A man accused of stealing ballots from a San Francisco polling station last November will be set free Wednesday after staying in jail for 50 days longer than necessary because of his conduct during a series of bizarre court appearances.
Karl Bradfield Nicholas, 51, was accused of taking about 75 ballots, a voter roster, a cellphone, and a memory box and access key to a voting machine on Knott Court in the city’s Crocker Amazon neighborhood where he was working as a voting station inspector on Nov. 2, 2010. Nicholas was arrested the next day, and the ballots were later found in the lagoon at the Palace of Fine Arts. He has been in custody ever since. The memory box, access key and cellphone have yet to be found.
Nicholas was set to be freed last month after pleading guilty in December to a felony count of tampering with voting machines and ballots in exchange for a year in county jail and other penalties, although he later tried to withdraw the plea.
With credit for time served, the one-year mark came on July 5, but at a hearing that day, at which his defense attorney Stuart Blumstein had filed a motion to have him released from jail on his own recognizance, Nicholas was tackled by sheriff’s deputies after yelling at the judge and Blumstein.
Following the outburst, the judge denied the motion to have him released and had the case continued until his scheduled sentencing the following week in the court of Judge Anne Boulianne.
But during the scheduled sentencing, Nicholas began refusing to talk to his attorney or acknowledge the questions of Boulianne, who ordered him held for a mental health examination instead of sentencing him.
Nicholas also refused to speak to two doctors who were asked to conduct the examination of his mental competency earlier this month. He was eventually declared competent on Monday after finally deciding to talk to Blumstein, his attorney.
Nicholas returned to court today after asking for a hearing on whether he could have Blumstein removed as his attorney, but then decided to withdraw the motion this afternoon.