There is a disturbing story out of Folcroft, Pennsylvania where Senior Magisterial District Judge Horace Z. Davis refused a prosecutor’s repeated request for a continuance in a drug case because of the death of “Umberto,” the K9 partner of Folcroft police Cpl. Christopher Eiserman. Eiserman was mourning the loss of his companion (who had hip dysplasia and arthritis) but Davis ruled that it was no basis for a continuance.
Davis threw out the case. Strangely, in a later call on a case, the issue was raised again but an officer reportedly objected to the court that this dog was Eiserman’s partner for 12 years. In that case, Davis granted a two-week continuance. That leaves me a tad confused.
Most judges (and most defense lawyers) would view the death of a family member to be a valid reason for a continuance. Not only are dogs like Umberto partners of officers, they are often kept in the homes of officers as part of their families. I fail to see what such a loss would not be a valid basis for a continuance. However, one officer said that when he later confronted Davis, the judge said that police could always “rearrest” the defendant.
Davis is retired and currently serving as a Senior Magisterial District Judge by special appointment. He has stated in interviews that “[w]hen I first started in the judicial system it was a time of turmoil, and the Chester courts were not operated the way that I thought that they should . . . A wrong decision can mess up a life. That’s what I attempted to do, to make things right, and to bring professionalism and dignity to the district court system.” While I understand the need to keep to a schedule (particularly when a criminal defendant is facing incarceration), I do not believe that such rulings bring “dignity” to the courts.
Source: Delco Times
Kudos: Michael Blott