BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Julie Solis appeared before a Superior Court judge last week for the beginning of her trial on charges of trespassing at Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s office, an incident she filmed in January of last year as she refused to leave the premises, which were closed due to the pandemic.
Instead of beginning trial, Judge Gloria Cannon made an offer to Solis: Stay away from McCarthy’s office and don’t commit any new crimes and the case will be dismissed.
The offer, which the former 34th District Assembly candidate accepted, was made over the objections of prosecutors and without the judge hearing any witnesses or watching any of several videos taken of the incident, according to a scathing news release sent by the District Attorney’s office Monday afternoon criticizing Cannon’s decision. The result is “absurd,” the release says.
“When someone goes to the trouble of broadcasting themselves blatantly violating trespassing laws for a political stunt, they should face consequences,” Assistant District Attorney Joseph Kinzel said in the release. “Judge Cannon handed out a ‘get out of jail free’ card to Solis and did so over the D.A.’s objection and without hearing any testimony or viewing the evidence in the case.”
Kinzel noted five other judges in 14 different hearings refused to grant pretrial diversion, adding that Cannon also granted diversion in multiple vehicular manslaughter cases weeks earlier.
“To say that the ruling is a disappointment is a gross understatement,” Kinzel said.
Judges can unilaterally enter defendants in pretrial diversion programs as a result of a 2021 law allowing diversion for nearly every misdemeanor offense. The law doesn’t specify what terms are appropriate for what charges or who should be eligible.
“Far from any ‘vindication,’ or evidence of any innocence, Solis’ decision to accept the judge’s ‘diversion’ is a product of Solis taking advantage of a judge in a state that has policies specifically allowing for this absurd result to occur,” the release says.
On Friday, Solis told 17 News she intended for a protest at the office after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
“We met there to do a peaceful action. That’s all that was,” Solis said.
Court documents, however, say Solis entered the the locked office on Jan. 11, 2021, when a deliveryman left then refused to leave despite being told the office was closed and McCarthy wasn’t present. She said she wouldn’t go until given a complaint form to fill out.
McCarthy’s staff accommodated Solis, giving her a form and a limited amount of time to complete it, documents said. Solis began to fill out the form but repeatedly stopped to address those watching a livestreamed video from her cellphone as office staff and police stood nearby.
She encouraged other people to join her, “though few arrived,” prosecutors said.
Told repeatedly to finish the form, Solis ignored officers who warned she could be arrested for trespassing, an officer wrote in a report.
“After not receiving cooperation from Solis, it became apparent that she was going to remain at the scene until she was forced to leave,” the officer wrote.
Police arrested Solis and two misdemeanor counts of trespassing were filed against her.
In all, prosecutors say, Solis spent more than 45 minutes in the office.
“Solis’ behavior was an obvious political stunt, and despite efforts to resolve the situation without her arrest, it was clear that Solis had no intention of respecting the law,” the DA’s release said.