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Two public attorneys found little to guide them while preparing for the trial of a San Francisco man who didn’t follow a prescribed treatment for his tuberculosis. The question — whether Julio Funes-Palacios is guilty of a misdemeanor for allegedly failing to follow an order to get treatment for the contagious disease — is an unusual one, the prosecution and defense agreed. Opening statements and testimony in the case wrapped in about 90 minutes Monday, and San Francisco Superior Court Judge Teri Jackson asked jurors to return Tuesday to begin deliberations in People v. Funes-Palacios. The case may boil down to whether Funes-Palacios understood instructions given to him by a health care worker. When Assistant District Attorney Gregory Flores sought advice from other prosecutors, he couldn’t find anyone with a similar case under their belt, he said. Most people diagnosed with tuberculosis probably want to pursue treatment, he speculated. And Deputy Public Defender Eric Luce came up empty on case law when he was preparing a motion to quash, he said. “Within the state, the cases that I found were not comparable.” Local health officers have the power to order a tuberculosis patient to complete a prescribed course of treatment if they find that exposure to that person endangers the public health, according to California’s Health & Safety Code. After Funes-Palacios was diagnosed with tuberculosis in August 2002, Flores argued, health care workers at San Francisco General Hospital repeatedly tried to get him to complete a treatment plan, to no avail. “Mr. Funes-Palacios failed repeatedly to comply” with a doctor’s order to follow the treatment, Flores said. During his opening statement, Luce countered that “Mr. Funes-Palacios simply didn’t understand the order. “The order is in English. � Funes-Palacios speaks Spanish.” His client, flanked by an interpreter in court, wore headphones to listen to a translation of the proceedings. “The hospital staff was having trouble with Mr. Funes-Palacios,” Dr. Loyce Masae Kawamura, the lone witness, testified for the prosecution. “He really wasn’t taking his medication.” Flores produced the treatment order, and the doctor testified it was served on Funes-Palacios by a disease control investigator who spoke Spanish. The tuberculosis unit, as a matter of policy, assigns patients a translator or health care worker who speaks their language, Kawamura said. On cross-examination, Luce pressed the doctor on whether there was written documentation that the investigator had translated the order in his client’s case. The defense attorney asked Kawamura whether the order had a place for the investigator to initial or sign that she had translated the instructions for his client, such as dosages and a warning that “failure to comply is a misdemeanor crime.” “In short order, there is nothing on that document to indicate that it was translated to Spanish, is that correct?” Luce asked. “Not on that document,” Kawamura said. If Funes-Palacios is convicted, the court could order him confined in a facility or penal institution for up to one year until he complies with the order, or could order up to two years’ probation to force compliance, according to the state’s Health & Safety Code.

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