There appeared to be no doubt final thirty day period about why Detective Robert Redanauer was in Decide James Murray Lynn’s courtroom.
Redanauer, a lately terminated Philadelphia law enforcement investigator with a background of erratic behavior, was arrested in April just after Inner Affairs alleged that he had threatened a 16-year-previous boy and pulled a gun on the youth’s 23-year-previous brother whilst within their mother’s Northeast Philadelphia residence.
Bare and stumbling all around the woman’s bedroom, the off-responsibility Redanauer, 51, allegedly stated, “Come listed here, f—er. I am likely to shoot you,” although aiming a handgun at his face.
On July 15, when Redanauer appeared right before Lynn to confront charges of very simple assault and earning terroristic threats, anyone in the courtroom operated as if it was a Municipal Courtroom preliminary hearing.
The objective of this kind of hearings is to determine if there is enough proof to keep a defendant for demo prior to a jury in Frequent Pleas Court docket. The load of evidence is much lessen than at a trial.
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In courtroom, the prosecutor, protection legal professional, Lynn, and even the stenographer every single described the continuing as a preliminary hearing. The title of the transcript: “preliminary listening to.”
But at the conclusion of the continuing Redanauer’s legal professional, Raymond Driscoll, released a curveball argument: that due to a procedural technicality, what experienced just taken location was not a preliminary hearing, but the trial by itself.
Lynn acknowledged Driscoll’s argument on the spot, retroactively ruling that it was, in actuality, a demo that he experienced presided over.
“The defendant is not guilty,” Lynn mentioned, clearing Redanauer of all prices involving both of those of the woman’s sons — despite the more mature son’s testimony about having been threatened.
For now, Redanauer is a absolutely free man.
Lawful authorities who reviewed the transcript at The Inquirer’s request were being puzzled by the situation.
It raises queries, they say, about fairness in the Philadelphia courtroom program — including irrespective of whether civilians get the same remedy as police officers — but also much larger legal thoughts about criminal process, these types of as: What defines a trial?
“My feeling is that the defense lawyer had a quite sympathetic choose and a definitely fascinating hook,” claimed Daniel Filler, dean of Drexel University’s Kline University of Legislation. But, he added: “Can a demo materialize when no one appreciates it is a trial? I really do not know.”
Nora V. Demleitner, a professor at Washington and Lee College School of Legislation, said she was “mesmerized” by the proceeding.
“This is insane. This is stunning. Almost everything about it is,” Demleitner stated. “If I were a member of the community studying this, the conclusion I’m drawing suitable now is, I’m by no means heading to testify, undoubtedly not against a police officer, due to the fact why bother?”
District Attorney Larry Krasner claimed this 7 days that he strategies to attraction Lynn’s ruling to the state Remarkable Courtroom, calling the scenario “jaw-dropping,” “ridiculous,” and “bizarre.” He said that he’d in no way read this sort of an argument in 33 many years of working towards legislation.
“It’s so upside-down environment you really do not even know where to start off,” Krasner claimed.
That this kind of an uncommon situation would appear out of Lynn’s courtroom is possibly not surprising.
1st elected to Typical Pleas Court in 1991, Lynn was rated “not recommended” by the Philadelphia Bar Association when he ran for retention in 2001 and 2011.
Former Day by day News columnist Jill Porter described thoroughly on his reputation all-around the courthouse, which includes a 2001 column in which she wrote that he at the time entered the courtroom in the late morning, expected individuals to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, then still left with out conducting any courtroom organization.
In 2012, the Daily Information reported on the unwritten thoughts piling up on Lynn’s desk, delaying scenarios for up to 18 months.
Last summer season, Lynn drew issues from attorneys and witnesses for refusing to don a mask in his tiny, windowless courtroom all through the coronavirus pandemic. He later tested positive for COVID-19.
Martin O’Rourke, a spokesperson for the Initial Judicial District of Philadelphia, mentioned Lynn did not have any comment on the circumstance.
Throughout the Redanauer continuing, Lynn straight away chastised Assistant District Lawyer Kristin Johnson when she questioned what the prosecution witness was putting on.
“Who cares? Why do you care?” Lynn questioned. “We are at a preliminary hearing. Why are we conversing about this man’s apparel? Really do not waste my time.”
Lynn then questioned her capability, inquiring her: “Have you been executing this prolonged?”
As for Redanauer, the testimony from him was not contested by any defense witnesses.
The woman’s more mature son, now 24, a professional medical student who explained he earlier served in the Air Power, testified that he heard Redanauer arguing with his 16-12 months-old brother from inside of their mother’s bedroom late at night previous December.
“I go upstairs and open up my mom’s bed room doorway, and this man is in the process of grabbing a silver semiautomatic pistol off of the dresser,” the person testified, describing Redanauer as “stumbling, insanely drunk,” and naked.
“I quickly place my fingers up,” he continued. “I commence to back up. ‘Please, never shoot me. Make sure you, really do not shoot me.’ He proceeds to progress on my place and he states, ‘Why never you come in this article so I can f—ing shoot you.’”
(The Inquirer is not disclosing the identify of the witness to protect the id of his brother, who is a slight. The younger brother and the mother have been not in the courtroom.)
Just after his arrest, Redanauer was terminated by Law enforcement Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, who called his off-duty conduct “intolerable.”
The Inquirer documented in May well on preceding incidents and settled lawsuits involving Redanauer, such as allegations that he shot a fellow officer in the leg, smashed a car or truck windshield in what police say was an act of vandalism, manufactured wrongful arrests, attacked a firefighter outside a bar, and threw a domestic-abuse sufferer into a vending device, amongst other assaults.
In courtroom, Driscoll, Redanauer’s defense legal professional, argued that Redanauer went for his gun that evening to “make guaranteed he is safe.”
“He reacts in the way most of us respond when we are possibly woken up or 50 percent asleep,” Driscoll reported, introducing that Redanauer then left the residence. “He didn’t thrust anybody down, make the menace very last extended, escalate violence in any way. He did the ideal issue everyone in that situation could have completed, de-escalated the greatest he could.”
Johnson, the assistant district legal professional, disagreed.
“The 1st issue a affordable individual does is not achieve for their firearm,” she claimed in her closing argument. “They may well notify the young ones to leave the space, they may wave them out, but they do not grab a gun and say, ‘Come in this article, f—er,’ to two kids. That is not a typical reaction to another person.”
Driscoll’s successful argument for changing the preliminary hearing to a trial was based on his assertion that the DA’s Business had improperly submitted 1 of its requests for a Common Pleas jury trial.
The defense lawyer declined to comment for this report.
Jules Epstein, a professor at Temple University’s Beasley School of Legislation, reported the circumstance is “something of a procedural quagmire.”
“Unless an appellate court ended up to rule that there was no trial at all, then the pronouncement of ‘not guilty’ is ultimate less than double jeopardy ideas,” Epstein mentioned.
Filler, the Drexel regulation school dean, said that when the circumstance is “very unusual,” praised Driscoll for paying out shut attention to depth and advocating creatively for his client. He stated the consequence, while, could guide to destructive perceptions about the courts.
“A whole lot of folks could possibly check with if this experienced been a very poor, Black, unemployed gentleman, first of all, would he have gotten the same [legal] illustration?” Filler asked. “Second of all, would the choose have been prepared to so fast arrive at this summary?”
Demleitner, the Washington and Lee legislation professor, said the evidence is very clear: Redanauer ought to have been held for trial based mostly on the testimony.
“This strikes me as a lot more than peculiar actions on the aspect of the choose,” she stated.