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
28 thoughts on “Pennsylvania Officer Seeks Continuance Based on Death Of His K9 Partner . . . Judge Declares Reason To Be Invalid And Dismisses Drug Case”
I would like to know the history of the officer also while we are getting the history of the judge as Jason would like
Pets are not children, you can’t not do your job over the lost of your pet. This isn’t a fast food restaurant – this is the justice system. I applaud the judge for moving on and I think with the events in delaware county over this past weekend it seems the DA’s office has a lot on it’s plate and I would think murder would trump this case.
The major overarching issue is that the Judge did not display any mercy or compassion towards the grieving officer and both sides had agreed to a continuance. Double jeopardy does not apply here, and the dismissal was without prejudice. The Judge even said to re-arrest if they wanted to…which would start the ordeal all over again for the Defendant. How does that in any way make the ruling in line with justice or honoring the defendant’s right to a speedy trial? The state will likely re-charge and drag this on as long as they can now…
I agree with Darren about K-9 dogs and police culture. This should be treated as if the cop had his child die the night before. Dogs are put on Earth to give guidance and support to humans. We need to respect dogs and respect humans who care for them and bond with them.
…and still, no one is actually reading the article.
However, the death of a witness’ pet-no matter how loved-would not be good cause for a continuance over one party’s objection. We all want our witnesses to be in top shape, but the reality is that we normally have a limited ability to accommodate them.
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