(Chuck Muth) – This 8 News Now headline on Friday immediately grabbed my attention for obvious reasons…
“Woman drenches Las Vegas police officer with gasoline after playing with lighter; Judge releases suspect on her own recognizance”
Yep, a headline like that pushes my agitation level into the red zone. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of this soft-on-crime, revolving-door system of justice. As Republican attorney general candidate Sigal Chattah (disclaimer: a client) puts it, it’s time to make crime illegal again.
Especially an assault on a cop!
But in trying to find out exactly who was responsible for this latest fuster-cluck, I discovered there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
The judge in question is Suzan Baucum – who is certainly no social justice warrior. And while it’s true she did release the accused assailant, Kayla Powe, on her own recognizance, she’s not actually the one to blame.
I’ve obtained a copy of the court transcript from the hearing. And here’s how it went down…
Powe was represented by Alison Coombs, a taxpayer-funded public defender. The citizens of Clark County were represented by Deputy District Attorney Haley Jaramillo.
When Judge Baucum opened the hearing, Coombs advised that she hadn’t received a copy of the complaint against Powe. Judge Baucum advised that she hadn’t either, and Jaramillo was unable to produce one.
So a short delay was granted while the DA looked for it. Upon returning to the bench, Jaramillo advised the court…
“I do not believe there’s a complaint that’s filed yet. If I could ask for a two-week (delay).”
To which Coombs immediately replied…
“I would request that Miss Powe be released on her own recognizance at this time as there is no jurisdiction over her without criminal charges.”
Jaramillo replied, “I have no argument with respect to that.”
As Chattah noted in a tweet following the hearing…
“When a Deputy DA does not have charges filed by the Initial Appearance of a Defendant, the Constitution requires that an uncharged Defendant be released. Maybe charges should be filed faster so that Judges can do their jobs.”
Indeed, keeping someone locked up who’s been charged with a crime is one thing. But to keep someone locked up who hasn’t been charged with anything because the DA’s office, for whatever reason, failed to file charges in a timely fashion…well, that’s a horse of a different color.
So Judge Baucum had no choice. Blame the DA’s office, not the judge. The DA’s office failed to file charges on time and voiced no objection to Powe’s release without bail because…well, it was their fault.
Clark County citizens who don’t feel safe in their homes or walking on the streets need to pay more attention to races for judge, district attorney and attorney general. But in doing so, it’s important to dig deep and find out exactly who is responsible for issuing so many Get Out of Jail Free cards.
I’ll tell you who it’s NOT…
Stop blaming cops. They arrest criminals. Then they sit back and have to watch the bad guys they’ve busted get out of jail and return to our neighborhoods to terrorize and re-offend.
And in this case, despite the 8 News Now headline, don’t blame Judge Baucum either. She had no choice but to play the crummy hand the DA’s office dealt her.
Now let’s just hope Ms. Powe doesn’t try to light anyone else on fire and shows up for her next hearing.
My Personal 2022 GOP Primary Recommendations
Note: Always subject to change right up to Election Day.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“Nevada has been placed in the top 10 worst states to be a police officer.” – Trina Thomas, Silver State Times
“California should be a big warning sign that not enforcing the law is a terrible idea – both practically and politically. … (Nevada Gov. Steve) Sisolak and legislative Democrats have a pro-criminal record. Expect them to run away from it and hope voters don’t remember their actions.” – Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Victor Joecks
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views and blogs at MuthsTruths.com