October 31, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National
The latest on Dorothy Lee Barnett, aka Dorothy Geldenhuys, is that she wants to be released from jail on bail because she believes she has cancer. Read about it here (SBS, 10/29/14).
Barnett is the mother who, on being consigned by a North Carolina judge to the role of non-custodial parent 20 years ago, apparently used forged passports to get herself and her daughter out of the country. Since then she’s lived in South Africa and Australia where she was finally located and arrested last year and extradited to this country. She now faces up to 30 years in prison on charges of passport fraud and international child kidnapping. Her ex-husband, Harris Todd, never gave up searching for his kidnapped daughter.
Now Barnett is asking a federal judge to let her out of jail on bail. It seems she’s lost 15 pounds during her year-long confinement and has a lump on her breast.
To put it mildly, those aren’t reasons to release on bail a person who, we can safely say, presents an immediate risk of flight. The simple truth is that our jails and prisons have medical facilities. No one would argue they’re the best the country has to offer, but they’re usually adequate for inmates’ needs. If Barnett needs to consult a specialist, as she claims, she can do so via the usual channels, i.e. a referral from a jail doctor, the approval of the warden and time outside the walls for only that purpose.
The idea that the only way for her to see a medical specialist is to be granted bail and a general release is patent nonsense. Indeed, it’s worth wondering why a reputable attorney would even make such a motion, but I think I have an idea.
My guess is that it’s a standard plea for sympathy. The lawyer wants to make sure the judge knows about Barnett’s medical condition early in the game so that, in future rulings, the seeds of pro-defendant bias will have been sown.
After all, a similar plea has so far worked in the Canadian case of Aset Magadova, who strangled her 14-year-old daughter. Magadova has cancer and has used it to avoid a second trial. Amazingly, in the first trial, she was found guilty, but received a non-custodial sentence. That travesty was overturned on appeal, but the Crown Prosecutors have so far been unable to convince a judge to re-try her. Defense attorneys claim she’s unable to stand trial due to her illness.
Like Magadova, Dorothy Lee Barnett needs to pay for her crimes. She needs to be tried and, if found guilty, should be sentenced to significant jail time. She apparently either forged passports for her and her daughter or used passports forged by someone else to flee the country in violation of an order of a state court and numerous state and federal criminal laws. In doing so, she committed child abuse and deprived a father of his parental rights. If she’s ill, she should receive the same care every prisoner receives.
We’ll see how this one plays out.
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