Today in Innocence, Part II

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

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.

Why? Paperwork.

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.

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23 Responses to “Today in Innocence, Part II”

  1. #1 |  omar | 

    Why the cuffs?

  2. #2 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Why the cuffs?

    To ward off equal protection lawsuits from other inmates who have to have cuffs at their hearings.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think handcuffs should be used in courts of law much, much, much less than they are. I see it as a due process issue with hand cuffs being generally unfair to the person the cuffs are on because it makes the person look dangerous and not credible. I think this is a serious justice concern (that usually receives no attention), and I hope to see some better Constitutional law developed on this in my lifetime.

    Still, if cuffs are the general rule, then you can’t really make exceptions, I don’t think, because those exceptions become a way to “play favorites.”

  3. #3 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    God forbid the State release somebody on the simple grounds of innocence, and let the paperwork catch up later. Why, Questions Might Be Asked.

    Bureaucrat; an odd subspecies of human being that has evolved without a spine.

  4. #4 |  SJE | 

    I can understand being super careful if you could be sued for letting this man be convicted in the first place, but the judge is immune from lawsuit. Let him go, d-bag.

  5. #5 |  Scott Lazarowitz | 

    If the State did not have a monopoly in ultimate judicial decision-making, and if the people had freedom of choice of which third-party arbitrators and private judges to make judicial decisions, this kind of judge would then be run out of town. But noooo, the sheeple prefer to keep their government monopoly on “justice” and let imbeciles, retards and lowlifes be in charge, here in the Banana Republic of USSA.

  6. #6 |  Dante | 

    “Lenard also happens to be the judge who presided over Phillips’ trial in 2003.”

    That’s the rub, isn’t it? The people who are employed by America’s criminal justice bureaucracy are the type of people who, after telling themselves for decades that they simply cannot be wrong or make mistakes, adamantly refuse to admit they were wrong and can make mistakes when presented with airtight evidence that they can be wrong and make mistakes.

    It’s a combination of massive ego, ignorance and character flaws, with a dash of arrogance thrown in for good measure.

    And these are the folks with the power to arrest, imprison and kill us. Often doing so with no more than a hunch. Because, you know, they simply can’t be wrong.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  7. #7 |  Personanongrata | 

    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.”

    If U.S. District Court Judge Joan A. Lenard was as concerned with the testimony of West Palm Beach cop Michael Ghent in 2003 as she is with the “paperwork” in 2012 then perhaps an innocent man, Elroy Phillips, wouldn’t have been railroaded in her courtroom and spent the past 9 years locked in a cage.

  8. #8 |  Aresen | 

    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.”

    How did this lady get to be a judge? Is ‘innocent’ too difficult a word for her to understand? (Maybe because it has two more letters than ‘guilty’?) This is simply and utterly retarded. Obviously her brain has very few moving parts.

    Pity she has judicial immunity.

  9. #9 |  James Sr. | 

    Makes sense to me now why our courthouse judges need metal detectors for their courts.

    Any other hostage situation would have had the place full of bullet holes.. and no one alive to say a word.

  10. #10 |  albatross | 

    Is the judge waiting for a little squeeze to move matters along? Couple hundred do it, your honor?

  11. #11 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    It appears that these people who have the audacity to be innocent are a goddamn inconvenience to the state what with them being so stupid as to have been convicted and all. Harumph!

  12. #12 |  marco73 | 

    Judge Lenard needs someone’s homework complete so that she can let an innocent man out of prison, just like a good little facist bureaucrat.

    Maybe the bailiffs in the federal courthouse can start referring to paperwork foulups that keep innocent people in jail as “pulling a Lenard.”
    How do you like that legacy, your honor?

  13. #13 |  CyniCAl | 

    [sarcasm] C’mon people. We’re only talking about a couple more weeks of a man’s life here. That is NOTHING compared to a judge’s ego. Please, for God’s sake, have some consideration for the poor judge, she has a very difficult job. [/sarcasm]

  14. #14 |  DPirate | 

    She chose “cover your ass (future political career)” over an innocent man’s freedom. What an asshole.

  15. #15 |  supercat | 

    Unless Mr. Phillips is being locked in Judge Lenard’s chambers, I don’t think the judge is physically responsible for keeping him in custody. If those who are physically holding him aren’t willing to release him on the basis of verbal request from the prosecutor, then unless there is a statutory provision that would allow a judge to arbitrarily demand people’s release, I’m not sure why the judge should be expected to do so. To be sure, if there is a statutory provision which would grant the judge clear authority to order Mr. Phillips’ release, the judge might be faulted for not exercising it. On the other hand, if the laws set forth by the legislature require that certain steps be followed to ensure that there is a clear legal record of why Mr. Phillips is being released, and if the requirements are not patently unreasonable, I would direct more criticism at the prosecutor who fails to perform such steps in timely fashion than at the judge who insists that they be performed.

  16. #16 |  Mike H | 

    I now get what the judge meant by “a lot of moving parts here” – it was a mechanical analogy, not a comment on the suffering of the innocent petitioner. She was clearly NOT moved in that sense.

  17. #17 |  Phil in Parker | 

    Actually, I almost side with the judge on this one. A verbal order isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. But the proper response is: “You (procecutor or defense, don’t matter) go and write up the order. It the first order of business after lunch”.

    Really not that hard.

  18. #18 |  John C. Randolph | 

    “U.S. District Court Judge Joan A. Lenard ”

    ..will forever be known to me as “that uppity shyster bitch”.


  19. #19 |  John C. Randolph | 

    I’d love to see this innocent man file a suit against the judge personally for depriving him of his civil rights under color of authority.


  20. #20 |  John C. Randolph | 

    Well, what do you know? She was appointed by Bubba the Slut. I wonder if there were any cigars involved?


  21. #21 |  zywie | 

    24 years for $50 worth of crack. Even if he’s guilty, that’s excessive.

  22. #22 |  Gene Kernan | 

    Articles of Impeachment.

  23. #23 |  Steve Verdon | 

    A few months ago Robert Higgs had a blog post about how he wanted bureaucrats to all commit suicide. I thought it was a bit much. Stories like this on the other hand are moving me more and more towards his position.