Response filed to judges' request to remove restraining order on court

If the Richmond County State Court judges had held a private, for-profit probation company accountable and stopped the wholesale violation of constitutionals rights in their court, a restraining order wouldn’t be necessary, according to the response in one of the latest civil lawsuits filed against Sentinel Offender Services.

Plaintiff’s attorney John Long filed the court papers Friday in response to the judges’ brief seeking to end a restraining order over their court that they contend has stripped them of their duties and powers to enforce their orders.

Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Craig granted the restraining order April 9 after hearing additional accounts of people jailed for days on probation violation warrants still active after State Court sentences should have been closed years earlier.

Long has filed a dozen civil lawsuits against Sentinel contending it is unconstitutional to allow a for-profit entity to provide a judicial service, to jail someone because he is poor, or to deny due process to people accused or convicted of misdemeanor and traffic offenses.

A private attorney hired with public money filed the amicus brief on behalf of the State Court judges. The brief contends the restraining order has created a quagmire and has “absolutely eviscerated” the judges’ ability to enforce the conditions of any probation sentence.

Craig granted Long’s request for a restraining order that prohibits the arrest of anyone accused of a probation violation by Sentinel unless the court documents are first reviewed and approved by an independent third party, a local attorney.

In his response to the amicus brief, Long contends the State Court judges have refused to see the unconstitutional actions of Sentinel and failed to protect due process in their court.

He said the answer is to hire an official and licensed court reporter to properly document what occurs in State Court, and to insist on an independent audit of Sentinel’s services and actions.

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