Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Out-of-county judge to hear Surface case

Though no one has explained why the decision had to wait until just a day before the arraignment, the first phase of Jasper County Presiding Commissioner Chuck Surface's drunk driving case has been delayed by Judge Stephen Carlton's decision to remove himself from the case, citing a conflict of interest.
That decision, first revealed in the Aug. 28 Turner Report, postponed Surface's initial arraignment. An out-of-county judge will be chosen to hear the case.


Anonymous said...

Kudos to all you do on this blog, but I do have to take issue with your impatience on the Surface hearing.
My gut tells me that on the long docket of cases, Surfaces DUI is not a high priority. So it would make sense that delays and reskeds would take place a day before. While you may be salivating for this case to hit the court, it's just another DUI to most of the people working in the courtrooms, which means it is way down on the priority list.
To be honest, its probably just a big headache, since Surface knows everyone in the building and the all have to recuse themselves. People are going to have to drive in from other counties all for one DUI of probably 1000 DUIs that are currently awaiting adjudcation.
It's not Sacco & Vanzetti, Randy. It's a guy who had one beer too many on his way home.

Anonymous said...

A gal who had one beer too many on her way home hit and severly injured our 20 year old son as he was riding a bike 24 years ago. He has never recovered to be able to support himself, marry, and do a majority of the things he could when hit. He will always need extended support to manage his life now when he was completely independent and a youth minister at that time. Drunk driving is a VIOLENT CRIME! The seventeen year old did not get up and think, "I'm going to kill someone today or maybe I'll just hurt him bad." But the effect was there because of her "personal mistake."

So far, Mr. Surface's case has been processed according to usual procedures. The one area that definitely needs to be changed is that NO BOND was required. Judge Dally was quoted in the Joplin Globe that bond was not required until a charge was brought. That is the procedure in Jasper County. It has not always been that way and is not in other counties. The prosecutor and judicial folks can change it to require a specific amount at the point of arrest for each level of crime. That bond would be automatic for everyone arrested and then reviewed by a judge per case in timely manner. That procedure is already used for other arrests of those crimes that are a public danger. Certainly drunk & buzzed driving are imminent, violent danger to the public!

I challenge Mr. Dankleson and the Jasper County Courts to work out this type of schedule immediately!!
Then everyone should be processed the same way. It appears to favor some over others now!! Favoritism undermines public trust.

Randy said...

I was not suggesting that there were any improprieties with the way the case was being handled; it's just that it was obvious from the beginning that the case was going to eventually be heard by a non-Jasper County judge so why wait until the last minute to do it? It would seem more efficient to take care of it right at the start.
That being said, while politicians should definitely receive the same rights and presumption of innocence as everyone else, when they are stopped by law enforcement or brought into our courts system, it is vital that that those in the system bend over backwards to make sure no special treatment is given. That is the only way we can continue to believe in our judicial system.