A day in Mercer County Court

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

In Mercer County Court Tuesday, April 20, 2010 Judge James G. Conway, Jr. encountered a number of cases to preside over – thefts, drugs, domestic battery and several plea agreements.

Robert Downs, 20, of Monmouth appeared with his public defender Clarence “Mike” Darrow, for a jury pretrial session. After a 402 conference in the judge’s chambers between Mercer County Assistant States Attorney Meeghan Lee and Darrow, the attorneys and defendant stood before Judge Conway in open court (A 402 conference deals with a plea of guilty or an understanding between prosecution and defense that there is enough evidence to convict.).

Judge Conway said there was enough progress and a settlement had been reached in principal. A request by the defense  to continue the case for a plea hearing was approved and set for Tuesday, April 27 at 2 p.m.

Downs was arrested on March 13 after a warrant less arrest and charged with manufacture, deliver cannabis, 30-500 grams (Class 3 felony); obstructing justice, destroy evidence (Class 4 felony), and a traffic offense of driving on a suspended license (Class A misdemeanor) and another Class A misdemeanor of driving under the influence of a drug.

The initial bond set was $75,000, which was reduced on March 29 to $30,000 (10 percent to apply). Downs posted bond and was released.

The judge questioned Downs about whether he was aware of what the plea agreement was, and Downs replied he knew and agreed with it.

Mauricis Garcia, 23, of Monmouth appeared with his public defender Eric Reyes, with ASA Lee representing the state. Garcia was charged with the same Class 3 felony of manufacture, deliver cannabis, 30-500 grams and possess cannabis 30-500 grams. His arrest date was March 13 as well.

Garcia has been in the Mercer County Jail since his arrest in March with his bond set at $60,000 (10 percent to apply). A 402 conference was held in judge’s chambers, with the attorneys and defendant standing before the judge after the conference.

Judge Conway said, “The parties have announced a settlement in principal.”

An April 27, 2 p.m. plea agreement hearing date was set.

The judge commented that there were no vehicle charges against Garcia, but there may be an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) problem.