Writing Book Reports Won’t Keep Man Out of Jail

Monday, June 18, 2012

U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers had a novel idea when she released Otis Mobley, Jr., on $150,000 in May. Mobley, who was accused of trying to rob undercover agents while they were buying a grenade launcher from him, could remain free as long as he wore a GPS ankle bracelet, spent an hour a day reading books and another half-hour writing book reports. The judge would provide the reading list.

Last week, a 3-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco nixed the deal, saying there were “significant findings weighing in favor of detention.”

Mobley and two other men had allegedly planned to sell a grenade launcher in Richmond, California, in March, but had the bad fortune of striking their deal with an undercover agent from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The authorities maintain that the sale offer was just a ploy to rob the buyer, and when the robbery went bad one of the sellers, Dmarce Hutcherson, was wounded in a shoot-out.

The respected legal blog Above the Law defended the trial court judge’s decision at the time as “sort of awesome,” noting that it was an attempt to help, rather than punish, an inner-city resident who may likely have literacy problems. That observation not withstanding, the blog also recognized that the defendant was a likely flight risk with a criminal history.


Judge Agrees to Release Robbery Suspect on Bond if He Promises to Read Books and Write Reports (by Neetzan Zimmerman, Gawker)

California Man Who Tried to Sell Grenade Launcher to Feds Can't Avoid Jail by Writing Book Reports (by Alexander Nazaryan, New York Daily News)

Hopefully Reading Won’t Cut Too Much into His Fake Grenade Launcher Sales (by Christopher Danzig, Above the Law)

Reversal in Case of Bogus Sale of Grenade Launcher (by Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle)

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