Judge who released New Mexico terrorists is under death threat
This is "bail reform."
This is "bail reform."
A judge is facing death threats after granting bail to five adults in an abuse case involving nearly a dozen allegedly malnourished and dehydrated children found at a remote compound in New Mexico.
In an hours-long bail hearing on Monday, Judge Sarah Backus acknowledged "troubling facts" presented by prosecutors against Siraj Wahhaj, Jany Leveille, Lucas Morten, Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhannah Wahhaj, who were arrested and charged with child abuse. However, Backus said prosecutors failed to identify any specific threats.
Yes, indeed there are "troubling facts" as the prosecution outlined in the defendant's bail hearing. The family believed some very bizarre things.
The family fled Georgia for a compound in New Mexico where they trained their children in firearms use, according to testimony. A child died at his father's hand during a religious ritual intended to expel religious demons from his body. Eleven more malnourished children were later found on the property.
The family believed that once the demons were gone, the boy would return as Jesus four months later and tell his family which institutions to get rid of, a witness said. Those who did not believe "their message" would be killed or detained "until they believed," a teenager on the compound said, according to a FBI agent.
But none of that makes them a present danger to the community or to their children, a defense lawyer argued. They were following religious rituals that might be viewed in a different light if they were white Christians instead of black Muslims, the lawyer claimed.
And the judge agreed:
"What I've heard here today is troubling, definitely. Troubling facts about numerous children in far from ideal circumstances and individuals who are living in a very unconventional way -- although if you have lived in northern New Mexico for any period of time you are aware that many people here live in unconventional ways," Judge Sarah Backus said.
"Unconventional" is one word to describe the way the family lived. What the rest of us think is probably unprintable.
In truth, the judge had less leeway in granting bail to the child abusers than you might think. The reason? Bail reform.
"These people have been charged. They have not been convicted," said Leo Romero, a professor emeritus at the University of New Mexico Law School and the chairman of a committee that made recommendations on reforming cash bail in the state, which were adopted by the state Supreme Court in 2017.
"So you're balancing individual rights versus safety of the community, and the judge is weighing that when she is determining the evidence presented by the prosecutor," he said.
New Mexico is part of a wave of a states that, in recent years, have re-examined how they handle bail and pretrial detention.
In 2014, the state Supreme Court, in New Mexico vs. Walter Ernest Brown, deemed that even if someone is charged with a serious offense, a judge has to make an individual determination on whether to detain the defendant before trial.
"Just because someone is charged with first-degree murder or first-degree sexual assault, that by itself is insufficient," Romero said. "The court's got to consider other evidence of whether the person might be a danger or a flight risk, such as the nature and circumstances, which is different than the charge itself."
Should residents of New Mexico be complaining about this? They voted for a constitutional amendment "reforming" the bail system.
And in 2016, an overwhelming number of voters agreed to a constitutional amendment that moved the state away from the traditional money-based bail system to an evidence-of-risk-based system of release and detention, in an effort to bring more fairness. The new system took effect last year.
Backus would not comment on the case because it is still pending. Barry Massey, a spokesman for the New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts, said that "what she said in court yesterday is as much explanation for her decisions as she can provide."
"Prosecutors have to file a motion, and then they have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that no other conditions of release will reasonably protect the public's safety," he said. "What the judge said yesterday is that they didn't meet that burden."
Note this, Chicago, New York, and other major cities looking to "reform" the bail system. When it comes to your city, it won't be a bunch of kooky religious nuts who will be free. It will be cold blooded, gangbangers who are likely to kill again once they're on the street.
Just because a gangbanger sprays automatic weapons fire in a residential neighborhood killing the innocent along with rival gang members, doesn't mean he can be held unless the police can prove it to a judge's satisfaction. Past convictions, his membership in a gang - none of that is relevant to whether he walks.
Basically, those pushing "bail reform" are perfectly willing to get a few people killed in the interest of "fairness" and "race neutral" justice. That puts them on a par with the murderers and rapists they are so eager to see on the streets.