Judge Alan Nevas
Judge Nevas related the story of the infamous Pardue brothers. John Jr. and James Pardue were Staples High school graduates who were the sons of Dorothy and John Russell Pardue. The elder Pardue was a drunk and addicted to pornography. He also abused his wife on a regular basis until she finally filed for divorce. But by the time of the filing John Pardue senior had moved to Missouri to take up residence with his mother. He could never be located by Missouri Sheriff Miller who attempted to serve him with divorce papers in 1969.
In 1970 an explosion occurred in the Danbury police station shortly followed by a robbery of the Danbury Union Bank. The chief FBI investigator noted similarities between the Danbury bank robbery and bank robberies that had occurred in Vista N.Y. and Georgetown CT. Witnesses to these robberies described two nice looking men who fit the description of the two adult Pardue boys. Consequently, the FBI questioned John Pardue Jr. who lived in Danbury.
John Jr. had, since his parents’ divorce, married an Irish woman and had a child with her, which she took back to Ireland. John Jr. went to Ireland and brought the child back with him to the U.S. without the permission of the mother. This resulted in a warrant for John Jr., which was discovered by the FBI when they questioned him. By this time John Jr. had remarried a woman named Nancy. When the police picked him up on the old warrant, one of the arresting police officers recognized his as being in the Danbury police station just prior to the explosion. The FBI then had bank employees who witnessed the robberies present at John Jr’s hearing. They identified him as one of the bank robbers.
The FBI then sought the brother, James, who was known to reside in Maryland. When they found James an issue of competency became immediately apparent. The man was often curled up in a fetal position seemingly comatose. He wouldn’t, or couldn’t communicate with his lawyer and frequently drafted his own court petitions one of which stated that he was kept in a cage and fed carrots so he felt the court should declare him a rabbit. The court felt that he was incompetent to stand trial and sent him to a hospital. Subsequently, he was in a number of hospitals and never found to be competent, but the amount of time that had passed resulted in the court dismissing his indictment for failure to bring him to trial in a reasonable time.
Meanwhile, the brother John was brought to trial in 1971. During a court recess, while John was held in a cell he received a visit from his wife, Nancy. She brought in a hidden semi-automatic shotgun, which she passed to John. After she left and the cell door was opened to return him to court, John pulled out the shotgun. One of the marshals pulled out his pistol and fired hitting John several times including one shot to the neck. John was sent to the hospital where he was told he was dying. He there confessed to the bank robberies in CT and one in Missouri as well as several murders including the murder of his father and grandmother in Missouri. He stated that his brother had joined in all these crimes.
In 1975 James was found competent to stand trial. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to an institution for the criminally insane in Missouri. In 1976, James was released because he was supposedly cured. James moved to Colorado, picked up another accomplice and robbed a bank and then killed his accomplice. For this he received a 25 year sentence.
While in jail, James earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and then a master’s degree. He also attracted a young woman’s attention and they got married while he was still in prison. Later he was paroled and then arrested again for violating his parole. This time he hung himself while in prison.
Q. What is the logic of the insanity defense?
A. If you are insane, you can’t form intent and you need intent for a crime to be committed.
Q. If you are committed to a mental institution for the criminally insane how can you be released?
A. They can only keep you until they determine you are cured. Once they determine you are cured they have to release you.
Q. What is your comment on the recent sentencing article?
A. It’s a well thought out piece that asks questions about sentencing guidelines removing a judge’s discretion when a judge may feel that there should be humanitarian considerations.
Q. Is this story documented?
A. I am told that if you Google it, you will find a long story.
Q. Can you comment on Parole in CT?
A. Only generally. After serving a certain percentage of a sentence a person is eligible for parole. They will then get a hearing to determine whether parole should be granted. Some of these parole hearings are televised.
Q. Was either brother in trouble in school?
A. I don’t know.
Q. What went wrong with the legal system in this situation?
A. Really, nothing went wrong with the system.
Q. Did the parent’s marriage have an effect on the brothers?
A. Almost certainly yes, but we don’t know to what extent.
Q. How common is marriage in jail?
A. It’s actually quite common.
Q. Did you ever struggle between the spirit and letter of the law?
A. Yes. There are times when you just can’t agree with the way things are presented.