Incompetence is often highly rewarded in governmental circles. – William Wallace
Just when you thought Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser and the 16th Circuit judiciary couldn’t screw up the prospect of bond reform any more than they already have, they do just that. Trust me, it takes real skill and a concerted effort to descend into these depths of incompetence.
And they managed to top themselves with the full understanding that The First Ward had already covered this issue and would be following the Reginald B. Terry case with great interest. So much for efficacy of my watchdog role.
To re-cover some ground, Terry was already facing two LaSalle County felony sexual assault counts when he appeared before Divya Sarang to have his bond set in regard to six more felony sexual assault charges for allegedly raping an Elburn woman at a party.
Having failed to do his or her homework, the assistant state’s attorney (ASA) involved was “unaware” of the LaSalle charges and thus, failed to inform the judge of their existence. Since that column, I’ve learned that those LaSalle counts were, indeed, included in the case paperwork and the ASA simply couldn’t be bothered to read all of it.
But that doesn’t absolve Judge Sarang of setting Terry free on his own recognizance – with no GPS monitoring – when any other felony judge would’ve set his bond at between $150,000 to $200,000. That’s the kind of thing a judge does when a defendant is looking at 24 to 90 years in prison on the local charges alone.
Finally recognizing her office’s absurd mistake, State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser filed a motion to increase Terry’s bond, but it wasn’t an emergency motion because she didn’t want to highlight her error and face the consequences. Remember, Mosser doesn’t hold anyone in her office, much less herself, accountable for anything.
So, not only did Mosser fail to file the requisite emergency motion, but her ASA scheduled that hearing for April 22 despite being well aware that Friday’s are a felony court Zoom day so Terry would not be required to appear in person.
I’m sure you’ve already surmised the end of our story, but let’s cover the fascinating details anyway.
Terry, who actually has demonstrated a propensity to show up for court hearings, dutifully appeared before presiding felony court Judge John Barsanti Friday morning. But instead of applying his extensive experience as a former state’s attorney and twelve years on the bench, Barsanti inexplicably raised Terry’s bond to $300,000 REMOTELY. Then he told him to show up in courtroom 319 at 1:30 p.m. to be taken into custody.
I’ll pause here for a minute so you can wrap your mind around that possibility.
With Terry staring down 30 to 107 years in prison, any felony judge with half a brain would’ve continued the hearing to a date where he would have to appear in person. It doesn’t take a MENSA member to understand the obvious implications of failing to do so
All I can say is, were I the recipient of Mr. Terry’s amazing good fortune, the first thing I’d do is buy a Powerball ticket. And he’s free to do so because, as I predicted on my Thursday morning WRMN spot, Terry took advantage of Barsanti’s largesse by forcing law enforcement to find him.
C’mon! Why wouldn’t he run? He’s already facing 107 years, so what are they gonna do? Add 100 more?
While there’s absolutely no excuse for this monumental f**k up on the part of Jamie Mosser, if I had to choose between assigning the bulk of the blame to a in-way-over-her-head two-year State’s Attorney or a 43-year prosecutor turned judge, it’s no contest.
I’ve watched Barsanti work on more than once occasion and I’m convinced what most might perceive to be arrogance is actually a serious case of ADHD. He never looks directly at defendants, his eyes are all over the courtroom, he obsessively watches the clock, and he’s constantly shifting in his chair, all of which are clear indications of my theory.
He’s also become quite hard of hearing but refuses to wear a hearing aid which means the folks in his courtroom have to virtually shout to be heard.
My suggestion would be that Judge to either get a handle on both issues or step down because providing an alleged eight-count felon with every opportunity to evade custody makes him worse than Sarang because he’s smart enough to know better.
It doesn’t reflect well on the Kane County judiciary, either.
If this is the kind of rampant judicial center incompetence that can occur when a journalist is watching, it truly makes me wonder what they’re willing to do when they think no one’s watching. Perhaps it’s time for me to start showing up courtrooms again, though after this story, I’m not sure that increased vigilance would make any difference.
As for Ms. Mosser, we only have to endure her for two more years.
What really frosts my flakes is if we peasants dared to commit these kinds of egregious errors in a court of law, the judge would have our hides. And while we can certainly vote Mosser out, there is virtually no recourse to remove an incompetent judge so Sarang and Barsanti will face no consequence for these incomprehensible lapses.
There are jobs where you can’t afford to make a mistake. A pilot never gets the chance to say, “I didn’t mean to hit that mountainside.” A heart surgeon can’t throw up her hands and exclaim, “I didn’t meant to nick that artery.” A journalist should never say, “You mean I can’t accuse someone of pedophilia without proof?”
And judges are right up there with pilots and surgeons, particularly the bond call variety. I understand bond call isn’t easy and it will never be perfect, but with the new rules it’s about to get more difficult and we pay circuit judges $200,000 a year to get it right. If they can’t figure it out, there’s a long line of attorneys waiting to take their places.
You’ve heard me say that the best way for a public figure to insult me is to act as if I’m not watching. But this scenario goes way beyond me. The fact that this could happen while I was watching should truly terrify you.
For now, Reginald Terry is a free man, and as it is with most sex offenders, he will proceed to ruin women’s lives until he’s apprehended. I’m thinkin’ Terry should send Sarang and Barsanti engraved thankyou notes.
I don’t know about you, but I am not looking forward to bond reform. What could possibly go wrong?