me.”
called Kevin Arellano, also a probation officer who supervised Jackson’s
probation from early 2018 until Leon assumed it.
you tell the defendant a minor traffic ticket would be a violation of
probation?” he asked.
discussions with Ms. Leon and I told her Jackson was doing well,” said
you file for a probation violation for a speeding ticket?” asked Espinosa.
Requirements of Probation
then asked if the terms of probation that required Jackson to obey all lawful
statutes was overburdening, to which Arellano answered, “No.”
then stated that issuance of traffic tickets was breaking the law. She then
asked him if he understand that perjury is a felony, to which Arellano
answered, “Yes.” The prosecutor then asked if Arellano knew about Jackson’s
traffic infractions, to which he answered, “No.”
countered that argument by inquiring of Arellano, “What does it mean to
you, to obey all laws?”
Arellano replied he did not go into detail with Jackson and he did not ask
Jackson if the defendant understood what to obey all laws meant.
to testify was Raj Singh, the attorney who represented Jackson just prior to Espinosa.
confirmed it was he who appealed to the court for early termination of
probation through a declaration he submitted to the court and which Jackson
then asked Singh if before submitting the declaration for early termination of
probation if it was he who authored the phrase, “model citizen” to
describe Jackson and justify early termination. Singh answered it was.
had at least 50 or more similar cases regarding probation,” he recalled.
“I think if an underlying offense (during probation) is a felony then, yes,
it is violating probation terms. Yet in my experience it is rare when there is
a probation violation for a misdemeanor.”
also testified. Trapnell asked him if he had a college education, to which
Jackson said he has a degree in criminal justice administration.
this case you signed a declaration and did it without the knowledge of possibly
committing perjury?” asked Trapnell.
attorney summarized what’s in it and I trusted my attorney, so I signed the
document,” answered Jackson.
then addressed Judge Plourd stating, “There is no California law that a
traffic matter be part of a probation violation.”
then cited a Supreme Court case. In that case probation was revoked because the
probationer had failed to promptly report an arrest. But the issuance of a
traffic citation is not an arrest, Espinosa argued.
is not even close to perjury,” said Espinosa. “It cannot be perjury
when a defendant believes they’re telling the truth even if it turns out he was
further explained that a traffic infraction during probation is not related to
the original conviction for animal cruelty.
point here: is the defendant a liar?” he asked the court. “Is the defendant
a perjurer? Never. You have no evidence here that a traffic infraction would constitute
a probation violation. We’re stretching credibility for a traffic infraction
way beyond what the law intended.”
Trapnell countered that Jackson committed perjury when he signed the
application to terminate his probation early. She added Jackson did not read
the declaration his attorney prepared that stated he had not broken any laws
and that he knew he had broken the law.
had earlier unsuccessfully appealed to withdraw his guilty plea. After
exhausting all appeals, he had been led from the Brawley court Nov. 19 to serve
a 10-day county jail sentence for the guilty plea on one count of animal