On April 12, 2019, 29-year-old Amber L. Cordeiro was arrested and jailed at the Al Cannon Detention Center for three drug offenses — Possession with the Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances near a School, Possession of other Controlled Substances Sched. I-V, and Distribute, Manufacture and Possession of Methamphetamine.
Upon arrival to Bond Court the next morning, Magistrate John C. Kenney provided her personal recognizance bond on all three charges, without providing a bond condition for doing so.
Ms. Cordeiro has been arrested in Charleston County on four occasions beginning in May 2016 on a charge of Grand Larceny. She plead guilty just over three months later to a lesser charge of Petit or Simple Larceny, $2,000 or less.
One year later, she was jailed on a count of Possession of Ice, Crack or Crank 1 gram or less, which was found to be nolle prosequi nine months later even after missing court in early January 2018. Ms. Cordeiro also failed to appear on the same date for her earlier Grand Larceny arrest.
Magistrate Judges exercise vast authority in deciding the people worthy exiting the jailhouse doors with or without payment — irrespective of the Pretrial Services Report (PSR) — and face little resistance in doing so.
Judge Kenney has consistently abated exercising proactive oversight during scheduled Bond Court sessions. The community must encourage a significant overhaul of how its judges are elected, and begin systematically shifting responsibility onto the court’s shoulders for endangering collective society. And if we don’t, undermining democracy will stand tall.