WOODLAND — A Yolo Superior Court judge this week granted a petition for a finding of factual innocence for a former UC Davis teaching assistant accused of making a bomb threat in front of an undergraduate drama class.
The petition, approved Wednesday by Judge Janet Gaard, seals and destroys the record of James Franklin Marchbanks’ Dec. 4, 2009, arrest, which led to a four-day stint in county jail. The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office later declined to prosecute the case.
“It’s very satisfying to see that this arrest record is going to be destroyed, because in my opinion it was so unjust that he was arrested in the first place,” said Davis attorney Oliver Northup, who filed the petition on Marchbanks’ behalf.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven said his office did not oppose the motion.
UCD police arrested Marchbanks on suspicion of terrorist threats, false imprisonment and making a false bomb threat in connection with the incident, which had occurred in Hickey Gym at the end of the school quarter.
“I have a bomb, this is the last time I am ever going to see you. I am going to leave class before the bomb goes off but you are all going to stay here until it’s done,” Marchbanks, who at the time also was a graduate student in dramatic arts, reportedly told the class before throwing a folder on the floor and leaving the room.
The folder contained a packet of pencils and evaluation forms that the students were to fill out regarding Marchbanks’ teaching performance.
Three of the class’ 16 students reported the incident to police, saying Marchbanks’ statements made them fear for their lives. Others later signed a petition in support of the teaching assistant, saying they did not take his comments seriously.
According to Northup’s petition, two of the complaining students were angry about their grades in the class.
UCD police stood behind their handling of the case, saying in the wake of violent school events such as Columbine and Virginia Tech, police had a responsibility to act on the students’ reports.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8048. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkeene