Judge Goes Berserk After Criminal Defendant’s Attorney Reference Unarmed Black Shootings by Police

| January 9, 2015 | 0 Comments


A Broward County judge goes off on a public defender for suggesting the suspect was in fear of his life because of the killing of African-American men all over the country. Judge John “Jay” Hurley told Dale Miller, the public defender not to “poison” this case with race relations, stating that the man was responsible for his behavior. Claiming that 26-year-old Stephen Hall Clarke, who was found under a dock and wearing an empty gun holster and shooting at the police, should be punished for his crime.

“Your honor, in light of what’s happening in this country with unarmed black men being killed by police, him running from shots being fired is a very reasonable response,” Dale Miller.

“That is so off base.” Hurley responded.

“Don’t hand me this, ‘running from police brutality [argument],'” he said. “That is not appropriate in this case. I’m not going to let you poison this case with bringing in something that has nothing to do with it.”

According to police, an undercover sergeant noticed a black Dodge Avenger driving slowly with the lights off picked up two men in the Harbor Beach neighborhood in Florida. As soon as the officer pulled up behind the car, his windshield was shattered and a bullet grazed his head at about 1:40 am on Monday. After the shooting, the Fort Lauderdale police pursued the four suspects and finally after an intense search involving a helicopter and police dogs, Clarke and three other men were arrested.

“We’ve got a young man, I don’t care what color he is, he’s in a neighborhood he doesn’t live in at 1:41 in the morning, hiding under somebody’s dock in the water with a holster on after a police officer had a shot taken at him. Don’t hand me this, ‘running from police brutality argument, ‘” he said. “That is not appropriate in this case. I’m not going to let you poison this case with bringing in something that has nothing to do with it.” Judge Hurley screams at Miller.

The discussion between Hurley and Mille happened Wednesday morning at the first-appearance court hearing for the four men, who will face burglary and other charges. After telling the public defender not to link police brutality to this case, the judge took a brief recess and returned 90-minutes later to apologize for his outburst.

I just want to apologize. I got a little worked up there but I just want to be clear that we stick to the facts of the case and we don’t go off on tangents.”

Dale Miller accepted his apology by saying, “I have a way of drawing that out of people, your honor.”

Stephen Hall Clarke will be facing charges of armed burglary, conspiracy, and resisting arrest. On Wednesday, his bond was set at $203,500 but his bond was reduced on Thursday to $25,000. The other three suspects were Torrence Lavelle Wilkins Jr, 24; Donnie Gary Heath Jr, 20; and Casicus Terrell Wesley II, 20.

That is probably not the best defense to raise when you are trying to get your client a bond.

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