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Friday, April 04, 2008

Portune's bond-tracking idea gets backlash

Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune’s suggestion to keep track of the bonds judges set is being met with backlash.

Portune made the suggestion in response to Judge Richard Bernat re-instating a $1 million bond in an 18-year-old , $21 theft case at a time when the county has too few jail beds.

First Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann objected to it.

Then, Hamilton County GOP Chairman Alex Triantafilou posted an item Friday on his blog, criticizing Portune's idea. He says Portune overreacted and didn't have all the information (Triantafilou, an attorney and former Municipal Court Judge, says Bernat refused to lower the bond because the defendant was at risk of harming himself and needed to be monitored for his own safety).

UPDATE: Bernat's bailiff's take on the reason behind the bond:
Daniel Deters, who was Bernat’s bailiff that day, said the defendant, Gary Weaver was obviously mentally unstable, and likely suicidal. He said mental health officials informed the judge of Weaver’s precarious mental state.

Though Deters couldn’t speak for the judge (and the judge did not state his reasoning in court), “The judge has to weigh the safety to the community, the guys’ appearance and his mental wellbeing during the setting of the bond,” Deters said. “In my opinion, it was for the guys’ own good.”

Weaver was jailed in a special cell for those on suicide watch, Deters said.

UPDATE: Portune's reaction to Triantafilou's blog:
"I think he doth protest too much," said Portune. "The whole discussion is that there are too many people in jail who don’t need to be in jail. The general public who have refused to support an new money to address the jail overcrowding issues said 'you need to solve the systemic problems first.' Those problems involve whether reasonable bails are being posted or not.
The ony way to get at that is to publish the data. Why is he protesting so much about this?"

"If you’re setting excessive bonds, it violates the constitution. Specific to our issues locally, it crowds the county jail," Portune said. "That’s the issue we’ve been charged to address. I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes."

Meanwhile, Portune has accepted an invitation by Municipal Court Judge Brad Greenberg to sit with him on the bench Tuesday morning as he arraigns (and sets bond for) a room full of defendants.

"He said 'I think it would be of help to you to get a birds-eye view of what we see as judges.' I’ve agreed. I’m looking forward to it," Portune said. "I think it will be a healthy exercise to be there. I’m grateful Judge Greenberg is willing to reach out on this."

Portune said hopes to learn what all goes into the process so he can better understand the system. That way it will be easier to figure out what kind of systematic reforms could be put in place to curb the jail population, he said.


at 3:59 PM, April 04, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes Portune talks too much and doesn't listen enough. for instance:

"...The general public who have refused to support an new money to address the jail overcrowding issues said 'you need to solve the systemic problems first.' Those problems involve whether reasonable bails are being posted or not..." - Todd Portune

Um, I don't think that's what the voters said. What the voters said was "No new taxes for a jail." They certainly didn't say "don't build a jail," and they definitely didn't say "solve the systemic problems first." (Whether or not that is what they want is up for debate since it was not on the ballot).

They may want a jail, and they may not, but the ONLY thing we know for certain based on elections is that they do not want to raise taxes to do it.

And for Portune to casually draw that conclusion and then cavalierly suggest that bail amounts is a systemic problem shows how biased he is against the system already. He has made his decision that bail amounts are excessive based on how the media reported on a single case that had mitigating circumstances.

As a lawyer, I would think that Portune can understand those things. As a Democrat, I can understand how he would not - evidenced by how he draws probably incorrect conclusions about what voters told him in 2 different jail tax votes.

at 6:12 PM, April 04, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Triantafilou is exactly right -- it would've been grossly irresponsible of Judge Bernat to allow a mentally unstable individual to leave State custody without at least ensuring his personal safety.

I hope Portune learns something from his day with Judge Greenberg.

at 7:23 PM, April 04, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of Portune, but give him credit for this.

Speak for yourself anon. When I voted and campaigned against the jail it was because the system is broken and too many people are sitting in jail because of excessive bonds.

Portune has the read the report from the Vera Institute and so should you.

at 8:07 PM, April 04, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

The voters want a jail but don't what to have to pay for it? Sorry pal, that's not the way it works. Who do they (and you) think is going to pay the bill? Where is that money going to come from? It doesn't grown on trees.

Get real.

at 8:24 PM, April 04, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Portune is exactly right.

If Judge Bernat was "protecting" the defendant, why not just say so at the hearing??? What's so hard?

Maybe he's got "Simon's Disease" (aka "I don't have to answer your stupid questions, stupid!).

Sunshine Laws are badly needed in the Tri-State.

at 10:37 PM, April 04, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Portune's problem is systemic political gamesmanship in lieu of solving public problems. He is also the most painfully longwinded politician to hold public office in this county in a generation.

Stop talking and start listening, Todd.

at 11:23 PM, April 04, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh man, Portune is going to get an eye opening education sitting in Muni Court! He'll get to see all the thugs that have infested our neighborhoods, including Westwood, his former home. The boy hightailed it for higher ground.

Hopefully, he's going to learn 2 valuable lessons - don't open up your loudmouth without knowing how something operates, & the neighborhoods do have a legit complaint about the problems they're facing. They aren't whining just to bellyache.

Portune has to go. He's a bitter disappointment in local government.

at 11:24 PM, April 04, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...


Lettuce enlighten you:

It doesn't surprise us that the current wRong wingnut whacko misleader is XXX judge Tryintofoolyou !

It also doesn't surprise us that the ethically changed 'mad brad' would utilize the tax-payers courtroom for a political purpose !

We find it hard to believe that Hon. Portune, an attorney, is not aware of the courtroom population (coupled with the resent studies published) and yet: allows the opposition to sucker him into their wRong wingnut whacko, condescending, elephant dung propaganda !

Must be an election year with a need for the cross-over vote !

Pandering ?

Sorry, the justice center is not the place to be for mental evaluations !

PATHETIC 'family values' !


at 11:56 PM, April 04, 2008 Blogger Cheviot Sports Authority said...

Portune is a MORON!

at 12:06 AM, April 05, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of comments on this one:
1) The new GOP boss is placing blame on Portune for the media hype and response on this bond issue, when in fact, it was Deters opportunity for his close up by the news throwing the fit.

Therefore, the first question is, why is Deters so ill-informed that he objected to this high bond issue under the circumstances. Does Deters not understand the court processes? Maybe Deters should spend a little time behind the bench with a Judge so he, too, can figure out how the system works. (Joe: yellow jumpsuit means threat to self or others due to mental instability, honey)
2)What are GOP judges afraid of with a little reporting on how high/low bonds are set? This would give the public a good - real - understanding of the hard work judge's are doing and what they face. (Or is it more the fear of revealed disparities in treatment they are afraid will be let out of the closet in print.)Do the study - for the sake of the voters, no one should be afraid of the truth.
3)Portune isn't butting into the judicial branch's business - he sets the budget for the courts on behalf of taxpayers. Darn straight, he not only has an interest in the issue - he has a duty to get to the bottom of this. (CJC should investigate)
4)Alright. Now, someone should be asking the really important questions. Why did the court use bail as a medical intervention for someone undisputably suffering an urgent, acute medical/mental crisis? Since when is jail prescribed instead of letting the doctors issue the appropriate orders ? Let them do their jobs. (Talk about people trying to do other people's jobs, Alex? When is a judge qualified to diagnosis psych needs?) So, Enquiring minds want to know, what medical treatment was this guy given? was he evaluated at the hospital and deemed "no longer a threat to himself or others" by real doctors? (if so, why the use of bond as a psych hold then? If not, why the heck not? (Was he seen by a psychiatrist while in custody or just "screened" and left to suffer the deep pain of depression and desperation in a padded cell) And, what is the jail and court's (unwritten)policy on responding to persons who are in acute mental distress? Is it legal to retain people in jail based on their mental status?
5. This whole story mix up was a huge scew up by the Enquirer. I emailed and phoned them as soon as the story broke and explained the unwritten (unconsitutional) policy of Hamilton County Courts and Jail to use court orders instead of medical orders to treat mental health emergencies. They said I was wrong - the court had already confirmed the bond was not due to mental health issues. Someone's fibbing.

To me - Judge Bernat was villified by Deters in exchange for a media opportunity.In the end, the GOP blames Portune for wanting to get to the bottom of it. I guess Portune's right, "I think he doth protest too much" The GOP and Enquirer don't want any of us to know what is really going on.

(By the way, why didn't Bernat just order a psych hold and evaluation? That would have been the appropriate legal response to a medical issue)

at 8:08 AM, April 05, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bailiff Daniel Deters? Enquiring Minds, but apparently not yours, would want to state whether or not Mr. Deters is related to the Hamilton County Prosecutor and if so how?

at 8:31 AM, April 05, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Mr. Portune familiar with the notion of an independant judiciary? If not, perhaps he needs a refresher course in Constitutional Law. It is absolutely essential to our system of justice that judges exercise their judgment free from the political pressure "boss" Todd seeks to place upon them. Do we really want our courts to be fearful of political repercussions when determinining an appropriate bond in rape, drug trafficking, weapon offenses, or domestic violence cases? Where will it end? Do we want Todd Portune reviewing decisions rendered by our courts in any matter? If so, why have a justice system at all? I am shocked that Mr. Portune, a lawyer, would even consider that he should insert himself (obviously for personal political gain) into the judicial process as a "thirteenth" juror.

at 9:38 AM, April 05, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

ALl this griping by Republicans. It was Joe Deters (yes, Daniel's brother) who first criticized this bond in the first place! They should quit worrying about Todd, when it was their fellow Republican who got the ball rolling on this PR-disaster for the courthouse.

at 11:46 AM, April 05, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it is true that the young man was mentally unstable, does that really justify an excessive bond? Since when do we detain people in JAIL because we make a judgment call that they are mentally ill? That argument seems ripe for an ADA complaint.

As for tax issues, it costs tax dollars to incarcerate someone because they were required to get excessive bonds.

at 12:40 AM, April 06, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good riddance to another right-wingut-job. http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080405/clsa013.html?.v=11

at 8:31 PM, April 06, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this correct ?? Portune is WRONG for highlighting the same issue DETERS questioned?? Excessive bond?

at 9:37 PM, April 06, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really cant believe the Rep. party is trying to defend this. There isnt an atty in the courthouse who, with a straight face, can say that the reason for the $1 million bond is because of the guy's mental health. Come on, admit this was the perfect storm, a stubborn judge and really, really bad facts. A $1 million dollar bond for a 18 year old theft case. Gimme a break, we all know judges do not set high bonds on mental health cases, they do the opposite. Si Leis does not want to manage their issues in the jail, and they usually get lower than normal bonds.

at 10:52 PM, April 07, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone want to argue with 9:37? Didn't think so.....

This is just more of the same old good-old-boys rallying around one of their own!
Vote them all out! Uhh, never-mind.... they decided we don't want no stinkin' elections?!?!

at 12:18 PM, April 08, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Todd picked the wrong grandstand.

at 9:54 PM, April 28, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

The primary purpose of bail is to secure the defendant's appearance in court. A secondary purpose is to protect the community. Gary Weaver failed to appear for 18 YEARS and was SUICIDAL! How much more explaining does a judge need to do for a county commisioner? None! As for the prosecutor, he had his chance, through his assistant prosecutor, to speak up in court. Si Leis also weighed in with his one track "build me a new jail" mentality.

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