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Redacted Supporting Brief (Bond – Mercy of the Court)

by merlin on April 28th, 2014
  • Sumo

This brief is redacted, and the errors that were present have been corrected.  However, those errors have eaten me up since filing it earlier, because they are tacky.  I have a rule – and advise anybody drafting anything, or writing any document (since I developed it in college, and it has served me well whenever I have remembered to obey it) – that you should always read over any document before you submit it.  Sadly, I ignored that rule on this document.   HOWEVER – the cases and law referred to are accurate and applicable.

BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF NEW MOTION FOR BOND

COMES NOW Defendant XXXXX XXXXX, by and through undersigned counsel, and makes and files this, his Brief in Support of New Motion for Bond, begging the Court to indulge in leniency for him in this instance, to recognize the basic legal principle that an error that led to the revocation of his bond is not the same thing as Guilt for the crimes with which he stands accused, and that it is only the confluence of certain technical matters that elevates this from being a set of minor misdemeanors into felonies worthy of felony imprisonment for several years, and in support thereof states the following:

Questions Presented

  1. Do the characteristics of the underlying criminal acts that XXXXX XXXXX is accused of warrant his incarceration from society before trial?
  2. Do the criminal acts that he is accused of warrant the incarceration of XXXXX XXXXX before trial?

Short Answers

  1. XXXXX XXXXX broke traffic laws, but that doesn’t mean he should be locked away from society until he can be tried by his peers.
  2. No valid community safety goal is furthered by putting XXXXX XXXXX in jail pending trial.

 

Argument and Citation of Legal Authority

 In the famous book To Kill a Mockingbird, the character Atticus Finch says that “[y]ou never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  That is exactly what the Court is called on to do in making its determination of whether to grant bond or not, and in determining how much that bond should be.  While it is true that XXXXX XXXXX had a warrant out for his arrest for several months, he was not exactly hard to find, since he lived primarily at his mother’s house or at his known residence in Rabun County during that time.

  1. The facts of this crime and of his pretrial violation do not justify the incarceration of XXXXX XXXXX before Trial.

The underlying criminal violation that led to the initial arrest of XXXXX XXXXX was prompted by his temporary erratic operation of a vehicle at an early hour of the morning.  He was never charged for that traffic offense, because straying over the line of one lane led, through a comedy of errors, to the search of his vehicle and his arrest for multiple felonies.  The alleged felonies themselves are all prompted by residue and circumstance, so a fine gave rise to a decade of incarceration, and his addiction to a substance, combined with the abject failure of law enforcement to execute existing judicial directives for arrest over the course of months, led to his incarceration anew on a false suspicion of avoiding arrest and hiding from the charges against him.

The underlying criminal acts revolve around his alleged possession of no more than residue on the inside of a plastic baggy – something the prosecution seems to equate with possession of a significant and terrifying quantity – and less than a gram of marijuana in another plastic baggy, both of which were taped to the undercarriage of a vehicle.  The facts at trial would show that many other persons that engaged in the drug trade on a regular basis had access to that vehicle, but that trial may be some time away, and his presumption of innocence does not magically disappear for these charges until he is tried on the facts.  The items that actually aggravated his sentence from mere misdemeanor possession of marijuana, or even the felony act of methamphetamine possession, into a charge of possession with intent to distribute come from the discovery of a set of electronic scales, also located taped to the undercarriage of his vehicle, as well as the damnable fact that he was found with a container of plastic baggies of varying sizes – something that every grocery store in America carries and that many households also possess – as well as having a friend’s cellphone that they left in his car.  Suddenly, rather than the traffic violation that allegedly prompted his detention in the first place, he faces at least ten years in prison and on probation.

In 2008, the Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed the dangers and difficulties that pretrial incarceration causes when it talked about the failure of the State to try a person promptly in Fulton County, in Ruffin v. State.  “We have discussed previously the societal disadvantages of lengthy pretrial incarceration, but obviously the disadvantages for the accused who cannot obtain his release are even more serious.”   284 Ga. 52, 57, 663 S.E.2d 189 (Ga. 2008).  The opinion goes on to talk about the specific scenario that XXXXX XXXXX is facing in this case, when the Court says that “[t]he time spent in jail awaiting trial has a detrimental impact on the individual. It often means loss of a job; it disrupts family life; and it enforces idleness. Most jails offer little or no recreational or rehabilitative programs. The time spent in jail is simply dead time. Moreover, if a defendant is locked up, he is hindered in his ability to gather evidence, contact witnesses, or otherwise prepare his defense. Imposing those consequences on anyone who has not yet been convicted is serious. It is especially unfortunate to impose them on those persons who are ultimately found to be innocent.”  Id.

 B. No valid community safety goal is furthered by putting XXXXX XXXXX in jail pending trial.

A criminal defendant is someone accused of a crime, but who has not been convicted of that crime.  Therefore, their incarceration is necessarily tied to the interests of their community in evaluating whether or not they have violated the community’s standards to such a degree that they deserve to be punished, whether they might or might not commit any new criminal act while they are at large in the community before trial, and in making sure that they attend the hearings and processes that are set up to evaluate whether they committed the alleged act in the first place.

In 2012, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the pretrial detention bond conditions of a man named William Alden, who had been accused of Driving Under the Influence.  State v. Alden, 314 Ga. App. 439724 S.E.2d 451 (Ga. 2012).  The Court talked about the reasons why pretrial detention can be justified, saying that reasonable pretrial conditions imposed “are rationally related to an alternative purpose as they are designed to prevent [him] from being a danger to the community by committing future acts of [the crime charges] while [he] was awaiting trial” and to assure [his] presence at court proceedings”.  Id. at 441.

In this case, XXXXX XXXXX has been in jail since XXXXX XX of this year.  Whatever addictive substance he was using or allegedly using has long since left his system, and he has seen firsthand the ability such a substance can have to wreck his life, because he has experienced firsthand the drawbacks and disadvantages to pretrial detention that the Court discusses in Ruffin v. State.  He didn’t just show up at the Court hearings that the Office of the District Attorney arranged, but even showed up for hearings deemed premature, to make certain of his compliance and obedience.   Lastly, he has never been shown to be a danger or a hazard to his community by virtue of having absolutely no prior felony convictions.

Conclusion

XXXXX XXXXX does not fit the mold of a person who should be kept incarcerated prior to trial, because he doesn’t show any danger to his community, is not suffering from any addiction, and has not shown any propensity to avoid arrest or to fail to appear for hearings and trial matters.  His circumstances demonstrate that he is not the kind of criminal defendant who should be incarcerated prior to trial, and the mercy and indulgence of the Court are requested in this matter to ensure that this Defendant has a fair hearing, as he has sought from the time of his initial arrest.

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