Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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October 23rd, 2020

Bail Reform Used to Smear Metzger – Don’t Buy Into It!

Two years ago, Jen Metzger shocked political pundits when she won the State Senate seat left vacant by John Bonacic. Annie Rabbitt, an Orange County elected official was the heir apparent to Bonacic, but Metzger campaigned hard and won.

Metzger has constantly delivered for her district which includes all of Sullivan County with funding and grants. She is easily accessible and has a hardworking office in Sullivan County servicing her constituents. 

In Albany she has earned the respect from both Democrats and Republicans for her advocacy on issues ranging from broadband, agriculture, to supporting programs fighting drug abuse and addiction. It would seem Metzger’s reelection would be a cinch, but because of her vote on one issue – Bail Reform – her opponent wants us to believe she is facing an uphill battle.

Metzger’s opponent Orange County millionaire Mike Martucci is spending what appears to be unlimited funds to smear Metzger and mislead the public on issues such as bail reform. He has even linked Metzger with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and United States Senator Bernie Sanders – an attempt to sway voters away.

Martucci’s supporters on social media have embraced a branding slogan “Thanks Jen” whenever a crime is reported pointing to bail reform.

Every campaign is filled with rhetoric, and Jen is fighting back attacking Martucci’s record as a bus company owner. The campaign claims that his former school bus company was involved in 107 accidents, with one driver “high on morphine.”

As the candidates go back and forth in the dog days of an election – It is important the electorate understand bail reform and not allow it to play into the bullying campaign attempting to tarnish Jen Metzger as if it were passed in Albany because of her.

The bail reform law passed in 2019 was about fixing a system that was broken – The premise behind bail reform was to make certain all defendants were treated the same for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, regardless of money they could raise for bail.

In the past, people who made bail were released while those who could not remained incarcerated. In theory bail reform sounded great, but there were loopholes and flaws requiring amendments passed in 2020.

According to Metzger, “Let’s start with this basic premise: An individual charged with a serious crime should be held in jail before trial if there is a risk to the public or a risk of fleeing. That’s not how the old bail system worked. People with money, charged with violent crimes could buy their way out of jail before trial, while people with less money, facing minor charges, had to await trial in jail. The old way was neither fair nor safe.”

Metzger listening to constituent concerns with the bail reform bill supported additional changes to the law.

Despite the “Thanks Jen” branding, the simple truth is that most of headlines in the news relating to crime has nothing to do with bail reform, but people are leading us to believe it does.

Whether we agree with bail reform or not. Below is some information on Bail Reform. Draw your own conclusions.

What was in the original bail reform law?

Misdemeanors: Money bail eliminated in almost all misdemeanor cases. Limited exceptions of certain sexual offense misdemeanors and criminal contempt related to a domestic violence order of protection. Pretrial detention is prohibited in all cases.

Examples: loitering, rent gouging, possession of graffiti instruments, issuing a bad check, unlawfully dealing with fireworks, etc. Criminal trespass in the second or third degree (knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in a building or dwelling)

Nonviolent felonies: Money bail and pretrial detention eliminated in almost all nonviolent felony cases. Limited exceptions include: witness intimidation or tampering, conspiracy to commit murder, felony criminal contempt charges regarding domestic violence, some offenses against children, sex offenses, and terrorism charges.

Examples: computer tampering, most low-level frauds (welfare benefits, insurance, health care,etc.), perjury, sale and possession of marijuana, etc.Burglary in the third degree (knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building with the intent to commit a crime here)

Violent felonies: Money bail and pretrial detention permitted in almost all violent felony cases, except for specific burglary and robbery in the second degree charges.

Examples: Burglary in the first and second degree (same as for Burglary 3rd above but while doing so either 1) is armed with explosives or a deadly weapon, 2) causes physical injury to another party, 3) uses or threatens to use a dangerous instrument, or 4) displays some type of firearm)

Types of bail:

Judges have to take into account the financial situation of the defendant, and must provide at least three types of bail for maximum flexibility.

  • Release on own recognizance: Judges encouraged to release defendant on their own recognizance unless they pose a risk of flight. In those cases, judges had to use the “least restrictive alternative and condition(s) that will reasonably assure the principal’s return to court.” Judges can use release assessment tools to determine risk of flight but cannot use defendant’s future dangerousness or risk to public safety .
  • Electronic monitoring: Allowed for up to 60 days (with an option to renew) for certain offenses, including: felonies, misdemeanor doemstic violence and sex offenses, misdemeanors where the defendant was convicted of a violent felony in the past five years, and cases where the defendant has engaged in “pretrial misbehavior.”
  • Noncompliance: Courts can revoke pretrial conditions of defendant engages in “pretrial misbehavior.” Can set new conditions after a hearing where defendant can present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.

Changes Passed in July 2020.

New crimes bail eligible: Added a number of crimes to the category of cash bail and pretrial detention eligible. These include: second degree burglary when entering the dwelling place of a home, certain sex trafficking offenses, promoting the obscene performance of a child, some assault crimes (including vehicular assault), and all types of charges alleged to have caused the death of a person.

  • Legal history of the defendant : Courts can now take the legal history and status of the defendant into consideration when setting pretrial conditions. Probation, post-release supervision, or “persistent offender” status would now allow a judge to set cash bail or pretrial detention. Also, if a defendant is on pretrial release for an offense involving a specific victim, and then is arrested for a new crime, the judge can set bail or detention even if the new crime is not normally bail or detention eligible.
  • More release options: Judges have wider discretion to set varying release

conditions (such as passport surrendering, avoiding contact with witnesses or victims, and requiring mental health treatment or counseling)

Judges are still not required to set cash bail or pretrial detention in any case they are authorized to do so.

  • Data collection and reporting: Requires judges to report the results of pretrial proceedings to a central administrator (cases where bail was set, detention required, defendant was released, etc.). This is meant to track racial, economic disparities and keep judges accountable for the discretion they exercise.


What about domestic violence?

Criminal contempt regarding an order of protection in a domestic violence case bail eligible (whether misdemeanor or felony charge) and pretrial detention eligible (if a felony charge). Any domestic charge that is a violent felony offense is bail or detention eligible.

What about Repeat offenders?

Under the newest bail reform changes, a defendant who is released on their own recognizance for a crime against a specific person and then commits a new crime can be bail or detention eligible (even if the new offense would not normally be eligible for bail or detention).

What about Sex crimes?

Generally, bail eligible even if a misdemeanor charge, and generally detention eligible if at least a nonviolent felony charge. The newest changes to bail reform added a number of sex crimes into the violent felony category.

Almost all sex crimes (rape, sexual assault, etc.) are violent felonies.

In Conclusion

I hope you have a better understanding on bail reform.

When you vote for State Senator, look at the issues, and do some research. But please do not buy into the smear campaign linking Jen Metzger to crime and bail reform.

And, by the way, Thanks Jen – for all your hard work in Albany delivering for Sullivan County.

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in the Sullivan County Post


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