Monday, November 30, 2015

EXTRA: What is point of $1M bond?

When I was a regular court reporter some quarter-of-a-century ago, one of my regular duties was covering Violence Court – the bond hearings held daily at noon at the Criminal Courts building.

VAN DYKE: To be free by day's end?
Every day, a daily dose of people charged with murder or sex crimes being dragged before a judge – who would hear the sketchy details of what was known to have happened, then he (or sometimes, she) would set a dollar amount.

AS IN THE amount of cash a defendant would need to come up with in order to avoid having to await trial inside the Cook County Jail.

Admittedly, there were sometimes the “no bond” cases ever so severe that the defendant had to stay in jail. But usually the most severe cases were the “million dollar bond” ones.

As in a judge would set bond at $1 million, or $1.5 million. I once remember a defendant charged with murder who got a $3 million bond set.

The point was that a judge knew there was no way the particular slug standing before them could possibly come up with 10 percent of that figure. Meaning it was a given they’d have to stay in jail.

YET IN RECENT days, there were a pair of cases where defendants got million dollar bonds. Only to show us that 1 million dollars just isn’t as significant as it used to be.

Perhaps we ought to envision Michael Myers as “Dr. Evil” telling us “One Million Dollars!!!” as he did in the “Austin Powers” films, only to have everyone around him laugh at the insignificance of that number.
MYERS (as Dr. Evil): $1 M has become chump change!

There was the guy who got a $1 million bond, in part because he was a suspect in the case of Tyshawn Lee – the 9-year-old who got caught up in gang wars and was shot to death.

Yet he was released because his girlfriend had recently won a lawsuit against a hospital, and she put up $100,000 of her financial settlement to enable him to be released from jail.

NOW, WE HAVE Jason Van Dyke having bond set for him Monday at $1.5 million.

He’s the cop who spent the past week with no bond in the county jail (under very heavy security to ensure no one would target him for extra abuse because he was a cop) for the shooting death of LaQuan McDonald.

That is a high profile crime gaining international attention upon Chicago. City officials now want to create the impression they’re cracking down on the perpetrator – so to speak.

Yet the news reports from the bond hearing, which indicate that Judge Donald Panarese made a point of watching the video tape that has been seen over-and-over again of McDonald’s shooting death prior to setting the high bond, indicate that Van Dyke is likely to be free by Monday’s end.

HE’S EXPECTED TO come up with something valued at $150,000, which makes me think that the ideologues determined to believe that a cop is being singled out for abuse for doing his job will tap into deep pockets to ensure he remains free.

Rather than having to live off jail inmate rations for the next couple of years – which is still roughly the time period it takes for a case to work its way through the court system.


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