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May 24, 2021 - 6:58pm

Judge Zambito unable to hold Batavia man who has been arrested repeatedly

posted by Howard B. Owens in news, devon wright, notify, batavia, crime.
devonwrightmug2020.jpg
         Devon Wright

Judge Charles Zambito expressed frustration today -- frustration he and his colleagues on the bench throughout New York share -- that when considering bail for a defendant, he cannot weigh the potential threat the defendant represents to the community. 

District Attorney Lawrence Friedman had just asked that Devon A. Wright be held without bail in the Genesee County Jail citing his recent felony arrest on top of two criminal indictments already pending.

Since Zambito couldn't send Wright to jail or increase his present bail (he is out of jail on bail), the County Court judge ordered the 19-year-old to undergo a mental health evaluation within the next three weeks, not consume drugs or alcohol, stay in his own residence from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. (thereby prohibiting him from staying at his girlfriend's house), and avoiding any confrontation with police, who will have blanket permission to search him or his residence at any time.

Since turning 18 in 2019, Wright has been charged with crimes ranging from larceny and assault to sexual misconduct.

In the past 20 months, Batavia PD has reported the following arrests:

It's the most recent arrest that prompted Friedman to ask Zambito to order Wright held without bail.

Friedman said that he was more concerned about Wright's willingness to make future court appearances given his growing list of unresolved criminal charges.

Attorney Nathan Pace, recently assigned to represent him after Wright's previous attorney resigned from the case, argued that there was no reason to doubt Wright won't make future court appearances since he has made recent court appearances. Pace said he represented Wright in other matters two years ago and the defendant made his appearances then. He also said he and his client dispute the facts of the recent arrest. He also said Wright will become a father in a few months and is looking forward to the baby's birth and that he will start a job at a Batavia gas station on Monday.

"I believe he will continue to appear in court," Pace said.

Friedman countered that it is meaningless that the defendant denied wrongdoing in the new cases. That's what defendants do at this stage of proceedings. Friedman said it was more relevant that Wright is accused of resisting arrest and fighting with police officers. 

Zambito opened his remarks by saying it was difficult to agree with the desire of Pace to keep his client out of jail, but that New York law limited what he could do to hold Wright in custody. 

"It's impossible under the current bail reform laws," Zambito said. "It seems Wright is a clear and present danger to the community as long as he is out and he continues to get arrested. 

But, Zambito added, "the law doesn't allow a judge to consider community safety when setting bail. I'm frustrated. I think every judge in New York State is frustrated."

He said he was going to order a mental health evaluation and Pace agreed that is a good idea. 

"As his previous attorney said, 'something is not right in his head,' " Pace told Zambito.

As Zambito issued his order, Pace emphasized to Wright that he can't go out of the door of his house after 9 p.m. and before 6 a.m. and that he must cooperate with police when he encounters them, even when they show up to search his house. 

Zambito added, "they're going to show up at your house and you can't fight with them, you can't resist them."

Wright is also not allowed to leave Genesee County while his cases are pending.

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