View from the courthouse trenches

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 26, 2007

The view from the courthouse trenches
I agree with Danielle Partee’s letter of July 25 (“Privette cannot be defended”). The most troubling aspect of Coy Privette’s recent arrest is not the contention that the sitting Cabarrus County commissioner and president of North Carolina’s Christian Action League would hire a prostitute, but that he would file a false affidavit of forgery with a bank. If true, and if he received a refund from the bank, this could be considered felony obtaining money or property by false pretenses. Of course, he is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial and should not be “hoisted on his own petard” unless and until that happens.
I have also read several letters against house arrest for non-supporting parents.
The reality is that district court judges are not at all shy about locking up folks in the county jail for non-payment. Typically, there are a dozen or more in there at any time. It costs county taxpayers $50 a day to house them. I have seen these folks often locked up for 30 days at a time with a bill to the county for $1,500 each. Present law does not allow sending them to state prison. One thing’s for sure, they can’t look for work while in jail.
I suspect judges will most often use this program to monitor folks after they have already been punished by some active sentence for contempt. Whether used pre- or post-incarceration, it will provide them another tool they can use to extract the money.
My experience from representing these folks is that non-payers have to have good medical proof they are unable to work or proof they are actively looking for work to prevent the very real possibility of being a guest of the sheriff.
House arrest is not a “get out of jail free” card. It’s just another way of tightening the old thumbscrews.
ó D. Todd Paris Sr.
Editor’s note: The Post initially reported that Privette had written the checks in question. Later reports from police indicated he did not.