Saturday, December 24, 2005

....And Justice For All

From the Only in Bobo's World Department:

A man was jailed for more than a year without ever seeing a lawyer as he waited for a repeatedly postponed court hearing, gaining release only after a cellmate told an attorney about the case.

Walter Mann Sr., 69, was released Dec. 16 after a year and three months — more than twice the time he would have served if he had been convicted in his contempt-of-court case.

Contempt of court gets you six months or more? Ah, those activist judges.

Mann's legal troubles began in 2002, when his 13-year-old son assaulted him and was sent to a juvenile detention center. Mann, who was unemployed and on disability benefits, was ordered to pay $50 a month for the boy's housing but never did, according to court records.

Prosecutors sought to have Mann held in contempt of juvenile court, which led to an order that he be brought before a judge.

This is a nifty little scheme that many state and county governments pull on people with problem children and teenagers -- they charge them for their enforcement of the law. On the one hand, I can see the taxpayers' side of it, that they shouldn't be stuck bearing the brunt of others' poor parenting. However, most of these parents still have jobs to go to, other children to attend to, etc. It's not always as cut-and-dried as that; they don't always have a whole lot of options enabling them to do something about their asshole teenager.

But you know, as long as we're sticking them with the bill, at least until the little darling is of majority age. And if you don't have the money, here's a nice six-month or so sentence for contempt of court.

Prosecutors sought to have Mann held in contempt of juvenile court, which led to an order that he be brought before a judge.

The judge then incarcerated him in September 2004 for three warrants alleging that Mann wrote bad checks. Then he waited more than a year as his contempt case was postponed again and again.

"He wasn't lost in the system," said Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Don Peritz. "We knew he was here ... we hold them until the judge says to hold him no longer."

An October 2004 court docket entry suggests the judge's order was lifted, but Sheriff's Department records do not show it being lifted or Mann's release ordered.

Had he been convicted in the contempt case, he would have served a maximum of six months in jail and faced a $500 fine.

His release came after cellmate Jim Brooks, 64, heard from Mann that he had never seen a lawyer.

"I said, 'Man, why don't you call your people?' He said, 'Nah, I don't want to bother them with anything,'" Brooks said.

Brooks, jailed on minor theft charges, told his public defender, who told another public defender, Shoshana Paige. She made several calls and Mann was released the same day.

Funny how that works. The jailers are just doing what they're told, but the same day someone with some legal ability gets involved, they let this poor bastard go. Wonder how long they would have kept him if his cellmate hadn't told the PD.

Habeas corpus. It's not just shredded for terrists anymore.

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