Early in my courtwatching career I recall an Assistant State Attorney admitting in open court that sometimes cases fall into a "black hole" in their office. I periodically follow up with the State about cases that seem to be languishing. Whether or not my emails jog things loose is anybody's guess.
However, among the several cases that appear to be forgotten, I found two defendants who have been in custody for several months. There are no upcoming dates noted in the Clerk's records either.
Defendant was arrested 8/9/09 for Aggravated Battery, False Imprisonment & Battery. Defendant is still in custody.
Koenig was scheduled for trial 1/7/10. Jail records show there are no other holds.
A hearing was held 12/9/09 as a result of the following request by the defendant to Judge Wattles:
Hello. My name is Albert William Koenig. I am writing you in reference to case 2009-CF-011725 scheduled for pretrial on 12/3/09. I would like to request a change of my plea from not guilty to guilty. I am guilty of striking Ms. G and do not wish to tie-up your [sic] or the court's time with trying to avoid prosecution of a crime I committed. I fully understand that I can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and am fully prepared to accept any judgement you see fit. i do wish to express great remorse for my actions and wish to seek help with controlling my anger management. I hope you approve my request.
Koenig subsequently withdrew his request in open court on 12/9/09. His case was docketed for 1/7/10, but there is no record of it having been called that day, nor of it having been rescheduled.
Toby Jeffrey Ruhl
Ruhl was arrested 6/1/09 and has been in custody since then for Burglary of a Structure.
Ruhl's trial date of 1/11/10 has come and gone with no disposition noted on the Clerk's site either. Jail records indicate there is a hold on him (source is undisclosed on their website).
Mr. Ruhl also wrote to the judge in his case as follows (dated 12/28/09):
Dear Honorable Judge LeBlanc:
I am writing to you to request a Neilson [sic] Hearing.* My reason for requesting this hearing is as follows:
1. I have a conflict with the OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER
2. The LAWYER assigned to represent me has refused to put together a case with reasonable diligence.
3. I have had inadequate representation not only now, but five times prior in other cases in my past:
a) 1988 – resulting in 30 months in prison
b) 1991 – resulting in 24 months in prison
c) 1992 – resulting in 24 months in prison
d) 1992 – violation of parole – resulting in 8 years prison
e) 1997 – resulting in 18 months prison
4. My point is, I request a outside law firm to represent me NOW. I do not have any degree of hope that the Office of the PUBLIC DEFENDER will give me the degree of representation the law states that my right as a Citizen of the United States deserve.
5. Honorable Judge LeBlanc, I need help for once NOT MORE JAIL!
Signed, Toby Ruhl
*A Nelson Hearing is conducted when a defendant alleges their attorney has not competently represented them.
On 9/8/09, Mr. Ruhl waived his right to a speedy trial because the defense was not sufficiently prepared for trial.
On 11/12/09, Mr. Ruhl rejected the State's plea offer.
On 11/19/09, a joint motion for continuance (both Defense & State agreed) was granted.
On 12/28/09, this motion for Nelson Hearing was recorded. Court records show no Nelson Hearing was scheduled or conducted.
The case was set for trial 1/11/10 but never made it on the docket. No result is noted in court records.
Mr. Ruhl obviously has an extensive criminal history. A check of the Department of Corrections website shows prison sentences dating back to 1986 in Franklin, Leon and Orange Counties. But does that mean his request for a Nelson Hearing should go unheeded?
In the words of British Prime Minister William Gladstone (1809-1898), "Justice delayed, is justice denied."
I think we can do better in both cases.