Underwood asks to skip jail while appealing

Alex Underwood, left, leaves the courthouse after sentencing on July 14.

CHESTER – Former Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood has filed a motion for release pending appeal that would allow him to stay out of prison on bond while he works to appeal his conviction and sentence. He was found guilty on seven federal counts last year and was sentenced to 46 months in prison this July. He sentence was to begin on Sept. 15.

The motion quotes laws about release or detention pending appeal, saying that “the judicial officer shall order that a person who has been found guilty of an offense and sentenced to a term of imprisonment, and who has filed an appeal or a petition for a writ of certiorari, be detained, unless the judicial officer finds…by clear and convincing evidence that the person is not likely to flee or pose a danger to the safety of any person or the community if released…and that the appeal is not for the purpose of delay and raises substantial question of law or fact likely to result in reversal, an order for a new trial, a sentence that does not include a term of imprisonment or a reduced sentence…”

“Given Mr. Underwood’s lifelong commitment to law enforcement and his successful pre-trial supervision, there is no question but that Mr. Underwood would not pose any threat to the community. There is also no reason for the Court to believe this motion is being filed for purposes of delay as Mr. Underwood has consistently submitted to the authority of this court and has not engaged in any dilatory conduct. ” his new attorney Elizabeth Franklin-Best wrote in the motion.

The motion notes that Underwood was acquitted on three of the four civil rights violations with which he was charged and “there is reason to believe that once considered by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, the other count will also be found to be infirm because the district court erred in excluding Mr. Underwood’s evidence that constituted his defense and would have shown the jury that his action that night were reasonable.” There is a further argument that “the district court imposed an extraordinary limit on (his) ability to present a defense to the charge for which he was indicted.”

Attorney William Miller of the United States Attorney’s Office (one of the attorneys that prosecuted Underwood and deputies Robert Sprouse and Johnny Neal at trial) is opposed to the request of allowing Underwood to remain on bond as he challenges his conviction and sentence.

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