Judge revokes bail for man caught trying to intimidate a witness

Posted: January 10, 2014

HUTCHINSON IVEY should have kept his mouth shut, since he was already locked up on robbery, conspiracy and related charges.

Instead, when his relatives recently visited him in a Philadelphia jail - where he was being held on $5 million bail - Ivey, 35, yelled at them for not getting a witness to change her statements to police, according to the District Attorney's Office.

A jailhouse recording of the incident came back to haunt Ivey yesterday.

Common Pleas Judge Charles Ehrlich revoked his bail during a hearing at which the defendant had hoped to get a bail reduction. Now, Ivey, a felon who was arrested in November 2012 for armed robbery and indicted by a grand jury, will remain jailed until he is tried.

"This is exactly why we have the indicting grand jury. Witnesses are scared and this is exactly why," Ehrlich told Ivey, who previously had been convicted of third-degree murder and sentenced to five to 10 years in prison in 2001.

"The case is to be decided by 12 people in the jury box, not by the street," the judge added.

The indicting grand jury, started in Philadelphia in December 2012, allows prosecutors to skip open-court preliminary hearings and instead present their cases before a grand jury in secret and without the defendant or defense lawyer there to listen or speak. The panel - rather than a municipal judge - would then decide if a defendant will be held for trial.

The goal, the D.A.'s Office has said, is to protect witnesses and victims against intimidation, which is rampant in Philadelphia.

The cases of 550 defendants have been through the new grand-jury system so far, the Daily News reported Tuesday.

Supporters are proclaiming it a success, noting that 87 percent of cases presented to the indicting grand jury have resulted in indictments and an additional 3 percent have led to guilty pleas.

Some defense lawyers, however, complained the new system hampers defendants' fair-trial rights by making it more difficult to adequately prepare for trial.

On Twitter: @MensahDean

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