Today, we take up our role as self appointed critic of the legal media.
Take a quick legal quiz: What’s wrong with this paragraph, as written on page 2B of our local fish-wrap Herald by reporter Ashley Fantz:
”The procedure, known as an Arthur Trial, is available to defendants held on first degree felonies facing life behind bars.”
We count three major errors, which is a lot to squeeze into one sentence.
1) Its an Arthur HEARING not an Arthur Trial.
2) The “procedure” is not a “procedure” it is a hearing, technically a bond hearing.
3) The hearing is available to any defendant held NO BOND on a first degree punishable by life felony, a life felony, and Capital cases. The hearing is NOT available to ANY defendant charged with a first degree felony facing life in prison. (Yeah, it’s “life in prison” not “life behind bars”, unless you’re Jimmy Breslin in New York.) The qualifying factor is that the defendant must be held without bond. An Arthur Hearing is all about whether there is enough proof to hold a defendant without bond, and even if there is such proof, whether the defendant a risk of flight and a danger to the community?
Call us picky, but we take pride in our profession, and the least the Herald could do is employ reporters who have a fundamental working knowledge of the criminal justice system. So far, our favorite local scribe Oh Susannah Nesmith has passed the test.
Now here’s the tricky part. An Arthur Hearing is known by several other names North of The Border (Broward) including A “You really think you’re getting a bond? hearing”; A “Motion Denied” hearing;
and our personal favorite , A “Look what the stupid lawyer from Miami wants” hearing.
Lawyers who venture North of the Border can relate to this.
You’re in court with a client being held no bond. You ask for an Arthur Hearing. The courtroom deputy snorts and controls a laugh, then ambles over to the phone (those courtrooms in Broward have phones everywhere for some reason) and calls a bunch of his buddies. And you hear him whisper “Hey, get over here quick. Some lawyer from Miami wants a bond. You gotta come see this.” The prosecutor has a wide grin on his/her face and suddenly a bunch of BSO cops fill the courtroom and you and your client are the only people in the courtroom who don’t work for Broward County. A trickle of sweat runs down your forehead as your client starts frantically whispering to you to drop it, as he doesn’t like the fact the judge has twisted the small piece of rope in his hand into a small noose.
Welcome to Broward. Now leave!
See You In Court. Just not North of The Border.
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