National Roundup

New York
Judge: Rapper probably belongs at home, not jail

NEW YORK (AP) — The judge who sentenced the rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine to prison said Wednesday he would have ordered home confinement instead if he had known about the coronavirus in December.

U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer commented in a written order even as he rejected a lawyer’s request that the 23-year-old performer, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, be confined at home for the remaining four months of his two-year prison term.

He said he didn’t have legal authority to change the sentence, which prosecutors pointed out when they opposed the request.

But he added that he was issuing “instructive guidance” that the Bureau of Prisons can use if it considers an application by Tekashi 6ix9ine for early release to home confinement.

He cited Tekashi 6ix9ine’s heightened vulnerability to the virus because he has asthma.

Engelmayer said he “could not have known that the final four months of Mr. Hernandez’s sentence would be served at a time of a worldwide pandemic to which persons with asthma, like Mr. Hernandez, have heightened vulnerability.”

He added: “Had the Court known that sentencing Mr. Hernandez to serve the final four months of his term in a federal prison would have exposed him to a heightened health risk, the Court would have directed that these four months be served instead in home confinement.”

The performer who is expected to be released July 31 also was diagnosed in October with bronchitis and sinusitis, defense attorney Lance Lazarro wrote in a letter to the judge on Sunday.

Lazarro said his client had complained to prison authorities in recent days of shortness of breath but was not permitted to be taken to a hospital even though his facility’s medical director had recommended it.

The lawyer said the rapper is serving his sentence in a private jail because he cooperated with prosecutors and because the government has control of him as a cooperator.

After Engelmayer issued his order Wednesday, Lazarro said in an email that it was “a strong recommendation to the BOP to release him immediately.”

Tekashi 6ix9ine’s testimony against members of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods gang earned him leniency from charges that could have subjected him to a mandatory minimum 37 years in prison for crimes that included orchestrating a shooting in which an innocent bystander was wounded.

The judge at sentencing called his cooperation “game changing” as well as complete and brave while Tekashi 6ix9ine expressed remorse.
In 2018, he had a multiplatinum hit song, “Fefe,” with Nicki Minaj, which peaked at No. 3 on the pop charts, and “Stoopid,” featuring imprisoned rapper Bobby Shmurda.

California
Judge censured for offensive remarks

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — A California judge has been publicly censured for making dozens of sexist, racially insensitive and dishonest remarks from the bench over a decade, the state Commission on Judicial Performance announced Wednesday.

The commission said Judge Jeffrey G. Bennett of Ventura County Superior Court consented to the discipline, which is a step below removal from office.

The commission said that Bennett, who was elected in 2008, committed 28 acts of misconduct that violated the state Code of Judicial Ethics.

Most involved remarks “that are offensive, undignified, discourteous, dishonest, sexist, and profane, and that created the appearance of bias and retaliation,” the commission said.

“Such comments included remarks to an African American criminal defendant about ‘shucking and jiving,’ making crude references to his anatomy, commenting about ‘chicks’ liking a car and about not spending so much time with his telescope if he had a ‘20-year-old smoking hot wife,’ and using profanity in other remarks, according to a commission statement.

Bennett acknowledged nearly all of the misconduct, the commission said.

Earlier this month, Bennett’s attorneys told the Ventura County Star that the judge “is known for his refreshing ‘tell it like it is’ approach to life and his sense of humor” but that he had apologized to the commission and “implemented a thoughtfully developed plan for improvement and change.”


Tennessee
Court: Judge improperly removed mother’s rights to children

JACKSBORO, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee judge who recently came off probation for mishandling cases improperly stripped a mother’s parental rights without proper notice or a hearing, a state court said.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals described the father as abusive to the mother and a danger to their children, who had been put in foster care. The mother was living in another state when Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services petitioned to terminate their parental rights.

The court ordered a new hearing for the woman as a matter of “fundamental fairness.” It described the handling of the case by Campbell County General Sessions Court Judge Amanda Sammons as “both odd and of grave concern,” The Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

The mother evidently still hasn’t been told she lost her parental rights, said the court opinion filed on March 18.

The court said Sammons persisted in the termination hearings even though department could not prove the mother had been notified. An attorney appointed to the mother told the judge he had not contacted the mother either. Despite this, she terminated the rights of both parents, identified as David and Cecilia S., in June 2019.

A two-judge appellate panel got the case after the father appealed. Its ruling upheld the denial for the father, citing drug use.

Sammons was suspended in 2016 after being indicted on felony misconduct charges for allegedly lying and misusing her authority. Those charges were dismissed by a judge who ruled her actions misguided but not criminal. She returned to court after three years of probation.

 

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