ST. ALBANS CITY — The case of a Massachusetts man wanted on multiple arson charges took a bizarre detour here Wednesday morning.

Vermont State Police (VSP) arrested a man identified as Phillip J. Jordan, of Pittsfield, Mass., at the Highgate border crossing on Sunday, Sept. 23. Police arrested Jordan on an active arrest warrant for three counts of arson. He was considered a “fugitive from justice,” which is a wanted person found in another state.

Jordan has been held at the Northwest State Correctional Facility, in St. Albans, since then, pending extradition to Massachusetts to face the arson charges.

The Franklin County Superior Court held a status conference in Jordan’s case yesterday morning. That is, his case as a fugitive from justice. The court won’t deal with his arson charges. It’s not a Vermont case.

Rosie Chase, Jordan’s public defender here, provided him with an extradition waiver. If Jordan signed the waiver in front of the judge — in this case, Greg Rainville — he could be extradited to Massachusetts to face the arson charges. This is legally defined in Title 13 of Vermont’s statutes — see Chapter 159, Subchapter 002, Section 4967, which is available online.

Chase spent several minutes explaining to Jordan his legal options, in private, after Franklin County sheriff’s deputies transported him to the Lake Street courthouse.

But as Chase explained to Rainville when the conference commenced, the extradition waiver’s wording seemed to confuse Jordan. Chase said Jordan seemed to believe he was waiving his right to extradition, despite her assurances to the contrary.

Jordan asked to address Rainville himself. Rainville said he could.

Jordan made several assertions in the following 10-or-so minutes. He said he wanted to go back to Massachusetts. He legally admitted that he is the Phillip J. Jordan, 58, of Pittsfield, sought by Massachusetts police. He said he wanted a phone call, a legal matter Chase was audibly trying to clarify for Jordan prior to the conference. Jordan was allowed one phone call upon his arrest as a fugitive here in Vermont, which one may assume he used to contact the Public Defender’s Office. He will then be allowed one phone call in Massachusetts upon his arrest for the arson charges.

Who Jordan wanted to call, he did not say.


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