Nov. 23, 2006 — Judges have a difficult job. They have to wade through extraordinary amounts of rhetoric and posturing by attorneys trying to defend or convict an accused person. They weigh the letter of the law against common sense.
Because of the difficulty of their job, we hold judge's opinions in high esteem and give them a fair bit of leeway. Whether we agree with those decisions or not, we respect that this fair-minded person in the black robe has the authority and know-how to protect us and our rights, be we plaintiff or defendant.
And then a case like Mr. Ashley Williams' comes along and we start to wonder what on earth our highest deciders of law are thinking. Where is the common sense?
Superior Court Judge Leon Kendall seemed to think that Williams, convicted Nov. 17 of brutally raping a homeless man and sodomizing him with a wooden novelty baseball bat, was the kind of guy that should be walking around free for a couple more days.
Kendall allowed Williams to leave the courtroom free – even though he had been convicted – to wander around St. Thomas.
Judge Kendall's common sense told him Williams — who has a colorful record of 22 arrests, including at least four for rape and an unknown number of felony convictions — was the kind of guy who would happily turn himself over to authorities after the weekend pass and await his January sentencing behind bars.
What on earth was Kendall thinking?
First off, Kendall's choice obviously backfired.
Williams, of course, did not cheerfully surrender to incarceration. He barricaded himself in his home and held police at bay for five hours, threatening to blow himself and his house up by igniting a propane tank.
Police eventually stormed the home and subdued Williams with a nonlethal Taser gun. Thankfully no one was hurt.
The standoff required countless emergency workers from at least four different agencies police, fire, EMS and Superior Court marshals.
And this isn't the first time Kendall has shown unbelievably poor judgment with Williams. In September, after Williams had been charged with the brutal rape, Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar ordered the defendant held on $150,000 bail. Kendall, however, during Williams' pretrial conference, essentially reversed Hollar's ruling, releasing Williams on an unsecured bond — meaning Williams was free to roam the streets for roughly two months until his trial.
And then, what was Williams thinking?
Kendall's choice to let Williams go over the weekend is tantamount to telling him to skip town.
Williams couldn't take the hint?
We're not advocating anyone ever break the law, run out on an obligation, or disobey a judge. However, if you are looking at 20 years in Golden Grove prison, and the judge lets you go after your conviction, would you hole up in your house or hop on the first boat to anywhere?
It's not like there's a shortage of migrant smugglers around.
We guess that's how people get arrested 22 times. Thankfully, they're not that bright.
The same might be said for Kendall.
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