Westchester woman detained without bail on misdemeanor charge
The case of a Westchester woman detained without bail on a misdemeanor charge is under scrutiny Monday – amidst concerns the woman might be unlawfully held.
Elizabeth Weinstein, 50, has been involved in a family court legal battle involving her kids over the past two years.
But on July 3 her case took a drastic turn.
"I'm in solitary confinement being held illegally," said Weinstein, during a phone call with News 12 from inside Westchester County Jail.
The mother of three has been held there, without bail, on a misdemeanor charge for two weeks.
"I'm detained in solitary confinement by judge Stewart A. Halper, Briarcliff Manor, on a competency exam," continued Weinstein.
Weinstein's Attorney, George Hritz, hasn't said her detainment is illegal but confirms to News 12 that she's currently incarcerated for allegedly violating a Family Court restraining order.
A News 12 legal expert and source we spoke to, however, says holding Weinstein without bail could be in violation of criminal procedural laws and mental hygiene laws – adding there's no set time frame for a competency exam but that the evaluation can be done outside of jail.
The case has garnered widespread attention since News 12 first posted about the woman's plight on social media last week - with critics and supporters questioning why she's being held on a misdemeanor when many felony crimes are bail eligible or subject to an appearance ticket.
The case also caught the eye of high-profile Family Court activist Jaqueline Franchetti.
"We need to demand accountability," said Franchetti.
Franchetti says a proposed bill in her daughter's name, Kyra's Law, would establish judicial training and require early hearings in Family Court that could help in cases like Weinstein's.
"When we look at criminal court versus family court, they are different," said Franchetti. "The types of evidence they look at and what they qualify and examine are completely different. There's so much secrecy surrounding family court and that's a problem."
A representative for New York state courts says Weinstein has multiple criminal charges in two jurisdictions and that her attorney should be aware of the steps necessary to request her release.
Westchester prosecutors haven't gotten back to us to confirm what those charges are but say bail was set in those cases.
Weinstein's attorney said Friday that he planned to file a Habeus Corpus petition to request her release, but as of Monday told us he hasn't filed it yet.
Weinstein is due back in court July 27.
Her estranged husband's attorney declined to comment.