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Sex Offender Two-Step: Those (Pricey) Revolving Prison Doors

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Crime Victims Media Report is back, after an unexpected hiatus.  Some updates:

Loc Buu Tran

A reader informs me that Loc Buu Tran, previous granted probation for a kidnapping and sexual assault in Clearwater, Florida has finally been convicted of murder in Orlando, after his trial for slaughtering his girlfriend was repeatedly delayed:

Another appeal in the making, yes, but a little light filters through this cloudy justice journey. Today, Loc (Anthony) was judged “guilty, 1st degree murder”. His jury found fourteen stabs a bit zealous for simply giving her the head’s up that he was in control.

Jo Frank

Loc was convicted of sexual battery, kidnapping, and obstruction of justice in 1998.  The woman he kidnapped and raped had “rejected him.”  For this shockingly violent crime, he got . . . a get out of jail free card by some sympathetic judge who probably believed it was merely an acting-out-sort-of-kidnapping-and-rape-thing.  Two years probation for sexual assault and kidnapping.  They probably apologized to him for his inconvenience.

In 2001, the state had another chance to punish Loc and protect women when he violated his probation by committing multiple acts of credit card fraud.  Consequently, he faced prison time for the sexual assault, along with the new charges.  But instead of taking into consideration his new status as a recidivist, another judge gave him another “first offender” chance and telescoped down all his charges to one sentence.  You can guess what happened after that:

[A]fter letting Tran get away with a known rape for four years, then catching him violating his probation with several other charges, then sentencing him to an absurdly short prison term . . . [t]he State of Florida let him go early, after serving only 26 months of a 38 month sentence.

They also apparently trash-canned the rest of his probation, for good measure.  It’s all about prisoner “re-entry,” you know.  Probation’s a drag.  How dare we ask judges to enforce the law when rapists need to be rehabilitated back into society and given job training and that all-important-help getting their voting rights reinstated (Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s weird hobbyhorse)?

As we know now, Tran “re-entered” society with a bang.  A slash, really, stabbing [another] young woman to death when she tried to break up with him.   Given the court’s repeated bungling of his case this time, you have to wonder if he’ll ever really be off the streets.

Well, he is now, at least until the defense attorneys manage to find the golden key that sets the rapists free.  When Floridians pay property taxes this year, they should remember that they’re now bankrolling Loc’s endless appeals.

I’ll be writing that in the subject line of my check.

Maybe it would be cheaper if we just let him go again, like all the anti-incarceration activists chant.  Of course, they’re also the ones making it so expensive to try people in the first place.  CourtWatcher Orlando, which witnessed Tran’s trial(s), has more to say about the way defense attorneys ran up costs at his trial.  Tran committed murder in 2006.  A few months ago, after the state finally got around to trying him, his trial was suspended because the judge realized Tran had been her client earlier in his epic crawl through the courts.  Responsibility for this mess-up can be laid directly at the feet of the defense bar, which has made prosecuting any defendant so mind-numbingly drawn-out and irrelevantly complicated that the courts can’t cope with even an obvious murder like this one.  Every delay is a victory for the defense bar, which tries to make trials as expensive as possible in order to bankrupt the system.

Then last month, Tran’s trial was postponed again because a translator got sick.  That means dozens of people on the state payroll, and all the jurors who had reorganized their lives to do their duty to society, and the traumatized family members and witnesses, were all left twiddling their fingers for the second time in a row.  Yet CourtWatcher is reporting that Tran didn’t even need a translator.

And, of course, we paid for the translator.  If we had not paid for the translator, that would doubtlessly be grounds for appeal, even though Tran didn’t need a translator.  Nevertheless, I predict that something relating to the translator will be appealed anyway, just because it’s there.  All this costs money.  Our money.

Instead of letting convicts out of prison early to save money, state legislators should be taking a hard look at the ways the defense bar wastes our money, all in the name of some people’s utterly manufactured version of “rights.”  It’s another must read from Orlando, here.

~~~

Meanwhile, in Georgia, Michale Coker writes to report the capture of Charles Eugene Mickler, one of the absconded sex offenders featured in a story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

You will be happy to know Mickler is currently in the Gwinnett County Detention Center on a probation violation. This weirded me out since I know this guy. Oddly enough it was Need To Know* publications where I discovered he was wanted.

Charles Eugene Mickler

*Need To Know is one of the for-profit broadsheets detailing offenders.  It is not on the web but sells in hard copy.

Mickler does not appear to have served any time in prison for his 2007 sexual battery conviction.  Then he absconded.  Of course, the story in the paper didn’t raise the question of why someone convicted of sexual battery was not imprisoned for the crime.  Instead, the reporter wrote that the public need not worry about all those absconded sex offenders because they generally “just” target people (ie. children) they know.  Except for the ones who didn’t, as I detail here.  See my original post here.

How many of those absconded sex offenders have been located?  The media already answered that question.  The answer goes something like this:

How heartless of you to believe these men should be monitored, you vengeful hysterics!  I’m not telling.

In fact, the only coverage, to date, of these 250 absconded sex offenders has been the one story focusing on scolding the public for caring that these men have violated parole and gone hiding.

Policing public sentiment is so much more important than policing sex offenders, you know?

~~~

Until it isn’t:

Chelsea King

King’s parents, at a vigil, after her body was found.

John Albert Gardner, who is being held in Chelsea King’s murder, is a convicted sex offender who had been given an easy plea deal for a prior sex offense.  He could have served 30 years in prison but was released in five, instead, against the recommendations of psychiatrists, who said he was a high risk to attack more little girls.

But, hey, California saved some money cutting him loose instead of incarcerating him, didn’t they?  And prisoner re-entry is so important.

Now Gardner is also being investigated in other horrifying crimes.  Isn’t there a different end to the story?

According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, a 16 year old girl, walking to a friend’s house in Lake Elsinore, said a man pulled over and asked her for directions. She told police he asked if she was a virgin, showed a gun, and tried to force her into the car. She ran away. This happened in October 2009.

At the time, Gardner was not registered as a sex offender in Riverside County because he was living in San Diego County, said John Hall, with the District Attorney’s office.  Gardner registered in Riverside County, in January, when he moved to his grandmother’s house near Lake Elsinore.

Escondido police are trying to figure out if Gardner is responsible for the disappearance of a 14-year-old Escondido girl.

Gardner is also a suspect in the case of a 22-year old girl who was attacked in the same area where King’s car was found.

Gardner had already admitted to molesting a neighbor girl back in 2000. According to court records, he had lured her over with a movie.

King’s parents are planning a memorial. During an interview, King’s parents expressed concern that Gardner was released from jail after serving only five years, despite a psychiatric evaluation that recommended he stay locked up for 30 years.

John Gardner

Disturbed enough, yet?  Here is more disturbing information:

As recently as November 2009, Gardner registered as a sex offender at an Escondido address two miles from the school.

People living at the Rock Springs East condominiums said they were shocked to learn Gardner had lived in their building.

A woman with small children who lived next door to Gardner and recognized him from photos posted online over the past few days said he lived with a blond woman and two toddlers.

The former neighbor, who didn’t want to give her name, said teenagers, both male and female, often came over to play video games at Gardner’s apartment. She said she could hear the loud games through the walls.

She and other neighbors said Gardner had moved out about six months ago.

In 2000, Gardner was convicted of a forcible lewd act on a child and false imprisonment after he took a 13-year-old neighbor girl to his mother’s home in Rancho Bernardo. The girl accused him of repeatedly punching her in the face and touching her private parts.

A psychiatrist who interviewed him in that case said he would be a “continued danger to underage girls” because of the lack of remorse for his actions.

Prosecutors initially charged Gardner with more-violent sex crimes that could have resulted in a sentence of more than 30 years because the terms would have been served consecutively. He was sentenced to six years in prison as part of a plea agreement and served five years before he was released in September 2005. He completed probation in 2008.

In 2000, Gardner didn’t go out and attack a stranger: he targeted someone he knew, a 13-year old neighbor, to be precise.  If Gardner had lived in Georgia, that would qualify him for the “don’t worry, those absconded sex offenders only target people they know” category.

Until they don’t.  And what does it matter anyway, except as an idiotic argument by people who can’t stop justifying the behavior of sex offenders and opposing sex offender registries?  Gardner’s record illustrates a disturbing point that anti-registration types never acknowledge: it takes real nerve, and a real lack of worry over consequences, to target children who know you and can identify you.  Maybe people should be more worried, not less worried, about child molesters who know their victims.  Unlike anti-incarceration activists, child rapists don’t worry so much about the distinction.  They go after children they know, and they go after children they don’t know: one is just easier to access than the other.

Although the real solution would have been to never let Gardner out of prison again, once the sick coddle of California justice cut him loose, DNA database laws and sex offender registration probably saved some lives, including the lives of the little girls whose mother was shacking up with Gardner.  How could any mother let some man move into her house, with her two young children, without checking to see if he shows up on a sex offender registry?

If you know a co-habitating mother who hasn’t checked her partner’s background, do it for her.  Today.  The world is full of sex offenders cut loose by some judge or prosecutor or parole board.

The Guilty Project: The First Rape is a Freebie, then Loc Buu Tran Slaughters A Young Woman

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Courtwatcher Orlando’s Laura Williams brings attention to the case of Loc Buu Tran:

2006-CF-014820-O In custody since 10/19/06 ~ Trial now scheduled for 11/16/09 with Judge John Adams.  1st Degree Murder. Allegedly stabbed a UCF student to death 10/06 when she tried to break up with him. Also was convicted 8 years ago in Clearwater for rape. Mistrial was declared 8/12/09 after Judge Jenifer Davis realized during the first witness’ testimony that she had worked on the case when in the PD’s office.
Why can’t we seem to get this guy tried?

Good question.  The judge, who rose to the bench after working as a defense attorney, claims that she “didn’t remember” that she had previously represented Tran.  How, exactly, does that happen in an extremely well-publicized murder case of a college student?

Judge Jennifer M. Davis was presiding over the case until she officially disqualified herself this morning on the grounds that she previously had worked in the public defender’s office as an attorney. Davis said she was part of Loc Tran’s defense.

“I’ve had this case for awhile,” Davis said. “It had not occurred to me I had worked in the office that initially represented this case, so legally I have no choice but to disqualify myself.”

Davis apologized to the jury and said she had worked as a supervisor with the attorneys defending the case. She said she didn’t realize until she heard the witness testimony from Nhat-Anh’s sister.

Here’s another question: why did Tran get probation from a judge in Clearwater, Florida in 1998 for the crime of burglary, sexual battery and kidnapping?

Probation for sexual assault.  Pinellas County’s on-line records are sketchy, but it appears that some judge in Clearwater, Florida gave Tran mere probation in December of 1998 for several serious crimes including sexual assault.  Think about that.  Rape a woman, get probation.  “First” offense, a freebie (though it appears it isn’t his first offense — a previous case is listed but there are no extant records).  In other words, nobody bothered to prosecute him that time, so the rape became a second first offense.  That makes the murder a fourth eighth offense.

There is a “sentencing guideline departure” page listed on the County website, but I can’t open that either.  No kidding they departed.

I would love to hear the justification for granting probation for rape.  Especially because Tran went on to take another woman’s life.

From what I can tell, and I’ll check on this after the holiday, after Loc Tran received probation for the 1998 rape, he went on to violate his probation with a fistful of credit card fraud charges which led to his finally being sentenced to prison in 2002.

Rape a woman, walk.  Steal a credit card, and you’re going to the big house, buddy.

But not for very long.  In July, 2002, Tran was sentenced to serve seven concurrent sentences of 3 years, two months each.  Take a good look at the offenses, all telescoped down to one concurrent prison term.  This is how crimes are disappeared by the courts every day, and victims are denied even the semblance of justice.  Or safety.

Current Prison Sentence History:
Offense Date Offense Sentence Date County Case No. Prison Sentence Length
04/27/1998 BURGLARY ASSAULT ANY PERSON 07/24/2002 PINELLAS 9807111 3Y 2M 0D
04/27/1998 SEX BAT/INJURY NOT LIKELY 07/24/2002 PINELLAS 9807111 3Y 2M 0D
04/27/1998 KIDNAP;COMM.OR FAC.FELONY 07/24/2002 PINELLAS 9807111 3Y 2M 0D
04/27/1998 OBSTRUCT CRIME INVESTIGATION 07/24/2002 PINELLAS 9807111 3Y 2M 0D
12/22/2001 FRAUD-CREDIT-CARD 07/24/2002 PINELLAS 0120895 3Y 2M 0D
12/22/2001 FRAUD-CREDIT-CARD 07/24/2002 PINELLAS 0120895 3Y 2M 0D
12/22/2001 FRAUD-CREDIT-CARD 07/24/2002 PINELLAS 0120895 3Y 2M 0D

Then, of course, after letting Tran get away with a known rape for four years, then catching him violating his probation with several other charges, then sentencing him to an absurdly short prison term . . . well, why break a perfect record of sheer contempt for victims of crime, not to mention the safety of women?  The State of Florida let him go early, after serving only 26 months of a 38 month sentence.

They also apparently trash-canned the rest of his probation, for good measure.  It’s all about prisoner “re-entry,” you know.  Probation’s a drag.  How dare we ask judges to enforce the law when rapists need to be rehabilitated back into society and given job training and that all-important-help getting their voting rights reinstated (Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s weird hobbyhorse)?

As we know now, Tran “re-entered” society with a bang.  A slash, really, stabbing a young woman to death when she tried to break up with him.   Given the court’s repeated bungling of his case this time, you have to wonder if he’ll ever really be off the streets.

Take a good look at his face.

This is a man who knows there are no consequences for the crimes he commits against women.  Expect endless, expensive appeals for him, and more of the same when he walks out of prison a second time.

Questions About the Municipal Judges’ Races in Atlanta, Georgia

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A friend just contacted me with a question about the municipal judges’ races in Atlanta:

There are several Municipal Court Judges listed on the ballot with the question (yes/no) on whether the judge should be retained. I don’t know anything about judges, so I hoped you guys could advise me on any of these you may know.

So here they are.  I don’t know much about them — hopefully by the next election cycle, we will have much more information about judges’ records.  Nothing would do more for public safety in Atlanta than reforming the courts and insisting on searchable, public databases of all case outcomes.

If you have anything to say about the performance of the judges below, comment away.  Keep it clean, please!

Elaine Carlisle

Clinton Deveaux

Crystal Gaines

Calvin Graves

Deborah Greene

Barbara Harris

Gary Jackson

Catherine Malicki

Herman Sloan

The Real Perception Problem is the Perception of the Courts

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The comments thread in response to this article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution contain a lot more insight than the article itself, which morphed from the purported subject of policing into another attack on the public for caring about crime.*  No surprise there.  While the criminologists try to minimize crime using formulas measuring relative cultural pathology and other number dances, the public hones in on the courts:

It is time that we stop protecting the young criminals – Start publishing names, parents names and city – Might just be that some parents will be so embarrassed that they will take control of these young people – Start publishing names of judges that continually grant bail bonds or m notes for “REPEAT” offenders. — “D.L.”

[T]he court systems are a huge part of the problem…. i am shocked how many repeat offenders of street crimes are released on a “signature bond” …basically they sign their name and promise to come back to court and walk out….below is the legal definition.  “A signature bond, or recognizance bond, is a promissory that is signed by the individual who was arrested in order to be released on bond. Though no monetary transaction takes place when the promissory is signed, a signature bond contends that the arrested individual will pay an agreed upon amount if he fails to appear in court on the given date and time.”” — “Too Many Signature Bonds”

There’s one important part of the equation left out – the court system. Many of these offenders have arrest histories of multiple felonies but are still out on the street. The police can lock people up, but they can’t keep them in jail…how about an expose on the criminal history of these high profile offenders and why they are out on the streets? I’d really be interested in seeing that article. it seems the heat always comes down on the police, but not the courts who let offenders out while they have two or three armed robbery charges. — “Georgia Dawwg”

One major problem is that the Fulton County Courts dead docket over half of the cases that they could prosecute. Also, the judges are too lenient on young offenders. This is destroying our city. — “S.M.”

Most seem to be saying the same thing: the police can only do so much, then the judges and the prosecutors let offenders go free.

Why, for example, has there been no follow-up on the 43 murder defendants walking the streets?

When people start picketing the D.A.’s office and the Fulton County Superior Court to demand full public disclosure of case dispositions and sentencing so they can make informed decisions about electing judges, things will change.

But meanwhile, we’re utterly in the dark, and while the Atlanta Journal Constitution is beginning to respond with more reporting on these issues, for a very long time the newsroom status quo was a sort of mushy empathy for offenders and reflexive anti-incarceration biases, with some color coverage of victims from time to time — while the justice system went quietly to hell.

There’s no other way to put it.  Many scores of people in Atlanta say the same thing — this offender or that offender isn’t being put away — and the newspaper essentially ignores them.  Judges react with petulant anger when challenged.  Academicians cook up wild excuses for criminality.  Journalists point fingers at the public.

The new mantra is “re-entry” and claims that we “don’t do enough to rehabilitate youths.”  Same as the old mantra — we’re “not doing enough for the kids.”  “We’re denying them job opportunities / education / empathy.”

People who say these things are willfully blind to the fact that billions have been spent and will continue to be spent on all sorts of rehabilitation.  The fact that these efforts fail doesn’t mean we aren’t paying for them.  It isn’t lack of effort: it’s the extreme degree to which the underclass is mired in dysfunction — and the ugly fact that many in the establishment are endlessly willing to deny and excuse that behavior, right up until somebody gets killed (and even after that).

Spend some time with a 14-year old kid whose dad and mom doesn’t parent him, whose head is filled with violent and sexualized videos and rap songs and shockingly little else, who goes to school in Atlanta and gets told that he is a victim of the system instead of actually being taught anything useful.  Then try to change that child’s mindset when there are so many forces working to sustain it: the victim culture and some very questionable “educating” in the public schools, the parents who still aren’t parenting, the pop culture violence: it’s too late for that kid if he stays in that environment.  It really is too late, and I don’t say that because I would give up on him; I’m just trying to inject some reality.

The people who go on endlessly about needing to give juveniles more chances are the people who have never gotten involved at all, who blame the police and society but do little other than complain.  People who actually make the commitment to help learn three things very quickly:

  • there are already scores of intervention and rehabilitation and jobs and education programs
  • the programs don’t tackle the real problems, not because we “don’t care enough” but because they wrong-headed
  • kids in the justice system get a “second chance” already: they get serial second chances, no matter what they have done and even as their crimes escalate

I found the following comment especially interesting: “Nich,” whoever she is, from Grant Park, took the time to get involved in a rehabilitation program.  Her experience reflects my own:

The courts are a very big problem, especially with regard to minors. A lot of the offenders are young. Evidently, there is a 12-step program (you get 12 strikes before you are out) that applies to all minors, per Zone 3 DA. So if a 16 year old boy walks into my home, slays my husband and robs us, is that strike 7? Also, I joined a group called “Project Turnaround” as a council member. (volunteer PO, basically.) This was a program to help these participants/offenders get back on track monitored by the DA’s office. Most every offender was recommended by the council members to be exempted from the program/put back in jail, for repeat offenses. Nothing was done. My participant, for example, never went to the classes, continued to sell drugs and was shot in during a drug deal gone bad. Why was he not thrown out of the program and into jail? The DA’s office eventually just walked away from the program, but the kicker…NONE, NADA, 0% of the participants were put into jail. They basically were given “get out of jail free cards!” They are roaming the streets worse off today, because they don’t believe they will ever receive consequences. Sadly, all evidence supports that theory. — Nich

“Most every offender was recommended by the council members to be exempted from the program/put back in jail, for repeat offenses. Nothing was done.”

This person has a story to tell — a shocking, disturbing story about scores of recidivist offenders — given rehabilitation, given help — let out of jail over and over and over by irresponsible judges and prosecutors despite victimizing more people (and ending up, seemingly inevitably, shot).  Why is the AJC retreading the offensive and inane “perception of crime” theme when there are real stories to be reported?  When you can learn more from the comments threads than the article itself, well, maybe the death of journalism isn’t going to hurt all that much.

*Thomas D. Boston’s research on public housing patterns and crime rates, also discussed in the original article, is a different subject.


DeKalb Officers Site Raises Issue of Burglars Let Loose, Homicide Cops Playing Daycare Daddies?

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The terrific website DeKalb Officers raises questions about DeKalb D.A. Gwen Keyes:

It appears the District Attorney has taken a page from terminated police chief Terrell Bolton. Ms. Keyes now has a driver permanently assigned to her. Some of the driver’s duties include getting her children to and from daycare.

DeKalb County has the second highest homicide rate in the state (2nd to the City of Atlanta). The driver is one of 3 homicide investigators in D.A. Fleming’s office. Now her office has 2. Her driver is no longer assigned cases or carry case load. The case load has to be spread among the other 2 investigators.

It’s utterly shocking to take any investigator off the job to act as driver — and isn’t it illegal to have them ferry the kids around?

Someone in the comments thread adds the following about a recent deal to let gang members walk free:

Anonymous said…
Well what about the gang out of Clarkston that were arrested for burglary, only to be sentenced to 5years probation then released with time served. Was this a plea deal or what. The citizens should take note of this in the up coming elections for DA and Judges. I mean these punks were breaking into everything. Heck even Fox 5 did a story on them and their outrageous criminal past. But what do our ellected officials do in Dekalb County (time served) the citizens should revolt. Both the DA and the Judge should be invited to attend every community meeting in all of the neighborhoods who were victimized by these punks and made to explain why they were not sent to prison.

It’s too bad Atlanta doesn’t have a website like this run by cops.  They see what is going on in the criminal courts, and they know the judges and cases start to finish.

Judicial Outrage in Burke County(GA), and a Judicial “Oversight” Problem

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I received the following e-mail last week from a woman named Jessica Brantley.  This is yet another outrageous story of judicial leniency — involving Jack Bailey, the man who killed Jessica’s father while high on drugs.  Judge Carl Overstreet gave the killer probation for vehicular homicide despite his previous record of DUIs.  Then he let him go on an out-of-state hunting trip (!) before the probation started.  Then he let him out of the probation early.  Then Bailey got nailed for DUI again.

What can we do to hold judges responsible when they act in this manner?

Well, the governing body overseeing judges in Georgia is the Council of Superior Court Judges.  Maybe we could contact them and ask them to look into Judge Carl Overstreet’s actions in and after 2002.

There’s just one problem.  In 2002, Judge Carl Overstreet was the president of the Georgia Council of Superior Court Judges.

So we’d have to ask him to investigate himself.

I’m really at a loss.  Does anybody have any suggestions to help Jessica and her family?  Are there people in Augusta who could attend Jack Bailey’s next hearing and send a message that the community is watching?  I wish the judge would explain his motives.  I hope the media picks up this story, and I’ll have more on this later.  Here is Jessica’s letter:

Folks say that I should contact you with this information regarding a DUI arrest that was made on William Jack Bailey. I’ll try to make a long story short, but about [seven years] ago Jack Bailey killed my father in a motor vehicle accident. Some background: We all live in Burke County… On the date of the wreck, Oct. 5th 2002, Jack Bailey had MDMA & crystal meth in his system and was speeding around 80-90 mph when he hit my dad. He says my dad ran a stop sign, but I don’t really believe that. Anyway, we found out that Jack Bailey has been arrested twice before for DUI, but pled guilty to reckless driving w/o consequence. When his trial came up in Burke County, Judge Carl Overstreet let him plead guilty to a felony vehicular homicide. Knowing Jack’s record, Overstreet gave Jack 10 years probation…. BUT Jack didn’t have to start it until he got back from his HUNTING TRIP IN NEVADA. He violated his probation repeatedly & we reported it, but nothing happened. In Feb. ’08 he asked to be released from his probation (btw he retained his license and he shouldn’t have). At this hearing, my family showed up and testified how we & friends witnessed Jack violate probation. He said he would take the matter under advisement & let us know if anything changed (this was only 2 years into his probation). Sometime around May “09 Overstreet filed a change that terminated Jack’s probation… w/o notifying us. July 3rd “09 Jack Bailey was again arrested for a DUI. He had a truckload of passengers, some minors. All but one girl had been drinking & Jack was driving. He spent the night in jail… bailed out the next morning. Now, Captain Paquette has had to fight w/ Jack’s fancy attorney b/c he wants to plead reckless driving again (like the two of the 4 he has).
To make things even more stinky…. when the arresting officer looked up Jack’s driving record, it was clean…. which obviously it shouldn’t be. He had to do a criminal investigation to uncover everything I just told you.

**This case reeks of judicial corruption. Captain Patrick Paquette is really fired up about it, and for the first time I feel like someone actually cares besides my family. I would really like for you to investigate this, b/c now I hear Jack Bailey has been telling all his friends that his lawyer is going to get him out of this one too. That scares me, but I’m trying to keep faith that this time he will be put in prison.

Please consider reporting on this. If you want to see how this case has charged our community, you should friend my brother on Facebook. Read his note “Bad Judges, Bad People.” We’ve had to erase a lot of posts that reference Mr. Bailey’s children, but it shows how tired Burke County is of the Good Ole Boy System.

http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?p=3971756

I have documents also, if this is something you’re interested in investigating let me know and I’ll get them to you.

Thank you,
Jessica Brantley

What can we do to help?  This family deserves justice!

Leniency Lunacy: Atlanta’s CBS News Tackles Recidivism, Judicial “Discretion,” and Fulton County Prosecutors Going Easy on Repeat Offenders

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Hat tip to Paul Kersey:

Atlanta CBS News Investigative Reporter Joanna Massey dissects the problems in the courts.  This is thoughtful reporting (here is part 2), and hopefully there will be follow-up on points raised by the story, such as:

  • Why is it that county prosecutors do not so much as try to enforce Georgia’s recidivism laws?  The prosecutor in the story tells the reporter that she uses her discretion in every case.  Well, if discretion means someone who has been arrested 69 times and accused of multiple violent crimes gets released back onto the streets again, then maybe discretion needs to be taken out of the hands of the Fulton County D.A.’s office in the form of a real recidivism law for Georgia.
  • Why, for that matter, don’t prosecutors have the mindset of seeking to impose the recidivism law in every possible case?  All victims deserve to be treated equally.  The law should be applied evenly.  Allowing criminals to get away with crimes inevitably tells them — especially impressionable juveniles and the mentally ill — that there will be no consequences for their actions.  Anybody who has lived with a three-year old knows the consequences of that.  The ethical culture of the D.A.’s office needs to change.
  • We’re not doing criminals any favors by letting them get away with — well, escalating patterns of violence until they get sent away for life.  Ricky Love, the offender profiled in the news story, does not appear to have a state prison record.  If that is true, it means that exactly none of his 69 arrests or multiple convictions got him state time — not robbery, not assault.  In other words, somebody in the D.A.’s office, the courts, or both, dropped the ball 69 times in a row.
  • What political motive lies behind Paul Howard continually insisting that his office does not need more resources?  Who is he trying to appease by saying that, when it is so obviously false?  The prosecutor in the news story appears to have been told not to acknowledge that her caseload prevents her from examining every defendant’s full record.  She sure looks caught out when she says:  “You deal with the facts that you have on that day, on that case, and you make a judgment call.”  The city needs more prosecutors, of course, if prosecutors don’t even have the resources to know who they are convicting.
  • Why did Judge Craig Schwall agree to release this offender?  He can pass the ball to the prosecutors, but he has discretion, too.  Every time I watch a judge suddenly getting tough on an offender, it reminds me of all the times they didn’t do it when nobody was watching.  There needs to be new standards for judging judges at election time, something a little more judgmental than “check incumbent box.”
  • And that will require information.  Data.  A new transparency at the Fulton County Clerk of Court’s office.  Why has nobody filed impeachment papers on Fulton Clerk Cathelene Robinson?  She is standing in the way of the residents of Atlanta gaining access to the records of criminal convictions, pleas, and non-prosecutions, records they will need to see in order to understand what is happening in the courts.  How to reform the dysfunctional Fulton Clerk of Court’s office?  The state body overseeing them is the Georgia Superior Court Clerk’s Cooperative Authority (GSCCCA).  More on this later…
  • Atlanta could easily take a page from Houston County, located in the center of the state.  The Houston County District Attorney provides immediate web access to all case events and sentencing outcomes, so people there can see precisely what the DA’s office is doing at every phase of a prosecution.  What would it cost to post these records in Fulton?  They must be databasing them internally, right?  People have a right to know what their prosecutor’s office is doing.
  • The Court Watch volunteers are heroes.  The Court Watch program in Atlanta needs to grow.  And while Paul Howard deserves a lot of credit for creating a court-watching program in conjunction with his office, I hope the Atlanta Court Watchers will also branch out and grow into an independent organization.  It is important to witness those cases where the nobody invites you to watch, too.

Some Other Elected Officials Who Should Be Shown the Door

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Amazing, the amount of work it takes to get our leaders to the point of appearing to do their jobs.  But the job of getting elected officials to do their jobs, alas, is never done.  The mayor and chief of police have promised more police on the streets by next summer (and if this promise is not kept, they will be long gone anyway, so accountability is moot).  A weekend crime sweep netted 159 arrests, including many for outstanding warrants, which means that enough manpower was deployed to do what is supposed to be done all the time: pick up people with outstanding warrants.

In other words, in the last five days, the mayor briefly did her job by addressing the crime problem while only slightly denying it; the chief of police was spotted in the same zip code as his office, and law enforcement officers were given enough resources for all of 48 hours.

So far, so good.  But now those 159 arrestees are in the hands of the District Attorney and the Court.  And that, my friends, is where everything falls down.

~~~

There are two compelling crime stories in Sunday Paper this week.  “Back on the Streets Again: Midtown Battles the Same Offenders Over and Over” addresses the problem of the courts.  Patrick Bray and Stephanie Ramage profile just a few of the repeat offenders emboldened by the justice system’s inability to hold them accountable for their actions:

Midtown resident Kim Bannerman was attacked in her minivan while stopped at a traffic light at the corner of 5th Street and Peachtree Street one day in June.

Her attacker, Kim Paige, a Midtown vagrant with mental issues, stood in the street obstructing traffic and then climbed on the hood of Bannerman’s van, maneuvering around to the driver’s side window and attempting to pull Bannerman out of the van by her hair.

How many times has Kim Paige attacked strangers on Atlanta’s streets?  Well, that’s hard to figure.  The Clerk of Superior Court, Cathelene Robinson, does not post criminal records on the Clerk of Court’s website.  She does, however, dedicate a portion of the website to a yearbook-like photo collage of her own life.  The website also weirdly features a “History of Fulton County” cribbed from someplace else, in which we learn:

North of the Chattahoochee River what is now Fulton County is quite different than Atlanta and its environs. Although rapid growth is battling history in an oft repeated scenario, the quiet, aged roads of Milton County sing a song of a different era, when horseless carriages were preceded by horsedrawn ones and you would see your next door neighbor every other week.

What, one might ask, is this corn-pone blathering doing on the Clerk of Court’s website, instead of access to the criminal records that comprise the office’s actual business?  Perhaps it has to do with pretending (pretending badly) to proffer the never-delivered “History of the Fulton County Court,” for which Ms. Robinson’s impressively corrupt mentor and predecessor, Juanita Hicks, was handsomely paid (hit the link for some good advice from Maureen Downey about recalling Robinson).

Taxpayers may not be able to look up Kim Paige’s criminal record to determine precisely how worried they need to be the next time she mounts a car hood and starts trying to pull the occupants out by their hair,   but they can learn that Clerk of Court Cathelene Robinson’s motto is: “Whatever you chose to be, strive to be the best.”

And that is just one sign of the chaos in judiciary.  But it is an important one, and the first that should be fixed.  Without systematic access to the outcomes of criminal cases, there is no way to know if the courts are functioning at all.  There is no way to know which judges are enforcing sentencing and recidivism laws, or which violent offenders are being allowed to walk by the district attorney — no way to make informed decisions at election time or evaluate the “alternative sentencing” programs being forced down people’s throats.  Why are the courts permitted to operate in secrecy?

From the Sunday Paper article:

Besides [Kim] Paige, the [Midtown Ponce Security Alliance] MPSA is keeping an eye out for several other vagrants they don’t want to come back. One is Kenneth Lamb. Known as the “barefoot panhandler,” Lamb has spent most of his adult life in prison for rape, aggravated assault and robbery. . . Yet another concern is Ricky Love, who is currently in jail after years of terrorizing people in Midtown. The Fulton County Superior Court convicted him in September 2008 for aggravated assault. Love was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment but credited with two years already served in pre-trial detention. The judge suspended the remainder under two conditions:  Love must undergo treatment for mental health issues and banishment from Fulton County. . .

“Unless they are caught with a gun or drugs on them, the judges are not going to do anything and the suspects know that,” says one policeman, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

~~~

So how many of those 159 defendants arrested in the weekend sting are already out on the streets again?

How many mentally incompetent or young offenders among them are learning the lesson — right now — that they can get away with attacking someone or stealing something?

Below is the record for Kenneth Lamb’s state incarceration history — in other words, for those crimes deemed serious enough to bump him up to state prison, not just arrest-and-release or a stint in county jail.  I’m hypothesizing, because I don’t have the records in front of me, and Cathelene Robinson is busy scrapbooking on the Fulton County Superior Court website, but it looks to me that case #127823, for aggravated assault, robbery, motor vehicle theft, armed robbery, rape, and conversion, netted Lamb four seven-year sentences in 1980, and he walked out of prison 3 years, 8 months later.  Two months after that (at the most), he raped again, and then again, and there is little reason to doubt that he committed other rapes for which he was not caught or convicted.

Because studies claiming that sex offenders are not prone to recidivism are bunk.  And the police routinely close several rape cases when a serial offender gets sent down for one or two.

So the next time your neighbor chews you out for not expressing proper empathy for the “harmless” homeless person breaking into your basement or grabbing strangers by the hair on the street, tell them to contemplate Kenneth Lamb’s record, or any one of the thousand of others that illustrate the failure of our justice system to protect the public (including, for that matter, the actually harmless homeless, who are the easiest prey).

LAMB, KENNETH C

GDC ID: 0000220527

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION
YOB: 1962 RACE: WHITE GENDER: MALE
HEIGHT: 5’09” WEIGHT: 162 EYE COLOR: HAZEL HAIR COLOR: BROWN
SCARS, MARKS, TATTOOS
TATTOO/MEDIUM BODY
INCARCERATION DETAILS
MAJOR OFFENSE: POSS OF COCAINE
MOST RECENT INSTITUTION: BALDWIN STATE PRISON
MAX POSSIBLE RELEASE DATE: 09/30/2006
TENTATIVE PAROLE MONTH: NOT ALLOWED IN THIS CASE
ACTUAL RELEASE DATE: 09/30/2006
CURRENT STATUS: INACTIVE
KNOWN ALIASES
A.K.A. LAMB,KENNETH
A.K.A. LAMB,KENNETH CHARLES
A.K.A. LAMB,KENNETH L
STATE OF GEORGIA – CURRENT SENTENCES
CASE NO: 608522
OFFENSE: POSS OF COCAINE
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 01/03/2006
SENTENCE LENGTH: 0 YEARS, 4 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
STATE OF GEORGIA – PRIOR SENTENCES
CASE NO: 177743
OFFENSE: poss of marijuana
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 01/08/1985
SENTENCE LENGTH: 0 YEARS, 12 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 177743
OFFENSE: AGG ASLT W INTNT TO RAPE
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 01/08/1985
SENTENCE LENGTH: 20 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 177743
OFFENSE: RAPE
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 05/03/1984
SENTENCE LENGTH: 5 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: NOT AVAILABLE
CONVICTION COUNTY: CONVERSION
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: RAPE
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: 7 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: ARMED ROBBERY
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: 7 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: ROBBERY
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: 7 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: THEFT MOTORVEH OR PART
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: ROBBERY
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: 7 YEARS, 0 MONTHS, 0 DAYS
CASE NO: 127823
OFFENSE: AGGRAV ASSAULT
CONVICTION COUNTY: FULTON COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: N/A
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE
STATE OF GEORGIA – INCARCERATION HISTORY
INCARCERATION BEGIN INCARCERATION END
07/20/2006 09/30/2006
03/14/1985 02/20/2005
07/11/1980 03/04/1984

Blogging Crime Versus “Disappearing” It: Chicago and Atlanta

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Chicago:

In Chicago, something interesting is happening as “twittering” and blogging and e-mail bring in first-hand reports that deviate from official versions.  It is hard to whitewash incidents of violence and rioting when people are reporting them in real time and police are going back over their incident reports to compare notes later.

Take a look at two different sources discussing the Taste of Chicago event.  First, there is the official statement, reported in the Chicago Tribune:

The volatile vibe remained at this year’s holiday fireworks and food festival along Chicago’s lakefront, and authorities Saturday detailed the arrests of eight people accused of carrying guns or knives and several fights that triggered stampedes for the exits Friday evening.

Unlike last year’s pre-July 4 celebration — when one person was killed and several were injured — police said no one was shot in the vicinity of the Taste of Chicago on Friday.

“No Shootings This Year,” reads the headline, a low bar to set.  But is it true?  Here is Mike Doyle, reporting from the blog Chicago Carless:

To compare the stories, I jotted down a thumbnail list of each version of events–the official, and the insider. Here’s what I found:

Events Reported to News Media by City Officials

–One gun-related arrest in afternoon (gang member with shotgun in bag.)
–Arrests for unspecified reasons at Buckingham Fountain at 8:30 p.m.
–No mention of early fireworks start.
–One major fight at 9:45 p.m. (30-person gang melee at Michigan and Congress.)
–Various small, unspecified incidents.

Events Reported by Second City Cop Blog

–Gang members “take over” Buckingham Fountain area and by one account officers are told by police commanders (“Gold Stars”) to “leave it alone, let them have it.”
–911 dispatchers report two people shot at Buckingham Fountain.
–A potential effort (noted here and here) to silence radio reports of shots fired or gang fights.
–Gangster Disciples “50 deep” walking through Taste grounds and throwing gang signs.
–Latin Kings platooning along Roosevelt Road and heading towards Taste grounds.
–Multiple gang fight calls (10-1s.)
–”Numerous chases” and “multiple weapons recovered.”
–Fireworks start at least half-an-hour early.
–At least ten significant gang fights along Michigan Avenue in addition to the large melee as crowds left the southern end of the Taste grounds.

Next, I checked in with my Twitter followers and performed several searches of Twitter’s public timeline to look for tweets that might bear out the Second City Cop version of events. Here’s a sampling of what I found:

“my first year at the taste of chicago fireworks and go figure a shooting occurs 10 ft away from me!” (@chibookgrl, 7:00 p.m. Jul 4th)

Doyle’s appeal for more information bring in detailed accounts of fights and even a possible shooting.  Cops are under enormous pressure to downgrade crimes.  Prosecutors are under enormous pressure to write off charges.  How much crime gets “disappeared” these ways?

Atlanta:

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, the activity of court-watching is providing residents with criminal-by-criminal details of crimes that could have been prevented, if only some judges would actually incarcerate some offenders at some point in their fulsome careers.  Here is only the latest career criminal, finally put away, thanks probably to the mere fact that, this time, somebody was watching when he walked into the courtroom, as reported by intrepid IntownWriter and court-watcher Marcia Killingsworth:

Arrested over 27 times and with three prior felony convictions, Andre Keith Grier returned to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob’s courtroom this week. This time, he came to enter guilty pleas to negotiated charges. . . .

Here’s the final outcome on the three cases:

  1. Robbery and Burglary:  15 years to serve 10 years; balance probated. The conditions of his probation are a drug evaluation and treatment, a job, and to stay away from Zone 6.
  2. Theft by Receiving Stolen Property:  10 years to serve
  3. Entering Automobile:  5 years to serve
    Theft by Taking:  10 years to serve to run concurrent
    Possession of Tools:  5 years probation consecutive with the same terms as Case 1 and restitution to the victim.

“All of cases run currently, so the total sentence is 15 years to serve 10 years with balance on probation,” Schwartz says. “Although he is parole eligible, with his record and the robbery charge he is not likely to be paroled until he has completed the majority of his sentence.”

Make that armed robbery charges.  Holding a gun to somebody’s head ought to be enough to get you sent away for ten years, no questions asked, but that does not always turn out to be the case.  I am hesitant to criticize judges at precisely the juncture when they being to respond to citizen demands for real incarceration for serious crimes, but I still have to ask — what happened in court the other 24 times he was arrested?

And that leads to another question: whither those other 24 alleged crimes?  What becomes of them, statistically?

Killingsworth reminds readers:

Fulton County Senior Assistant District Attorney Andrew Schwartz says he believes the presence of neighborhood representatives made a difference. “In my opinion, the reason Mr. Grier received this sentence is because of your community’s involvement and willingness to come to court.”

Here is a notice from the Fulton County CourtWatch about a pending case involving another serious repeat offender.  Several things about his record stand out:

–Demetrius Lester is an 17-Time Convicted Felon.*
–Lester is charged with 3 Felonies – Theft by Receiving (Auto), Criminal
Damage to in the Second Degree and Fleeing & Attempting to Elude.
* The previous notice stated that Lester had 18 prior felony
convictions.  Another review showed that one Burglary case had been
reduced to Theft by Receiving (Misdemeanor).  Therefore, he has 17 prior
convictions.

Seventeen convictions.  What on earth were the sentences?  There are repeat offender laws in Georgia.  If they have so little teeth, or if some loophole is enabling judges to ignore them, why isn’t the legislature doing something about it?

Not to make light of this man’s behavior, but when I looked up his state prison record, I could not help but be amazed by the number of aliases he has accumulated:

KNOWN ALIASES
A.K.A. HAWKINS,DENICO
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETERIUS
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRE
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRIC
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRIUS MICHAEL
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRTIUS
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRUIS
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRUIS MICHA
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRUIS MICHAEL
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETRUS
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMETTUIUS
A.K.A. LESTER,DEMTRIUS
A.K.A. LESTER,DOMETRE
A.K.A. RACKO,FREDDY
A.K.A. ROOKS,TRAVIS
A.K.A. SMITH,DARRLY
A.K.A. SMITH,DARRYL
A.K.A. VESTER,DEMETRIUS
A.K.A. WOODS,ANTONIO

Freddy Racko? That’s not a very good alias.  If I met somebody named Freddy Racko, I would assume they were doing something illegal.

OK, back to not being amused. Lester/Hawkins/Racko/Rooks/Smith/Vester/Woods has three separate burglary convictions.  Two homes and a church, this man entered.  Four separate convictions for breaking into cars.  One conviction for possession of firearm by a felon.  Not one, but two terrorist threats and acts convictions.  Two obstructions of a law enforcement officer.  One criminal interference of government property.

Eight separate stints in state prison, and who knows how many arrests.  This is beyond revolving door justice.  More from Fulton County CourtWatch:

Facts:  Around 10:00AM on Tuesday June 9, 2009, Officers J. Storno and
I. Streeter of Zone 3 saw the Defendant driving without a seatbelt in
the area of Grant Terrace and Georgia Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30312 (between
NPU-W and NPU-V).  Upon initiating a traffic stop, the Defendant sped
away at a high rate of speed and in a manner that was dangerous to the
public.  At one point, the vehicle flew off the ground and caused a
smoky haze upon landing.  The Defendant finally hit a telephone pole and
fled on foot.  Officers Storno and Streeter were eventually able to
apprehend the suspect after an extended chase.

I have spoken to the victim of the car theft.  He has been left without
a vehicle and has endured a significant financial hardship as a result
of having his car stolen.  His vehicle was a total loss and the
insurance company had to pay off his lien-holder, leaving the victim
without a car. Fortunately, no one was injured during Defendant’s
attempt to elude the police but, according to the officers, he was
driving in a manner that easily could have injured someone.  Defendant
is also suspected in other car break-ins in the Summerhill and Grant
Park neighborhoods.  One incident was caught on video and posted on You
Tube, but a positive ID was not able to be made.

Criminal History:  Defendant has 17 felony convictions, including 5
prior convictions for Entering Auto (all in Fulton County), 3 prior
convictions for Burglary (2 residential, 1 for burglarizing the Georgia
Avenue Presbyterian Church), as well as convictions for Terroristic
Threats, Interference with Government Property and Sale of Marijuana.  I
have obtained certified copies of all of his convictions and will be
presenting them in court.

The District Attorney is asking for the maximum penalty which is 16
years in prison (10 years for Theft by Receiving, 5 years for Criminal
Damage to Property in the Second Degree and 12 months for Fleeing and
Attempting to Elude).  However, under the law, the judge can sentence
the Defendant to anything, including straight probation.  The District
Attorney has recidivised the Defendant under OCGA 17-10-7(c), therefore
the Defendant will have to serve every day of the prison sentence he is
given, if any, without parole.

Community Support is greatly appreciated to keep this repeat offender
incarcerated.

So what is the problem?  It’s called 17-10-7 of the Georgia Code.  It requires people convicted of a second felony to serve their entire sentence.  Sounds good, right?  Except there is nothing in Georgia’s recidivist code that prevents judges from suspending that entire sentence after delivering it.  Thus Freddy Racko can climb into your car, steal it, endanger police and civilian lives, and total the car — yet still walk away without a single day in prison.

Hopefully, it won’t happen this time.  But how many times has it happened with Racko(Lester) before?  How many times, outside those 17 convictions, have charges against him been dropped?  How many charges were dropped in the process of assigning those 17 felonies?  It boggles the mind.

And remember, those are only the times he got caught.

Court Watching in Atlanta Scores a Victory — and Kudos to Judge Wendy Shoob

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From Marcia Killingsworth’s always informative blog, Intown Writer, this story of keeping career criminal Andre Grier off the streets.  For now, at least:

[R]ecently, CourtWatch Coordinator Janet Martin and one of our community prosecutors Assistant District Attorney Kimani King alerted us to State of Georgia vs. Andre Grier 09SC77314, a case coming before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wendy L. Shoob.

This was a bad guy, but we knew that wasn’t enough to ensure that he wouldn’t be put back out in our neighborhoods. According to the information we got from the DA, Andre Grier’s record includes 27 arrests with at least three felony convictions. He was also convicted of entering auto and he has at least two drug convictions. At the time the latest incident occurred – a car break-in – he was out on bond on robbery charges that were later upgraded to armed robbery.

Grier was in court to ask to be released on bond. And not just any bond, a signature bond, which – as I understood it – he just signs his name, puts up no money and swears to be good if they let him out.  Additionally, although he had two other bonds on pending charges which he had committed while he was out on bond, he was asking to have this third bond lowered.

Really, who could make this up?

Here is what happens when the curtain gets pulled back on the criminal courts.  One might ask: why would Andre Grier assume he could be released on a signature bond when he had two other bonds pending for crimes he had committed the last two times somebody had let him walk, once on a serious, violent gun crime?

Because the last two times he appeared before a judge in Fulton County, that judge did let him walk.  And out of 27 arrests, he was convicted only three times.  What happened to the other 24 crimes?

If you are Andre Grier, out there committing crimes, 9 times out of ten when you get arrested, there are no consequences.  Not bad odds, especially considering that the police cannot possibly have caught you every single time you commited a crime.

But this time, Andre Grier’s assumptions about the justice system did not pan out:

So Andre Grier was brought before Judge Shoob (whose name every CourtWatcher and their neighborhoods will remember when judicial elections come up).  Judge Shoob was discerning enough to note Grier’s record. In doing so, she outlined to the defendant and his lawyer – in an Are-you-sure-this-is-what-you’re-asking? tone – that he had been arrested in January, and while he was out on bond for that one, he committed the crime he was there for today… and that these two most recent crimes were while he was out on bond for yet another pending case – the armed robbery – and that in essence, he was asking to be let out a third time – well, third time’s the charm, right? – even though he had violated the terms of his previous releases.

I’m thrilled to see this.  But what does it say about the Fulton Superior Court that such vigilance is noteworthy?  Who let Grier walk free after he pulled a gun on an innocent victim a few months ago?  Why is it that anybody who has been arrested for armed robbery gets released from jail while charges are pending?  Marcia continues:

Judge Shoob observed to Grier that it appeared that every time he was released on bail, he went back to the same neighborhood and committed the same kinds of crimes, and yet he expected to be released again as he had been before.

But I guess Grier got “third time’s the charm” mixed up with “three strikes and you’re out.”

Judge Shoob didn’t.

She told him that he was not getting out of jail today or tomorrow or anytime soon. In fact, she said, with the armed robbery on top of his other convictions, he was looking at a mandatory 10 years to life sentence. So, she said, Mr. Grier, you are not going anywhere for a long, long time. No bond. Back to jail. Period.

That’s a good outcome.  Hopefully, as more people become involved in CourtWatch, there will be fewer outcomes like the one Andre Grier was expecting.