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Jamesine Fischer’s Hit-and-Run Trial Pushed to January, Benefitting Flagler Sheriff Fleming

| September 12, 2012

Sidebar: From left, Jamesine Fischer’s attorney, Steven Alexander, Judge Raul Zambrano, and from the 18th Judicial Circuit, assistant state attorneys Laura Moody and Russ Bausch. (FlaglerLive)

Pushed back once already, the case of Jamesine Fischer, the woman accused of killing 76-year-old Francoise Pecqueur in an alleged hit-and-run almost a year ago in Palm Coast, was pushed back to January. Fischer faces a first-degree felony charge, to which she has pleaded not guilty.

Fischer did not appear in court this morning. Her attorney, Steven Alexander, told Circuit Judge Raul Zambrano that he had completed 25 to 28 depositions in the case, but needed to conduct 20 more.

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The continuance would have been of little significance had it not been for its underlying political ramifications: it is a victory for Flagler County Sheriff Don Fleming, who is entangled in the case: the night of the incident, and in subsequent days, Fleming had several phone exchanges with John Fischer, the school board member and the husband of Jamesine, discussing the wreck, and subsequently, the fatality. It was Fleming who directed Fischer to Alexander. Fleming has given different accounts of his conversations with Fischer, raising questions about his judgments and involvement in the case on behalf of a friend.

Fleming is in a reelection battle against former Sheriff Jim Manfre. Had the trial unfolded over the next few weeks, it would have brought potentially damaging publicity to his campaign. Four years ago, Fleming beat Manfre by barely more than 800 votes, a difference of 1.8 percent. Now that the trial has been shifted to January, one of the most difficult obstacles in Fleming’s way has been rendered essentially moot, absent further revelations in the case before Nov. 6. There will be a pre-trial conference on Oct. 18.

Assistant State Attorney Russ Bausch of the 18th Judicial District in Brevard County, who is prosecuting the case, had no objections. The prosecution of the case was moved out of the 7th Judicial Circuit at State Attorney R.J. Larizza’s request, because of Fleming’s involvement in the case.

Alexander told the court that he had received the lab reports related to the case, but that he had not yet conducted expert depositions. The large number of depositions, and the nature of the depositions, suggests that Fischer’s defense will rely heavily on shedding doubt on accusations that she was either impaired at the time of the crash, or that she left the scene. To be convicted, the case against her must be established beyond a reasonable doubt. But her attorney will not have to prove innocence to counter the accusations–only to show that there is doubt as to their veracity.

Zambrano will not be the sitting judge in the case come January. He is moving to Volusia County, and Judge David Walsh will be taking his seat. But Zambrano was clearly eager to get as much of the pre-trial issues out of the way by then, including all motions. He wanted to set the next pre-trial conference no later than the end of October. A clerk suggested Oct. 31. Alexander objected, because of his wedding anniversary.

“You got married on Halloween?” Zambrano asked him, to muted laughter from a half-full courtroom (more than a half dozen attorneys and clients were in court for a series of cases.)

“October 31, close enough,” Alexander said. “It’s my 30th wedding anniversary.”

Zambrano is not quick with humor in court. Moments earlier, he’d severely admonished a young man who’d entered the courtroom with his hat on. “Take your hat off please,” Zambrano shot from the bench. “If you do that again I’m going to take your hat and I’m going to keep it.”

In another case this morning, Zambranio sentenced a woman–Christy Hites–who’s about to give birth to almost 23 months in state prison for her fifth violation of probation. Hites will serve somewhat less than that because of credit for time already served.

13 Responses for “Jamesine Fischer’s Hit-and-Run Trial Pushed to January, Benefitting Flagler Sheriff Fleming”

  1. blondee says:

    Hopefully the public sentiment (i.e. ire) won’t wane with all these delays.

  2. agnese says:

    Suspicious timing ??

  3. sparky says:

    Timing??? what are you saying…. we the people do not have the power to arrange the cout dates…

    Court cases delays happening all the time…

  4. Magicone says:

    I knew this was coming. This trial is to close to the election, but the people of Palm Coast are not stupid; Fleming is on his last leg!!

  5. ryan says:

    Like usual, we will all stay silent when our voices need to be heard the most.

  6. Gia says:

    It’s very well arranged

  7. Lonewolf says:

    Why not just vote in a sheriff who’s not the center of possible corruption. MANFRE

    • sparky says:

      To Lonewolf-

      Coruption? What Corruption? Hopefully you never have to place a call for a law enforcement as you seem to think that a call placed is corruption… Sad


      Because he had his chance and did nothing………DUH!!!!!

      Fleming is the man for the job.

  8. PC Aviator says:

    How much influence do you really think Fleming has? Larizza sent the case out of the circuit to an attorney that has nothing to do with Flagler County. That attorney AGREED to the continuance just like most attorneys do. Go sit through a pre-trial court docket and you will see that it is a regular occurrence. It has gotten better under Zambrano but cases do not get solved in 52 minutes like you see on TV. Regardless of what Fleming’s influence, or perceived influence, is, the defendant is entitled to ask for a continuance, is entitled to have the depositions that HER attorney requested. If she is not give that opportunity then the defense attorney can come back and say that the defendant did not have adequate time to prepare a defense.

  9. Susan says:

    I’m pretty sure Sheriff Fleming was already cleared prior to any of this….why not write an article about that??

  10. Wtf? says:

    The point is that by continuing this case the sheriffs involvement gets pushed to the back burner right before elections! This is good news to Fleming, but what about voters? It’s been reported that Fischer called Fleming BEFORE calling 911…. If that’s not suspicious then what is? How many people do you know that call the sheriff directly before calling 911 when you hit someone with your car and leave the scene? (911 is for emergencys right?) He lied about how many phone calls they exchanged, they were friends. It’s not the only questionable thing Flemings done.

    How can anyone be so naive to think that perfect Flagler county is immune to corruption in the authorities and justice system?

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