Hillsborough County Judge Chet Tharpe may be questioned under oath if a defense attorney has his way.
This unusual request involves Matthew Buendia, the former U.S. Marine accused of shooting Hillsborough County Deputy Lyonelle De Veaux.
She survived her injuries, but what’s at issue is what happened the day Buendia was arrested. Buendia's attorney Mark O'Brien says his client was given a $65,000 bond by a weekend judge on duty.
O'Brien says for some reason, Judge Tharpe, who is not involved in the case, revoked Buendia's bond.
O'Brien says there was never a written explanation, and he says Buendia's rights and due process were violated by what he calls Judge Tharpe's "unlawful" actions.
O'Brien now wants to depose Judge Tharpe under oath, but the Tharpe is fighting it in court.
"To take the exceptional extraordinary step, of ex-parte making a phone call to the Hillsborough jail and revoking a lawful bond that was set only one to two hours earlier," O'Brien said. "I don’t care about his reasoning, I care about what he was told and who told it to him."
Tampa defense attorney Jeff Brown, who is not involved in the Buendia case, calls the situation extremely rare.
“We have a set of procedures in place for all of this. What we have here is a bond set on a weekend and perhaps Judge Tharpe didn’t like that, but he just can’t on his own, when he’s not the judge assigned, revoke a bond,” Brown said. “It’s not illegal as in being a crime, but it’s unlawful in that it’s not following the rules of procedure.”
Brown said typically, if a deputy is upset that an individual got bond, he or she could call the prosecutor’s office and file a motion asking the judge who has that case to review it, and put the suspect back in jail.
“But you can’t just call a judge, and have the judge -- who is not even assigned to the case -- just do it on his own,” Brown said.
A ruling on whether Buendia’s attorney can depose Judge Tharpe is expected at the end of the month.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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