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Pinellas judge accused of over-reacting

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A Pinellas court judge’s attention to fairness is once again being called into question after having a woman in her courtroom arrested for “threats” of physical harm.

Judge Susan Bedinghaus was presiding over a hearing for 19-year old Sherrod Robinson for charges of robbery with a firearm. The felony charge comes with a possible life sentence.

Lawyers representing Robinson requested a reduced bond, but were denied.

It was then his 22-year old sister, LaPorsha Robinson, exclaimed from the gallery, “are you kidding me?”

During the exchange on March 13, Bedinghaus warned Robinson she would be arrested if she continued talking. According to court transcripts, Robinson continued talking anyway saying, “I could snap on you right now but I [ain’t.]

Robinson is petitioning the courts to be released from jail arguing the judge misunderstood her and assumed she “made a direct threat of ‘snapping the judge in two.’”

The petition also argues Robinson was not afforded counsel after being detained for contempt and she was not told “the basis for the contempt stated.” It goes on to also allege Robinson was not “afforded an opportunity to present mitigation.”

The court’s sentence that day was vacated that same day and another hearing “to show cause” was cheduled for March 16.

It was during that hearing that Bedinghaus sentenced Robinson to 60-days in the Pinellas County Jail with “no opportunity for alternative sentencing.”

Robinson has been in custody ever since. Reports show she has just $15 in her commissary account.

As of Friday, April 17, LaPorsha Robinson remains in jail while her brother was released on March 21 after securing his bond. LaPorsha Robinson was sentenced to 60-days as a result of the incident.

In one of the cases, the State Attorney’s Office decided not to prosecute after Bedinghaus recused herself and in another, a new judge released the defendant.

LaPorsha Robinson has her own history. According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrest database, she has been arrested three times twice in 2013 and once in 2012.

Two of the arrests were related to driving while her license was suspended or revoked. The other was for resisting an officer without violence.

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Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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