Community Post

Troubling precedent

The following is a story from the PI. Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer released a man from jail – one charged with murder for drowning his three year old step-daughter and theft for defrauding the state of workers’ comp – into the custody of his father, so he could see his dentist for a bad tooth. This man, whose bail is set at $5M, had already seen the Jail’s dentist and been told the tooth should be removed. The Judge allowed him to be released with no supervision.(!!!!) I hope this doesn’t send the wrong message to inmates about how to get a half day pass from jail.

0 thoughts on “Troubling precedent

  1. When I learn that a judge has made a very bad decision, I make a note of it and put in my August folder so that when the judge runs for re-election, I can vote against him/her.

  2. King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer found that Zellmer proved that he was entitled to a second dentist’s opinion at his own expense, and asked prosecutors to make security arrangements. Shaffer, a former prosecutor, said this was the first case she had seen where no one wanted to escort an inmate who posed security risks. She noted her concerns, but said she had to consider whether Zellmer’s pain was interfering with his ability to work with his attorneys. She also noted that inmates are occasionally released for the birth of a child or a funeral. Jail officials, however, objected, arguing that they didn’t have the resources to escort every inmate who disagrees with jail medical staff, according to court records.

    Shaffer, saying she had no authority over the jail, said she would reluctantly release Zellmer to his father, whether or not the jail, or even detectives with the Sheriff’s Office, would provide security. No law enforcement officers escorted him.

    Jail officials say they then simply followed the judge’s order. “If we get the directive, an order from the court to release this guy to his father, from this time to this time, that’s what we do,” Hayes said. “He left at the time he was supposed to and he returned at the time he was supposed to.”