Court Watching in Atlanta Scores a Victory — and Kudos to Judge Wendy Shoob

From Marcia Killingsworth’s always informative blog, Intown Writer, this story of keeping career criminal Andre Grier off the streets.  For now, at least:

[R]ecently, CourtWatch Coordinator Janet Martin and one of our community prosecutors Assistant District Attorney Kimani King alerted us to State of Georgia vs. Andre Grier 09SC77314, a case coming before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wendy L. Shoob.

This was a bad guy, but we knew that wasn’t enough to ensure that he wouldn’t be put back out in our neighborhoods. According to the information we got from the DA, Andre Grier’s record includes 27 arrests with at least three felony convictions. He was also convicted of entering auto and he has at least two drug convictions. At the time the latest incident occurred – a car break-in – he was out on bond on robbery charges that were later upgraded to armed robbery.

Grier was in court to ask to be released on bond. And not just any bond, a signature bond, which – as I understood it – he just signs his name, puts up no money and swears to be good if they let him out.  Additionally, although he had two other bonds on pending charges which he had committed while he was out on bond, he was asking to have this third bond lowered.

Really, who could make this up?

Here is what happens when the curtain gets pulled back on the criminal courts.  One might ask: why would Andre Grier assume he could be released on a signature bond when he had two other bonds pending for crimes he had committed the last two times somebody had let him walk, once on a serious, violent gun crime?

Because the last two times he appeared before a judge in Fulton County, that judge did let him walk.  And out of 27 arrests, he was convicted only three times.  What happened to the other 24 crimes?

If you are Andre Grier, out there committing crimes, 9 times out of ten when you get arrested, there are no consequences.  Not bad odds, especially considering that the police cannot possibly have caught you every single time you commited a crime.

But this time, Andre Grier’s assumptions about the justice system did not pan out:

So Andre Grier was brought before Judge Shoob (whose name every CourtWatcher and their neighborhoods will remember when judicial elections come up).  Judge Shoob was discerning enough to note Grier’s record. In doing so, she outlined to the defendant and his lawyer – in an Are-you-sure-this-is-what-you’re-asking? tone – that he had been arrested in January, and while he was out on bond for that one, he committed the crime he was there for today… and that these two most recent crimes were while he was out on bond for yet another pending case – the armed robbery – and that in essence, he was asking to be let out a third time – well, third time’s the charm, right? – even though he had violated the terms of his previous releases.

I’m thrilled to see this.  But what does it say about the Fulton Superior Court that such vigilance is noteworthy?  Who let Grier walk free after he pulled a gun on an innocent victim a few months ago?  Why is it that anybody who has been arrested for armed robbery gets released from jail while charges are pending?  Marcia continues:

Judge Shoob observed to Grier that it appeared that every time he was released on bail, he went back to the same neighborhood and committed the same kinds of crimes, and yet he expected to be released again as he had been before.

But I guess Grier got “third time’s the charm” mixed up with “three strikes and you’re out.”

Judge Shoob didn’t.

She told him that he was not getting out of jail today or tomorrow or anytime soon. In fact, she said, with the armed robbery on top of his other convictions, he was looking at a mandatory 10 years to life sentence. So, she said, Mr. Grier, you are not going anywhere for a long, long time. No bond. Back to jail. Period.

That’s a good outcome.  Hopefully, as more people become involved in CourtWatch, there will be fewer outcomes like the one Andre Grier was expecting.


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