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Judge retains 19-time DUI case

  • William Rylan Beall, 65, right, appeared in Sonoma County Superior Court on Monday morning, December 27, 2010. Beall has been convicted of drunk driving 19 times over the past 44 years.

Legal maneuvering by Sonoma County prosecutors Monday failed to remove a visiting judge from the case of a 65-year-old Santa Rosa man who was released after his 19th drunken driving conviction and arrested on alcohol charges two days later.

Judge Julie Conger will preside over the probation violation hearing for William Ryland Beall, whom she freed Dec. 16 until she could decide whether to let him serve a six-month jail sentence in an alcohol treatment facility.

Beall was arrested Dec. 18 after a search of his home in Oakmont turned up wine and hard liquor, in violation of the terms of his release.

Beall remained in custody Monday. He pleaded not guilty to the new allegations. A hearing date was not set but both sides were ordered to return to court Tuesday to receive additional reports.

Deputy District Attorney Juliette Olson asked that the probation violation case be handled by Judge Gary Medvigy instead of Conger, who is visiting from Alameda County. She argued that Medvigy is assigned cases involving defendants whose last names begins with letters that fall at the top of the alphabet.

But Conger denied the request at the urging of Beall's lawyer, Steve Weiss. Weiss argued the judge who imposed the initial sentence, and set the conditions if probation, should preside.

"It has always gone to the judge who did the original sentencing," Weiss said in court. "That would be our position."

Also, prosecutors asked that the probation hearing be postponed for at least 10 days so they could prepare witnesses. If Conger finds Beall guilty of the violation, he could be sent to state prison for up to three years.

Beall's record of drunken driving spans 44 years, beginning in 1966. He was sent to state prison for two years in 1988. He went eight years without a DUI until his arrest this year. Probation officials had recommended a two-year prison term.


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