Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Report On Kent Hovind Court Proceedings Monday May 18, 2015

Dee Holmes who has been following the Kent Hovind case when not busy with her knitting took the plunge and made a trip to Pensacola for the trial that was not held this week.  Here is her first person account of the proceedings on Monday May 18, 2015, when as it turned out Kent Hovind did not go on trial.


I was directed from the “new [black mold infested] courthouse” to the old courthouse by a US Marshal. 

I ran into a an older guy who had a scooter and said he was from North Carolina. He detached from me when he saw a number of Hovindicators across the street from the courthouse. There were a number of men, a couple of women, several children and a teenage boy. The men were wearing jeans and nice shirts, what I think of as country dressed up. The women and girls were wearing dresses.  The women and the kids did not come into the courtroom.

Layout of the street:  North Palafox at that location has a wide esplanade, almost a little park. There are lots of trees, benches, and to my chagrin, free parking. (I paid for parking in a city lot because, well, wanted to make sure I could park!) 

One of the Hovindicator vehicles had a bumper sticker on it that said, “Abortion stops a beating heart / But isn’t murder—what?”.  My thought was, “These are people you can’t argue with.”

There was another woman there with her husband. She wore jeans and a Hovindicator t-shirt. She looked to be mid-30s with long, strawberry blonde hair. Her husband, jeans and a shirt.  He went up the steps to the courthouse to check on when we could enter and came back out and said we could.  Had to go through a metal detector, have my stuff scanned and present photo ID. Was a bit of an issue with my purse. I told the guy to dump it out. Apparently the pills I keep in the middle section of the purse was setting something off.

There were a lot of US Marshals around! At one point in court I counted four, plus Kent and Paul’s jailer. 

“Can I have my Bible in court?” “Yes, but you can’t read it.”

I am sweating to death! I have forgotten how humid the South is!

No reading allowed per US Marshal supervisor (a woman).  I am glad of my press pass that lets me scribble notes!

I noticed behind the judge’s bench there are fasces (bundles of wood used in ancient Rome to symbolize a judge’s power and jurisdiction). The front of the bench also repeats that motif.

The judge’s bench is rather high up. Then there’s a level for court administrators in front of her and below that the floor. The prosecution sits to the left from my view (right from the judge’s side). The defense has two tables set up to the right. The jury box is to the left of the prosecution’s table. Those chairs looked comfortable.

The court reporter entered and set up her equipment.

Then a screen lowered from the right side. I didn’t think we were going to have any audio-visual and I didn’t notice any during the hearing. 

Judge’s assistant is working on the judge’s monitor and arranging stuff on her desk. 

I’m wondering what the huge gray telephone book sized book is that guy is hauling around near the bench. Statute book? It’s weird to see a big book like that in the era of computers. 

In the courtroom at this point there are maybe 15 people. The women and children are still outside. It’s very quiet outside.

The two Hovindicators Jonathan interviewed yesterday at UWF came. Today mom was wearing a skirt and blouse and the young man was dressed up quite nice.

Another Hovindicator came in and sat next to me, but after a word or two with the two above, she moved behind. I think I’ve got cooties or something. She moved behind me. Marshal tells her no bible rieading.

Kent and Paul are brought in wearing prison orange, handcuffs and leg chains. 

The woman behind me is praying over and over again, “In the name of Jesus, I’m here for you buddy.” I remember there were times when I would do that too.

Kent and Paul’s jailer, a woman, removes their cuffs but the leg chains stay on.

The older bald guy at the defense table is Thomas Keith. The younger is Christopher Klotz.

People speak in low voices.

One of the Marshals announces:  “All rise! God save the United States and this honorable court!” We all rise as Judge Rodgers enters.

She looks just like her picture. 

Judge starts with review of recent activity:  trial was canceled due to motion from prosecution.  There was a flurry of activity in the last couple of weeks, especially last week. Motions in limine [to exclude evidence] were filed and then last week, motions to dismiss. On Friday, the government filed a motion to continue the trial and this was denied by the court, which was followed by the motion to dismiss the remaining counts 1, 2 and 4. This is a retrial of the March trial. 

Tiffany Eggers gets up and speaks. She asks for dismissal as of right under FRCP 48A. There are technical issues with the indictments and she wantes them dismissed. She doesn’t say much.

Keith gets up. He admits the motions were filed beyond the pretrial date but after review, he says the indictment failed to give notice plus the conduct was  in good faith.  He said he should have filed this before the first trial.  “It’s on the lawyer.”

Keith also notes the problem in his other filing on count one with “and others” language. Keith says that he should have moved for acquittal. 

Keith thinks there’s an issue with the conduct aspect of the mail fraud charge as there has to be an intent to deceive.  Kent and Paul weren’t intending to deceive. 

Judge:  Prepared to rule on the motion to dismiss.

Keith:  Putting this on the record and worried about jeopardy if there’s a further prosecution.

Judge:  Any dismissal would mean a separate indictment. (Judge smiles.)

Keith: wants a dismissal with prejudice and starts to go in how Kent’s been locked up in the jail since last October. 

Judge sees an inconsistency here (not sure what that was about).

Klotz speaks from the defense table. He’s not representing Hansen in this trial but he wants to speak to the last trial. He agrees with Keith that he should have brought these things up at the last trial.

Judge:  She is prepared to deny [Keith’s] motion to dismiss. She didn’t agree with the Pendergast case. Maybe she should go ahead and file a ruling on that. She’s very clear that this is on the record that she would have denied the motion. She mentions something about 2255 “foreclose any prejudice argument.” 

At this point, Paul Hansen comes forward. He walks up to the podium, says he challenges Eggers ability to operate in this court and hands Eggers a yellow piece of papere.

Paul asks for dismissal.

Judge:  Prosecution is free to dismiss. They filed in response to your motion.

Judge: You Need to bring up bad faith and prejudice the next time charges are filed.

Paul asks for dismissal with prejudice.

Judge:  This is premature. To the extent there’s a new indictment, that is when you would bring up the bad faith.

Paul wants to ask the prosecutor to drop charges 1-6.

Judge:  Can’t do that now. You can ask the court but you can’t ask the prosecutor.

Paul asks to talk to his standby counsel. 

Judge:  Le Sigh and gives permission.

Paul comes back.  He cites a case (didn’t catch the citation). He also requests release from custody and to be sentenced today. Also wants all charges dismissed because prosecution is giving up on the case.  He makes an argument that the contempt portion of the case is based on the mail fraud charges.

Judge:  Thank you.

Paul:  Wants to know if Eggers’ license works at this jurisdiction, wants it on the record.

Judge:  I won’t allow it and won’t order it.

Eggers:  There’s a June 22 ?? Sentencing for contemptuous conduct.

I think Paul goes back to Klotz at that moment then comes back to the podium and says, the statutory maximum is 6 months (that is actually untrue).

Judge Rodgers:  I will be issuing a ruling on the government motion and on Hovind’s Rule 29 motion later today. I will also be contacting the probation department re where they are at on the sentencing report. [Presumably this is in response to Paul’s request to be sentenced today.] However, Paul is confined under an order of Magistrate judge Kahn and Hovind is under a sentence of custody. 

Judge:  There will be two written orders sometime today. 

All rise and the judge leaves the court. 

Kent is locked back in the handcuffs first, then Paul. The courtroom is so quiet you can hear the jailer tightening down the cuffs. They are taken out. The Hovindicators start making to leave and I do as well.

_____________________________________________________

While Dee was in the Courthouse, Jonathan Schwartz was outside filming.








Jonathan also interviewed two other observers of the proceedings.










Later on Monday Judge Rodgers would surprise most observers by allowing a motion to acquit Kent Hovind on the contempt charge that he had been convicted of in March, while also, as expected ruling in favor of the Government's motion to drop the other charges without prejudice.