judge merrett strikes again!

judge merrett strikes again!

Posted in the Jacksonville Forum

“3 words changed my life ”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#1 Oct 1, 2008
Felon gets extra 6 days of furlough



Judge grants him the time, fails to notify state of extension.

Johnny Lee Lunford is facing 20 years in prison for robbery, but a judge agreed to let him leave the Duval County jail unescorted and unmonitored Saturday to attend his grandmother's funeral.


Then, without being asked, Circuit Judge John Merrett went a step further. He changed his order to give Lunford, 29, an extra six days to spend with his new wife. Merrett officiated their wedding in his courtroom after a jury convicted Lunford of robbery and false imprisonment last month.

Lunford, who has a history of violent crimes, now doesn't have to report back to jail until 5 p.m. Friday. He is scheduled to be sentenced next week.

Prosecutors said they didn't learn about the changed order until Monday. They had argued against the Saturday furlough and said they would have vigorously opposed the longer release period.

"If the judge is doing it on his own initiative, the state should ... be given an opportunity to be heard," said State Attorney Harry Shorstein.

Assistant State Attorney Pamela Hazel said prosecutors called Merrett on Saturday afternoon when Lunford didn't return to jail. The judge said they could deal with the issue Monday and never mentioned the change, Hazel said.

Merrett defended his decision to change the order, which he said he made in court Friday. He said he thought prosecutors had received a copy of the order.

"Just because I'm about to send someone to prison doesn't mean I can't show them a little humanity," he said. "He was just married, and he convinced me that he's coming back.... It struck me as reasonable to give him some time to spend with his wife."

Lunford served five years in a Georgia prison for a 1997 statutory rape and was arrested by Jacksonville police on a sexual battery charge in 2006. That charge eventually was pleaded down to misdemeanor battery, and Lunford served six months in jail, court records show.

Police arrested Lunford again last year on charges that he and another man robbed a Southside man at gunpoint, made him take his clothes off and drove him to an ATM where he was forced to withdraw money. Jurors convicted him Sept. 12 but didn't find that he used a gun in the robbery.

On Friday, Assistant Public Defender Kelly Papa asked Merrett for a furlough from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to allow Lunford to attend his grandmother's funeral in Jacksonville. She even suggested a shorter time frame if necessary. Lunford promised to return if the judge let him out.

Hazel objected, saying Lunford was a flight risk and the victim still fears him. She noted that he was held pending trial because he was considered a danger to the community and recommended instead that Lunford's family pay for an officer to take him to and from the funeral.

Hazel said she left court shortly after Merrett granted Papa's motion without requiring a police escort or a monitor. Papa said she went on to other cases and didn't notice Merrett's handwritten change to the motion until she walked down the hall to make a copy of it.

"I was thrilled," she said. "I let him [Lunford] know, and he was very excited."

A transcript of the hearing shows no mention of the change, which Merrett made by using a pen to cross out Lunford's Saturday return time and changing it to Friday. The judge then initialed the changes.

"I guess the judge felt he was a good risk to come back," said Public Defender Bill White, who called the turn of events unusual. "He has the discretion to do what he did. The question is, should he have notified the state?"

Papa said she hasn't talked to Lunford since Friday but has spoken with his aunt.

"He's still in town, and he hasn't disappeared," the attorney said.

“3 words changed my life ”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#2 Oct 1, 2008
ok..its time for this dickhole to go...he let this guy out..who WAS convicted...he let one murder suspect go on bond with nothing but an ankle monitor and another murder suspect on a 5oo dollar bond...how is the chief judge not outraged? this is pathetic..and people wonder why thugs have no fear of the judicial system anymore.

“3 words changed my life ”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#3 Oct 1, 2008
1994

1 S316.1935 314-FLEEING/ATTEMPTTO ELUDE POLICE OFF (dropped)
2 S316.192 431-RECKLESS DRIVING (dropped)

-

1996

1 S790.23 POSSESSION OF A FIREARM/CONCEALED WEAPON BY CONVICTED FELON
2 S316.1935(3) AGGRAVATED FLEEING OR ATTEMPTING TO ELUDE A POLICE OFFICER
3 S316.192 431-RECKLESS DRIVING
(all 3 reduced to misdemeanor)

above misdemeanor punishment)

1 S316.1935(1) FLEEING OR ATTEMPTING TO ELUDE A POLICE OFFICER MISDEMEANOR (dropped)
2 S316.192 431-RECKLESS DRIVING (fined)
3 S790.23 POSSESSION OF A FIREARM/CONCEALED WEAPON BY CONVICTED FELON
(dropped)

-

2006

1 S794.011(5) SEXUAL BATTERY: SLIGHT FORCE
2 S787.02(1)(A) FALSE IMPRISONMENT
(reduced to misdemeanors)

punishment for above charges

1 S784.03 BATTERY (51 days jail)
2 S794.011(5) SEXUAL BATTERY: SLIGHT FORCE (dropped)
3 S787.02(1)(A) FALSE IMPRISONMENT (dropped)

-

these are the charges he was found guilty of and is awaiting sentencing next week.

1 S812.13(2)(A) ROBBERY - ARMED WITH FIREARM OR DEADLYWEAPON
2 S787.01(1)(A)2 KIDNAPPING TO COMMIT OR FACILITATE THECOMMISSION OF A FELONY

“3 words changed my life ”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#4 Oct 1, 2008
is this the kind of guy you want running around unsupervised?
Westside conservative

Saint Augustine, FL

#5 Oct 1, 2008
This is the same Judge that released the guy who shook his baby to death on a $600 bond. There are many more examples of his insanity. Unfortunately the media won't put two and two together and do their job as watchdog to protect the citizens of Jacksonville. This is what enrages me about the media. They are supposed to be keeping us informed on these folks and let us know whats going on but they would rather do stories about the grass growing tall this week. They are a worthless institution. People like you on the internet have been doing their job.

“Defender of Truth”

Since: Dec 07

Laguna Hills, CA

#6 Oct 1, 2008
Sometimes you feel like a nut...or in Merritt's case, all the time.

“Translation: Come and Take it”

Since: Feb 08

Fort Pierce, FL

#7 Oct 1, 2008
This was the idiot that pulled his gun in court and the national news was laughing at our moron of a judge.
He pulled his pistol even though there were armed balifs in the room.
This guy is clueless.
You should see him out for smoke breaks behind the courthouse with his two tone pimp wingtips and his panama hat. What a buffone.
It's like he's trying to look like Al Capone or something from that era.

“3 words changed my life ”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#8 Oct 1, 2008
i forgot about that rob! i just remember the two murderers he sent home...on an ankle monitor and one on a whole 500 dollar bond....i cant believe our chief judge hasnt stepped in..well, yes i can actually..which is sad.
Westside conservative

Saint Augustine, FL

#9 Oct 1, 2008
scott1 wrote:
i forgot about that rob! i just remember the two murderers he sent home...on an ankle monitor and one on a whole 500 dollar bond....i cant believe our chief judge hasnt stepped in..well, yes i can actually..which is sad.
Its kind of hard to call people out for being wrong when you escaped charges for being a wife beater. Thats why integrity is so important in public office. Judge Moran should have stepped down but he is still in there and we have an out of control judge. Its the good old boy system on crack.

Since: May 08

Lakeland, FL

#10 Oct 1, 2008
Force this deadbeat judge to retire NOW!

“3 words changed my life ”

Since: Nov 07

Location hidden

#11 Oct 1, 2008
Westside conservative wrote:
<quoted text>
Its kind of hard to call people out for being wrong when you escaped charges for being a wife beater. Thats why integrity is so important in public office. Judge Moran should have stepped down but he is still in there and we have an out of control judge. Its the good old boy system on crack.
that reminded me..judge moran was the one who reduced his first charged from 1994 to misdemeanors.

Since: May 08

Lakeland, FL

#12 Oct 1, 2008
scott1 wrote:
<quoted text>that reminded me..judge moran was the one who reduced his first charged from 1994 to misdemeanors.
I believe this is the same judge who was operating a boat on the ICW and ran into and destroyed someones dock, then gets home, docks his boat, and goes inside a makes a drink before the Police arrive to ask if he saw anything. This happened years ago.
Westside conservative

Saint Augustine, FL

#13 Oct 1, 2008
scott1 wrote:
<quoted text>that reminded me..judge moran was the one who reduced his first charged from 1994 to misdemeanors.
Well to be fair that might not have been Moran that did that. Let me kind of break the system down for ya.

1. The police make an arrest on a felony charge.
2. First appearance where bond is set etc.
3. A filing attorney gets the case and may knock it down to a misdemeanor there. There are several things that may cause this such as the SAO refuses to prosecute someone as a habitual traffic offender unless they have been arrested for it at least five times.
4. It goes to the attorney working the case. This attorney may knock it down to a misdemeanor also for several reasons. First and foremost is case load. If you have 50+ cases and this comes across you desk you can TCC it to county court and let a county court attorney deal with it getting it off your hands. Then you may just feel like not prosecuting it as a felony such as they have 20.5 grams of marijuana and you think they should face a misdemeanor charge instead.
5. Last but not least you have the plea deal. The attorney will drop the charge to a misdemeanor to get the thug to plea out. Nobody wants that felony conviction. Of course the judge has to accept the plea, but they never turn them down. I sat in a courtroom one day listening to plea deals one day and I was sick as a dog listening to the sentences. Most please are time served and they walk out the door.
Man Candy

Jacksonville, FL

#14 Oct 1, 2008
Why not show some real humankind and release everyone from jail on his own recognizance? After all, any prisoner will tell you he's innocent.

Where are the hangin' judges?

Since: Jul 07

Jacksonville, FL

#15 Oct 1, 2008
lol...pathetic.

“Translation: Come and Take it”

Since: Feb 08

Fort Pierce, FL

#16 Oct 1, 2008
Riverjames wrote:
<quoted text>I believe this is the same judge who was operating a boat on the ICW and ran into and destroyed someones dock, then gets home, docks his boat, and goes inside a makes a drink before the Police arrive to ask if he saw anything. This happened years ago.
Unless he moved. He's a couple of blocks away from me in Avondale. Lucky me!

Since: May 08

Lakeland, FL

#17 Oct 1, 2008
Riverside Rob wrote:
<quoted text>Unless he moved. He's a couple of blocks away from me in Avondale. Lucky me!
This was many many years ago according to someone I was talking to recently.
Scooter

Jacksonville, FL

#18 Oct 1, 2008
I think with all our money Bush invested in Iraq, we have the right to turn that country into one big penal system. I say we empty our jails and deport all those "innocent" prisoners to Iraq, where they may enjoy Sharia Law.
FLY ON THE WALL

Jacksonville, FL

#20 Oct 1, 2008
scott1 wrote:
ok..its time for this dickhole to go...he let this guy out..who WAS convicted...he let one murder suspect go on bond with nothing but an ankle monitor and another murder suspect on a 5oo dollar bond...how is the chief judge not outraged? this is pathetic..and people wonder why thugs have no fear of the judicial system anymore.
If you want to see a bunch of long time felons celebrate, go to the jail and listen for when they find out they are going to this judge's division. Ask any law enforcement or criminal attorney. It's a joke. It is the only felony division where the public pretenders and private attorneys plea straight to the judge every single day; they know the judge will go way below what the state is offering every time and give the life long, gun-toting thug time served. Paul Pinkham should be assigned to just courtroom #2. Forget the rest of the courthouse. He can write two stories a day about the silly decisions Merrett makes daily. I could go on, but you have to see this circus for yourself. It's free admission too.

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