Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Suspect Vanishes; Judge on Hot Seat Bail Reduction Angered Murder Case Prosecutors

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Suspect Vanishes; Judge on Hot Seat Bail Reduction Angered Murder Case Prosecutors

Article excerpt

Ill will between Circuit Judge Roger M. Scrivner and St. Clair County prosecutors, simmering for months, has boiled over in a public dispute over the disappearance of a murder suspect for whom Scrivner had granted a bail reduction.

Tyran Hall, 19, of Springfield, Ill., was freed in November after Scrivner cut his bond to $100,000 from $250,000

Hall then failed to show up for trial on Feb. 10 in the fatal shooting of Rodney Luster, 27, of East St. Louis, in a fight on July 9, 1995. Scrivner says critics seized the opportunity to portray him as a judge who coddles criminals, perhaps hoping voters will defeat him when he runs for retention in the year 2000. He contends the real issue is his unwillingness to allow prosecutors and defense lawyers to delay cases. Previously, when he was assigned to civil cases, some of those lawyers didn't like him for the same reason, he said. "I pushed the docket," Scrivner says. "I consistently tried the most cases, year after year." Scrivner admits he can be abrasive. Frequently, if he thinks a case has been delayed long enough, he tells his clerk to enter an order marked "NMFC," his acronym for "no more foolish continuances" - or words to that effect. "When you push the docket like I do, you consistently make enemies in one camp or both camps," Scrivner said. He also has little patience with lawyers he deems lazy or incompetent. Last week, St. Clair County State's Attorney Robert B. Haida issued an all-points bulletin for Hall and blasted Scrivner for reducing his bond. "Tyran Hall is a cold-blooded killer who should not have been released in the first place," Haida said. Scrivner said the judicial code of ethics prohibits him from commenting on the case. "I can't respond to Mr. Haida's press release because I'm bound by a different set of rules than he is," he said. "I've been subjected to criticism and slanted analysis of the case, and there's nothing I can do about it but take it." But he wondered aloud why prosecutors had not pushed for trial earlier on a murder that took place more than a year and a half ago, and why the prosecution had not asked that Hall's bond, $10,000 in cash, be forfeited. …

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