18 January, 2008

Grodner and the Marine: Justice

Over at Blackfive, someone who attended the hearing updated the story:

The case was called at 13:33, and the Defendant [Grodner] did not show up. There were 2 heavy hitter State's Attorneys here to handle it. The Judge increased his bond to $20,000.00 or 10 percent cash, and put out a warrant for his arrest.

You may recall that at the first hearing, Grodner did not appear on time and a warrant was issued, but not "activated." After someone was observed calling him, he appeared in court a few minutes later. Now, back to today:

The Defendant called at 13:40 to say that he will be a half an hour late and was waiting for the media to leave. The Judge said in open court that if he does show up he will be taken into custody, and if he doesn't he is fair game for any law enforcement agency that wants to pick him up.

...At 1400 hours the defendant showed up, and was told that he was half an hour late. The Judge stated on the record that the defendant had done the same thing during the previous court date, and he said that the defendant called and said that wanted to wait for the media to leave. The Judge said "That is not the way I run my courtroom." He increased the bail and took him into custody and told him to try and work out a deal with the State. About 25-35 marines and assorted military were there.

The case was recalled at 14:22, and the State said that the defendant had asked for permission to put his belt and such back on. The Judge said, "Treat him like all the other prisoners" [between this and the response to the tardiness/press issues, it seems there are no professional courtesies being extended. Cool, 'cause in this case he's a defender, not a lawyer]. The defendant was brought out and the plea deal that they had worked out was entered into the record.

The Judge asked him if he had committed the specific acts he was accused of. The defendant hemmed and hawed, and the Judge raised his voice to make him say yes or no. The defendant agreed, and the Judge read the facts into the record. Several times, the Judge said if there were no deal, he would be given a court date just like any other defendant, and he could try and make bail soon.

The deal: 1 year Social Service Supervision, restitution of 600 dollars to be paid to Social Services and which would go to the Injured Marine Semper Fi fund, to be paid by February 25th, 2008, and $50/month in supervision fees.

The Judge then, in as angry a voice as I have ever heard him use, scolded the defendant, saying that the Marine license plates the complaining witness had were not vanity plates or about ego, but the proceeds go toward the Marine and Navy scholarship fund for the children of fallen soldiers, sailors and marines. These Marines protect his very existence "so people like you can enjoy their freedom." He further said that the reason there were so many in the courtroom and so much public interest is that the Marines have a tradition since 1775 that "No Marine gets left behind." Several Hoorahs in the courtroom.

And then the deal was done, and he was taken away by the sheriffs to be released later.

Grodner made anti-military and anti-Marine remarks when he keyed McNulty's car, so it's interesting to note that the judge treated this very much as a hate crime--ordering restitution be paid not to McNulty himself, but to an organization that supports "people like him."

Other commenters offer their expertise in deciphering the events:
I wonder what arrangements were part of the plea deal.
It may be Grodner has made restitution for the cost of the repairs voluntarily, and the $600 restitution is a kind of "punitive damages" without resort to a civil trial.

That matter in civil court would now be res adjudicata and McNulty would an automatic win for the cost of repairs and possibly additional damages to punish the malicious act.

...It's a plea deal. Judge only accepts it or denies it.

And again, The Marine could still sue for slander. I don't think he would, but he COULD...

And if he were to sue for the cost of repairs, he could simply use Small Claims Court with out a lawyer - since the guy plead guilty would be an automatic win, and Small claims does not require an attorney.

All in all, a very good day.

UPDATE: Commenter "MO" at Blackfive says it perfectly:
Cost to repair the car - $2400
Fine paid to Semper Fi - $600
Cost of Supervision - $600

Having this go before Former Marine Lance Corporal and Current Circuit Court Judge William O’Malley and having him spank his ass like a spoiled little child....