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Coco is back in jail, but maybe not for long
Former Manchester police Sgt. Stephen Coco, right, during his sentencing at Hillsborough County Superior Court North in March. (UNION LEADER FILE)
Coco was released on June 5, after 72 days in jail, but the time out of jail on day reporting status will count against the minimum eight months Coco must serve on the one-year sentence if he remains of good behavior.
Howard disagrees with Hillsborough County Superior Court North Judge Gillian Abramson’s reading of a law that took effect in September 2013, permitting the jail superintendent to reclassify a prisoner in his custody for work release, day reporting or home confinement without seeking a judge’s approval, as was necessary in the past.
While the change in the sentencing law, which took effect in September 2013, permits a decision by the superintendent without a judicial decision, it also gives the prosecutor an opportunity to seek a hearing if he objects to the reclassification.
Howard said Hathaway conceded that the reclassification was done correctly. “There’s been no showing of violations,” said Howard.
Abramson wrote that “sentencing is an exclusively judicial function,” and thus a review of a superintendent’s decision to release an inmate is “retention of the judiciary’s original power to impose sentences.”
Dionne said earlier this week that superintendents had pushed for the ability to change classification without a hearing, because sometimes it could take months to get a hearing before a judge. They said the delay could jeopardize a prisoner’s job or Social Security benefits and medications.
Coco was off-duty in a police-owned SUV when he struck teenagers Dean Drukker and Noah Hickman who were walking in their neighborhood the evening of March 22, 2013. Drukker suffered a head injury and has recovered. Hickman suffered a broken elbow and has also recovered. Coco pleaded guilty to two felony charges of conduct after an accident in a negotiated plea.
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