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Sheriff’s Office Takes the Heat for Marissa Alexander Bail Kerfuffle

Sheriff’s Office Takes the Heat for Marissa Alexander Bail Kerfuffle

Based on reporting from the Florida Times-Union, it appears that Circuit Court Judge James Daniel has determined that it was the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office that is responsible for this past week’s kerfuffle over the  relaxed enforcement of Marissa Alexander’s home detention.

In a column updated today journalist Larry Hannan reports:

Correctional service counselor [CPC] April Wilson, the Sheriff’s Office civilian employee assigned to the case, confirmed Friday that she approved every trip Alexander took. Wilson also said she believed Daniel’s order gave her the leeway to do that, a point the judge angrily disagreed with Friday.

“If I’d wanted to give you the authority and discretion to do this, I would have done so,” Daniel said.

Wilson, who appeared near tears at the end of her testimony, said this has never happened to her before in the 18 years she’s done this job.She told Daniel she now understood the order was more restrictive than she thought.

[Sheriff Department] Spokeswoman Lauri-Ellen Smith said an investigation was occurring into Wilson’s conduct.

As previously reported here at Legal Insurrection, Marissa Alexander remains free on bail pending her March 31 re-trial on three charges of aggravated assault with a firearm, following her firing of a shot at her husband and his two minor children.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

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, (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.


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April Wilson has been thrown under the proverbial bus. I cannot understand why a sitting judge would want to bring a Sheriff’s Department employee to near tears.

Is this kind of judicial conduct the norm in criminal cases Andrew?

    The whole matter seems a huge cluster-fleck.

    It’s not like Marissa Alexander is the first person ever to be monitored by the Sheriff’s office for compliance with conditions of bail. Surely standards, training, etc. exists.

    How it could have been allowed to be so screwed up on such a high-profile case is just astonishing.

    Frankly, most likely cause to me is that April Wilson IS at fault–whether because she allowed her personal sympathy for Alexander (assuming such) to overcome her professional judgment, or whether her training are simply inadequate to her responsibilities.

    I suppose if the cause inadequate training, the real cause lies with her bosses.

    Regardless, clearly given the high-profile nature of this case it would have been prudent to have an experienced supervisor closely monitoring this particular defendant’s pre-trial release.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      She’s been doing this for 18-years … one would think she would be the one to give training to others!

        Well, then, she’s just got crappy judgment, at least in the context of Marissa Alexander.

        Clearly, her conduct was not aligned with the Judge’s expectations. (Also not with the purported expectations of Corey’s office, but I don’t even count them.)

        Well, Marissa’s got another, what, 12 weeks until the trial, maybe a week or two (heavens help us, hopefully not two) for the trial itself, another guilty verdict, another mandatory 20, and that’s that.

        I’m almost surprised Corey’s office isn’t threatening to have the three counts run consecutively for a total of 60 years.

        That would, of course, be ridiculous on the facts of this case . . . but then I remember the Zimmerman trial.

        Oofah. What a crew.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Andrew Branca. | January 12, 2014 at 4:10 am

          Actually I would not count on her being convicted again despite the fact that the bad instruction did not really application.

          I was under the impression that this is a different judge then the one that presided over her original trial. Today I see JO claiming iot is the same one. If it is then she will go back to jail.

          If it is a different judge then reading the invisible tea leaves ( IOW this is strained logic ) suggest that the judge maybe be sympathetic, and a sympathetic judge can do much to sway the verdict.

          As for Ms. Wilson, it seems to me the individual events were not by themselves so serious. The main problem with the violations is in their totality. Ms. Wilson probably has many people to supervise so it might have simply slipped by her.

          I’m surprised that the judge did give credence to the argument that Marrisa should have known that she was violating bail conditions.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Andrew Branca. | January 13, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      April was just helping a sista’ out. Give her a break. 😉

    rantbot in reply to sequester. | January 11, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Why not? If she was doing a crapola job, the very least she should expect is a dressing-down. As has been fairly clear through the last several items posted here on this topic, the judge did not give anyone the authority to rewrite the bail terms. There isn’t even any Latin involved; he spelt out the terms in fairly explicit English. Wilson didn’t follow them. Under the bus is where she should be.

    So, why didn’t she follow instructions? She certainly didn’t do the defendant any favors by misleading her into thinking she could brush off the judge so casually. Now the judge and the prosecutor are squinting at Alexander even harder than they were before. Alexander has enough problems without piling on more – and I won’t say she deserves them, as that’s for the trial to determine.

    Phillep Harding in reply to sequester. | January 11, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Speculating in advance of data:

    She has done this for 18 years so she assumes that this instance is the same as all or most of those she has handled before.

    It was not.

    Raises the question in my mind that she might have missed similar instructions previously and nothing of note happened.

I cannot believe someone with 18 experience of monitoring these bail cases did this by mistake.

I would wager this type of lenient treatment has been typical for the Sheriff’s department all along, and they probably never even bother with the details of the terms. Perhaps they are tighter with male bondees with violent or sexual offenses on the bond – one surely hopes so – but this smells like business as usual.

This is just the first judge to find out about it.

MouseTheLuckyDog | January 12, 2014 at 4:11 am

Just a thought. How were here violations brought to the attention of the prosecutors office anyway?

    Haha, the universal rule of defendants–there’s ALWAYS a rat who will dime you out. Always.

    Especially if you have the anger management issues apparent in Marissa Alexander. I doubt Rico Gray is the only person she ever raged at. I suspect there’s a trail of disgruntled victims in her wake.

    That’s just speculation on my part, of course.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense