The Complex Web of Justice

March 12, 2009 by admncc

Sometimes I just don’t understand the judicial system.  You think they’re going to come down hard on someone and they don’t.  Other times you think someone is going to get off easy and they don’t.  I guess that’s why I’m not a lawyer.  But I think any lawyer would agree with me that there are still parts of the legal system that are broken.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am extremely detail oriented.  Yes, I am anal to a fault, unintentionally.  I don’t miss much and I have an excellent memory.  So – I was reading the police blotter and saw a name that I recognized.  I recognized it because it had been in there twice before.  OK, it’s not a common name, but at least give me a little credit for my memory.

Anyway, I thought that I remembered one of this guy’s previous charges being gun-related, and I was surprised that he was back out on the street (so quickly) and was being arrested for something else.  So I checked it out tonight.  Wow, listen to this…

Between May 2008 and today, this guy has been arrested six times and currently has seven felony charges pending.  They include: receiving stolen property, another receiving stolen property, illegal discharge of a firearm, criminal damage, improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon and driving with fictitious plates.  And he is still free on bond!

Yes, that’s right, even though he has had a string of arrests; he continues to be out on bail.  Now here’s where it gets interesting.  I looked up and reviewed the court dockets for all of his pending charges.  They are in three different municipal courts.  Interestingly, a few months ago, he actually had nine felony charges pending.  That brings me to my next point!

In one instance, this guy was in one city’s jail, was released, but had a warrant pending in another city.  Wouldn’t you think the local police department could check and see if he had any warrants pending statewide?  He was declared indigent and has three different public defenders working on the various cases on his behalf.  He has had bonds ranging from $5k to $50k and has always made them.  That’s interesting considering his is indigent.  I realize it only takes 10% of the amount to get a prisoner released, but that money adds up with so many cases pending.  In one case, he didn’t show up for a hearing and another warrant was issued for his arrest.  In another case, he had a bond revoked and was later arrested, only to be bailed out again.

OK, why in the heck is this guy still on the streets?  Let’s see – nine felonies, seven still pending, but yet, the judges keep setting bail and letting him out.

And oh, it gets better.  Two cases were just settled.  That’s what I meant when I said he just went from nine to seven pending charges.  Now, you’re a judge looking at this guy’s lengthy criminal record.  What would you do?  Here’s what the two judges actually did:

Charge #1 – Giving false statements to the police – Sentenced to 30 days in jail with 29 of those days suspended.  He was simply listed as being on probation pending good behavior.

Charge #2 – Criminal trespassing – Sentenced to 180 days in jail with 180 of those days suspended.  He was given 365 days of probation.

First, do these judges even look at the criminal histories?  Better yet, are the court files even updated ongoing with other arrests?  Like I said, this guy had six arrests in a very short timeline.  Was something missed?  Fourth, when you look at a criminal like this, I see him as having nothing to loose.  Sooner or later, one would think this would catch up with him and he’ll have to serve prison time.  But he probably thinks – keep breaking law.  I doubt it will catch up with him.  Obviously those judges didn’t care about his criminal record when they slapped him on the wrist.  Fifth, how can one jurisdiction not know he has a warrant pending in another?  Six, why do the courts keep setting bail for him?  Lock him up and keep him there!  I’m sure State law would allow for bail to be denied based on his recent arrest record!  He is a danger to society.

It just scares me to death to know that people like this are out on the streets.  I’m sure I’m just scratching the edge of this discussion, but this post got a little longer than I wanted it to be.  Sure, the courts let this guy out, but the guy down the street who wrote a bad check will be sentenced to four years in prison…  There’s justice for you…

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  1. Good post. I don’t do criminal law, but I know many lawyers and judges and prosecutors and defense attorneys in the system. It’s broken.

    Courts don’t have adequate funds, there are not enough prisons, and the system would collapse if defendants were actually tried and convicted and served time. Hence plea deals endorsed by the prosecutors so that cases can be cleared. Judges approve the deals proposed by the prosecutors because there are no alternatives.

    As you know, I also believe we have criminalized many “status” offense that don’t go to public safety (read: pot possession and many others) so the system is clogged with nonsense crimes that should be treated by agencies other than the criminal justice system.

    Boy, who knew I would go off on a rant on such a sunny South Florida morning?

  2. Kelly says:

    These are always the people who break into little old ladies apartments and kill them in the middle of the night. Then people say, “Why was he on the streets.” Because our system sucks!

    Then people who drive without a license (yes dumb, but realatively harmless) spend 30 days in jail. Not that I know anyone who did this in their young 19 year old life, but if I did – they should be pissed that this guy gets to go free.

  3. Sugar says:

    Kelly, that is funny. I agree with you though.

  4. dani says:

    My husband is a police officer of a million years. He too can’t fathom the system. Repeat offenders really is a shame..

  5. Zig says:

    Being a judge is a joke… The system in which they operate does not allow them to use common sense! The court system is severely broken. As long as the system allows lawyers to lie, without penalty, the judge really never hears the truth. The judge my know the truth, but if he doesn’t hear it, from the lawyers, he can’t do anything about it! One goes to court to find justice. The fact that all these events keep occuring only illustrates my original statement!

  6. Sue says:

    I sometimes think our court system is a joke. This reaffirms my opinion. I don’t think many judges even care.

  7. NeoConDon says:

    The court system is not a joke, it is stretched thin. Due process is not a joke, it is a fundamental right we have above most nations on this planet.

    Tort reform would help oil our judicial machine. By tying up our courts with bogus claims for ridiculous amounts of money, we are taking away the purpose of our judicial system: Justice.

    Don’t expect anything to change for a while…George W. Bush tried to enact tort reform legislation and was stopped by congress. If our courts weren’t dealing with B.S., they’d be able to focus on criminals, instead of scum sucking attorneys out to make a million bucks at the expense of the taxpayer and the consumer.

  8. Zig says:

    The Court system is a joke, because due process is never received. In due process, it assumed that the judge will be hearing the truth. As long as lawyers are allowed to cheat and lie, the judicial and due process systems are BROKEN! Deal with it, NCD!

  9. Good grief, tort reform has absolutely nothing to do with it. The civil justice system actually works fairly well, despite the misleading outlier cases that the US Chamber of Commerce publicizes and everybody and their mother always read about. That’s pure propaganda — and I represent businesses in civil litigation for a living.

  10. NeoConDon says:

    Of course you’re not a fan of tort reform…you’re part of the problem.

  11. Umm, no — I represent large businesses who lobby for and fund extensive tort reform efforts. I’m simply telling you everyone inside knows it is bs, but it doesn’t sound like we’re having a conversation.

  12. NeoConDon says:

    Who do you mean by everyone inside?

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