Judge Timothy Canning refused this morning to release an inmate who is threatening a lawsuit over the pandemic-caused delay in his criminal case.
Robert Dell Warner, 32, demanded to contact “the embassy’ or have his case referred to a higher court.
Otherwise, “I’m going to sue the shit out of this place.”
“I feel like a prisoner,” said Warner, who has been in jail since Jan. 26. “I haven’t been convicted of anything. I’ve been in here for a long time … how do I get ahold of the embassy?”
He didn’t say which embassy. Warner appears to be Caucasian.
According to jail records, Warner is charged with assault likely to inflict great bodily injury, assault during the commission of a felony and battery causing great bodily injury. His trial is set for June 22, but it’s uncertain whether the courthouse will be open by then.
Warner, as well as his attorney and the prosecutor, communicated this morning by video camera.
Deputy Conflict Counsel April Van Dyke pointed out Warner has been behind bars for six months, which adds up to a year with his good-time credits. She asked Canning to free Warner while he is awaiting trial.
“He should be released,” Van Dyke said, “to keep his rights intact.”
But Deputy District Attorney Trent Timm said Warner already had a bail hearing and was denied release on his own recognizance. Timm said Warner is charged with “a serious and violent felony” that will count as a strike if he is convicted.
Canning, who at one point advised Warner to “stop talking,” declined to release him because of the charges he is facing.
“He has been in jail for a long time,” the judge said, “but that’s primarily because of the coronavirus emergency.”
A trial confirmation hearing is scheduled for June 15. That means Warner will definitely be behind bars on May 27, when he turns 33.
During the courthouse closure, most attorneys appear on video camera. A few come to court, with some wearing masks and some bare-faced. Some lawyers on video appear to be in an office, while others are probably speaking from home.
This morning one deputy public defender was sitting on a couch, pillows behind him and a cat perched next to his head. The cat was grooming itself. The lawyer was interrupted several times by a barking dog.
“Sorry about that,” he told the judge.