Monday, March 14, 2016

Judge Denies Lighter Sentence For Kathryn Knott

Courtesy of
By Shealyn Kilroy

Kathryn Knott's gay bashing may have created a ripple effect throughout the city, but this morning, her sentence still remained.

Judge Roxanne Covington denied a motion for Knott to receive a lighter sentence than the 5 to 10 months she originally got for her role in the Sept. 2014 beating of a gay couple in Center City.

"As injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, hatred toward any group is no different than hatred toward all of us," Covington said at the conclusion of court with her soft voice. "Every single one of us has a right to be who we are, to love who we want and to walk down the street and enjoy the city safely, without fear of ridicule, of torture, of attack."

Knott was convicted of simple assault, reckless endangerment, conspiracy and other related charges on Feb. 8. She was acquitted of any felonies. Co-defendants Kevin Harrigan and Philip Williams took plea bargins, which includes doing community service at a LGBTQ organization. 

lliam J. Brennan, Knott's attorney, asked Covington to consider something less than incarceration - like house arrest at her home in Fox Chase or a public service announcement.

Since being at Riverside Correctional Facility for two months, Brennan said that Knott is well into anger management and is spending her time cleaning bathrooms, toilets and showers. Also, Brennan said that Knott is following prison guidelines.

Brennan said it would be disrespectful for him to ignore "the community" that Knott affected. Covington disagreed - saying this was a case that did not just affect a community, but the city as a whole. Her argument was supported on social media.  There wouldn't be a Facebook event page to attend the hearing this morning if Knott's actions didn't cause a stir.

Brennan pointed out that two of Knott's fellow gay bashers received no time in prison. The defense lawyer begged Covington to let Knott no longer be a face of hate but to do something provocative to make amends.

"Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer, and he said, 'Mercy bears richer fruit than justice serves,'" Brennan said. "Knott has to do something that reaches out to the community, an opportunity to heal the wounds."

But the prosecutor disagreed.

"Nothing new has happened," stated Assistant District Attorney Allison Ruth.

Ruth garbled her speech to demonstrate how Zachary Haught, one of the victims, spoke with his mouth wired shut for 8 weeks. Also, serving her time and cleaning toilets isn't anything Knott should get credit for, Ruth said.  As for Brennan's suggestion of doing a public service announcement, Ruth stated that idea was  both offensive and ridiculous.

Both Ruth and Covington noted Knott's flaky sense of remorse during her testimony.

"Knott showed complete disconnection," Covington said. "She had no comprehension of the offensiveness in her commentary on her tweets."

Knott still has time to appeal, but as for now, back to Riverside she goes.

Shealyn can be reached at 


  1. And yet still no arrests in the Shady McCoy fight, yet two police officers went to the hospital for their injuries

  2. Why nothing on the US Supreme court hearing of Ex Supreme Court -Chief Justice Ronald Castile's case on his failure to recuse himself in a appeal on a murder conviction, when he was a prosecutor and help send a man to death row, it showed he hid evidence that was withheld from the defense attorneys and the jury. You can read the transcripts from the US Supreme Court case or articles on the case from The Marshall Project website. Just don't expect to see anything local, wouldn't want prospective jurors to think prosecutors hide evidence or break their ultimate power over defendants. How is it possible for news agencies to withhold such an important revelation on a Chief Justice of Pennsylvania.
    Any thoughts Ralph ?

    1. It's certainly a worthy topic but it's national news right now and the local papers have been covering it as well. We pick our spots.

  3. This was a kangaroo trial and Knott should have known this herself. Two guys took plea bargain will be finished with community service this year, got no jail time and Knott declined to do so. Judge Covington will join Ceisler and Sarmina for the dubious honors of being Kangaroo judges much to the amusement of male jurists. Knott got royally screwed by the jury who convicted her of misdemeanor assault when testimony by two women who saw Knott allegedly hit one of the victims, her friends denied she hit the victims and the women were too far away to see what happened . We never convict someone based on her Twitter account yet that aided in her conviction. Left unsaid was the aggressiveness of the victims that precipitation the fight. Lesson to learn is to grab plea bargain if no jail time is ordered.

      Castille had a fraught relationship with the Federal Community Defender Office, a group of lawyers who represent numerous death row inmates, including Williams. Castille claimed that federal lawyers had no business appearing in state courts. He complained bitterly over the years about their "prolix and abusive pleadings" and about all the resources they dedicated to defending death row inmates—"something one would expect in major litigation involving large law firms."

      The defenders, for their part, routinely filed motions arguing that Castille had no business ruling on the appeals of prisoners whose prosecutions he had approved—particularly not in a case in which his office was found to have suppressed evidence helpful to the defense. But as chief justice, Castille had the last word. He denied all such motions, and accused the federal defenders of writing "scurrilously," making "scandalous misrepresentations," and having a "perverse worldview."

      It's not too hard to predict which way the Supreme Court will rule—although whether their decision helps Williams get a resentencing is another matter. America's justice system makes it unbelievably hard to get a second chance once you are convicted of a serious crime.

      But all of this brings up a broader, question: Prosecutors like Castille are appointed to the bench in far greater numbers than former defenders—even President Barack Obama has perpetuated this trend. Which is why it was so worthy of note that California Gov. Jerry Brown, under federal pressure to reduce incarceration in the Golden State, has broken with his predecessors and moved in the other direction. Northern California public station KQED recently pointed out that more than a quarter of Brown's 309 judicial appointments have been former public defenders, whereas only 14 percent were once DAs. (31 percent had some prosecutorial experience.) From that report:

      "We never had a tradition that said to be a judge you had to be a district attorney. That developed probably in the '90s," Brown said. "The judges are supposed to be independent. You want judges that have a commercial background, you want judges that have a prosecutorial background, city attorneys, or county counsel, or small practice, plaintiffs' practice—you want a diversity, instead of kind of a one note fits all."

      When it comes down to it, politicians are still eager to appear tough on crime. But is it really good policy—financially or ethically—to stack the bench with judges who are accustomed to being rated according to the number of people they lock away?

      "Most district attorney judges that I've experienced are unable to divorce themselves from their background once they become a judge," Michael Ogul, president of the California Public Defenders Association, told KQED. "They are still trying to help the prosecution, they are still trying to move the case toward conviction or toward a harsher punishment."

  4. Once again James complaining that he believes the justice system is nothing but a kangaroo court. We seen his complaint during the clergy abuse cases and now the conviction of a punk girl who thought her daddy would get her off. Well, she was mistaken. But if James believes everything is a kangaroo court then lets do away with those courts and allow the victims to serve up a little street justice instead. I am sure James would be the first to complain then too.

    1. In this case I think He's right about the kangaroo court

    2. Your right James ....kangarooed all the way.....Its politics and the gay vote....that done Her in....The right lawyer would of Helped, not that she did not have a good Lawyer. but she needed maybe a gay Lawyer lol .just joking. a high Powered lawyer


    US Supreme Court heard arguments last week as to whether Ronald D. Castille, a former chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, should have stepped aside from considering the appeal of a death penalty case he personally greenlighted when he was Philadelphia's district attorney.

    It seems pretty obvious, doesn't it? "He made the most important decision that could be made in this case," Justice Elena Kagan commented during oral arguments.

    Castille didn't think so. Back in 2012, public defenders for Terrence Williams—who was convicted and sentenced to death at age 18 for murdering a 56-year-old named Amos Norwood—asked Castille to step aside because he oversaw the prosecutors who handled the case. The judge explained to the New York Times that he was merely functioning as an administrator. "I didn't try the case," he said, according to the paper. "I wasn't really involved in the case except as the leader of the office."
    But Castille had additional baggage that raise questions about his involvement.

    An appeals judge found that Andrea Foulkes, the prosecutor who tried Williams on Castille's watch, had deliberately withheld key evidence from the defense—and thereby the jury. Norwood, the victim, had started a relationship with Williams when the boy was 13 and abused him, sexually and otherwise, for years. Although the details weren't known at the time, the prosecution suppressed trial evidence suggesting Norwood had an unnatural interest in underage boys.

    Williams had previously killed another older man he'd been having sex with—51-year-old Herbert Hamilton. (Williams was 17 at the time of the crime.) The jury in that case, presented with evidence of their relationship, voted against the death penalty and convicted Williams of third-degree murder, a lesser charge. But Foulkes, who prosecuted both cases, told the Norwood jury that Williams had killed Norwood "for no other reason but that a kind man offered him a ride home."

    So there's that. And then, as death penalty appeals lawyer Marc Bookman points out in an in-depth examination of the Williams prosecutions for Mother Jones, Castille was a big fan of the death penalty:

    In the five years before the Williams case came onto its docket, the court, led by Chief Justice Ronald Castille, had ruled in favor of the death penalty 90 percent of the time. This wasn't too surprising, given that Castille had been elected to his judgeship in 1993 as the law-and-order alternative to a candidate he labeled soft on crime…

    "Castille and his prosecutors sent 45 people to death row during their tenure, accounting for more than a quarter of the state's death row population," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted in 1993. "Castille wears the statistic as a badge. And he is running for the high court as if it were exclusively the state's chief criminal court rather than a forum for a broad range of legal issues." Castille was pretty clear about where he stood: "You ask people to vote for you, they want to know where you stand on the death penalty," he told the Legal Intelligencer, a law journal. "I can certainly say I sent 45 people to death row as District Attorney of Philadelphia. They sort of get the hint."

    Castille also had it out for Williams' defenders, with whom his old office was at odds. Bookman again:


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