A Desert Hot Springs couple said they are feeling powerless and betrayed by the very system they believed was supposed to protect them.
Tabitha Davies and Israel Rivera said they were robbed of their dream home by a contractor who sold it to them.
The couple said they purchased a manufactured home from a Desert Hot Springs contractor. While the home was in escrow, Davies and Rivera claim the contractor let his occupational license expire which prevented the couple from owning the home under their name.
Davies and Rivera also said the home was delivered with moldy walls and damage all around due to the contractor not properly storing the home while it was being sold. It was supposed to be a brand new ready-to-move-in home.
The home was inhabitable and the couple said they were out over $150,000 from the purchase. Because they couldn't move into it, they were homeless for a period of time while working to make even more money to fix the home.
So they turned to the justice system for their day in court hoping to hold the contractor accountable.
Instead, they were met with constant setbacks as their court hearings kept being postponed. It was finally dismissed after being pushed back for over a year on November 16, 2022.
This is just one of the 748 misdemeanor cases dismissed by the Riverside County Superior Court as of November 18, 2022.
The Riverside County District Attorney's Office (DA) said this is because of a lack of judges and courtrooms to see the cases. The DA has slammed the court system for this, calling it a "public safety crisis."
John Aki, the District Attorney's Chief Assistant said, “So it’s like if the crime never occurred, and what happens is a lot of defendants return to their homes, return to the people they’ve abused with no accountability. A lot of them feel emboldened and it affects public safety”
The DA also said it is willing to increase hours to run through the backlog of cases.
Riverside County Superior Court did not grant an interview with News Channel 3 but said,
"The Riverside Superior Court will continue to use its available resources to follow the law and fulfill all of the Court’s constitutional duties."
The court said it has taken steps to facilitate pre-trial resolution and efficiently utilize its resources. The efforts listed by the court included:
- Fully opening all criminal early disposition departments since June 15, 2020;
- Establishing mandatory settlement departments where judges work directly with parties to facilitate resolution;
- Deploying civil judges to hear criminal trials;
- Re-designating some departments to hear criminal trials;
- Assigning newly appointed judges to criminal trial departments;
- Calling criminal trials multiple times per day in the event a trial courtroom suddenly becomes available;
- Assigning criminal trials to a courtroom immediately after it becomes available, such as when the jury in its previous case commences deliberations, which often occurs late in the afternoon;
- Summoning the maximum number of jurors in each region to ensure a sufficient jury pool; and
- Utilizing retired judges, when available, through the Temporary Assigned Judges Program administered by the Chief Justice’s office.
But people like Davies and Rivera, still feel failed by this very system.