No pants? Excuse me? This is outrageous!
July 30, 2016 6:53 PM   Subscribe

On July 30, 2016, a Louisville woman was brought into a courtroom without pants It turns out the woman was held for five days in jail for a single shoplifting charge, and denied pants or feminine hygiene products for the entire duration. The video shows the judges reaction, and her following actions to help the woman.
posted by greenhornet (50 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
 
From Jezebel: the recommended sentence was 75 days, which seems crazy to me.
posted by Harpocrates at 7:20 PM on July 30, 2016 [12 favorites]


I was recently at a sentencing hearing, and the judge there was similarly incredible, thoughtful, and very concerned about the defendant's well being. We have a lot of people who truly care.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:22 PM on July 30, 2016 [11 favorites]


The humanity, and humaneness, of this judge really shines through and it's reassuring in a general way about the state of the world. I hope she gets reelected.

P.S. The video is clearly timestamped July 29, 2016
posted by dis_integration at 7:22 PM on July 30, 2016 [20 favorites]


She's awesome - yay her! The Judge's profile - looks like she's got a few years left in her term as well.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 7:27 PM on July 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


Why do I feel like this isn't the first time someone has appeared pantslessly in Kentucky court?

There's something very Cecily Strong about that judge.
posted by guiseroom at 7:33 PM on July 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


I would have loved a live feed of what the judge was thinking. She seemed to be holding back so much even with how outraged she was. I thought for a moment she was going to tell the woman to sue.
posted by robotmachine at 7:34 PM on July 30, 2016 [18 favorites]


“Again, I want to extend my deepest apologies to you for the way that you’ve been treated while you’ve been in our jail,” said Wolf. She then follows with,”This is not normal… It is not normal at all – and I’ve never seen it happen….” – but before she could finish, the defendant informed her that there are many other women in the jail that do not have pants as well.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:37 PM on July 30, 2016 [42 favorites]


What did the judge think better of at 11:25? She really wanted the defendant to do something, but took about 30 seconds to hold her tongue.
posted by klarck at 7:37 PM on July 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


She was quite probably wrestling with whether or not to advise the defendant to sue or take some other legal action.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:38 PM on July 30, 2016 [22 favorites]


For those who are interested, a number of people who have seen the video in the past day have been posting messages on Judge Wolf's Facebook page. Rather than starting a new post, they all seem to be comments posted on her November 2014, "thank you" page after her win.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 7:42 PM on July 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Why do I feel like this isn't the first time someone has appeared pantslessly in Kentucky court?

It's very possible! The jails in Louisville are wayyyyy overcrowded, and the cops/admin that run them know that, generally, no one in the larger community gives a shit about the prisoners.

So jail administration doesn't really run much risk if - instead of handing out menstrual pads and tampons to people on their periods - they instead tell the prisoners to just use wadded up clots of toilet paper to stop up their periods. And if those makeshift wads don't work, the cops can just shrug and refuse to issue pants to prisoners, because cleaning bloodstains out of pants is at the very least a pain in the ass and, depending on how long the stain's been sitting there, quite possibly undoable. Who would want to ruin a good pair of the jailhouse's pants, is the thinking.

All this rests on the very correct assumption the cops and jail administrators have about public perception of prisoners: defendants are probably already guilty lowlifes, and they're therefore pretty unsympathetic to the general public, who don't spend much time checking in to make sure prisoners are being held in humane conditions.

Because: why would we spend our time constantly checking on that? That's not our job. That's the jailers' jobs. And they're probably doing them? They're probably not withholding tampons from prisoners? And then probably not withholding pants so the pants don't get stained? That's such a banal prosaic reason for stripping a woman of her dignity before parading her around a courtroom. The justice system wouldn't do that, right? That would be just fucking crazy.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:49 PM on July 30, 2016 [96 favorites]


The hygiene products is also an issue for transgender men.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:52 PM on July 30, 2016 [12 favorites]


Seeing that soft-spoken woman without pants in the courtroom made me feel so deeply sad for her but also for racism, sexism, and the horrible abusive jail system in our country.

It does give me some hope that this honest and compassionate judge stood up for her. But really, that should be the norm.
posted by bearette at 8:04 PM on July 30, 2016 [16 favorites]


Can the woman involved afford her $100 fine? I applaud the judge, but, if this is going to go viral, I for one would like to make sure she actually isn't pulled back into the system.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 8:24 PM on July 30, 2016 [12 favorites]


From the Jezebel comments about diversion programs:

My course was 10 hrs, split up into 6 different visits @ $40/visit, and a total of $260 for the entire course. And I was lucky to have been able to use the company that was running it.

Others were 10 classes, 1 hr each @ $50/class.

All of the classes have to be taken in succession, there’s no breaking them up to fit your schedule, and missing more than 1, forced you to start over from the beginning - AND you still had to pay for the remaining classes from your previous enrollment, but also the new ones as well.

posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:29 PM on July 30, 2016 [45 favorites]


The judge credit time served the fine.
posted by h00py at 8:32 PM on July 30, 2016 [9 favorites]


That's infuriating, r317.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:46 PM on July 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Something here just isn't adding up. We're getting a video of a very compassionate judge, but I wish the WDRB reporters had provided a wee bit more information.

Is this typical for this jail? Does Judge Wolf see this as a repeating pattern? Does she have a good enough relationship with the defense attorney to believe the claims of mistreatment before even making the phone call?

Blugh. I fear this kind of thing is not at all an isolated case, but I'm no expert.
posted by phenylphenol at 9:15 PM on July 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


I wanted the judge to call up whoever was in charge in the jail, make them come over, and hand over their pants to the defendant.
posted by edheil at 9:16 PM on July 30, 2016 [24 favorites]


Really happy to see Judge Wolf has a DPA (that's the Kentucky Public Defender) background, although I guess she spent some time in the Jefferson Co. prosecutor's office too. Too many KY judges, and really all judges across the nation, go straight from college debate team/young Republicans, to county prosecutor, to hand picked "elected" judge, and from there become extensions of the prosecutor's office.

I have several friends in DPA in several different KY counties. The one I spoke to about this earlier today wasn't all that surprised about the situation, and didn't know the judge here. But I've heard enough pro-prosecution horror stories to surmise not all KY judges would've responded the same about the 75days, much less the lack of pants.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:24 PM on July 30, 2016 [17 favorites]


This source claims that a corrections officer confirmed that those who are arrested are kept in the clothes they're arrested in, for up to 72 hours. It also claims that a corrections officer in the court confirmed that she was dressed such that she SHOULD have been given some pants.

Apparently the corrections officers responsible for her being without pants claim she had athletic shorts on under the shirt.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:26 PM on July 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


I feel ridiculously bad for this defendant.

I also think it's really important for people to see this sort of thing, and to understand that this is what the justice system actually looks like. It's not Sam Waterston making impassioned pleas to a jury in a beautiful wood-paneled courtroom. It's an overworked judge sitting behind a paperwork covered desk in a poorly painted, fluorescent-lit room, a defendant with no pants, and barely anyone else even in the room.

My first year criminal law professor required that everyone in our class attend at least two different court sessions, and whatever pretensions we might have had about what the practice of law looked like were shattered by 3 hours in bail court.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:30 PM on July 30, 2016 [112 favorites]


The length of the holding and recommended sentence was the crazy thing to me.
posted by bongo_x at 11:12 PM on July 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


If you get busted by the Feds, you actually do get the beautiful wood-paneled courtroom.
posted by ryanrs at 3:56 AM on July 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


I also think it's really important for people to see this sort of thing, and to understand that this is what the justice system actually looks like. It's not Sam Waterston making impassioned pleas to a jury in a beautiful wood-paneled courtroom. It's an overworked judge sitting behind a paperwork covered desk in a poorly painted, fluorescent-lit room, a defendant with no pants, and barely anyone else even in the room.

My first year criminal law professor required that everyone in our class attend at least two different court sessions, and whatever pretensions we might have had about what the practice of law looked like were shattered by 3 hours in bail court.


It's ten years old, but Courtroom 302 is a book that follows a single Cook County (Chicago) courtroom for a year, and gets that point across unforgettably.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:03 AM on July 31, 2016 [10 favorites]


I am a PD in that courthouse, and the PD in the video is my colleague. I do not have the liberty to speak freely about this incident, but I can explain the sentence/procedural posture of the 75 days.

The woman in the video was arrested back in 2014. She pleaded guilty, probably pro se, and definitely not with the representation of the PD seen in this video. The case was passed for separate sentencing. That means, if she completed diversion (which consists of paying fines and doing volunteer work, determined by the amount of merchandise shoplifted), her guilty plea would be set aside and her case dismissed; if not, the court could impose a sentence anywhere from 0 days to 365 days in jail. There may have even been an agreed-to punishment of 75 days if she failed to comply; it's hard to tell.

She failed to complete the diversion program, and missed court several times. A warrant was issued for her arrest. She was arrested in Lexington, Kentucky, and transported to Louisville.

At that time, the PD had very little leverage because the client had already waived all of her rights and pleaded guilty, and may have even already agreed to a 75 day sentence. The prosecutors recommended a sentence of 75 days, broken down as follows: 5 days to serve, credit time served; 70 days suspended on unsupervised probation on the condition of no new offenses. The defendant likely took the deal to get out of jail, and because as a first time offender, her likelihood of getting in more trouble and actually having the 70 days imposed later on is slim. So, to be clear, while 75 days for a first time shoplifting is a high and ridiculous sentence, they were never talking about 75 days in jail.
posted by likeatoaster at 6:04 AM on July 31, 2016 [75 favorites]


they were never talking about 75 days in jail

That's not what the judge seemed to think....I suppose the sentencing recommendation could have been prepared by a moron. The audio was inaudible for a while, so maybe someone filled her in. Given she's worked as a PD (and an ADA?) you'd think this would be familiar.

She failed to complete the diversion program....

This program, if it actually works as described upthread (in the comments quoted from Jezebel), sounds like it's set up to generate failures and forfeitures of program fees.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:29 AM on July 31, 2016 [22 favorites]


Even if the diversion program was "paying fines and doing community service," the system is not set up to help people do that. What if she didn't have transportation? What if she she works during the hours of her community service? What if she never made it to court because 9:30 in the morning is when most people are at their jobs?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:35 AM on July 31, 2016 [8 favorites]


The judge knew what she was doing, and understood the sentence, but just didn't explain it to a lay person, because most of the time lay people do not watch this type of court proceeding. I don't think she needed "filling in" at all, and I find that suggestion a bit insulting.

Also, I just explained how this particular diversion program works in this specific jurisdiction we are talking about. A fine, followed by a number of volunteer hours determined by the amount of merchandise stolen. But please carry on deciding to believe a random journalist on Jezebel talking about her experience in a different diversion program somewhere else in the country.
posted by likeatoaster at 6:36 AM on July 31, 2016 [39 favorites]


The judge knew what she was doing, and understood the sentence, but just didn't explain it to a lay person, because most of the time lay people do not watch this type of court proceeding.

I'm not a layperson.

I don't think she needed "filling in" at all, and I find that suggestion a bit insulting.

Really? The judges where you are must be magical, as that's a regular occurrence around here.

The audio wasn't perfect but one clearly hears her saying the 75 days is out of the box for the case. That doesn't square with what you said, and crediting both I was thinking perhaps whatever the judge was seeing on her screen and in the small sheaf of papers she was handed had omitted any such stipulation.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:42 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


likeatoaster, I appreciate the personal perspective, not sure it deserves to be responded to with such hostility.
posted by Think_Long at 7:05 AM on July 31, 2016 [7 favorites]


But please carry on deciding to believe a random journalist on Jezebel talking about her experience in a different diversion program somewhere else in the country.

There was a potentially interesting conversational branch developing regarding the way diversion programs work generally, thus the 'if.' But, I probably should have elaborated. Looking at it now, it just as easily reads the other way.

I'm not trying to ruffle your feathers. The defendant in the video was released, so hopefully it's OK to generalize some aspects of the conversation a little. Otherwise there's not going to be that much to say....

likeatoaster, I appreciate the personal perspective, not sure it deserves to be responded to with such hostility.

I appreciate it too. I don't feel I'm being hostile -- if anything I'm the one who was personally attacked, however mildly.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:09 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


The judge was only elected two years ago. I don't know how soon she will face voters again but l will bet she loses her position over this. An article about her election mentioned the reelection of another judge who insulted defendants and denied them public defenders. http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/politics/elections/kentucky/2014/11/04/new-faces-jefferson-county-judicial-benches/18497355/
posted by notmtwain at 9:22 AM on July 31, 2016


Also, I just explained how this particular diversion program works in this specific jurisdiction we are talking about. A fine, followed by a number of volunteer hours ...

But that doesn't really explain how it works. What happens if the person's paying job is at the same time as some or all of their required volunteer shifts? What happens if they miss a shift or two shifts - do they have to start all over again? What happens if they miss payments for these shifts? Like that.
posted by rtha at 9:23 AM on July 31, 2016 [7 favorites]


She's not up for election again until 2019, no one will remember this one case in 3 years.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:25 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


I appreciate it too. I don't feel I'm being hostile

You are. You are doing that lawyer thing where you can't tolerate someone assuming that you don't know something without getting snarky and competitive (even if they are right). likeatoaster called you a lay person, which is not actually an insult.

You tried to zing her about the diversion program, not out of care for defendants (she works as a PD, remember?) but in the hope that it would make you look smarter and/or more outraged than her. Or maybe you literally thought you knew more than a local PD about their diversion program.

Either way, there comes a point when you just say "I was wrong, thank you for correcting me" instead of acting like the truth is a personal attack.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:43 AM on July 31, 2016 [11 favorites]


You aren't really in a position to tell me what my intentions are in saying something, are you?

I am not trying to be right about the particulars of the local diversion program. The point I was getting at was akin to rtha's. I'll happily repeat that I didn't make it very well.

What I'm defensive about here is the idea that I'm being insulting in suggesting a judge might not have all the facts at hand. That is directly counter to my experience, and it sure looks like the court's clerk or courtroom attendant or someone comes up to the bench for a quick conference that isn't audible.

At the same time, I know likeatoaster may not be able to say more, so maybe it's better to talk about it in a more general context.

In short, please don't accuse me of bad faith. I have nothing but admiration for PDs and I simply didn't like the implication that I was being insulting. I don't care about being wrong.

At any rate, this is a derail, and likeatoaster's input is more valuable than mine, so I'm going to split for fear of making them weary. Enjoy the thread.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:55 AM on July 31, 2016 [5 favorites]


In Jefferson County (Louisville), one can fulfill volunteer hours for the purposes of diversion whenever one wants, at whatever 501c3 one wants, and need only provide a letter indicating the number of hours. There is no cost. If people come to court, they are given extensions if they need more time. All fines (with the exception of mandatory DUI service fees) can also be converted into volunteer hours at a rate of $10/hour.

I apologize for not being clearer about what I meant by "volunteer hours" before, but it still feels a bit like people are using what other people have said counts as "diversion" in other places as a gotcha, which frankly is a little weird and I don't know what I said that prompted that.
posted by likeatoaster at 10:14 AM on July 31, 2016 [9 favorites]


On the internet, we often assume too much, explain too little, and forget to start from a position of mutual respect. Both sides had value to contribute - no points needed awarding.
posted by Chris4d at 10:24 AM on July 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


Thanks, likeatoaster - I appreciate the clarification and details.
posted by rtha at 10:27 AM on July 31, 2016


likeatoaster: "In Jefferson County (Louisville), one can fulfill volunteer hours for the purposes of diversion whenever one wants, at whatever 501c3 one wants, and need only provide a letter indicating the number of hours. There is no cost. If people come to court, they are given extensions if they need more time. All fines (with the exception of mandatory DUI service fees) can also be converted into volunteer hours at a rate of $10/hour."

Wow that is unexpectedly humane and fair. Are there guidelines or requirements on how much volunteer work needs to be done in a week/month?
posted by Mitheral at 10:28 AM on July 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


Her prior plea deal and details of any diversion are irrelevant to the issue of "Cruel and Unusual Punishment".
posted by mikelieman at 11:19 AM on July 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


For posterity, I guess, because it seems the entire internet mistakenly believes that the sentence was 75 days in jail, this is how that played out.

Here, when judges impose sentences, they typically say the following: "the recommendation is a sentence of ___ days, broken down as follows: __ days to serve, and ___ days suspended on supervised/unsupervised probation for a period of __ years."

In this case, Judge Wolf began that shpeel by stating the the recommendation was a 75 day sentence, but she did not finish reading the plea agreement, because she rejected it and instead sentenced the woman to essentially credit time served. I get that it sounds to people without knowledge of this jurisdiction that the sentence was 75 days in jail, but I am 1000% sure that the second half of her sentence, if she had finished it, would have been to describe how many days were probated. All three woman in the video (the judge, the PD, the client) understood this.
posted by likeatoaster at 5:04 PM on July 31, 2016 [8 favorites]


Thanks to the people that explained the sentence length thing, because that was stressing me out.
posted by bongo_x at 5:24 PM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


All of the classes have to be taken in succession, there’s no breaking them up to fit your schedule, and missing more than 1, forced you to start over from the beginning - AND you still had to pay for the remaining classes from your previous enrollment, but also the new ones as well.


Meanwhile in Richmond, VA a white male banker friend completely smashed his car while driving shitfaced. He did not kill anyone because he was lucky. In the end, he was given a couple weeks' jail time, conveniently scheduled on weekends so he wouldn't have to miss work.

But no, this isn't a racist country and privilege is something libtards have invented, right?
posted by Tarumba at 7:44 AM on August 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


> I would have loved a live feed of what the judge was thinking. She seemed to be holding back so much even with how outraged she was. I thought for a moment she was going to tell the woman to sue.

12:19:50 PM: "There's only one way that's going to get corrected...if you know what I mean."
12:21:20 PM: "I'm going to ask you to...I think that's probably inappropriate."
posted by christopherious at 12:57 PM on August 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


But I've heard enough pro-prosecution horror stories to surmise not all KY judges would've responded the same about the 75days, much less the lack of pants.

Yeah... It's good that this young woman was, essentially, lucky enough to encounter one person who was not racist/sexist/indifferent and was in a position to help her. It really sucks that a lot of other young women in similar situations won't.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:01 PM on August 2, 2016


conveniently scheduled on weekends so he wouldn't have to miss work.

That's actually a thing, not something special made up for just this person (or it might be in Richmond but I doubt it). It may be offered to white defendents more than POC but weekend jail is definitely something used by courts that helps people complete their punishments without losing their jobs. I know a few people who got that type of sentence (they were all white too) and they were all serving time for DUI, so maybe its just more common for that type of charge or something.
posted by LizBoBiz at 9:34 AM on August 4, 2016


In case anyone is still following this thread, Judge Wolf continues to be awesome.
posted by chaoticgood at 1:23 PM on August 8, 2016 [7 favorites]




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