$3 Billion Bail is Excessive

by TChris

The Eighth Amendment provides: "Excessive bail shall not be required ..." That doesn't stop judges from setting bail in amounts that poor and moderate income defendants can never hope to raise. The amount of bail deemed "excessive" is often in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder is usually the judge who sets (or denies) bail.

Unless the bail is $3 billion (yes, billion with a B), a laughable amount that even New York real estate heir Robert Durst can't afford. A Texas jury found Durst not guilty of murdering his neighbor, but Durst still faces less serious charges of bail jumping and evidence tampering.

Durst's attorneys appealed the bond amounts to the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston, which said in a ruling Tuesday it could not find a case where bail was set, let alone upheld, at even 1 percent of any of the amounts against the millionaire, "regardless of the underlying offense, wealth of the defendant, or any other circumstance."

"Considering the unprecedented enormity of the bail amounts and that any flight risk has been abundantly addressed by other bond conditions, we can find no conceivable justification for bail amounts remotely approaching the order of magnitude of those imposed in this case," the appeals court ruled.

The court suggested other ways to assure that Durst doesn't flee, including taking his passport and making him pay for his own 24-hour guard.

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