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Four freed after judge responds to habeas petitions

Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 7:38 PM
Last updated Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 6:58 PM
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Superior Court Judge Daniel J. Craig on Friday voided the convictions of four people who had been jailed for violating the conditions of misdemeanor probation sentences supervised by Sentinel Offender Services.

Judge Daniel J. Craig and a host of attorneys listen to the recording of a proceeding for defendant Kelvin Ashley during a hearing involving Sentinel Services, a probation company.    MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Judge Daniel J. Craig and a host of attorneys listen to the recording of a proceeding for defendant Kelvin Ashley during a hearing involving Sentinel Services, a probation company.


Attorneys for Sentinel, Richmond County Sheriff Richard Round­tree and State Court Solicitor Kellie McIntyre argued that they were entitled to more time to respond to habeas corpus petitions filed on behalf of Clifford Hayes, Kelvin Ashley, Virginia Cash and Amanda Stephens, but the judge refused.

If it were local attorney Ran­dolph Frails in jail, Craig said, everyone in the courtroom would “move heaven and Earth” to get him released as soon as possible.

“(I know) because if you were in there, I’d do it for you,” Craig said.

Attorney John Long filed the habeas petitions – a writ ordering a person in custody be brought before a court – contending that Hayes, Ash­ley, Cash and Stephens were jailed for the unconstitutional reason of being poor.

Craig herded the attorneys into focusing on a three-pronged test: Did Hayes, Ashley, Cash and Stephens enter pleas of no contest or guilty after being advised of their constitutional rights to trial? Were they fully advised of their right to counsel? Were the pleas made willingly and voluntarily?

Though there was no absolute proof to answer those questions for three of the plaintiffs, attorneys for the city obtained a computer recording of the August hearing when Ashley pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery and cruelty to children.

After listening, Craig asked the attorneys whether anyone heard the judge advise Ashley that he had not only a right to trial but also a right to cross-examine witnesses and a right not be forced to testify unless he chose to. It was clear there was none, Craig said.

Attorneys representing the sheriff and solicitor consented to a finding that the same shortcoming would be true for Hayes, Cash and Ste­phens.

In effect, all four now stand accused but not convicted. Craig set $1,000 bonds for each charge for each plaintiff after hearing from Assis­tant Solicitor Nancy John­son about the cases and any possible criminal history.

Long asked the judge to reconsider Hayes’ bond amount because he is ill and homeless. Craig agreed to release Hayes on his own recognizance.

Attorneys for Sentinel and the city will seek a further hearing, possibly next week, on their contention that the rest of the allegations in the habeas petitions are moot because the four would be freed from custody.

Comments (7) Add comment
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Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 01/25/13 - 10:32 pm
3
1
There are many people who are

There are many people who are accused, convicted, and jailed because they cannot pay their fines. Probably for miniscule and petty charges.

jamesnewsome
38
Points
jamesnewsome 01/26/13 - 08:21 am
4
1
Thumbs up for Judge Craig

Sounds like Judge Craig acted with compassion and wisdom, two traits not always exhibited by our judicial system.

avidreader
3377
Points
avidreader 01/26/13 - 08:57 am
4
1
What's Next?

Good riddance to Sentinal. I'm hoping that the next group that contracts with the county will have a more compassionate disposition toward their customers. Maybe a private company should not have the final say-so in determining whether or not a client should be jailed for violations. A referral system to the solicitor might be the answer.

americafirst
966
Points
americafirst 01/26/13 - 09:44 am
4
0
AR, Sentinel does not have

AR, Sentinel does not have the final say on whether people go to jail. The State Court judge does. These cases are not just exposing problems with Sentinel and the private probation system but also a systemic problem with the State Court system and how it is operated. The final buck stops with the Judges.

my.voice
4924
Points
my.voice 01/26/13 - 10:40 am
1
0
BUT judges listen to the

BUT judges listen to the recommendations of Sentinel.

americafirst
966
Points
americafirst 01/26/13 - 10:54 am
1
0
My Voice: True dat.

My Voice: True dat. Apparently too much.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 01/26/13 - 11:15 am
1
0
americafirst is right about

americafirst is right about the judges.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 01/26/13 - 11:23 am
0
0
Yea, why make them pay for their parole
Unpublished

management. They don't pay for their crime or retribution. The taxpayers pay for all of this legaleze. What are laws for anyway? To be broken. Simple mistakes in judgement? Childish misadventures? We pay the criminals and we pay the police, lawyers and judges. It is sort of like a game of "solitary" checkers.

soapy_725
43757
Points
soapy_725 01/26/13 - 11:35 am
0
0
The Quakers are responsible for all of this
Unpublished

mess with penal systems, endless and repetitive incarceration. Pretty sure? Rehabilitation of the criminal mind was not an English endeavor. You broke the law, you pay the price of your choice. Under the first laws in America, base on English Law, the jail at Williamsburg VA had two sets of chains in one room. Your jury trial resulted in death, innocence or being branded for the particular crime. When branded, if you committed the same crime a second time you were executed. No need for a system of housing criminals at the victims expense. Females pleading their belly (pregnant) could forestall punishment until their delivery.

The question has to be asked. Why continually punish the victims with the burden of room and board for someone who has already robbed them of life or property?

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 01/26/13 - 09:40 pm
0
0
Child cruelty
Unpublished

So it is a “misdemeanor” for the battery and cruelty to children? There is the problem; it is not the arresting officers or anyone other than the legislator who let that law stand. When any one batters and is cruel to a child he needs to spend the rest of his life in jail. To hell with parole!

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