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Santa Clara: Held "Above His Ability to Pay"


First case:

He originally had a 200K bail, and through the Humphrey hearing, got it reduced to $500 with house arrest. The family came deep -- 7 brothers, 7 sisters, and his elderly mother who he helps take care of. The family submitted photos of family gatherings, proof of regular church attendance, and a letter from De-Bug explaining how he will be supported by our Community Release Project, and could attend weekly Participatory Defense meetings. All of these were entered as exhibits by the public defender.

The defender went on to argue that he has extensive community ties -- he can live with this sister, he attends church regularly, and has the support of his large family. The prosecutor argued that he shouldn't be released even on house arrest because the prosecutor had a different case where someone cut off their ankle monitor after a couple weeks. The defender asked the judge not to consider anecdotes. The judge said that for him to be denied bail, the prosecution has to prove with clear and convincing evidence that he would commit great bodily injury on someone. The prosecutor had no response. The judge, after considering his ability to pay, released him on $500 bail, with house arrest.

The family outside, after thanking the attorney, wanted to post bail. Since the average bail in Santa Clara County before the Humphrey decision is 50K, no one knew how to post he full amount. Everyone usually paid the 10% to a bail bonds company, and never saw that money again. This time though the family will post the full amount, and get the money back after he is done with court.

Second case:

Although the case heard just previous to this one had similar charges, the judge was unmoved by the defenses argument that the person did not present a danger to the public or that his version of events were believable. She did not note community or family support or that she had any evidence of employment waiting for him.

The pre-trail recommendations of SORP were not found to be compelling to the judge who appeared to find person facing charges an unsympathetic defendant without adequate resources. The Judge found him to present a threat to public safety and set his bail as scheduled and held it deliberately "above his ability to pay." The DA did not argue that Joseph should be made ineligible for bail or that he should not be considered for SORP. Suggestions for the family are to supply more evidence of support for Joseph, such as an increased presence in the court room, letters from family, friends and his employer and continued documentation of his program participation while in custody. Community support, family support, resources and employment, appeared to be important considerations to the judge, as he had a very similar case profile as the first case in which bail was reduced o $500. The Public Defender said he will work with the family on future planning, and they were encouraged to come to Participatory Defense meetings to further help support Joseph during this process.


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