Law School Case Brief
United States v. Montalvo-Murillo - 495 U.S. 711, 110 S. Ct. 2072 (1990)
The Bail Reform Act of 1984 (Act) requires pretrial detention of certain persons charged with federal crimes and directs a judicial officer to detain a person charged, pending trial, if the government has made the necessary showing of dangerousness or risk of flight. The Act authorizes detention after a hearing held pursuant to the provisions of 18 U.S.C.S. § 3142(e). 18 U.S.C.S. § 3142(f) provides that the judicial officer shall hold a hearing and sets forth the applicable procedures.
Montalvo-Murillo was arrested on federal drug charges, and a Magistrate, at a detention hearing held after Montalvo-Murillo's "first appearance" and after continuances granted beyond the period permitted by the Act, ordered his release on bond. The District Court, while finding that no conditions reasonably could assure his appearance or the community's safety, held that the detention hearing had not been held upon Montalvo-Murillo's first appearance and that pretrial release was the appropriate remedy for violation of the statutory requirement. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Upon issuance of the court's mandate, Montalvo-Murillo was released, took flight, and remains at large. He is, however, represented by counsel before this Court. The United States Government challenged the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit which affirmed a district court judgment holding that although Montalvo-Murillo posed a risk of flight and a danger to the community, his release from pretrial custody was required because his detention hearing held pursuant to the Bail Reform Act of 1984 did not occur at the time directed by 18 U.S.C.S. § 3142(f).
Was Montalvo-Murillo entitled to release from pretrial custody because his detention hearing held pursuant to the Bail Reform Act of 1984 did not occur at the time directed?
The Court held that nothing in the Act indicated that failure to comply with its first appearance requirement necessitated release. Failure to observe the Act's requirements did not necessarily strip the government of all power to act. Deviation from the Act's other procedural requirements did not do so when the error was harmless. Automatic release would contravene the Act's purpose to provide fair bail procedures while protecting public safety and assuring appearances at trial. Montalvo-Murillo was not entitled to release as a sanction for delay.
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