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July 16, 2016

Michigan appeals court rejects "sentencing by videoconference" as a violation of state rules

As reported in this AP piece, a Michigan appeals court said a state trial court erred when sentencing Trenity Heller by video in a drug case.  Here is the background and basic details of the ruling:

The use of technology has been hailed as a great way to save money in Michigan's criminal justice system, and state rules allow video from jail for a variety of hearings, including arraignments, guilty pleas and misdemeanor sentences. "Felony sentencing is not on the list," the appeals court said in its 3-0 decision that Heller's rights were violated.

"Sentencing by video dehumanizes the defendant who participates from a jail location, unable to privately communicate with his or her counsel and likely unable to visualize all the participants in the courtroom," the court said, adding that it "clashes with the judge's duty to acknowledge the humanity of even a convicted felon."

But Smith, the only Circuit Court judge in Hillsdale, said he gives everyone a fair shake. He sees other benefits, too. "The jail is across town so we do save money and security" by using video, Smith told The Associated Press. "If they don't leave jail, then we don't have them in the courthouse and have the problems Berrien faced."

He was referring to the fatal shooting of two bailiffs Monday at the Berrien County courthouse. The sheriff said an inmate somehow got a deputy's gun while being moved between the court and jail.

Smith also said he doesn't choose a sentence depending on whether someone is standing in front of him or appearing by video. "I sentence on facts, not on emotions," the judge said.

Smith said nearly all felons at the jail have chosen video and waived their right to stand in court since he began offering a choice earlier this year.

July 16, 2016 at 07:19 PM | Permalink

Comments

Yep, Hillary is not a threat--

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2016/07/hillarys-first-priority-if-she-wins-to-shut-up-her-critics.php

Posted by: federalist | Jul 16, 2016 8:16:18 PM

The judge needs to be censored by a higher court. No need for a hearing where he is allowed to be present. Just let the judge chime in with his smartphone.

Lawyers need to rise up against all this long distance court hearing apCray and efiling of everything. Let us have oral arguments where we can look the judge in the eye. Justice is in the eye of the beholder. Not in the eye of Eric Holder. You get things wrong lawyers and judges.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Jul 17, 2016 2:46:35 AM

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