By Joe Johnson
Immediately after a prosecutor quit last week during a Juvenile Court hearing, Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez took over for the prosecutor and dismissed charges against a teen who was accused of participating in the shooting of an occupied house in April.
Deborah Nogueira-Yates explained that on May 25 she quit out of frustration because Judge A. Kamau Hull repeatedly ruled against her during a hearing
She called Hull’s court “a joke” because she did not believe the judge made certain rulings during a detention hearing that were based on law. The hearing was to detain a youth who was accused of first-degree burglary and sexual battery of a victim under 16.
Earlier in the day Nogueira-Yates got convictions for one of two juveniles accused of the April 8 shooting of a home on Amethyst Drive, in which the defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and one count each of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and violating the state Street Gang Terrorism Prevention Act.
Judge Hull sentenced the teen to serve 24 months on probation, barred him from having contact with his juvenile and adult codefendants and gang members, and also banished the boy from Athens-Clarke County.
The next case on the docket was the detention hearing for the accused burglar and sex offender. Hull ended up ordering the youth be detained at the Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center.
After Nogueira-Yates quit and stormed out of the courtroom, the judge reportedly summoned Gonzalez, who dismissed charges against the other juvenile accused in the Amethyst Drive shooting. The teen pleaded guilty only to misdemeanor obstruction for running from police.
Nogueira-Yates said there was no legal reason to dismiss the charges.
"The detectives did a great job and we had all the evidence we needed for a conviction," the former prosecutor said.
The DA's office would not comment.
“We will not comment on any specific case as a trial is often not the end of a case because there are appeals and other motions and we do not comment on pending or potential litigation, said David Lyle, external relations director for the DA’s office. “We also will not discuss the particulars of any juvenile case due to the privacy and confidentiality rights of the minors involved.”