EDITOR’S NOTE (Dec 12, 2023): Following the most recent court hearing for Michael Bloch on December 7th, we have learned that Assistant District Attorney Michelle Morton was not present and an additional prosecutor has been assigned to the case. We also learned that Judge Robert Roupe has recused himself from the case. As a result of these changes, the path forward for Bloch’s defense team will likely not materialize until after the new year.
ONSLOW COUNTY, NC – In an administrative session on October 24, 2023, the defense team for Michael Bloch again requested a motion for evaluation of their client – something that should have been done years ago when Bloch was still incarcerated. Why wasn’t an evaluation done years ago when Bloch had just experienced his PTSD episode mental breakdown? That’s a question for Assistant District Attorney, Michelle Morton.
Morton has made it clear that she intends to prosecute Bloch in a criminal proceeding as opposed to allowing him access to the state’s Veterans Treatment Court, which has stated its readiness and willingness to provide Bloch with their full cadre of services.
But after District Attorney Lee seemingly abdicated his responsibilities and deferred them to Morton, it seems that she has dropped the ball on multiple occasions and is now fighting to protect her image.
According to a court transcript, Bloch’s attorney, Mr. Walter Rodriguez stated that “at any point in time from 2022, the State had the ability to go ahead and file these motions and actually have an expert. Now we’re almost two years in trying to get this matter dealt with.”
Judge Robert Roupe is a former Assistant District Attorney in the 5th Prosecutorial District, serving Duplin, Jones, Onslow, and Sampson counties. Given that Roupe was once a colleague of Michelle Morton, and worked for current DA Ernie Lee, it seems that Roupe is now helping to buy Morton additional time in a case that she has mismanaged.
In a recent hearing on November 6, 2023, Bloch’s attorney discussed how difficult this has been for his client.
According to court transcripts, Rodriguez stated, “Twenty-two vets kill themselves every single day and Michael Bloch is not someone that I want in the same situation. So, I’m imploring the Court to set a trial date. We’ve already talked about his mental health declining with these charges hanging. And, again, I cannot stress it enough, if there is a light at the end of the tunnel that this case is going to be dealt with, I think that goes a long way in addressing the status that Mr. Bloch is in.”
Morton was seen snickering at that statistic.
The judge replied, “I agree with you, Mr. Rodriguez. And I don’t have the words to express my sadness and concern over that fact, because I know it’s a fact. I don’t know how I do that though when we know for certain that there are materials that you don’t have that you will receive at some point, but we don’t know when those materials will be available.”
Morton was later spotted with her phone inside the courtroom looking at a photo of Bloch’s attorney at the bench from that same day despite it being illegal to take photos from inside the courtroom.
As Bloch seeks the speedy trial that his 6th Amendment rights are supposed to afford him, Morton’s inability to ensure that important steps were completed means that after years of painful anticipation for how this case will conclude, Bloch and his family will be spending another holiday season wishing they had closure.
Unlike the swift response from the United States government during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Michael Bloch is again being forced to wait for justice to be served. Ironically, his most recent court hearing took place on December 7th, the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
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