Courtroom drama and a slice of justice
Each day at the Dukes County Courthouse, dramas small and large play out in the courtroom, as the court officers, probation officers, attorneys, and judges play their roles and hammer out justice on a small Island.
One such drama occurred May 15, during a morning session of the Edgartown District Court.
Holly Hernandez, also known as Holly Geddis, appeared in the defendant's dock shackled hand and foot. She sat silently through most of the morning, as the court's business progressed. Her face expressed alternatively discomfort, agitation, boredom, and sadness.
When it came time to address her case, shortly before noon, Cape and Islands Assistant District Attorney Laura Marshard told Associate Justice Lance Garth that a default warrant had been issued for Ms. Hernandez after she failed to appear for trial the previous day, May 14.
Ms. Hernandez faces a charge of felony witness intimidation. The charge stemmed from a previous courtroom session, when her husband, Mario Hernandez, was in court facing assault charges. Another possible witness in that case is Brett Geddis, her son. Mr. Geddis was recently convicted and sentenced to one year in jail for the robbery of the 79-year-old ticket taker at the Capawock Theater in Vineyard Haven last fall.
According to Ms. Marshard, in the previous court session, words were exchanged between Ms. Hernandez and a witness in her husband's case.
The witness that Ms. Hernandez is charged with threatening was in court at the appointed time on May 14, ready for trial, as was Ms. Marshard, and Ms. Hernandez's attorney.
"The witness was present in the courtroom (yesterday)," Ms. Marshard said, "when we learned that the defendant was out of state in Connecticut." She asked Judge Garth to set $10,000 bail to guarantee that Ms. Hernandez shows up for the next hearing in the case. She cited Ms. Hernandez's criminal record dating back to 1991, pointing out that it fills four pages. Ms. Marshard also cited more than 30 defaults for previous court appearances, seven separate warrants, and four probation violations.
Ms. Marshard contended that Ms. Hernandez is familiar with the court system and knew that her absence on May 14 could delay the trial and any possible sentence until the fall. During summer months, judges are assigned to the Edgartown District Court for limited times, and trials must be tightly scheduled around those sittings.
Ms. Hernandez's attorney, Al Daniels, argued that her absence from the scheduled trial the day before was inadvertent. He said he had represented Ms. Hernandez many times. Choosing his words carefully, Mr. Daniels said that each time he had represented her she had shown up at the appropriate time. He said Ms. Hernandez did not remember that she was supposed to be in court, but as soon as he spoke to her by phone, she returned to the Island, and surrendered to authorities.