Soksot Chham Eastern Hampshire District Court Monday morning
I was a little surprised on Monday morning to see a familiar face in the District Court lock up, which is a more secure area used to present alleged criminals to the judges for arraignment or other procedural matters.
In this case Soksot Chham, brother of Soknang Chham who has been indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Joselito Rodriguez, was standing before Judge Thomas Estes for what is known as a "bindover hearing," something I'm told is rather rare these days in District Court.
According to the DA's office:
A bindover hearing is also sometimes called a probable cause hearing and yes, it is an evidentiary hearing to determine whether or not there is probable cause to believe the defendant has committed the alleged crime. If probable cause is found then the case is “bound over” to the Superior Court.The Commonwealth had simply asked Judge Estes for a "continuance" because there had been some problems gathering evidence from Arizona authorities who had originally arrested the brothers.
Of course what got my attention is in his brief presentation Mr. Chham's lawyer suggested the state's time is up and he closed with a request the case against his client be "dismissed."
Judge Estes acknowledged the law concerning this situation is not overly clear but he did ascertain that he could allow one -- and only one -- continuance, so he continued the bindover hearing to February 28th.
Judge Estes felt the need for the delay was not the Commonwealth's fault and that the Chham bothers had help create the situation by running to Arizona immediately after the incident.
But as the players all started to leave the ever affable Judge seemed to suggest he would not see them again, thus telegraphing a likelihood the Commonwealth will bring that evidence to a grand jury for an indictment prior to February 28th thus sending the case to Superior Court.
The wheels of justice turn slowly but as a result they usually get it right. And the occasional bad guy who goes free on a technicality is the (small) price we pay for living in our free society.