I heard from a colleague the other day that after a trial in which his client was acquitted the judge ordered the defendant taken back to jail in order to be processed out. My head began to hurt from spinning so fast.
His client couldn't afford to post bond and the judge wouldn't allow him a personal bond so he sat in the county jail for months waiting for trial. He could've easily pled guilty and taken time served (or less than what he ended up serving) but he insisted on his innocence.
I'm certain that he had some personal effects and items that were still sitting in his cell or in the property room but once that jury came back with a not guilty verdict, any authority the court may have had over him vanished into thin air. He should have been free to return to the jail when it was convenient for him to do so instead of having to go back into custody for another four or five hours while he was processed out.
It was bad enough that he had to sit in custody for months awaiting trial for the crime of not being able to scrape up enough money to pay a bondsman to get him out. That deprivation of his freedom can never be undone and the jury's verdict was a sharp rebuke to the police, prosecutors and the judge. But the illegal detention of an innocent man afterward is inexcusable.
I wish I knew the name of the judge so I could plaster it in bold type. I wish I knew the name of the judge so I could question his qualifications to sit on the bench. I wish I knew the name of the judge so the rest of the world would know who he was.
There are far too many judges sitting on the bench in Harris County who have the mistaken belief that they work in the district attorney's judicial division. They are only too willing to bend over backwards to impose coercive bond conditions on defendants who are legally innocent. They are only too willing to help out the members of "their team" in the courtroom.
This is not the first incident in which a judge has infringed upon the freedom of a defendant after receiving a not guilty verdict. A few years ago a visiting judge, Carolyn Marks Johnson, presided over a DWI trial. Now, before we go any further I must disclose that Ms. Johnson was my voir dire professor at South Texas - and she did a damn good job. However, after the jury acquitted the defendant, the judge decided that the defendant (innocent person sitting in the courtroom) needed to be drug tested. So she ordered it.
She had no jurisdiction over the (former) defendant. Once the jury returned their verdict the case was over as was the judge's power over the accused. But that's just a little detail. Why let things like constitutional protections get in the way when you can show someone you're the boss?
I'm sure that both the judge and Sheriff Adrian Garcia can come up with a myriad of excuses and reasons why a person who was just acquitted should have to go back into custody. There's all that paperwork and clothes and bedding to worry about. We certainly can't inconvenience the sheriff, can we? Besides, if he was charged with a crime we all know he was up to something - the fact that a jury found him not guilty doesn't make him innocent y'know.
A person's liberty shouldn't be infringed upon for the sole purpose of making life easier for the sheriff. The judge knows this and the judge also knows damn well that what he (or she) did was wrong and was a violation of the oath they took when they were elected (or appointed) to the bench.