U.S. District Court Judge Joan A. Lenard is keeping a man in prison even though prosecutors have dropped the charges against him, even though the FBI says he should be released, and even though the only evidence against him was from a police officer who has since resigned after he was caught selling drugs and shaking down massage parlors.
Elroy Phillips will remain in federal prison in Miami while prosecutors and his defense attorney file a joint motion outlining again why they think he should be set free. U.S. District Court Judge Joan A. Lenard demanded the paperwork at a hearing this afternoon instead of accepting a joint motion to release Phillips.
The new paperwork is yet another legal hurdle for Phillips, who thought he was going to be released two weeks ago when prosecutors finally agreed to drop the charges.
Phillips spent years while behind bars trying to prove his innocence. He requested documents, hired a private investigator, and got a paralegal’s license so he could file his own court paperwork. When he learned two weeks ago that prosecutors planned to drop the charges, his daughter, Shatroyia Phillips, brought him clothes to wear when he’s released. At his hearing today, he wore a jail-issued white shirt and brown pants, his hands handcuffed behind his back.
Lenard said she couldn’t release Phillips because she needed to see it on paper. “It has a very broad sweep and differing legal theories,” Lenard said. “There are a lot of moving parts here.”
Lenard also happens to be the judge who presided over Phillips’ trial in 2003.