Carla Balducci, the director of King County's Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention, says she wasn't deliberately hiding anything in October, when she failed to mention alleged cop-killer Christopher Monfort's suicide attempt while explaining why jail officials chose to give him a TV. Rather, she says, she's bound by a highly unusual court order.
Officials can't disclose, other than to defense counsel, what experts are visiting Monfort or whether his attorneys are getting his medical records. "The real kicker," though, says Balducci, is a provisions that requires department staff to bring any public records requests to the judge before responding to them.
"We don't usually have orders like that," Balducci says. Indeed, Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, says he's not sure whether such an order has ever been issued before.
Neither Balducci nor Goodhew could say why Kessler felt the order was necessary, other than that the Momfort case is high-profile with life and death at state. "My assumption is [Kessler] wants to preserve Monfort's right to a fair jury," Goodhew says. As he recalls, the order followed a large public information request by The Seattle Times that the defense objected to.
Balducci concedes that the order may not apply to situations in which she's simply answering reporters' questions, as opposed to a formal records request. " I was being cautious," she says, referring to the many calls she got from journalists in October, wanting to know why an accused cop-killer was suddenly provided with a coveted perk. She adds that she is also restricted by HIPPA, the federal law that protects medical privacy.
Now that records about Monfort's suicide have been entered in the case, however, Balducci is willing to say more. She concedes that the television was provided to the King County Jail inmate only days after he cut himself with a piece of a razor. "The fact that he did this heightened the urgency" of concerns jail officials were already having about Monfort's state, she says.
At the jail, Balducci continues, Monfort is in "a pretty unique situation." He's being held in isolation. But unlike other inmates who are so confined, Monfort isn't getting out for an hour a day. That's because of Monfort's medical condition, Balducci saays. Monfort was shot as he was apprehended. One bullet went through his head and another remains lodged in his spine, according to defense attorney Carl Luer. He is a paraplegic.
Luer says a conversation about providing Monfort with a TV was in the works for quite some time as jail officials noted the depressing effects of such isolation. And has it helped? "I don't know," Luer says. Since the fall, certain aspects of Monfort's physical condition have improved following hospital treatment, according to the lawyer, who declines to provide details. That, Luer says, may be helping Monfort's spirits as much as the cartoon network.
See Judge Kessler's court order below: