Marissa Alexander will learn on Friday if her current bail and home detention will be allowed to continue, or if it will be revoked, sending her back to jail until her re-trial.
Alexander is currently on bail following her earlier conviction for aggravated assault with a handgun and the resulting mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years under Florida’s “10-20-Life” statute. Her defense to the charges seems to be largely based on the notion that she “only fired a warning shot,” a claim we’ve previously shown to be disingenuous here:
As I’ve previously commented, Alexander never struck me as a reasonable candidate for bail, given her previous conduct while on bail (e.g., committing battery against her husband, Rico Gray, while under an order of protection to remain away from him) resulting in that earlier bail being revoked. See my previous commentary on the subject of Alexander’s bail here:
Nevertheless, On November 27, 2013, Circuit Judge James Daniel elected to grant Alexander bail again, albeit while noting that “the prior judge appropriately revoked the Defendant’s bond” and that “it is not this court’s customary practice to allow continued pretrial release for defendants who commit a crime while they are out on bond awaiting trial.”
As part of that bail arrangement, however, Judge Daniel imposed a number of stringent conditions, including the following:
- Remain under the supervision of the pretrial services program at all times
- Subject to electronic monitoring through the CTC at all times
- Remain on home detention until completion of her case and will not be allowed to leave her residence except for court appearances, medical emergencies and to satisfy any requirements of PSP or the CTC
- Report all required court appearances and all required appointments with he PSP or its designated service provider
- Alexander cannot change her residence without prior notice and approval by the PSP or its designated service provider
- Cannot have contact with, nor communicate by any means with Rico Gray, Sr., Pernell Gray and Rico Gray, Jr.
- Alexander shall abide by all court orders in the divorce proceedings involving Rico Gray, Sr., including all orders that pertain to child custody, exchange of child custody for visitation shall be facilitated by a third party
- Alexander shall not possess any firearms, nor shall there be any firearms in her residence at any time during her pretrial release
- Shall not consume any alcoholic beverage or drug not prescribed by a physician
- Must abide by all rules and regulations for the PSP and the CTC including random drug testing
- Alexander shall be subject to warrantless searches of her residence by CTC officers or any JSO officer conducting such a search at the direction of CTC personnel, to ensure compliance with her pretrial release condition.
(The full text of Judge Daniel’s order granting bail can be read here.)
Outraged State Prosecutors File Motion to Revoke Alexander’s Bail
On Monday, January 6, 2014, however, the State filed a motion to revoke Alexander’s bail on the grounds that she has been egregiously violating the conditions of her bail. In their motion, the State notes that:
Beginning December 6, 2013 (mere days after being released), and continuing on multiple dates (December 6, twice on Dec. 9, Dec. 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, and Dec. 20, 2013) (nine days in a 14- day span), Defendant repeatedly flouted the above-referenced conditions. She did so in order to, inter alia, go shopping for clothes; ferry family members to and from such places as the hair shop and airport; visit the bank; collect funds to give to her bond agent; get estimates for getting her vehicle repaired; get new glasses; get a new driver’s license; and travel to the office of a former attorney. During one such sojourn, Defendant went to the residence of the brother of the victim in this case. Defendant neither sought nor obtained permission from the Court for any of the above.
(The full text of the motion to revoke bail—written by our old friend from the Zimmerman trial, Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei—can be read here.)
Even More Outraged Defense Files Counter-Motion, Mocks State’s as “Frivolity”
The following day, December 7, Alexander’s lawyers—Bruce Zimet of Florida and Faith Gay of New York—filed a responsive motion. Essentially they argue that Alexander requested and received permission for each and every variance from the conditions of bail, obtaining this permission from April Wilson, the Sheriff’s Department Correctional Services Counselor (CSC) who is assigned to monitor Alexander’s compliance with her conditions of bail. The defense’s motion against revocation of bail argues:
No justification supports the State’s failure to include in its Motion to Modify and Revoke Bond the fact that every activity alleged to be in violation of bond had been approved by the agency charged with the responsibility of supervising Marissa Alexander’s bond. Obviously, including those omitted facts would expose the frivolity of the State’s Motion.
(The full text of defense counsel’s motion objecting to revocation of bail can be read here.)
REALLY Outraged State Prosecutors File Motion Ridiculing Defense’s Counter-Motion
The state, again in the person of Richard Mantei, responded swiftly and with energy the following day (even the PDF of the Mantei’s response fairly smokes with indignation).
Mantei ridicules the defense claim that Alexander had received “permission” for each violation of her terms of bail, arguing that the person from whom this “permission” was obtained simply lacks the authority to approve violations of the Court’s bail conditions. Mantei noted that:
Defendant has asserted that each of her willful (and apparently admitted) violations of the [bail] conditions was “approved by the agency charged with the responsibility of supervising” her. In fact, the Court is the “agency” which determines whether Defendant’s actions—“approved” or not—comply with its Orders, and the Court gave no such approval.
Defendant’s “Response,” in keeping with her actions to date, carries forth the theme that Defendant behaves as she desires, not as the law requires. No individual of common sense—let alone a person whose bond has been revoked before—would think it permissible to seek “approval” from anyone other than the Court to knowingly violate a Court’s direct and explicit order. Under the theory espoused in Defendant’s Response, had Defendant asked a [CPC] counselor if Defendant could purchase a firearm and carry it, and the counselor agreed, Defendant would be “exonerated” from any alleged violation of the Court’s Order [prohibiting her possession of a firearm on her person or in her residence].
He went on:
The [CPC] counselor from whom defendant sought her “permission” is not a law enforcement officer, not an attorney, and most importantly, not a Circuit Judge.
And closes with:
The citizens of this community (including victims in this case) have the right to know whether, when a court explicitly orders a criminal defendant confined to one location, it means what it says—or whether they should nonetheless be on guard against randomly encountering that defendant at their middle school, hair salon, airport, shopping mall, or relative’s home. That is no “frivolity.”
(The full text of the State’s response to defense counsel’s motion can be read here.)
Sheriff: We Have Absolutely, Positively No Comment Whatever
Amongst all this high dudgeon, the response of the Sheriff’s office to media requests for comment is perhaps the most humorous—and most mature—of all communications on this matter, reading in its entirety:
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will not be commenting on the home detention of Marissa Alexander. There is a hearing scheduled for this Friday. It would be inappropriate to comment in advance of that hearing; also, we are looking into the matter administratively to see if corrections personnel followed proper protocol.
(The actual Sheriff Department’s letter can be read here.)
Ask Not for Whom the Bail Revocation Hearing Tolls . . .
So, that’s where things stand, until the bail revocation hearing is held tomorrow. Has Alexander egregiously violated the terms of her bail? Has the State egregiously over-reacted to normal Sheriff’s department practices (a prospect that cannot be discounted given this same prosecutor’s office conduct during the Zimmerman trial)? Counsel of Florida, communicating in confidence, tell me that it’s much more a case of the latter than the former—but, in the end only Judge Daniel can decide.
Keep your eyes right here at Legal Insurrection for breaking news on the continuing travails of Marissa Alexander.
Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.