Judge Frank Whitney sentenced former Mayor Patrick Cannon to house arrest with an ankle bracelet and GPS monitoring until Cannon reports to FCI Morgantown federal prison Nov. 18. Cannon was back in court today after the Charlotte Observer learned the former mayor and now convicted felon voted during early voting on Oct. 30 at Community House School. The Observer’s inquiry lead to an investigation by Cannon’s parole officer and the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections.
Cannon and his attorney James Ferguson tried to convince Whitney that Cannon made an honest mistake, and didn’t realize he lost his voting privileges.
“The light simply didn’t go off on that,” Cannon told the judge. “This is something I did without thinking.”
Cannon’s wife Trina and a few supporters attended the hearing, but the courtroom was not nearly as crowded as it was during Cannon’s sentencing hearing.
Cannon addresses the media in this video.
Judge Whitney was not swayed, and actually sounded annoyed.
“The Court is troubled by the fact that the defendant is a sophisticated voter,” Whitney said. “If anyone should’ve known he lost his right to vote…The court needs to do something so Mr. Cannon and I quit meeting like this.”
Whitney said he wouldn’t require Cannon be immediately placed into custody because it would be a financial burden on taxpayers. Cannon’s bed at the minimum security prison FCI Morgantown in West Virginia will not be available until Nov. 18. It would be expensive to send Cannon to Mecklenburg County Jail until his report date, Whitney said. Mecklenburg County Jail is a high security facility.
Before making his ruling, Whitney spent about 30 minutes discussing, primarily with the government attorneys, when a person is deemed a convicted felon. Once a person is judged guilty of a felony the person loses civil rights, such as the right to vote. Whitney has directed other magistrates to advise defendants that they have lost their civil rights once they have been judged guilty and during sentencing hearings. He also instructed probation officers to tell defendants on bond who have been judged guilty that they have lost their right to vote.