Affronted by Affronti: Hardaway Bail Increased, Unexpectedly and Without Explanation, to $25K
Brenda Hardaway sat next to her mother on Sept. 17 in the State Supreme Court waiting for her name to be called by Justice Francis A. Affronti.
When it was called shortly after 10 a.m., Hardaway didn't expect her bail to be raised to $25,000, or that she would be taken into custody at the end of the hearing with her hands pulled behind her back. She didn't expect she would be standing before the judge as the awful sinching of metal on metal resonated throughout the courtroom.
She certainly didn't expect her face to be streaming with tears as she looked to her mother. Nor did she she expect her mother, Claire Taylor, would be crying too, as she watched her daughter being taken away in handcuffs.
And yet, that is exactly what happened.
Hardaway's case went viral on YouTube, when a video surfaced on Aug. 27, which showed multiple RPD officers attempting to arrest her brother Romengeno Hardaway. The video starts with her screaming that she's pregnant, with officer Lucas Krull behind her, attempting to handcuff her. Eventually, she is thrown into a railing, punched in the back of the head multiple times, dropped to the ground belly first, and then kneed by Krull. What began as a domestic dispute between family members escalated into a full-scale RPD brawl against the Hardaways and their family.
Later, in court, Ms. Hardaway approached the bench. The prosecution, represented by Brian Green, and Ms. Hardaway's lawyer, Erik Teifke, introduced themselves to the judge. Mr. Teifke entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of his client.
Ms. Hardaway is charged with second-degree assault, a felony, attempted obstructing governmental administration by means of self-defense spray device, obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest, unlawful possession of a noxious material and third-degree menacing, all misdemeanors. If found guilty, she could face a maximum of seven years in prison.
At this point, Justice Affronti raised the issue of Ms. Hardaway's bail. Neither the prosecution nor the defense made a point to raise it, seeing no issue with her out of jail. Yet Justice Affronti made it a point.
Mr. Teifke made several arguments to the judge against raising her bail. He noted that she has never been convicted of a crime. She had a few ACDs in the past, but came to all of her court dates. She is pregnant, lives in Rochester, is employed, has family and friends around her—in short, Mr. Teifke argued, she was not a flight risk, nor was there any indication that she would miss court.
Mr. Teifke went on to say that she is facing a class D felony, and that even if she is found guilty, there is no mandatory prison sentence. Hence, coming to court is practically guaranteed. He also said that the rationale for raising bail was to prevent defendents from fleeing court.
Justice Affronti retorted that while consideration of a defendant fleeing court is a concern, it is not the only nor the most important criteria.
“I do have some viable concern with the potential for Ms. Hardaway to have future contact with law enforcement,” stated the judge.
At this point, Mr. Teifke said that any one of us — anyone in the courtroom that day— has the potential to have an interaction with law enforcement.
The judge dismissed Mr. Teifke's arguments and Ms. Hardaway's non-existent record, and raised her bail from $7,500 to $25,000. She was handcuffed and led away.
As this happened, Justice Affronti said, “I believe my ruling is legally justified.”
Her next court date is Nov. 12, at 2 p.m. This will be a conference and motions arguments hearing. After this, there is another hearing on Dec. 17, also at 2 p.m. Finally, if needed, a trial start date of Feb. 10, 2014 at 9 a.m.
Watch video of comments from Assistant District Attorney Brian Green after court:
Mr. Teifke, after court, refused to give an on camera statement, but did say that he was “surprised” by the judge's ruling on Ms. Hardaway's bail.
“It's a foregone conclusion that if you apply the law, then my argument should have stood. I can't understand [Justice Affronti's] reasoning,” Mr. Teifke said. “Obviously I'm worried about her health and her pregnancy. I want to make sure she gets care at the jail, but clearly being out of jail is better.”
Romengeno Hardaway has court before Judge Thomas Rainbow Morse, Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 9:30 a..m.
Enough is enough.