“I always knew that she would be vindicated; she is one of the few politicians who leads with honesty and integrity, and would always do the right thing for the children and the people of Inglewood.” Unnamed Supporter
Trina Williams Vindicated of All Charges Successfully
She protected her good name in the court of law and her integrity remained intact
BY Yussuf J. Simmonds
Sentinel Managing Editor
The people who knew Trina Williams including those who worked with her over the years were not surprised when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge granted a judgment of acquittal of one count and a dismissal of the other count respectively. She was falsely charged with two counts of misuing public funds.
Throughout the ordeal, Williams always maintained her innocence and the judge’s ruling validated her claim of innocence completely. “Those who know me, and the thousands who voted for me, are keenly aware that I stand on a very solid ethical foundation,” she said, “I refused to allow haphazard charges, public humiliation and erroneous arrests intimidate and/or deter me from the ultimate truth of my innocence.”
According to her attorney, Lonnie Brandon, a highly-regarded Loyola Law School graduate and private attorney, Williams’ trial was fought in the highest integrity. He uncovered glaring accounting errors, which initially led to her wrongful criminal prosecution.
“The lesson learned here is that one must not be afraid to make the District Attorney’s office prove its case,” said Attorney Brandon.
“Overall, we were successful because the judge granted our motion, under California Penal Code 1118.1, which allows a defendant to solicit a judgment of acquittal after the DA has presented its evidence.”
It appears that besides the fact that Williams has been completely exonerated, she may actually be owed money by the district–money that she spent in the performance of her duties and in her capacity as a board member of the Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD).
“I feel very, very good,” she said, “I feel relieved… because I know that I have people who believe in me and never would they believe that I would steal money from the children … what they were accusing me of doing because I’ve invested so much of my life, not only the last four years in Inglewood, but for the last 14 years.”
A fierce advocate of education and a defender of children’s rights, Williams was elected to the IUSD board since 2007. She has been a fiscal watchdog and an outspoken representative of taxpayers. She has created opportunities to work directly with students, with the district’s Recidivism Program and tailored her own youth mentoring program to meet the specific needs of the students within the IUSD.
Furthermore, about false accusations, Williams said, “Basically, there may have been some accounting errors” on her part but nothing that rose to the level of felonious conduct or criminality. She also added, “I believe they (the investigators) did not do a good job because if they did, I would not have had any criminal charges brought against me.”
To buttress the circumstances and the eventual outcome of the case Attorney Brandon said, “The penal code that the judge granted allows the defendant to bring a motion after the prosecution finishes its case. Once the prosecution says ‘we rest’ then we brought a motion asking the judge to enter what’s called a judgment of acquittal.
“Our argument was that the evidence was insufficient to find Ms. Williams guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, by a reasonable jury. Once we made our argument and the prosecution made its argument, the judge granted our motion and that was the end of the case.” Williams’ case never reached the jury; her attorney did not put on any defense–apparently none was needed.
Although a jury had been assembled and endured days of conflicting testimonies from the DA’s witnesses, the judge granted Brandon’s acquittal motion of Count 1 just days after the dismissal of Count 2. After the jurors were thanked for their service, the judge apparently cautioned them not to allow the blaring inadequacies of this case against Ms. Williams to influence their overall view of cases brought before the court–an inference to the inadequacy of the prosecution.
Steadfast in her fight to maintain her good name and integrity throughout the community, Williams said, “Despite this tumultuous ordeal, I excelled in my obligations to the students and parents of Inglewood Unified. I am so very clear about my purpose to serve. I was never enticed by the D.A.’s felony and misdemeanor plea deals because I knew it was just a matter of time before the truth came to light. Moving forward, I intend to sound the alarm of my innocence to superimpose the personal and public damages I suffered as a direct result of this traumatic error and lapse in judgment by Deputy DA Schmidt, and explore every option available to me in reclaiming my good name,” she concluded.
Many of Williams’ supporters, several prominent members of the clergy and the community in general, were lavish in their praise for her. The fact that she was exonerated only reinforced what the community already knew: the charges were false. One unnamed gentleman echoed the sentiments of the community when he said: “I always knew that she would be vindicated; she is one of the few politicians who leads with honesty and integrity, and would always do the right thing for the children and the people of Inglewood.”
Pastor Carleton Lincoln, the senior pastor of the Dwelling Place in Inglewood: “She is an incredible person of impeccable credibility, character and integrity, and we have found her to be one of the most thoughtful and hard-working board members in Inglewood to date. Her involvement in our community is without reproach in terms of the investment she has given of herself and various aspects of community organizing for various needs that we have. And I just wanted the folks of Inglewood to know what an incredible honest, thoughtful, and hard working person that Trina Williams is. We are very grateful for the findings of the court.”
Pastor Edward A. Smith, Zoe Christian Fellowship in Whittier: “A very quality person; I’ve known her for over ten years. She served in our church and is a part of our inter-pastoral team, which means we come together periodically usually on a monthly basis praying for the various needs in our community. Over the years, she has worked with our church ministry and is very involved with the children and their development, and has done that faithfully for many years. She also helps with public relations for our church and things like that…. she’s very active and supportive, and is a person of her word.”
Mitchell Williams (no relation to Trina Williams), president of the Inglewood/South Bay branch of he NAACP: “She is one of the most dedicated members of the Inglewood South Bay Branch of the NAACP; she did everything that we asked her to do. In addition, she is very bright … had insight into Inglewood politics … knew a lot of people who helped us to help others in the community. She was a great spokesperson for the Inglewood children, and I have nothing but praise for her. I really enjoyed working with her”