Judge says criticism of low bond includes erroneous info

To the Editor,

I write in response to the letter from Patty Jones which appeared in this space on Nov.3, 2017. I fully accept criticism as a part of the office I hold, but in this instance I believe that it is so unfounded and unfair as to demand a response. First, the specific charges are felonious breaking or entering and felonious larceny. The property allegedly stolen was one rifle, one television and seven model cars. The defendant is reportedly a relative of the Jones family. North Carolina does not recognize “home invasion” as a crime by that name, but I believe most people would consider a home invasion to be much closer to the crime of burglary, perhaps first-degree burglary. Without diminishing the seriousness of the alleged offenses, I believe that using the term “home invasion,” especially highlighting it in the heading was an inflammatory mischaracterization.

Secondly, the bond was not set by me but by the magistrate at the initial appearance. The defendant’s first court appearance was before me. I made no change in the bond because neither the state nor the defendant requested a more substantive review or offered information upon which I could have made such a review. The defendant’s second court appearance happened to be before me also. After hearing from everyone who wished to be heard, I made some change in the bond, consistent with this district’s bond guidelines. According to the District Attorney’s Office, Mrs. Jones did not wish to be present.

In summary, I submit that the criticism in this instance is based upon incomplete, inaccurate and misleading information from one aspect of one case. That flawed information was used in this very public forum to criticize not only me, but our judges in general and our courts as a whole. Surely the letter writer and this newspaper must take responsibility to provide appropriate and accurate background and context in such a situation, so that you do not unnecessarily further erode public trust and confidence in an institution as vital as our courts.

Judge Judith M. Daniels