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Friday, January 22, 2010

My friend's court experience

Terrible experience of my dear friend Susan in Philadelphia - burgled twice in two months. THis is a small excerpt from a lengthy story:

City judge's reversal stunned prosecutor
By Craig R. McCoy, Nancy Phillips, and Dylan Purcell
Philadelphia Inquirer

Two days before Christmas, then-Common Pleas Court Judge Joyce W. Eubanks had to decide the fate of a home health-care worker charged with looting jewelry from an arthritic woman he had been sent to assist in her Society Hill condo.

Sitting without a jury, the judge found the man guilty of stealing about $14,000 in jewelry in an impulse robbery.

Less than a week later, Eubanks changed her mind. She vacated her verdict and pronounced Louis L. Robinson not guilty.

In brief remarks from the bench to a flabbergasted prosecutor, Eubanks said she had failed the first time around to give enough weight to the 15 character witnesses who had stood up on behalf of the accused man, though none of them testified. Among those witnesses: former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester M. Johnson.
. . .
Chernin, a diminutive and resolute woman who lives in an elegant condo with two cats, began a long battle with progressive arthritis at 37.

These days, retired five years, she gets about with the help of a cane, a walker, and a scooter. Her body is a patchwork of replaced parts: two new hips and a new right shoulder. It was the shoulder surgery that set the stage for the theft, Chernin believes.

On Aug. 31, 2008, she had just returned home to recuperate. At her hospital's suggestion, she contacted Home Health Corp. of America in Valley Forge, since bought by Amedisys, to hire a home health-care worker. To assess her needs, the agency sent Robinson.

He arrived at the condo about 9 a.m. that Sunday. Chernin asked him to move furniture in and out of her bedroom. He did so, out of Chernin's line of vision. She was essentially immobile, sitting on the sofa in the living room, she said. Having moved the furniture and completed his interview, Robinson, then 43, left after about an hour.


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