The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today’s winner is Seminole County(Florida) Judge Ralph Eriksson. Wizbang readers may remember last Sunday’s Knucklehead winner, Jennifer Latham. She kidnapped a newborn baby boy from a Central Florida hospital. Less than two hours later Ms. Latham was apprehended.

You kidnap a baby, what do you think will happen to you? It is a crime punishable with a sentence up to life in prison. Judge Eriksson did the following.

Seminole County Judge Ralph Eriksson ordered 39-year-old Jennifer Latham released from custody, but she has to wear a device on her ankle so authorities can keep track of her movements.

Latham was arrested Friday and charged with kidnapping a newborn child from Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford. An alarm went off and a Lake Mary police officer pulled Latham over on Interstate 4 a little more than an hour later. The baby boy was in the car and was unharmed.

In making his determination Judge Eriksson recognnized that Latham had no prior offenses

The hearing was held Saturday morning at the Seminole County Jail. Latham, who kept her face covered with her long hair during the proceedings, said she didn’t have a lawyer and will get a public defender. She did not have to pay a bond and will be set free under a pre-trial release program. She still has to get an ankle monitor before she can be released.

I thought this was plain nutty when I first read it. You commit kidnapping and get released without posting bail? What planet does this judge live on?

This isn’t the first time Judge Eriksson has made a questionable decision in regards to bail.

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — A Seminole County judge shouted at a hearing impaired man in court, and then ordered him to jail as he awaited trial for a misdemeanor charge.

55-year-old Daniel Bradshaw is facing a marijuana charge, but was locked up, after Judge Ralph Eriksson determined Bradshaw was wasting the court’s time last Thursday.

*****

When Bradshaw entered a not guilty plea, Judge Eriksson sent him to jail with a $5,000 bond, even though prosecutors did not request incarceration.

Make the judge repeat himself because you’re hard of hearing, get $5,000 bail. Kidnap a baby, you get a Get out of Jail free card. What is wrong with this picture?

As we find out from today’s Orlando Sentinel, Jennifer Latham hardly had a spotless criminal record.

When she was booked into the Seminole County Jail on Friday, she told authorities her only previous arrest was for petty theft. County Judge Ralph Eriksson ruled that she could be released without putting up any bond if she agreed to be fitted with an electronic monitor.

Since then, Indiana court records surfaced showing she was sentenced in 2003 to three months in jail and 1½ years of probation after pleading guilty to a string of felony thefts. She stole a motor scooter, a toaster oven, a cell phone, fishing gear and other items on July 14, 2002, those records show.

On Monday, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office arrested her again on a charge of lying in an official report. Authorities are asking that she be held without bail on the new charge.

That’s what should have been done to start with. Do you mean to tell me the court took Latham’s word as to her past criminal record, or did someone not check her background thoroughly.

I think I’ve made a strong case for naming Seminole County Judge Ralph Eriksson today’s Knucklehead of the Day.

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