Branden Shell, a 26-year-old Mount Pleasant resident, was arrested after 12 A.M. on March 30, 2019, on a count of DUI 2nd Offense.
Later that day, Magistrate John C. Kenney provided Mr. Shell $10,000 personal recognizance bond for the charge.
One day following his free release from the Al Cannon Detention Center, Mr. Shell was re-arrested on March 31 for a drug count — Possession of Schedule IV Narcotics — and was released on $10,000 PR bond, this time by Magistrate Martelle T. Morrison of the Ravenel/Adam’s Run Area Magistrate Court. Read more about Schedule IV Narcotics here.
Mr. Shell’s first gift of personal recognizance was a stretch — albeit a blessing — but it was taken advantage of by going back to jail on an additional felony charge.
The case of Branden Shell regresses the Charleston Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s application of a 42% drop in “familiar faces” in discussions, and showcases an ineffectiveness of the Pretrial Services Report (PSR) provided to magistrates tasked with making informed decisions based upon gathered evidence.
Opposition to our efforts will surely label Mr. Shell an anomaly — handpicked from dozens — but we have reported on other instances of offending persons going back to jail following judicial leniency, per the CJCC’s pursuits. (Take the case of David Branham Thomas, for clarity).
But we stand for a long-forgotten principle of accountability in our courts, fair and equivocal justice, and inclusion of South Carolina voters in appointing magistrate judges.
Mr. Shell is tentatively scheduled to appear in court on May 24, 2019, for his DUI-related count, and on May 31, 2019, relating to his Narcotics charge.