Friday, June 24, 2011

Singer's attorney needs to change his tune

CourtWatch monitored the bond hearing of Ubaldo Rodriguez, a singer of some notority in Puerto Rico, charged with domestic battery by strangulation, possession of cocaine, and violation of pretrial release conditions on a domestic violence case. He was represented by Anthony Suarez, who went beyond the "usual" boundries to intimidate his client's victim after Judge John Adams denied his bond motion on 6/23/11.

During the course of the bond hearing, Mr. Rodriguez was asked if he would be willing to give up his passport, but he declined. The defendant claimed he would be unable to go to his international singing jobs if it was relinquished. Prosecutor Robert Westmoreland asked that Mr. Rodriguez not be given bond due to the liklihood of him leaving the country.

Mr. Suarez began his presentation by recounting his client's singing career and all the awards he has won since age 16. The State objected due to relevance, and Counsel stated the testimony had a purpose, but CourtWatch never heard the judge's ruling.

Mr. Suarez volunteered to be responsible for his client and accompany him to a July 9th gig in Bethleham, Pennsylvania. Apparently Mr. Rodriguez was under contract and had already received a retainer for the event, but could not cash the check in good faith until he knew whether he was going to be a "free man" to fulfill his obligation.

The victim testified that she was afraid of the defendant and believed that he would attack her again, but wanted him released so he could make money to support her and the child they are raising together.

With respect to the violation charge, Defense Counsel asserted that when Mr. Rodriguez went to the victim's home, he had not yet been served the civil injunction papers (filed in April) so therefore should not be considered in contempt or held accountable for this violation. The State agreed that Mr. Rodriguez had not been served with the civil injunction, but was aware of the criminal court's no contact order when he was granted bond on March 21, 2011 on the strangulation charge. Mr. Rodriguez allegedly deliberately disregarded that order and went to her home. The defendant is charged with violating the pretrial release conditions in the criminal case, not violating a civil injunction. 

Judge Adams agreed with the State, found that the defendant had disregarded the no contact order and denied the defendant's motion for bond.

Kudos to Judge Adams.

Here's where the "real" victim intimidation begins.

As Mr. Suarez started to leave the courtroom he looked over, leaned toward the victim and sarcastically said "CONGRATULATIONS..." The rest of what he said was not as loud, but sounded like "you won" or "you got what you wanted." The eyes flew wide open and mouths dropped by everyone that heard his comment. He started out the door, took 2 steps back in and asked her to come outside with him to talk. She sat there in confusion (or embarrassment) discussing what had just happened with her advocate from the State Attorney's Office.

Mr. Suarez then returned to the courtroom approximately 30 seconds later, called her by name, and asked her again to join him in the hall to speak with him. She and her advocate then walked out to meet him attorney in the hallway.

Moments later, the advocate came back to the courtroom, alone. The victim never returned.

Comments to what we had all just witnessed were being discussed by the deputy sherriff and several spectators in the gallery. What a horrible display of victim intimidation and manipulation by Mr. Suarez. This behavior is rude and inappropriate for a member of the Bar.

CourtWatch wishes the judge could have witnessed the comments.  It would have been interesting to see how he would respond to such behavior. Unfortunately, he and the prosecutor were discussing a different case with another defense attorney.

CourtWatch has seen more than our share of victim intimidation on the stand or during cross examination by defense attorneys, but this was the most egregious example of intimidation after a judge had ruled upon a case that we can recall. Sanctions should be imposed on Mr. Suarez for the manner in which he treated this victim.

On 6/28/11, just a few days after the above bond hearing, Mr. Rodriguez was represented by Gustavo Padron (Mr. Suarez's partner) and pled to domestic battery by strangulation, possession of controlled substance & violation of pretrial release conditions on a DV case. Adjudication was withheld. Defendant was sentenced to probation, drug counseling, 75 hours of community service, ordered to complete the 26 week batterer's intervention program, and have no hostile contact with the victim. He was permitted to travel within the USA while on probation. No international travel is permitted until his probation has been successfully completed. The victim did not attend the plea & sentencing.

1 comment:

  1. Is it possible this was picked up on audio recorders in the courtroom? I'm utterly shocked. Completely unprofessional. Like attracts like, which explains why this loser attorney is representing some guy who chokes the mother of his child. Just gross.