PETERSBURG, VA– A family dispute over a missing wallet became entangled in procedural snafus and additional charges that cost Quantell Bowser her job. She is now on the lam.

“I lost a lot behind this case and the wallet,” Bowser said. Bowser is no longer working as a security guard. No wallet was ever found.

“I’m just ready for it to be over,” Bowser told the Tribune. Bowser was not served a notice to appear in Judge Joseph Teefey’s court June 30, 2022 for a sentence hearing.

The prosecutor in Bowser’s case filed new charges to extend her sentence based on alleged bad behavior.

“What’s important with Quantell’s story is that she’s disabled. She’s covered by the ADA. Where is the ADA when the judicial system intimidates and basically bullies those who are disabled? The system doesn’t understand her disability either. So she’s getting criminally charged for having a seizure that somebody interpreted as a psychotic episode,” said Bakura Shabazz, the CEO of the Criminal Injustice Reform Network (CIRN).

On July 21, Shabazz gave Judge Teefey medical records showing that Bowser was in the hospital. Shabazz had this exchange with the judge:

Shabazz: The magistrate will consider that there was no service for her to even

Teefey: That’s right.

Shabazz: to know she was supposed to be here?

Teefey : You know, you really help yourself out when you turn yourself in because

they tell the magistrate that.

Clerk: It was never a show cause to serve. The capias was ordered on record in court and…

Shabazz: But she wasn’t here to know that. She wouldn’t have known, and you all issued a capias.

Teefey: I’m not going to take up a defense —

Shabazz: I know.

Teefey:  especially considering that you’re not even a lawyer and you can’t present a defense.

Shabazz: I understand.

Teefey Why don’t we save all of that for the lawyer when she comes before the Court. Okay?

Shabazz: Okay. We still want to make sure that we’re following procedure.

Teefey: Okay. That’s fine. All right. So it will be carried over for a control date, but tell this person to turn themselves in. Okay?

Bowser went to court on Thursday, August 18. None of her accusers were present. She was not arrested so she was not booked; no bail was set; she was not assigned a court-appointed lawyer either because she was not indicted; she was given a new court date in November but Feeney did not rescind the warrant. In other words, nothing really happened.

Ironically, Bowser is still a wanted fugitive even though she turned up in court to face Judge Feeney. Shabazz dug up the court records showing the arrest warrant was issued two days before the show cause hearing.

“How can you issue a Capias (arrest warrant) on the 28th before you even had court on the 30th? This case is a procedural mess,” Shabazz said.

Bekura Shabazz is President and CEO of the Criminal Injustice Reform Network, a non-profit in Virginia that advocates for people tangled up in the court system.

Shabazz thinks a court clerk who found her nosy complained to Feeney and he started an investigation into whether she practices law without a license. Court records are generally open to the public. Shabazz didn’t have to misrepresent herself as a lawyer when asking for them and what she noticed was not simply a clerical error. It was a miscarriage of justice.

Shabazz said Bowser is a pro-bono client. Others pay on a sliding scale for CIRN advocacy on behalf of mostly poor residents tangled up in the criminal justice system.

“There is no judicial oversight to protect citizens from this happening to them. So that’s what we do. We are a vehicle that helps them to get the justice that they deserve,” Shabazz said.

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