Scofflaws “treating not appearing in court like they have ignored a dinner reservation or blown off a hair appointment,” and judges let them
By Guy Page
Until judges stop issuing summons and low bail to people who repeatedly fail to appear for scheduled court appearances, Grand Isle County prosecutor Doug DiSabito will dismiss cases of ‘failure to appear’ offenders, he said yesterday.
“I don’t have time for this ‘catch and release’ procedure that only serves to encourage future non-appearances,” DiSabito said in a statement issued yesterday.
State law says court appearances should be treated as of ‘paramount importance,’ DiSabito said. But he maintains that “failures to appear are not being treated seriously by the courts and it is significantly contributing to the well-publicized backlog in the judiciary. The backlog is not because of State’s Attorneys’ not making efforts to keep the wheels of justice moving.”
Wednesday, State’s Attorney DiSabito said he dismissed a DLS (driving with license suspended) #2 case. Here’s why:
• The defendant is 43 years old.
• He has been charged with offenses in Vermont, Florida, Massachusetts, and New York.
• In 2005 he was convicted in the United States District Court of Vermont (Federal) for Possession of a Weapon and sentenced to 78 months of imprisonment with five years of supervised release.
• The defendant has 8 misdemeanor convictions in Vermont.
• As of August 6, 2021 the defendant had failed to appear three times for court proceedings in Vermont
• He has a pending DUI #3-Drug or both and DLS #1 in Addison County. In that case, two arrest warrants have been issued.
• On 02/28/2023 he was issued tickets by the Rutland City Police Department for violations.
On August 2, 2021, the Grand Isle County State’s Attorney charged this defendant with DLS #2, which carries a penalty of imprisonment of not more than two years or fined not more than $5,000.00 or both, and a mandatory minimum fine of $750.00 or complete 80 hours of community service.
• On August 12, 2021, though properly cited by law enforcement, the defendant failed to appear. Vermont Superior Court Judge Robert Mello ordered a Judicial Summons to issue.
• On July 7, 2022, the defendant failed to appear, and Vermont Superior Court Judge David Barra ordered an Arrest Warrant to issue and set bail at $200.
• On December 16, 2022, the defendant yet again failed to appear, and Vermont Superior Court Judge Hoar ordered an Arrest Warrant to issue and set bail at $200.
• On or about March 1, 2023, the defendant was arrested, and a hearing was held in Addison County. State’s Attorney DiSabito appeared via WebEx and noted to the Court that the defendant has failed to appear three times and asked that the $200 bail (the same amount issued prior by two separate Vermont Superior Court Judges) be maintained to ensure the defendant’s appearance. Vermont Superior Court Judge David Fenster declined to do so. As a result, the state’s attorney dismissed the case.
“Think about all the state resources that are expended to prosecute these individuals who are treating not appearing in court like they have ignored a dinner reservation or blown off a hair appointment,” DiSabito said. “There is a Judge. A court reporter. A court officer. A public defender. And a prosecutor.”
“Frankly, I don’t have time for this ‘catch and release’ procedure that only serves to encourage future non-appearances,” he said. “If appearing in court is no longer deemed of paramount importance, then the Vermont Supreme Court needs to send that message to the lower court. Until then, I submit that is the law. This is the third case I have dismissed in the last month for similar reasons.”
Make no mistake, the reason crime is on the rise here is because there is no law and order. The criminals know it. Thank you Attorney Generals Donovan and Clark, the Vermont Legislature, the Vermont Judiciary, et.al. They created and condone the criminal free-for-all on taxpayer dimes. Some actively participate in it at various levels. They don’t care, they will not fix it because they are personally profiting from it.
Seems like a reasonable response from DiSabito, I am sure the criminals will be happy with it too! They are one half of the part that is supposed to treat the court appearance with ‘paramount importance’
I understand what you’re saying but rewarding the no-shows is not the answer
Way to go Mr. DiSabito! Thank you, Guy, for this article!