Friday, December 19, 2008

Wild Man Wiley on Berrien County Bench

Rev. Pinkney's Bond Hearing, Thursday Dec. 18

The hearing was to set bond and allow for Rev. Pinkney's release as he appeals a 3-10 year prison sentence for violating his probation for writing an article which was published in the Peoples Tribune.

Obviously furious and out of control emotionally, Judge Dennis Wiley was like a crazy man with hair standing up. Literally. For people who had traveled from afar, it was a rude shock to hear Judge W announce that the 10am hearing was being postponed until 3pm.

This judge, true to reputation, was anything but objective, and openly displayed a lot of anger. The ACLU's win in court, resulting in the release of Pinkney, is the last thing Berrien County power players want. Judge W didn't want to hear the case, said he didn't have time for rebuttal, and tried to persuade prosecutor Vigansky who he seemed at odds with to postpone the hearing. He eventually decided to hear the case. Vigansky appeared to care about how he conducted himself, Wiley did not and behaved like a drunken sailor. He threw two people out of the courtroom for slight chuckles, shouting to "get out!"

Rev. Pinkney, appearing on closed circuit TV from Jackson prison, was represented by two ACLU attorneys, both present in the courtroom. It was obvious from their astonished expressions that they may never have been subjected to this type of "legal proceeding" in their careers. Berrien County refused to bring Pinkney to the courtroom citing bad weather.

Judge W granted Pinkney a ten-thousand dollar cash surety bond -- more than had been sought by either Pinkney or the prosecutor. "I could have set $150,000.00!," threatened Judge W.

Despite last week's one and only order by the Court of Appeals for Judge W to set the bail amount, he set a long list of (outrageous) conditions to Pinkney's bond release:

no cell phone, no pager, no speaking engagements, no preaching in church, may engage in no defamatory or harassing behavior - including through the use of print or electronic media, no election activity, must wear a GPS tether and be under 24-hour curfew, may not go near Judge Butzbaugh, may not use a credit card ("you may as well cut up your credit card"). Also, Pinkney must keep away from the Berrien County Courthouse until his day in court on the appeal. Pinkney is known for his court observer activism. Attorney Michael Steinberg said the restrictions are excessive, and some are unconstitutional.

Get the feeling they are just a little afraid of this reverend?

From WSJM: Pinkney Granted Bond With Strict Conditions