Thursday, May 7, 2009

Burke's Bond Revoked

Despite the fact I've spent in excess of 2000 hours watching court (mostly in Orange County), today was the first day I went to watch Initial Appearances in Seminole County. The case, of course, was that of Shannon Burke - the deejay that shot his wife & dog last week and within 24-48 hours of his release from custody, violated the terms of his release by having a friend go to his home, attempt to use a key Burke had given him to gain access - all to allegedly retrieve some of Burke's personal belongings. This qualifies as "indirect contact," which was forbidden by the Court.

We crowded into a dark, standing room only observation area that held only 15 seats. As we waited for the proceedings to commence, one member of the public, when learning that the crowd was there for the Burke case, joked that Burke was a "good shot - he got two birds with one stone." This boneheaded remark was met with nervous laughter from some of his companions. I was too stunned to speak my mind at that moment.

The speaker system in that room was barely functional (it is apparently obsolete & replacement parts are not available - no doubt that it will not be replaced anytime soon because of budget woes). It was incredibly difficult for members of the public to follow the proceedings because of the sound problems. Judge John Woodard appeared via a large screen monitor which ceased to function for a few minutes. I was amazed at one court interpreter who simultaneously translated into Spanish AND Italian for three defendants. I was also impressed with the excellent assistance provided by court personnel for the members of the media.

Most of all, I was glad to see that the judge was not swayed by Richard Hornsby's attempts to convince him that his client was not a danger to Mrs. Burke. Mike Rathel, Mrs. Burke's private counsel, appeared on her behalf to emphasize the terror she feels as a result of both the shooting and last night's visit by Burke's friend to her home. As Judge Woodard announced that he was revoking Burke's bond, Mr. Hornsby's jaw dropped open and his expression was one of a deer in the headlights.

After the hearing concluded, there was a media frenzy as Mr. Rathel was interviewed. He handled their questions with answers that indicated he has a good, working knowledge of the dynamics of domestic violence. I was amazed that nobody asked a question about the dog until he mentioned that the dog had been re-injured as a result of last night's activities.

It's great when the System does its job.

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