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To Revoke, or Not To Revoke: Marissa Alexander Bail Hearing Tomorrow

To Revoke, or Not To Revoke: Marissa Alexander Bail Hearing Tomorrow

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:

The Myth of Marissa Alexander’s “Warning Shot”

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:

Marissa Alexander’s Bail Hearing in “Warning Shot” Case Delayed To Next Week

Marissa Alexander Released on Bail

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.)

FL Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei

FL Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei

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

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Comments

“it is not this court’s customary practice to allow continued pretrial release for defendants”

We all know female defendants are held to a different, lesser standard.

None of the listed actions are offensive in and of themselves. Things like collecting funds to give to your bond agent and getting new glasses seem fairly necessary. Indeed, the bail conditions as stated mean she can’t even buy groceries. Are they demanding she starve as a condition of bail?

    Phillep Harding in reply to randian. | January 9, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Nope. It means she has to ask the courts if she can do these things.

    Juba Doobai! in reply to randian. | January 9, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    You can wear the same glasses for five years or so. Unless your vision really heads south, new glasses are not an emergency if your old ones are intact. Groceries? She can make a list and get friends or relatives to help her out, and they would if they live her and want her to stay out of jail. Likely she was going stir crazy and didn’t think she’d be caught. She’d not the brightest bulb.

    Randian writes: “None of the listed actions are offensive in and of themselves.”

    Maybe if you’ve been one of the victims of her assaults or batteries, and been assured by the court that you needn’t fear bumping into her running free throughout the community, you’d feel differently about the matter.

    Recall, she fires bullets at people she’s angry with (including bystander children). Assaults them with her fists when bullets are not immediately available. And anger seems to be an ongoing condition with her.

    It’s ridiculous she got bail at all, given her track record of violence and violations.

    But I figure 50:50 Daniels will merely scold her and give her bail again. After all, these new offenses are way less than her prior ones, and he gave her bail with those earlier offenses in hand.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

This ćhick seems basically lawless. Jail her.

I dunno, but whenever I look at her I see a stone cold killer. Wouldn’t want her for a friend.

I don’t see what the big deal is. The only laws we’re required to obey are the convenient ones, right?

Oy.

The conditions set by Circuit Judge Daniels delegate most of the responsibility for Alexander’s compliance on the PSP (Pretrial Services Program) or the CTC (Community Transitions Center of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office). In other words, since it seems that the CTC administers the PSP, Daniels put supervision of Alexander’s whereabouts in the hands of either the CTC, or … the CTC.

And the CTC is named April Wilson so far as Alexander is concerned. So, if Wilson did in fact OK Alexander’s peregrinations, Alexander should be in the clear, despite subsequent second-guessing by Court personnel.

Except that Judge Daniels’s item 4 specifies that Alexander “remain in home detention and not leave her residence except … to satisfy any requirements of the PSP or the CTC.” Daniels did not say that the PSP or CTC could change his conditions at whim. So, if Wilson told Alexander to go out to get some new glasses, Alexander would not be in violation of Daniels’s restrictions. But, if Wilson told Alexander that she can go out shopping if she wants, then Wilson made an error, and Alexander would be in violation as soon as she went shopping.

I have to agree that this woman’s a fruitbat, and a dangerous one. The concept of “public safety” should inspire the court to exercise more care when handling hazardous materials.

The woman has issues and has proven herself dangerous. She needs to be under someone’s care and/or watch.

But if the Sheriff’s Department routinely grants exemptions from house arrest not envisioned by the court (I assume when the order specifies “not even to get groceries,” the judge meant that), there are bigger problems.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Estragon. | January 10, 2014 at 2:33 am

    I think visiting the brother of the victim is the most relevant one.

    Did she in fact tell MS. Wilson that in the course of that sojourn she would encounter the brother, or might encounter the brother? That alone could be enough to revoke bail.

    The fault is mainly PSP’s, but Ms. Alexander cannot claim that she was getting treatment that was way to lenient.

    I would expect her supervision to be tightened at the very least, the CTC to be replace with strict orders to take confinement seriously.

    Let’s however keep this in perspective. If she accepted the original 3-year plea deal, she would be close to getting out. She wasn’t the most conscientious bailed person, but she also didn’t outright flaunt her bail conditions.

I am bothered that she went to see the brother of the victim. What could she have learned there? Could encountering the victim for whatever reason be her next step? I find that highly offensive.

MouseTheLuckyDog | January 10, 2014 at 8:40 am

One thought.Considering the kinds of things they do, there should be much overlap between PSP, the parole offices and probation offices.

This makes me wonder how good a job all three offices afre doing.

“…Alexander’s lawyers—Bruce Zimet of Florida and Faith Gay of New York”

SO, if Prosecutor Gay is assigned this case, it will all just be another ‘Gay on Gay’ dispute ?

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