Today I attended the James MacArthur (Baltimore Spectator) hearing. MacArthur was not granted bail so he is still in jail. He has been in jail for two months. Fox 45 provides a brief summary of what happened here. Below is my summary of events:
This hearing was a bit different than the December hearing. In December the hearing started right at 8:30 while today the judge did not show up until 8:50. I showed up at 8:20 and I got to speak with Jill Carter and MacArthur’s new lawyer Mark Van Bavel. I also overheard other lawyers and court employees talking about various subjects. There was a lot of talk about how snow had slowed down their county to city commute. Some lawyers were talking about details from specific cases. I heard conversations about heroin, people getting shot, and bullet casings. Almost every person in the room had something purple on in honor of the Ravens.
Judge Howard was the judge of the day although as of yesterday he was not supposed to be the judge. Judge Howard had another female judge sitting next to him. I do not know why she was there. Judge Howard said the weather had made him late.
The MacArthur case was heard first at 8:57. The state recommended no change in bail status. The lawyers for the state presented MacArthur as a threat to the public. Jill Carter argued that MacArthur is no threat (I agree with this). Carter said MacArthur has no drug or alcohol history and his criminal history is made up of one disorderly conduct conviction. He has had a psychiatric evaluation and he is fine. The state said he was a threat to public safety because of the gun and ammunition that were found at MacArthur’s house and because of his Tweets about police on the night of the standoff. The state said the officers felt threatened and this is why they called in the SWAT team. Jill Carter pointed out that MacArthur is an avid Tweeter and that he has over 36,000 non-violent Tweets.
The judge really did not talk about if MacArthur is a threat or not. The judge felt that MacArthur was unlikely to appear for a trial. If a person is granted bail then a judge feels the person is not a threat to the public and will show up for the trial. The judge said “pre-trial detention is not a punishment.” I think many people in the courtroom disagreed with that.
The judge concluded by stating that based on the fact that MacArthur was not cooperative when police came to his house before the standoff that he is not likely to appear for his trial if he is granted bail. He feels that MacArthur is a flight risk and may “just Tweet” instead of showing up for the trial.
It would not be a MacArthur hearing without audience drama. Toward the end of the hearing an audience member stood up and the judge and a court employee yelled at him to sit down. I believe it was the same audience member who raised his hand after the hearing and got yelled at by the judge. The judge yelled “this is not Judge Judy” and that “if you want to demonstrate do it outside the courtroom.”
MacArthur acknowledged his supporters, but did not say anything. He was calm, but he did not seem happy with the outcome of the hearing.