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Arambula Pleads Not Guilty to Child Cruelty Charge

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A not guilty plea was entered on behalf of Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) during an arraignment hearing that lasted less than 90 seconds Wednesday.

Arambula did not appear in Fresno Superior Court to face a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to a child.

The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office charged Arambula, a physician, for a Dec. 9 incident involving his 7-year-old daughter. He is accused of “inflicting unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering.”

Arambula’s Attorneys Disappointed

Attorneys for Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula — Michael Aed (left) and Margarita Martinez-Baly — speak to the media following an arraignment at the Fresno Superior Court “M” Street Courthouse on March 13, 2019 (GV Wire/Jahz Tello)

After the hearing, Arambula’s attorneys spoke to the media.

“It’s disappointing,” attorney Michael Aed said.

He said the district attorney’s office did not inform him about the filing decision until Tuesday morning.

“We expect that the jury process will vindicate Dr. Arambula. This is not about politics. This about a human being, a father of three children, who has a reputation. He believes that he’s been mischaracterized by the public statements by law enforcement in this case. And, he expects to be vindicated and have his case heard in a court of law, not a court of public opinion,” Aed said.

As to why Arambula did not appear, co-attorney Margarita Martinez-Baly explained that his presence wasn’t required. According to California law, a defendant may appear through counsel in most misdemeanor cases.

Arambula is taking an unpaid leave from his elected position. He is eligible for re-election in 2020 for the Assembly seat representing parts of the city of Fresno and western Fresno County.

Politically Motivated?

ADA Steve Wright

Arambula, in a statement Tuesday released through Martinez-Baly, said that “politics may have influenced the decision to file.”

Pressed on the statement, Martinez-Baly said, “The facts speak for themselves. When you have top law enforcement officials making comments to the media on matters that are not public knowledge. When you have the No. 2 person in the DA’s office coming into court to try the case, then you make your own judgment.”

Martinez-Baly was referencing comments that Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer made to the media in December. Dyer said that the injuries to Arambula’s daughter were not consistent with a spanking as the assemblyman said.

Assistant District Attorney Steve Wright said Tuesday that any suggestion the DA’s office made a politically influenced decision to charge Arambula was “absolutely 100% not correct.”

Wright was in court Wednesday representing the DA’s office.

De Alba Recuses Herself

The arraignment was scheduled for the courtroom of Judge Ana de Alba. However, shortly before the hearing started, de Alba recused herself, citing a conflict of interest. She did not elaborate on the conflict.

The hearing was transferred to the adjacent courtroom of Judge Gary Green.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for April 2. The trial date is April 23.

Judge Gary L. Green presides over the Joaquin Arambula arraignment in Fresno Superior Court on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 (GV Wire/Jahz Tello)

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email