One issue that is at the center of controversy in our criminal justice system is bond reform. A New York Daily News article written by Graham Rayman about a drug trafficking ring being released without bail captured the attention of Google. The article focused on a New York state law makes nonviolent drug trafficking is not on the offenses that a judge can impose bail. While New York has taken the lead on bail reform, Michigan is considering a change on the issue of bond. To discuss this issue, we obtained commentary from leaders in the criminal defense sector.
Scott Grabel is a founder of Grabel and Associates and has created a team of criminal defense lawyers that are known as the top in the state of Michigan. When asked about bail reform, Grabel stated, “One thing that has to be understood is that there is a presumption of innocence when somebody is charged with a crime. That is often forgotten about in our criminal justice system. When a defendant is given a high bond, it cripples their defense and can invade their constitutional rights.”
William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates. Amadeo is known as one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state of Michigan and proved commentary on the issue. Amadeo said, “Far too often we see heightened bonds without a Magistrate knowing all of the facts. Luckily, we have two tremendous Magistrates in Washtenaw County in Elisha Fink and Tamara Garwood that look to protect the community while protecting the constitutional rights of the defendant. In many other counties, the imposition of the bond becomes an issue of danger to the defendant. If a defendant does not have the option to get bonded out, their chances of winning at trial are greatly reduced. I understand the pressures of the prosecutor to make certain that the defendant comes to court, but we have to meet somewhere in the middle for all involved.”
Lane Zabawa is one of the top criminal defense lawyers in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, and provided commentary when he said, “Michigan may follow New York’s lead on the issue of bond. While there are two sides to the argument, a fair bond is something that should be granted without a battle.”
While the issue of bond is a subjective topic, there are two mantras to be viewed. One side echoes the words of Judge Nick Holowka, who has often said that bond is a privilege and not a right. The other side of the coin is that if there is a presumption of innocence, doesn’t the imposition of bond violate that right? Bond reform in Michigan is something that will be at the center of many judicial and prosecutorial elections in 2020.