Reducing bail to a mathematical formula

I came across a fascinating article this morning discussing a new concept in the criminal justice systems of some states: fixing (or not imposing at all) bail based on an algorithm that takes into account a defendant’s criminal history and the nature of the charge against him/her, among other factors.  The article focuses on New Jersey’s use of this system.

I agree with one of the main points of the piece – the bail system is inherently unfair as wealthy defendants can secure their release on bail for almost any offense while indigent defendants do not have the same options even for far less serious offenses.  Too often I see bail used as pre-trial punishment and that is not its purpose.  The purpose of bail is to ensure that a defendant returns to court for future appearances.

In New York, courts are instructed under Criminal Procedure Law Section 510.30 to base decisions on bail on a number of factors, including the defendant’s character, reputation, habits, mental condition, the length of time he or she has resided in the community, employment and/or financial status, previous criminal history including any history of failing to appear for court, the weight of the evidence against him or her and the likelihood of conviction, and the severity of the sentence that may be imposed upon conviction.

Converting all of these factors into some kind of mathematical equation is an interesting concept, and I also found it interesting that New Jersey does not remove the human element in that the prosecution (and presumably the defense) can request a hearing to present reasons why the judge should override the determination of the algorithm.  I would like to see New York explore this model as a way to level the playing field on bail.

Family Court and the Highest Stakes

After having read this article in the New Yorker, I feel compelled to share it.  It is about as realistic a picture as I have ever seen in the media of the high stakes in a Family Court neglect case.

One thing I will say however is that the Deputy County Attorneys and CPS workers I deal with on a daily basis here in Rochester have never engaged in the type of tactics described of their Bronx counterparts in the article, but the point stands: when in doubt the nature of things these days sometimes compels the removal of a child from the home of a parent.  And that removal can have tremendous ripple effects on everyone involved.

I have represented dozens of parents accused of neglect and/or abuse in Family Court, so if you find yourself in need of assistance on a case like this, please contact me right away.

A brief history of Times Square

The owners of the building where my office is located have assembled a really cool brochure on the storied history of the building.  I found it was really neat and interesting so I thought I would share.  Please click on each image to enlarge. Enjoy:

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It’s not my case, I promise…

I’m quite certain I’ve spent more time talking about the Charlie Tan case in the last year than any other case that I was not involved in.  In any event, here is the link to the recent Democrat and Chronicle article about the District Attorney’s Office appealing the trial court’s decision to grant the defense’s Trial Order of Dismissal.

Matthew J. Rich

Matthew J. Rich is a Rochester, New York-based attorney focusing on criminal defense, DWI cases, traffic offenses, and family law. He brings nearly a decade of experience in private practice and the Monroe County District Attorney's office to assist each and every client.

If you're looking for an attorney, chances are it's because you're facing a problem of some sort. Matthew J. Rich's goal is to help you with your problem, be your informed advocate, and ultimately get you a fair and satisfactory outcome. Matthew J. Rich is on your side.