Judge Tosses Out DUI Conviction For Santa Rosa Man Represented by Unlicensed Attorney

The Press Democrat reports that a man convicted of DUI in 2014 and served three years of his five-year sentence in prison was acquitted on Tuesday when the court found an unlicensed attorney had represented him.

After serving three years in prison, Ramirez Perez was deported to Mexico. Sonoma County Superior Court Judge  Karlene Navarro vacated the charge saying that Norberto Ramirez Perez of Santa Rosa had suffered an “injustice.”

Ramirez Perez’s attorney, Miranda Devlin, was convicted of fraud in federal court. Devline, who identified herself as attorney Stephanie Martin, had been present for 22 court appearances in Ramirez Perez’s case.

Judge Navarro said that Ramirez Perez said that there was no evidence of subsequent violations and that his “debt to society had been paid.”

In her decision, Judge Navarro wrote, “The petitioner was not represented by a licensed attorney at his jury trial, which eliminated the Court’s jurisdiction during the trial and stands as a bar to a valid conviction sentence.”

The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office said that the case would be dismissed if the conviction was vacated. 

On Tuesday, April 11, during a hearing before Judge Vernon Nakahara, the motion to vacate the sentence against Ramirez Perez was finalized.

The public defender handling Ramirez Perez’s case, Vishad Dewan, told reporters, “I am certainly happy it’s finally done, and justice has been done to rectify what was a grievous error,” he said. “It’s still astounding that something like this could happen.”

Related Frequently Asked Questions