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Third Complaint Filed Against Judge Kendall After Alleged Robbery

May 25, 2007 — A third complaint against V.I. Superior Court Judge Leon Kendall has been filed by a St. Thomas businesswoman who says she is "in fear for her life" because of a bail decision Kendall made placing a career criminal back on the street.
Jennifer Packard, owner of Island Empire Furniture, wrote the Commission on Judicial Disabilities asking that Kendall be removed from the bench for allowing Paul M. Mills, 44, to be released on his own recognizance into the community.
At a hearing Monday, Kendall found probable cause to charge Mills with grand larceny, but he released Mills — who has a criminal record dating back to 1987 — on his own recognizance. Mills has "sufficient ties" to the community to keep him from being a flight risk, Kendall said.
Packard said she was robbed May 1 at her furniture store. She says she saw Mills fleeing from the store and called out to him, saying she was calling the Police. "I recognized him because he has done some yard work at my home before," Packard said. "He said if I called the Police, he would kill me."
Packard called the Police and reported that Mills stole more than $2,000 in merchandise. She told Police that Mills had done yard work and some painting at the store. She said she knew him as "Joe Cool."
Packard worked with the Police, identifying Mills out of a photo lineup. She told Police that she knew Mills to be on crack cocaine, in possession of a gun and to be a very dangerous person.
Mills was arrested May 19 in Smith Bay. He was charged with grand larceny and his bail was initially set at $35,000 pending his advice-of-rights hearing.
One of the detectives called her Monday to tell her of Kendall's decision to allow Mills back on the street, Packard said. "I was horrified," she said at the time. She wrote the commission Wednesday, "I am outraged that this person who is a known criminal and has been in and out of the court system for more than two decades is allowed to return to his crack den and terrorize me and my family. I am living in great fear that he will retaliate." She demanded the commission remove Kendall from the bench.
Under the rules and procedures of the Commission on Judicial Disabilities, a grievance or complaint should have a preliminary review not more than five days after its receipt. After preliminary review, the commission issues an initial response to the parties. After that, the commission may further investigate the complaints, schedule a hearing or provide any relief necessary.
The commission is empowered to retire or remove a judge for cause. By law its proceedings are confidential.
Packard no longer lives in her home. After Mills' release, she moved herself, her husband and their 10-month old baby to another location.
Nothing has changed, Packard said Friday. She and her family continue to live away from their home. "There's no way I can go back; it's not worth putting ourselves in danger," she said. "I'm not going to be a made-for-TV movie." She added, "If the case doesn't go to trial for months, we will be living away from our home for months."
Mills is scheduled to be arraigned in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Brenda Hollar at 9 a.m. May 31.
Court documents detail Mill's long criminal record, with several larceny convictions, an arrest in 1988 for armed robbery, an arrest for attempted rape in 1988 with no recorded disposition and two burglary charges. The last of those, in 1990, netted him a 10-year jail sentence. Before the current case, his most recent arrest was in 2004 for larceny.
Two complaints against Kendall were filed with the commission earlier this month. One is a 53-page document from the Washington, D.C., watchdog group Judicial Watch. (See enter text to display andclick on here "Judicial Watchdog Group Files Complaint Against Kendall.") The following day, a second complaint was filed by the Women's Coalition of St. Croix and the V.I. Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council.
One condition Kendall included in the conditions for Mills release is that he return to his job. Court documents show that Mills was working as a carpenter for an Alfred Forbes in Coral Bay, St. John. The record shows that he was making $1,000 a week and had been employed for two weeks. Efforts to contact Forbes on Friday were unsuccessful.
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