Thursday, August 18, 2005

US v. Fidler

No. 05-50444 (8-16-05). So if K from Kafka's The Trial was detained in the 9th and it was set at an amount he couldn't meet, could he argue that it violated the release provisions of the bail statute of setting reasonable conditions? In this case, the defendant had been released with the condition he post $300,000 secured by real property (probably the cost now of a 600 sq ft studio condo in a seedier portion of L.A.). He couldn't meet the bond (the FTC had frozen his assets from a civil suit). He argued that the financial condition set is so high that it is a case of not being granted bond, and therefore is unreasonable. The bail statute, 3142(c)(2), prohibits the court from setting a bond so high as to result in detention without findings of danger or risk. Alas, the 9th doesn't see the catch-22 quality of the argument (the only way a defendant can be trusted to appear is if he meets a bond that is set so high that he can't meet it). Rather, the 9th joins its "sister circuits" is parsing the language as meaning that the amount set, with findings, is what is required to secure a defendant's presence. The defendant's detention is "not because he cannot raise the money, but because without the money, the risk of flight is too great." Gotcha. The 9th goers on to find that the court looked at the issues, and the setting of the bond was reasonable.


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