Judge William Cohen ruled that Max Misch would not have to pay bail for possessing a handgun in violation of a court order. In February, Misch was charged with two counts of possessing high-capacity magazines, which are illegal in Vermont yet are considered misdemeanors. Misch’s wife reported to police that he had purchased the gun, according to Rawstory.
Assistant Attorney General John Waszak requested that Cohen set bail for Misch at $200, but the judge declined. That’s when Shawn Pratt went off, as seen in a video obtained by VTDigger. Pratt shouts at Cohen to explain why his nephew, who is Black, was held on high bail for more than a year before charges were dropped against him yet Misch, who is white, gets to go home scot-free.
“My nephew didn’t get no conditions. This is unfair! He should be locked up,” Pratt said, referring to Misch.
“You should be locked up,” Misch hurls back as he walks past Pratt, adding, “Shut the f–k up.”
Pratt continues in his comments to the judge: “You’re letting him walk out of here guys! My nephew, he was in jail for a whole year, your honor! A whole year! For nothing! He’s Black.”
As a uniformed officer approaches to escort Pratt from the courtroom, Pratt yells “Keep on with these racial disparities, guys! We’re watching all of you!”
Racial disparities across the criminal justice system exist, in part, because of the bias of judges. For example, according to The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, the bail system is ripe with inequities between blacks and whites. In a report entitled “The Economics of Bail and Pretrial Detention” data is included that further analyzes the disparities.
Monetary bail, and pretrial jailing as well as the pressure on low-income defendants are all scrutinized in the report.
“I like the judge,” Pratt said. “I’m not disrespectful of those people, they know that, but this is beyond ridiculous.”