The case of Charlie Hardin was called again on February 10th, 2022 in McDowell County Superior Court. After speaking with District Attorney Ted Bell, a plea to one class F and one class H felony was offered by the Defendant with no plea arrangement with the State.
Per the previous order of Superior Court Judge J. Tommy Davis, the sentencing on anything whether a plea or by trial could not exceed the terms of the original plea offered in District Court in 2017 and agreed to by the District Attorney’s (D.A.) office.
Initially Hardin had decided to go to trial, but after his attorney informed him that his chances of active time were limited, he instructed his attorney, Krinn Evans, to enter the plea.
During this exchange Bell made the statement that the Hardin matter was #17 on the trial docket. Evans responded that if trial proceeded, there would be a pre-trial motion due to Mr. Bell’s actions during the July 2021 trial term by refusing to try the case as the #1 for trial during that term.
Hardin’s attorney stated in open Court that after losing a pretrial motion in front of the Superior Court Judge J. Tommy Davis, D.A. Bell said he was not ready to proceed to trial. At that time, Hardin’s Attorney, Krinn Evans, told Mr. Bell that Mr. Hardin would be ready for trial immediately or at any other time during the term Bell said, “I won’t be ready then either,” and left the courtroom.
This act on Bell’s part violated the North Carolina Criminal trial scheduling statute.
When informed of the pretrial motion on Bell’s failure to abide by the scheduling statute, D.A. Bell made the statement that the trial was continued on the motion of Judge Davis, not himself; and implied that Mr. Evans was being untruthful to the tribunal. Mr. Evans’ return statement stated he was an officer of the court*, and the actions occurred as he reported.
Mr. Hardin accepted the plea after further thought, and under the terms of Judge Don Bridges was sentenced to 10-21 months on the class H felony; with sentencing stayed on the class F felony. This was in line with the previous plea.
Mr. Hardin was given credit for all of his pretrial confinement; making this basically a time served plea. Mr. Hardin has four months remaining on his original sentence that caused his incarceration.
Mr. Bell gave notice of appeal following the judgment of Judge Bridges’ ruling to the appellate court; to enable the order to be vacated and the possibility of trial to be ordered.
*An officer of the court expresses that an attorney has an obligation to promote justice and effective operation of the judicial system. As officers of the court, attorneys have an absolute ethical duty to tell judges the truth.