News Columns & Blogs - INACTIVE

Patrick Cannon’s release date draws nearer

Patrick Cannon is now scheduled to be released from prison in January 2017
Patrick Cannon is now scheduled to be released from prison in January 2017 Observer staff

The hourglass for former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon’s prison stay is about to reach half empty.

Eleven months ago, Cannon entered a West Virginia prison after pleading guilty to accepting more than $50,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents.

The 48-year-old Democrat was sentenced to 44 months. However, Cannon is now scheduled to be released on Jan. 25, 2017, a little more than 15 months from now. That would bring his total time served to two years and two months.

Even if Cannon stays under federal supervision that long, it’s highly doubtful he will finish his sentence at FCI Morgantown. Cannon’s keepers can recommend he spend 10 percent of his time – four months and change – in a Charlotte halfway house or even in home detention.

Under incentives available to all federal inmates, Cannon gets 54 days shaved off his punishment for every year of good behavior. He was also accepted into a nine-month, drug-treatment program that apparently cut another year off his incarceration.

Cannon’s early homecoming could carry more legal problems. He remains under indictment for voter fraud stemming from an illegal ballot he cast in the November 2014 elections. Cannon lost his voting privileges when he pleaded guilty to taking bribes. He said he voted without thinking.

As a result, the federal judge in charge of his bribery case put Cannon under several weeks of home confinement until he reported to prison. The Mecklenburg District Attorney’s Office took the case before a grand jury. A trial date has not been set. But an office spokeswoman says prosecutors are “in discussion with Mr. Cannon’s counsel about having him returned to Charlotte to handle the matter.”

Big honor for Coleman

Charlotte native and Duke law professor Jim Coleman will receive a prestigious honor from the American Bar Association next Friday.

Coleman is the year’s winner of the Raeder-Taslitz Award from the bar association’s criminal justice section. It is given to the law professor whose impact as a scholar, teacher and community servant promotes public understanding, justice and fairness and “the best practices of lawyers and judges.”

Coleman grew up in the old Brooklyn neighborhood near uptown. He is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia University law school.

At Duke, Coleman is co-director of the law school’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic which, among others, has helped two Charlotte men to be released from prison.